Seen and heard this week


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


In The Business Times on 13 February, Associate Professor Tan Khee Giap from the Asia Competitiveness Institute at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS co-authored a commentary analysing the benefits of a forward-looking Singapore Budget 2019 with full-time National Serviceman Tan Yan Yi. They opined that a forward-looking budget will keep macroeconomic conditions stable and promote micro-economic efficiency to help the country weather crises in the global economy, as well as in a rising trend of global trade protectionism and nationalism. They also wrote that the budget must take into account Singapore’s future needs, such as increased healthcare expenditure due to the aging population, and investments in quality education and lifelong learning. Assoc Prof Tan and Mr Tan additionally posited that the stability resulting from a forward-looking budget will create a conducive business environment which will enable local businesses to venture abroad to countries like China and India that are experiencing rapid urban development.

Dr Rupakjyoti Borah, Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies at NUS discussed the need for India to invest in the development of its remote north east region to face a growing security and economic threat from China in an opinion piece for Nikkei Asian Review on 13 February. He said that while the construction of three long-awaited transport links in the north east region is a positive step, New Delhi needs to continue to put money and political clout into the region. Dr Borah further explained that developing infrastructure in the north east will help improve India’s overland connection to Southeast Asia as part of the country’s “Act East” policy that seeks to strengthen ties with the Asia Pacific region.

In a commentary for Line Today on 13 February, NUS Political Science Associate Professor Jamie Davidson explored the reasons why many Indonesians support rice self-sufficiency. He pointed out that rice from Vietnam and Thailand is more cheaply produced and would amount to less household spending, and that efforts to achieve rice self-sufficiency are expensive, using up vital public funding. However, many Indonesians believe that rice self-sufficiency would benefit rice farmers, through higher domestic prices and profits, not knowing that this might only be true for a small number of large-scale farmers. Assoc Prof Davidson proposed that this belief stems from the championing of the rice peasant as a symbol of independence in Indonesia, emphasising that specific histories and ideologies can continue to shape public policies.

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