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 18 April, NUS Business Prof Sumit Agarwal proposed that the statutory retirement age should be dropped because of Singapore’s ageing population. He stressed that the country needs to adopt a new mindset that views age as positively correlated with valuable experience and proven talent, rather than ineptitude. He noted that only when this happens, will Singapore see benefits such as increased productivity and better skills continuity through mentorship and training, which could be a win-win for employers, employees and the Singapore economy.

In another The Straits Times commentary that day, Dr Jeff Hwang Yi-Fu from the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, and NUS Safety, Health and Environment discussed the two competing ideologies on ageing. Dr Hwang said that while ageing workers bring more experience to companies, they also potentially bring more health problems, and managing this tension in the workforce is critical. Emphasising the importance of considering future generations of older workers as well, he called for a focus on cultivating young Singaporeans to value well-being as much as wealth, and developing their individual health literacy. In doing so, he said that the country will be able to push back the onset of chronic diseases. In addition, these young Singaporeans will impart to their children the value of well-being and health literacy, making our society well positioned for the future.

Prof Jane M Jacobs from Yale-NUS College examined the reasons behind the outpouring of grief and horror on social media when the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris caught on fire in a commentary in Channel NewsAsia on 19 April. She opined that the Notre-Dame is a different type of icon. Throughout its 850-year history, the building has not only enjoyed repeated architectural attention and the passionate violations of the French revolution, but has also served religious devotees, and has entered into the popular imagination through Hollywood and Disney interpretations of Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In addition, similar to many historic buildings in Europe, the cathedral has endured the relentless attention of mass tourism. She expressed hope that the collective grief and donations will restore the iconic building.

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