CNY Reunion Lunch 2015

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On 14 March 2015, the NUS Economics Alumni organised tne annual Chinese New Year Reunion Lunch. It was held at the China Club, situated on the 52nd floor of the Capital Tower in Tanjong Pagar. Forty people including guests from the Office of Alumni Relations, NUS Department of Economics, NUS Economics Alumni, Economics undergraduates, Economics Society of Singapore and the London School of Economics Singapore Alumni Association attended the reunion lunch.

This lunch was a time for bonding and reunion of alumni, and also to build new relationships with the London School of Economics Alumni and Economics Society of Singapore. Everyone enjoyed themselves. It was a toast to the New Year and a new start of the NUS Economics Alumni Committee. This was the first event organised by the new 2015 NUS Economics Alumni Committee and there will be many more great events to come.

First published in ECONews in August 2015

Singapore Children’s Society Day Outing SG50-NUS110 Celebration 2015

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NUS Economics Alumni organised a great day of fun for 20 children from Singapore Children’s Society (SCS) and their families on 13 June 2015. This event was part of the SG50-NUS110 celebrations in giving back to the society. Under privileged children from SCS got to do something extraordinary and fun that day. They went ice-skating at J-cube! Some of the children and their families were especially excited as it was their first time ice-skating. They watched in anticipation as the ice was being resurfaced before the morning skating session. While some children took to ice-skating immediately, others were slightly apprehensive at first. However, it was not long before everyone was gliding gleefully in the rink! As for those who could not skate well, the NUS Department of Economics staff members were there to guide them. Smiles and laughter were all around from the joy of ice-skating!

After two hours of excitement, it was time to break for lunch. Everyone was happy to chomp down their MacDonalad’s meal as all their energy had been well-spent. After lunch, the NUS Economics Alumni volunteers ran an SG50 Drawing Activity as a way of engaging the children with the $G50 celebration. The children from SCS were divided into groups and asked to draw their vision of Singapore in the next 50 years. The alumni, NUS Economics staff and their children joined in the different activity groups. The children were very creative and enthusiastic in their drawings. They presented their drawings to Professor Basant Kapur from NUS and Mr Tan Tai Kiat, an alumni, who were the judges for the activity. All the children did a great job in their drawings. They presented to the judges their ideas of how Singapore would be like in 50 years, from having space ships, higher sky scrapers to many other interesting stories. Although the judges had a hard time awarding the prizes, everyone went home a winner as each child won a gift pack!

It was a great SG50-NUS110 celebration event, with lots of camaraderie between the families from SCS, NUS Department of Economics staff, as well as the NUS Economics Alumni’ volunteers. Everyone went home happy and entertained.

First published in ECONews in August 2015

NUS Economics Commencement Night 2014

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13 July 2014 at NUSS Guild House, Suntec City

By Jazreel (NUS Economics Society) & Valerie Chow (NUS Economics Alumni, Social Secretary)

For the very first time, an NUS Economics Commencement Night was organized specially for the NUS class of 2014 graduates. It turned out to be a great night with lots of good food, fun and laughter! The theme was “Red Carpet”, and the graduates looked stunning in their evening wear. Some really dressed the part as they sauntered down the red carpet. A red carpet was laid for graduates to walk up to the photo booth for their commemorative pictures for the night!

The event started off with speeches from NUS Economics Alumni and OAR representatives. A group picture was taken to remember the joyful and entertaining night. Mr Richard Style, the emcee of the night, started the activities on a high note with ice breaker games which hyped up the crowd. The emcee really brought the house down throughout the night with his hilarious antics. 

The buffet was extremely sumptuous. The graduates enthusiastically participated in many entertaining stage games, such as performances from the famous “Titanic” scene. The graduates were very sporting in participating in different games. Both the enjoyable atmosphere as well as the attractive prizes really gave them an incentive! 

There was a photo booth especially set up for the graduates to take pictures. The graduates really enjoyed themselves as they posed with the different props to commemorate their graduation night. The highlight of the night was when the “Best Dressed Ladies and Men” were crowned after they had showed off their special talents. That got the crowd all excited.

In the end, everyone went home with something – new friends, prizes, fun, laugher, photos and a belly full of good food. It was truly a bittersweet ending for the graduates, as they finally took the bow and concluded their years as an undergraduate! A truly wonderful and entertaining night which ended on a super high note as the emcee hyped the crowd to cheer “Hip, Hip, Hooray” for NUS & the journey ahead. 

A group of graduates who won an ice breaker game! 
Fun and action on stage as two teams battle it out with their rendition of ‘Titanic’.

This article was published in ECONews in December 2014

Economics Alumni Ride Trishaws to Raise Funds (2013)

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The sky looked threatening and it did rain in the morning but by 5 pm, the skies cleared and al 7 pm, NUS Economics Alumni was off to its 2nd trishaw fund-raising event on Friday, 1 Novernber 2013. The guest of honour, Assoc Prof Zeng Jinli, represented the Head of Department in riding off in the first trishaw, accompanied by the president of NUS Economics Alumni, Mr Daniel Lo. Other economics staff were there lo support: Dr Connie Chung, Dr Lee Soo Ann and Mr Chan Kok Hoe who took the photos while running alongside the trishaws! Sponsors paid for the 30 trishaws rented for the event, each trishaw raising $500 for the NUS Economics Alumni Bursary Fund, netting over $15,000 in all. Seven undergraduates turned up, including some who were bursary recipients. This Fund awards 3 bursaries worth $2000 each for three years of undergraduate study, based largely on need but also on merit since recipients must have a 3.2 CAP average.

As there were 2 passengers in each trishaw, there were altogether over 60 persons present and they adjourned to a buffet dinner at a nearby restaurant to end a very wholesome evening. Thanks to the department for paying for the rental of the trishaws and their professional riders, who being in their fifties and sixties represented the pioneer generation who used trishaws as a mode of transport in the central business district in days gone by. The department also paid for the buffet dinner. Today these trishaws are largely patronized by tourists, but there were many Singaporeans in the event who had never sat in a trishaw before! Do go to the trishaw centre at the junction of Waterloo Street and Bencoolen Link to support these trishaw riders who depend on your support for their livelihood!

First published in ECONews in April 2014

Law and You – Talk by Economics Alumni Committee on 9 May 2014

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To encourage the broadening of knowledge beyond the subject matter of Economics and as part of the continuous effort to create interesting events for Economics alumni and students alike, the Economics Alumni Committee presented a talk on the topic of Law and You. The speaker was a practicing lawyer, a double degree alumna in Economics and Law and a current member of the Committee.

To bring the heavy subject of law closer to the hearts of the audience, the talk gave a simple and understandable overview of topical subjects such as personal injury, sexual harassment, family law, contracts and lemon law. The topics were presented in an engaging manner, e.g. “Accidents — Who should be responsible for my misfortune?”, “Blurred Line or Crossing the Line?” The speaker also gave hypothetical scenarios and multiple-choice questions, which encouraged audience participation.

The talk received a warm response from an enthusiastic audience and was a delightful success that overran its allocated time.

We thank the speaker, Ms Shen Xiaoyin, and everyone involved for the effort in presenting this talk. We look forward to future events by the Economics Alumni Committee.

This article was published in ECONews in December 2014

CNY Lunch 2014

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On 8 February 2014, NUS Economics Alumni ushered in the Year of the Horse with its annual Chinese New Year lunch held at Beng Hiang restaurant. It was certainly a rousing reunion with four tables full of Economics undergraduates as well as Economics, Business and Engineering alumni tossing Yu Sheng into the air while catching up with one another. 

Mr Daniel Lo, President of the Economics alumni took the opportunity to express his gratitude for the support given to the Economics Alumni over the year. He presented tokens of appreciation to the committee members of the Economics alumni and undergraduate society as well as a hamper to the Office of Alumni Relations. The winners of the Economics department tennis tournament also received the challenge trophy from Daniel at the lunch.

It was an afternoon which passed all too quickly with the sumptuous 9-course lunch and great conversations. Many did not even realise they had been in the restaurant for more than three hours when they left and were already looking forward to the next reunion lunch! 

This article was published in ECONews in April 2014

Inaugural Economics Alumni Homecoming Event 2013

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By Sim Yang Jun Bernard (ECONews reporter)

On 6 December 2013, the NUS Economics Department, together with the NUS Economics Alumni, organised the inaugural Economics Alumni Homecoming event at the Alumni House@Kent Ridge. The evening began with a sumptuous dinner which was the best way for our alumni to catch up with their friends, former classmates and Professors from the department over food.

In his opening address, Professor Julian Wright, Head of NUS Economics Department, announced that the department hopes to achieve two main objectives with this inaugural homecoming event. Firstly, the department wishes to know how our alumni are doing after graduation. Our graduates would be in a more informed position to share with our current undergraduates the skills valuable to today’s labour market. Earlier this year, the NUS Economics Society had organised a speed mentoring event and our undergraduates had benefitted from the alumni’s sharing. The department hopes more of such alumni-undergraduate interaction and sharing sessions will be organised. In fact, in the upcoming month of February 2014, the department will be inviting some of our alumni to be part of a panel to address undergraduate’s concerns about life after graduation.  The second objective of this event is to attract our alumni members to be active. The Economics Alumni is a relatively young alumni set up in 2007 but it is already one of the most active alumni in NUS and the most active in Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. However, there is a need to push for even more activities and the growth of the alumni. Professor Wright urged our alumni to be active members and come out with new initiatives of which the department will support them. 

Following Professor Wright’s address, Mr Daniel Lo, Chairman of the NUS Economics Alumni, shared with the audience the activities that has been organised by the alumni and the activities lined up for the upcoming 2014. Mr Low remarked that we are a blessed lot being in Singapore. Unlike the rest of the world where there is massive unemployment, in Singapore jobs are chasing people. China alone churns out 7.7 million graduates each year but because of the tight labour market, these graduates are working in low-skilled jobs such as waiters. In Europe, youth unemployment is in excess of 25%. Therefore, given that we are blessed, we should give back more. The alumni has organised two Trishaw fund-raising event and has raised a total of $33,000 which will help reduce the financial burden of economics undergraduate students in the form of bursaries. The annual alumni dinner is organised to coincide with the commencement ceremony to reach out to graduating students. The alumni recognize that networking has an economic value that cannot be quantified. The alumni has thus also organised mentor-mentee events to help undergraduates make more informed decisions. In the past there is one mentor attached to one mentee, but due to a lack of mentors, the ‘clan’ concept is now adopted where two mentors are attached to three to five undergraduates. Going forward, the alumni would like to work more closely with the department. Next year, in 2014, the NUS Economics Department will be celebrating its 85th anniversary with a gala dinner and the alumni hopes to raise funds during the dinner for bursaries to help even more needy undergraduate students. In his concluding remarks, Mr Low describes the Alumni as an in-group and the more activities the members take part in, the more benefits they get out of the alumni and the more others will benefit from the members. The Alumni Homecoming Event concluded with a photo-taking session.

Economics Alumni Family Photo

Comments by Our Alumnus about the Alumni Homecoming Event

“It was nice to see ex-classmates and professors who have made an impact on my life and more importantly, tell our professors how much we have grown.”  – Arvin Tang, Graduating Class of 11/12

“It’s good to see familiar faces and catch-up with our professors and friends. – Shan, Graduating Class of 11/12 

Advice by Alumni to Current Undergraduates

“Be open. Do not be afraid to ask even stupid questions.” – Ye Cheng Liang, Graduating Class of 12/13

“Challenge yourself, take challenging modules which interests you.”  – Boon Heng , Graduating Class of 11/12

This article was first published in ECONews in December 2013

Occupational Social Status in Singapore: Labour as Social Subjects Not Manpower

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By Sim Yang Jun Bernard (ECONews Reporter)

On 11 September 2013, the NUS Economics Alumni held an evening talk and discussion on the topic “Occupational Social Status in Singapore” with guest speaker, Dr. Daniel Goh, Associate Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Dr. Daniel Goh is a well-known commentator on socio-political issues and was one of the high-profile faces rolled-out by the opposition Worker’s Party at its Punggol East by-election campaign rallies.  

It was a promising intellectual exchange between two different fields of social sciences. The session began with a light-hearted joke (by Mr Chan Kok Hoe) that economics is the discipline that teaches people how to make choices, whereas sociology believes that people have no choice! On a more serious note, Dr. Goh suggested that when it comes to decision-making analysis, economists tend to forget the influence of social and cultural norms.   

The topic of occupational social status is one that has gained popularity in recent years with much debate over the issue of minimum wage and influx of foreign workers. Dr. Goh first highlighted that policy intervention has unintended consequences on other aspects of society. To illustrate his point he focused on two particular industries – public bus drivers and hawkers. 

Dr. Goh ignited the discussion by bringing the audience’s attention to the puzzling case of why the salary of bus drivers has remained low despite a strong demand for them by public transport service providers. Dr. Goh attributes this phenomenon to decades of labour substitution of our local bus drivers with foreign workers. Foreign workers make up 40% of the bus drivers population in the public transport industry and this has caused the social status of bus drivers to decline. As foreign workers tend to be perceived as low skilled, the public perception of an industry filled with foreign workers is one that is of a lower social status. Dr Goh posits that due to the cheap cost of foreign labour, even if the supply of local bus drivers were to drop relative to demand, SBS and SMRT will be reluctant to pay higher wages to attract local bus drivers. Instead, they would likely lobby for a relaxation in the dependency ratio of foreign workers. 

Serving more food for thought, Dr. Goh went on to discuss the occupational status of hawkers and the future of our hawker food culture. Traditionally, being a hawker was seen as a respectable occupation. However, it is sad that the hawker industry seems to be declining in popularity with the National Heritage Board trying to actively promote hawker food as part of our cultural heritage to mitigate this decline, albeit without much success. 

Dr. Goh identified a few possible factors for the lowering of hawkers’ occupational social status, which makes fewer Singaporeans willing to take up ‘hawking’ as a career. First, the food court boom has led to high bidding for food court space as well as food court companies actively cultivating a more high-class image of food courts relative to hawker centres so as to attract more customers away from hawker centres. Second, the relatively more successful hawkers venture into food courts by franchising their business, which develops a socially constructed market hierarchy of graduating from hawker stalls to food courts. 

Third, the government’s regulations have made it harder for hawkers to make a sustainable living. Dr. Goh cited examples of government regulations such as hawkers being recommended to freeze prices especially when the price pressure comes from increased rentals, hawkers at Serangoon Gardens having their thumbprint scanned before they can open their hawker stall for the day (to prevent hawkers from illegally subletting their stalls), etc. All these regulations have made ‘hawking’ more cumbersome. The interplay of these factors has unfortunately led to a decline in the quality of hawker food and there is even talk to preserve ‘hawking’ as a heritage as though it is becoming extinct. 

Children of hawkers nowadays do not want to follow in their parents’ footsteps, a stark contrast from the past when it was commonplace to hear of sibling rivalry over who will inherit the hawker stall of the parent. In his concluding remarks, Dr. Goh urged policymakers and academics to reevaluate policies so that they treat labour as social subjects and not as mere manpower issues.

This article was first published in ECONews in December 2013

NUS Economics Alumni Chinese New Year Lohei Lunch (2013)

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On 16 February 2013, the NUS Economics Alumni gathered at Bee Heong Palace Restaurant for its annual Chinese New Year lunch. Staff of the Economics Department, alumni as well as mentors and mentees of the mentorship programme provided a rousing start to the lunch, tossing Yu Sheng into the air and shouting many good-luck wishes.  

They then tucked into a sumptuous eight-course lunch and caught up with old friends as they chatted the afternoon away. Prof Julian Wright, Head of the Economics Department and A/P Victor Savage, Acting Director of Alumni Relations joined the alumni in the festivities too.  

The lunch ended with Prof Wright presenting letters of appreciation to the committee members of the alumni and also welcoming its new chairman Mr Daniel Lo.

This article was first published in ECONews in December 2013

NUS Economics Alumni Annual Dinner 2012 at 2 Goodwood Hill

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It was the grandest event of the year for the NUS Economics Alumni, which is the annual dinner event that was held to great success! This was the 5th annual dinner and the biggest turnout ever of about 100 people came to share in this joyful event. We have the privilege of Professor Julian Wright, the new Head of NUS Economics Department as our Guest of Honor. He graced the event sharing profound information about NUS Economics department success so far in worldwide education rankings and latest insights on happenings undertaken by the department. Dr Lee Soo Ann, Chairman of NUS Economics Alumni also shared the formation of the Alumni and the upcoming events to entice graduating students as well as Alumni to join in the fun. We also have the support of OAR for our event with Mr Wang Peng Meng, Associate Director of OAR who spoke about OAR activities and so graciously donated the goodies for our goodies bags, we especially love the Linus — the NUS Lion!

The event was also bittersweet for the graduating economic students as the dinner was a swansong event for them. There were Alumni members from various cohorts, NUS Economics department staff and students as well as guests from SMU Economics Society. We hosted five guests from SMU Economics Society which helped build the relationship among economics cohorts of SMU and NUS. Besides the sumptuous buffet, there were entertaining games such as Bingo & Treasure Hunt which had the crowd entertained. Also, an Economics Quiz to test everyone’s economics knowledge which was quickly answered by the participants! In the end, everyone went home filled up with the good food and wine as well as knowing more about NUS. Economics Alumni, the new department head — Professor Wright and future activities. NUS Economics Alumni is one of the most active Alumni — always. organizing events, talks and trips to cater to all Alumni. Lastly, we had a final group picture to remember the joyful, entertaining night, full of camaraderie amongst the Economics greats!

First published in 2012