Monday, December 28, 2020

Commentary: How a catchphase shaped Japan’s COVID-19 response - for the better

By Leo Lewis

28 Dec 2020 

TOKYO: Sometimes, when Japanese academics select the single written character that best captures the essence of the year gone by, there are surprises.

In 2020, there could only be one choice: Mitsu, meaning “close”, “intimate” or “dense”.

The selection attests to a word whose usage has been recast by COVID-19. Nearly a year into the pandemic, the process of that recasting has been vital.

It places Japan in a group with Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam and China, as theories form about the societal factors that might have contributed to keeping their infection and death rates comparatively low.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Commentary: Trump election fraud lawsuits tested the US judiciary. It passed

It turns out President Trump’s control does not extend to US federal courts, says an observer.

By Charles Gardner Geyh

22 Dec 2020

BLOOMINGTON, Indiana: A healthy constitutional culture, in which the people and their leaders respect the authority of their Constitution, requires a baseline of trust in the government – a baseline that, in the United States, has eroded from 77 per cent in the early 1960s to 17 per cent today.

This collapse of public confidence paved the way for a populist form of leadership that redirected public faith away from the institutions of government toward Donald Trump – whom voters trusted to consolidate power, neutralise opposition and “drain the swamp” of the experts and bureaucrats he deemed responsible for the government’s malaise.

In the past four years, President Trump has consolidated power to such an extent that the Republican Party has declined to adopt a party platform and effectively embraced the president as its alter ego.

Singapore’s hawker culture Unesco listing shows what’s missing in Thai street food scene

By Sirinya Wattanasukchai

December 21, 2020

Singapore has done it again! The island state's hawker culture has finally won United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) recognition as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

After almost three years, this island state has successfully made its people's everyday life — officially indicated on the list as "community dining and culinary practices in a multicultural urban context" — gain global acceptance through this prestigious list.

In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thanked the people who have worked very hard to get Singapore's hawker culture inscribed on the list.

"The biggest thanks must go to the generations of hawkers for nourishing a nation's stomach and spirits. This recognition would not have come without their sweat, toil and dedication to their profession," said Mr Lee.

He shared a few photos of hawker dishes and encouraged people to celebrate the week by ordering their favourite hawker dishes and sharing a photo under his post.

I'm sure many Thais would be jealous of their Association of Southeast Asian Nations neighbour, as they think their street food culture is second to none.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Commentary: Managers should stop treating work-from-home as a luxury

The office was never meant to be at home but because this arrangement is here to stay, bosses need to change the way they respond to their employees, says this observer.

By Sian Beilock

21 Dec 2020

NEW YORK CITY: Many managers are treating this year’s pandemic-induced shift to work-from-home as though it were standard telecommuting.

But it’s not, and operating under the assumption that it is can ultimately harm employees’ morale.

While office workers are typically faring better than essential workers during the pandemic, the abrupt shift to remote work was jarring, and its effects should not be overlooked.

Leadership experts and cognitive scientists can attest that resistance to change is less about the change itself and more about losing control and fear of uncertainty. Humans – and other animals, for that matter – respond defensively when the power to make decisions about their own lives is removed.

And in a recent study on COVID-19 and mental health, researchers found that adults surveyed in the United States and five European countries who believe that other people or random chance mostly dictates what happens to them also report greater symptoms of depression.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Singapore’s hawker culture clinches spot on Unesco’s intangible cultural heritage list

By Tessa Oh

December 16, 2020

SINGAPORE — After a journey of more than two years, Singapore’s hawker culture has made it onto a prestigious list of international treasures, alongside Indonesia’s angklung musical tradition and South Korea’s kimjang, the making and sharing of kimchi.

The decision to inscribe hawker culture in Singapore onto the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) was announced by the international body's intergovernmental committee on Wednesday (Dec 16).

This comes five years after Singapore’s successful bid to have the Botanic Gardens listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The nation's hawker culture joins the more than 463 items already inscribed on the list of intangible culture heritage. This is Singapore's first attempt at making this Unesco list.