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Signature Conference addresses issues critical to Asia's future

29 June 2012

Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Mr Teo at the Signature Conference

Prof Mahbubani (third from right) with other expert panelists at the well-attended forum

Prof Tan sharing insights during the NIHA forum

With Asia's growing influence on the global stage, two key issues - demographics and good governance - will shape the destiny of countries in Asia and of Asia as a whole. Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean made this observation at the inaugural Signature Conference organised by the NUS Global Asia Institute (NUS-GAI) on 28 June.

To tackle the issue of an ageing population in Singapore, the Government has improved the Marriage and Parenthood Package, as well as tasked the National Population and Talent Division to review policies so as to encourage Singaporeans to marry and start families.

In terms of governance, leadership is key. "In Asia and around the world, countries will have to evolve their systems of governance in tandem with changing societal needs and demands," said Deputy Prime Minister Teo.

Themed "Transcending Boundaries of Geography and Knowledge", the two-day forum provides a platform to discuss research topics crucial to Asia's future including ageing, health, comparative Asian studies, Asian cities and system dynamics.

Painting a picture of global leadership was Prof Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS. In his keynote presentation, Prof Mahbubani opined that while the supply of global leaders has decreased, the demand for such leaders has increased. With the upcoming presidential elections in the United States and a leadership transition in the People's Republic of China, there will be many prospects for global leadership ahead.

The Signature Conference is held in conjunction with the NUS Initiative to Improve Health in Asia (NIHA) Forum 2012 where experts from Asia gather to examine health priorities and challenges in the region. Discussions this year include ageing, health issues in an urbanising Asia and emerging infectious disease risks. NIHA is supported by a S$17 million fund over a period of 10 years from the GSK-EDB Trust Fund.

The NUS-GAI is one of the initiatives which aim to make the University "a key knowledge centre on Asia; a well-connected knowledge hub which distinguishes itself by providing a new and more integrated understanding of issues of critical importance to Asia," said NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan.

Established in 2009, the NUS-GAI focuses on integrative studies, complementing existing NUS programmes with a significant Asian component.