Seen and heard this week


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


NUS Business Assistant Professor Sam Yam Kai Chi mused on the reasons a sense of humour is necessary in high-stress jobs such as being an astronaut in a commentary in Channel NewsAsia on 26 February. The distance from Earth during space missions means that contact will be difficult and astronauts will need to make critical decisions independently, wrote Asst Prof Yam. In workplaces such as those, effective teamwork based on trust and collaboration would thus be essential. A key element to achieving this is through building likeability which studies have revealed matters more to teamwork than competence, and having a sense of humour plays an important role in generating likeability among team members. However, Asst Prof Yam cautioned that the wrong type of jokes could lead to negative consequences. Therefore, while a sense of humour is important, a person must also have the social awareness to tell the right joke at the right time.

In another Channel NewsAsia commentary on 27 February, Executive Director of NUS Enterprise Mr Jonathan Chang wrote about the benefits of equity investments that entrepreneurs could consider in their drive to expand their businesses. Mr Chang shared that he usually advises aspiring entrepreneurs to seek funding from institution investors and not to rely solely on grants and business plan competition prizes, noting that the process is often time-consuming and has strict guidelines to conform to. Equity investments, in contrast, can give businesses additional resources and support, such as connections and expertise that can help them scale up. While this does require the entrepreneur to give up some control and voting rights, Mr Chang opined that if the entrepreneur does due diligence in developing a reasonable term sheet and guarding against predatory investors, they will be able to retain control of their business.

In a commentary published in The Straits Times on 1 March, NUS Law Lecturer Mr Matthew Seet pondered the efficacy of denationalisation as a counter-terrorism approach. The current scale of denationalisation laws as part of the war on terror is unprecedented, and is changing the definition of citizenship, calling into question the security and equality of each citizen’s status, as well as its role in the protection of human rights. Mr Seet wrote that many academics question the relevance of citizenship as a form of counter-terrorism. Citizenship is often historically framed in terms of ‘loyalty’, reflecting trust and solidarity, and ‘disloyalty’ would mean the loyalty was transferred to a different country, making denationalisation logical. However, it is more complicated in the context of terrorism, as terrorists are often loyal not to a country, but to an idealogy. Denationalisation then, may not necessarily be effective in dealing with it.  

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