Time for women to rise to new heights

The Straits Times - - OPINION - An­thony Oei Paul Chan Poh Hoi Ed­ward Tay Wee Meng Su­san Tan Lin Neo (Miss)

The un­hap­pi­ness ex­pressed over Madam Hal­imah Ya­cob’s walkover win in the re­served pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is un­der­stand­able (No let-up in on­line crit­i­cism of un­con­tested elec­tion; Sept 14).

How­ever, now that she has been in­au­gu­rated, let us give our first fe­male Pres­i­dent the space to con­cen­trate on the heavy re­spon­si­bil­i­ties she has to shoul­der.

Madam Hal­imah must be com­mended for her brav­ery in ac­cept­ing the ar­du­ous chal­lenges of the of­fice of the Pres­i­dent. She won her spurs by meet­ing the el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria.

In the Gov­ern­ment, she has bro­ken the glass ceil­ing and is lead­ing the way. She is a role model and an in­spi­ra­tion, es­pe­cially to our women.

This is a mo­men­tous new chap­ter in our his­tory. Never be­fore have we had a woman as the uni­fy­ing force of our mul­tira­cial and multi-re­li­gious so­ci­ety, and to cham­pion our cause here and abroad.

It makes lit­tle Sin­ga­pore the equal of ter­ri­to­ries and coun­tries like Hong Kong, Tai­wan, Ger­many and Bri­tain.

Is this the pre­lude to the rise of woman power in Sin­ga­pore? The tal­ent un­doubt­edly ex­ists.

Two Cab­i­net min­is­ters, sev­eral min­is­ters of state and nu­mer­ous MPs are women. There are also women helm­ing multi­bil­lion-dol­lar cor­po­ra­tions in the pri­vate sec­tor.

The tal­ent pool will surely widen over time.

The big ques­tion is whether those ca­pa­ble and el­i­gi­ble are will­ing to an­swer the call of duty to do great deeds for the peo­ple and coun­try.

I hope the day will come when think­ing about hav­ing a fe­male prime min­is­ter is not build­ing cas­tles in the air.

Un­til then, I wish Pres­i­dent Hal­imah suc­cess in ful­fill­ing her role for the pub­lic good, un­der her slo­gan of “Do Good, Do To­gether”. I have doubts about how mean­ing­ful it is to in­tro­duce prod­ucts with a spe­cific “Suit­able for di­a­bet­ics” la­bel be­cause there is the risk of over-con­sump­tion (Too many prod­ucts are ‘health­ier choice’, by Mr Jonathan Wong Wai Kheong; Sept 15).

The sugar tax ap­proach is pas­sive and in­ef­fec­tive since sugar is not the sole rea­son for obe­sity and di­a­betes.

Healthy life­style, mod­er­ate sugar in­take and reg­u­lar ex­er­cise help.

Health­ier Choice la­bels sim­ply mean the prod­ucts con­tain lower lev­els of “neg­a­tive” nu­tri­ents and more “pos­i­tive” nu­tri­ents. Caveat emp­tor still ap­plies when you pur­chase the drink.

It is bet­ter to spark a so­cial be­havioural change to ab­stain from or re­duce con­sump­tion of sug­ary drinks. It is sad that the Na­tional Sci­ence Ex­per­i­ment Big Data Chal­lenge will not con­tinue next year (Nanyang Girls’ High the big win­ner in data chal­lenge; Sept 14).

Its mer­its go be­yond kin­dling an in­ter­est in our stu­dents in sci­ence or merely col­lat­ing and analysing data.

The data col­lected could form part of the up­com­ing Sin­ga­pore Stu­dent Learn­ing Space (New on­line plat­form will let stu­dents learn at own pace; Aug 17).

Many more gen­er­a­tions of stu­dents could ac­cess the data in a safe en­vi­ron­ment, make hy­pothe­ses and draw in­fer­ences.

They can then make bet­ter sense of the dy­namic en­vi­ron­ment we live in and the so­cial pat­terns we en­counter. It also of­fers them an

Per­haps the best al­ter­na­tive is plain wa­ter.

Pro­fes­sor Chia Kee Seng, dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Pub­lic Health, pro­jected that 34 per cent of peo­ple aged 24 to 35 could be­come di­a­betic by the time they reach 65 (Ris­ing obe­sity among young set to worsen di­a­betes rate in Sin­ga­pore; Feb 22, 2016).

The grim pic­ture re­flects the ne­ces­sity of chang­ing eat­ing habits in our stress­ful life­style to wean peo­ple off the de­sire for sweet drinks.

Gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion is nec­es­sary if we want to pre­vent the num­ber of di­a­bet­ics from ris­ing.

Plain wa­ter is the best drink to quench thirst.

Drink­ing two litres daily will help flush our sys­tem.

Once we get used to the flavour op­por­tu­nity to work on real is­sues faced dur­ing data col­lec­tion.

By ty­ing up with ex­ist­ing cod­ing com­pe­ti­tions, such as the Na­tional Pri­mary Games Cre­ation Com­pe­ti­tion, and work­ing along­side men­tors from higher ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, stu­dents would ap­pre­ci­ate the value of team work and of ap­proach­ing these big data is­sues with a holis­tic view.

The scope of the project could also be broad­ened.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions could be en­cour­aged to pro­vide data to the sand­box.

For in­stance, SMRT and SBS Tran­sit could give data on traf­fic pat­terns, and Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Service Sin­ga­pore could con­trib­ute its weather of plain wa­ter, soft drinks and sweet bev­er­ages would be­come the sec­ond choice.

Healthy eat­ing habits are an ef­fec­tive rem­edy against obe­sity and di­a­betes.

This re­quires par­al­lel ad­just­ments to the so­cial en­vi­ron­ment to gain mo­men­tum for plain wa­ter drink­ing.

Hawker cen­tres, food­courts and restau­rants need to co­op­er­ate to pro­vide bot­tled wa­ter at low cost.

The Gov­ern­ment should man­date that suf­fi­cient drink­ing foun­tains be in­stalled at shop­ping malls, bus ter­mi­nals and MRT sta­tions.

Col­lec­tive ef­forts and gov­ern­ment sup­port are nec­es­sary to rein in obe­sity and di­a­betes and de­velop the right so­cial at­ti­tude to im­bibe this healthy cul­ture. ob­ser­va­tion and cli­ma­to­log­i­cal records.

Cor­po­rate spon­sors could be in­vited to pro­vide project fund­ing or ap­pren­tice­ships for projects of com­mer­cial in­ter­est. Such in­dus­trial col­lab­o­ra­tion could at­tract grad­u­at­ing stu­dents to the or­gan­i­sa­tions later on.

Tap­ping the cre­ativ­ity of our stu­dents, these big data project ideas should con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to our knowl­edge repos­i­tory and fur­ther ce­ment Sin­ga­pore’s global rep­u­ta­tion in ur­ban plan­ning and tech­nol­ogy.

By en­gag­ing stu­dents be­yond their co­horts and ex­pos­ing them to re­al­is­tic big data projects early, Sin­ga­pore will be build­ing es­sen­tial tal­ent pipe­lines in our quest to build a smarter na­tion. It is very wor­ry­ing to see school chil­dren get­ting vi­o­lent and be­hav­ing like gang­sters.

Where were the teach­ers when the fight broke out at St Hilda’s Sec­ondary School (Man in vi­ral fight video not a teacher: School; Sept 15)?

The man in the video was re­ported to be an in­tern, with­out the train­ing or author­ity to man­age the stu­dents.

But in­stead of look­ing on, he should have im­me­di­ately alerted the teach­ers and prin­ci­pal to the in­ci­dent.

I hope schools will take se­ri­ous ac­tions against stu­dents who com­mit such vi­o­lent acts.

The mes­sage must be sent across to stu­dents that schools will not con­done any type of bul­ly­ing or vi­o­lence.

I urge par­ents to dis­ci­pline their chil­dren and to teach them that any form of vi­o­lence is un­ac­cept­able.

If stu­dents can be­have in such a vi­o­lent man­ner, how will they be­have when they are adults?

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