Seen and heard this week


Seen and heard this week is a weekly column highlighting thought leadership from the NUS community


Deputy Director (Research) at the Institute of Policy Studies at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Dr Gillian Koh analysed the results of the recent People’s Action Party (PAP) Central Executive Committee (CEC) elections in a commentary for The Straits Times on 13 November. Dr Koh wrote that all eyes will now be on the appointment of the two Assistant Secretary-Generals, as one of the two will likely be a successor to the current PAP Secretary-General, who by convention will become the Prime Minister. While many consider politics a local affair, Dr Koh pointed out that international actors will assess the depth and width of the political talent, which will shape their perceptions on how Singapore can manage political, social and geopolitical risk. She added that in the current political climate, there is a need for the new PAP guard to understand, engage, persuade and convince individual and corporate citizens that the government will address both their short-term and long-term concerns.

In a CNBC interview on 14 November, NUS Business Visiting Senior Fellow Mr Alex Capri offered his opinion on the factors that have impeded the progress of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) — a free trade agreement between the 10 member states of ASEAN, as well as six Asia-Pacific states (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand). He pointed to a lack of political will across the member countries to achieve the level of detail needed to make the RCEP substantial, highlighting that the diversity and disparity of the different member countries make consensus difficult. While Mr Capri acknowledged that there is a sense of urgency to push the deal through, he warned that if it is forced, it will be a very shallow agreement.

NUS Geography Assistant Professor Sin Harng Luh wrote in a TODAY commentary on 15 November suggesting a shift of focus in the Singapore tourism industry to domestic residents and technology, instead of large-scale infrastructure projects. Artificial Intelligence (AI)-related technologies can assist in the creation and curation of personalised experiences that many tourists seek, Asst Prof Sin wrote. Citing the example of China’s Alibaba and travel platform Fliggy, she added that with deep learning of an individual consumer’s preferences and purchasing patterns, AI can provide customised tour suggestions, and facilitate a shift away from broad-based marketing strategies that assume all tourists are the same. Additionally, to grow tourism numbers, the industry can widen its scope to focus on domestic tourism, she wrote. Encouraging local residents to pursue leisure within Singapore instead of travelling out of the country not only increases visitor numbers and profits, but also reduces Singapore’s carbon footprint.

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