Seen and heard this week


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


In an opinion piece published in The Straits Times on 19 February, Chairman of the Centre for International Law at NUS and Ambassador-at-Large at the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs Professor Tommy Koh addressed the topic of women’s rights. He highlighted that the struggle by women for justice and equality has been one of the longest in the history of human rights, with factors such as history, religion and culture playing a part in creating gender inequality. Prof Koh said it is noteworthy that Singapore has made tremendous progress in achieving gender equality over the past few decades as women have achieved parity with men in education at all levels, and most glass ceilings impeding the rise of women in Singapore have been broken. However, the struggle continues globally as women in some other parts of the world are still treated as second-class citizens and continue to live under the oppression of men.

Senior Research Fellow Dr Stijn Massar and PhD student Ruth Leong, both from Duke-NUS Medical School, discussed the effects of sleep on work and academic performance in a commentary published in Channel NewsAsia on 20 February. The duo shared that while many studies have established the link between sleep deprivation and ailments such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and depression, young Singaporeans who are youthful and in good health may sometimes ignore these consequences. The writers added that the lack of sleep can diminish work productivity and chip off a country's growth, citing that the estimated economic costs of sleep loss in Japan, a society with a work and sleep culture much like Singapore, reached up to 2.92 per cent of its GDP according to a 2016 RAND study. They also cited another study which found that students who attained an average of eight hours of sleep a night during their exam week fared better than those who slept fewer hours. As such, the duo emphasised that Singaporeans need to see adequate and quality sleep as a priority since it is essential to the excellence they strive to achieve.

NUS Business Associate Professor Lawrence Loh wrote a commentary on 21 February in The Straits Times sharing his views on the recent Budget 2019 announcement. He said that Budget 2019 focused on three key thrusts — a structural framework for enterprise development with some $704 million of special transfers to business, development of worker skills through programmes that will target areas such as skills necessary for emerging technology areas and strengthening societal cohesiveness by investing in areas like healthcare, protection against disability and income tax rebates. Budget 2019 is not just a budget proposal for the year, Assoc Prof opined, but a strategic plan on Singapore’s investments for the future. He sees this as part of Singapore’s unique way of national governance where the public finance paradigm is not about spending today but investing for tomorrow.

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