Seen and heard this week


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


NUS Law Professor Andrew Harding wrote about Malaysian reform dynamics in a commentary for Khmer Times on 12 December. Despite the flurry of reforms, announcements, prosecutions and policy changes since the recent Malaysian elections, most legal changes remain to be implemented. Prof Harding said that entrenching reforms in the longer-term may be challenging as legislative changes or constitutional amendments can be blocked in Malaysia’s upper house, which is still controlled by senators appointed by the former government. Politics can also change quickly, he added, which could sideline reform and reemphasise ethnic and religious issues. Prof Harding opined that the reforms, long overdue, could simply become matters of consensus rather than contention, and the further down the road the reforms go, the harder it will be to reverse them.

NUS Business Senior Lecturer Ms Zhang Weina highlighted a recent study in a commentary for The Business Times on 13 December that suggested a large opportunity for corporates to be profitable and make a genuine difference to the environment and society in which they operate. She cited telecommunications giant Singtel as an example of an Asian firm that has successfully integrated corporate social responsibility (CSR) into its core business, benefitting both its bottom line and society. Another study by the School found that even firms with a poor reputation who develop innovative approaches to CSR can overcome public biases and see their value increase. Ms Zhang reiterated that firms should make a conscious and deliberate effort to reap the benefits of doing well by doing good.

Another study by NUS Business researchers on the impact of mobile wallets like DBS Bank’s PayLah! was featured in Channel NewsAsia on 13 December. Professor Sumit Agarwal, Professor Bernard Yeung and Associate Professor Qian Wenlan, together with Assistant Professor Zou Xin from Hong Kong Baptist University, found that the introduction of PayLah! in April 2017 resulted in the doubling of the use of mobile payments, with small merchants the main beneficiaries. The weekly number of smaller transactions of less than $100 increased by 144 per cent while larger transactions rose by 88 per cent. Prof Agarwal said that the development of mobile payments plays a critical role in Singapore’s goal of becoming a cashless society and the findings offer new insights on the real economic effect of improved payment convenience and efficiency.

Read more about the NUS community in the news.