Invitation to MAIS 2013: Moving Nusantara Sounds – Malay Religious Beliefs in Song and Rhythm (10 Oct 2013) 6.30pm LT8 FASS

The FASS community is cordially invited to attend the Malay Arts and Islam Seminar 2013. This year’s theme is, “Moving Nusantara Sounds – Malay Religious Beliefs in Song and Rhythm.” Invited speakers include, Prof. Margaret Kartomi (Monash University, Australia), Dr. Geoffrey Benjamin (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies), and musician Fadhli Ramlee. Please find more information about the seminar speakers on the attached poster. A light dinner will be served at 6.15pm outside LT8. For catering purposes, please RSVP to Johan ( by 8 October 2013.

 Date: 10 October 2013

Location: Lecture Theatre 8, FASS, NUS

Time: 6.30 – 9pm

Call for Abstracts: 14th Malaysia-Singapore Forum, 9-10 Dec 2013

Call for Abstracts (DEADLINE:  07 October 2013)


Jointly organized by the University of Malaya and National University of Singapore

Date    : 9-10 Dec 2013
Venue : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Theme : Globalization and its Effects on Society

The organizing committee is pleased to invite abstract submissions for presentations at the 14th Malaysia-Singapore Forum. Topics of interest related to the theme include but are not limited to:

  • Globalization and Migration – examining ways of integration and adjustment vis-à-vis increased human mobility as people seek employment, education, family formation outside their home country.
  • Globalization and Lifestyle – (new) consumption possibilities; hybridity; youth culture and aspirations. 
  • Globalization and Participation – environment/health crises, governance and international policies.
  • Globalization and Economic Resilience – protection of economy against unemployment, hazards etc.

Abstracts must be written in English in no more than 300 words. If abstract is accepted, full paper of about 3,000–3,500 words (no more than 12 pages excluding references, tables and appendices) will be needed for inclusion in the Forum Proceedings. Full paper must follow APA style. Kindly submit your abstract with title and your brief profile all in word document file to Ms Amy Tan Xiang Ru at                                                                                                                   

The organizers are pleased to cover the airfare and accommodation expenses for presenters at this forum. Priority will be given to FASS faculty and graduate students.

Important Dates:

  • Abstracts Deadline: 07 October 2013
  • Notification to Authors: 10 October 2013
  • Final paper due: 10 November 2013

On behalf of Forum Conveners:

Prof Dr. Md Sidin Ahmad Ishak, Deputy Dean (Postgraduate), FASS, UM

A/P Ho Kong Chong, Vice-Dean (Research), FASS, NUS

Applications now welcomed for the 2014 Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Distinguished Fellowship on Contemporary Southeast Asia

The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Stanford University (Stanford) are pleased to announce that applications are welcome between now and 1 November 2013 for the 2014 Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Distinguished Fellowship on Southeast Asia. Interested individuals with backgrounds or positions in the social sciences or humanities are encouraged to apply. Candidates may be of any nationality or seniority.

One or two candidates may be awarded fellowships. A successful candidate will spend one month at NUS and one, two, or three months at Stanford, writing and conducting research on, or related to, contemporary Southeast Asia.  Fellows will also have opportunities to speak and take part in seminars and workshops organized by relevant campus units. In determining the overall length of the fellowship and the sequencing of the stays at each campus, the preferences of the fellow concerned will be taken into account.

Fellowships will normally begin and end within the period from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015. Each fellowship will cover one roundtrip economy-class airfare from the fellow’s country of residence to NUS (or Stanford), continuing on to Stanford (or NUS), and returning from Stanford (or NUS) to the fellow’s country of residence, and will include a stipend of US$ 7500 per month during the fellowship period.

Applicants should submit the following six (6) items
(1) a project statement (not exceeding three pages) that addresses the candidate’s research project’s central analytic question(s), explains its intellectual contribution to scholarship on Southeast Asia, and describes the writing and research envisaged during the fellowship. The statement should also clearly state the specific research outcomes envisaged.
(2) a detailed schedule of the proposed fellowship period including dates of anticipated residence at NUS and at Stanford.
(3) a sample of published, English-language work by the candidate that is directly or indirectly related to the research project.
(4) the candidate’s full curriculum vitae including a list of publications.
(5) full contact information, including email addresses, for three (3) academic referees who should be able, if asked, to evaluate the proposal and the candidate.
(6) full contact information for the applicant including an email address.

Complete applications are due by 1 November 2013.  Results will be announced no later than mid December 2013.

Applications should be sent simultaneously to both NUS and Stanford at these addresses:

NUS – Lee Kong Chian NUS-SU Initiative on Southeast Asia, Research Division, Dean’s Office, FASS, National University of Singapore, The Shaw Foundation Building, 5 Arts Link, Block AS7, Level 6, Singapore 117570
Email:; tel: (65) 6516 7035; fax (65) 6773 6878

Stanford – Lee Kong Chian NUS-SU Initiative on Southeast Asia,
Southeast Asia Forum, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Encina Hall E-301, Stanford University, 616 Serra Street, Stanford, CA 94305-6055, USA
Email: ; tel: (650) 724 6403; fax (650) 650 723 6530

‘Forefront Asia’ puts Southeast Asia and NUS at the forefront of Asian Studies

Between August 14-16, FASS was delighted to present Forefront Asia: the Signature Series, an annual meeting for expert dialogues on Asia. Each forum in the annual series consists of focused workshops on topics of critical interest, as well as talks designed for a wider audience of scholars, graduate students and interested members of the public. The first workshop in FASS’s Forefront Asia Signature Series, “The Study of Southeast Asia Today: A Dialogue at NUS”, showcased the latest scholarship on Southeast Asia while creating a forum for dialogue and interaction among FASS colleagues working on this region, together with Southeast Asianists from the region and beyond.

Participants from NUS, the region and beyond

The first keynote speaker was Professor Anthony Reid (Emeritus Professor at ANU), whose talk on “Three Reasons Southeast Asian History Matters” drew on three unique historical, geographical and political facets of the region. Firstly Southeast Asia is unique due to the relative equality and autonomy of its women, especially in production and commerce in the period preceding 19th century modernisation. Secondly Southeast Asia warrants study due to its tectonics and the global climate impact eruptions and earthquakes have caused in the past and will continue to do so. Thirdly the region is unique in how the nation-state is only a relatively new import and so a deeper study of the region reveals how the concept of nation-state need not be the narrative core of a place’s history.

Professor Tony Reid


Following several paper presentations, Professor Jonathan Rigg (Durham University/NUS), the second keynote speaker presented his paper titled “Chasing after the wind: A cautionary tale of Southeast Asian success”, which addressed how the very success of the region’s economies has, however, bred new challenges and fresh tensions. These challenges, problems and tensions range from seemingly intractable pockets of poverty, to failures of government and governance, questions over the future sustainability of growth, new issues connected with emerging social maladies, environmental degradation and what some commentators perceived to be a declining quality of life.

On day two, Professor Abidin Kusno (University of British Columbia), the third keynote speaker,  gave his talk on “City of the Dammed” about flooding, or ‘banjir’ in Jakarta.  The talk touched on city planning and architecture while addressing  questions such as consciousness of time, space and politics, environmental justice, flood management, representation, climate change and North-South debates.

In between the other papers of the second day, the Dean was also delighted to officially launch the Faculty’s new PhD in Comparative Asian Studies.

The Dean,Professor Brenda Yeoh prepares to strike the gong while Professor Prasenjit Duara, A/P Maitrii Aung-Thwin, Professor Robbie Goh, A/P SHirlena Huang, A/P Vineeta Sinha, A/P Hendrik Meyer-Ohle and A/P Noor Aisha Abdul Rahan look on.

The third day of the conference concluded with a roundtable for Journal Editors who represented most of the top journals that cover Southeast Asian and the region.

Giving patients a HED-SMART head start: Research paper led by NUS named among top 10 abstracts at prestigious ERA-EDTA’s International Congress

A paper authored by Dr Konstadina Griva from the Department of Psychology, NUS, was awarded a distinction for being among the top 10 best abstracts submitted to the prestigious European Renal Association and European Dialysis and Transplant Association’s (ERA-EDTA) annual congress.

The paper entitled ‘Short and long-term outcomes of the hemodialysis self management intervention randomised trial (HED-SMART) – a practical low intensity intervention to improve adherence and clinical markers’ was one of more than 2,400 abstracts submitted for consideration by the expert international panel.

Dr Konstantina Griva is the principal investigator on a randomized controlled trial of self-management intervention funded by National Kidney Foundation, Singapore (HEmoDialysis Self MAnagement Randomised Trial; HED SMART). For patients receiving hemodialysis it is vital that diet, fluid and medication recommendations are closely adhered to. However, the success of self management is often patchy and the importance of following the advice is not well understood.

The work led by Dr Konstadina Griva and collaborators examined the use of a HED-SMART intervention, a four session, group based, self management intervention on treatment adherence for patients on hemodialysis. They found the HED-SMART program had significant post-intervention improvements in both clinical markers and self-report adherence.

The ERA-EDTA is one of the fastest growing Medical Association whose purpose is to encourage and to report advances in the field of clinical nephrology, dialysis, renal transplantation and related subjects. Their annual conference is the world leading event for practitioners and researchers in the fields of clinical nephrology, hypertension, dialysis and kidney transplantation.

‘Fire’ and ‘Old Toilets’ win top prizes at the Singapore on Screen FASS Undergraduate Short Film Competition

Two very different films garnered the top prizes at FASS’ inaugural ‘Singapore on Screen’ Undergraduate Short Film competition when the final eight films were screened in competition on Saturday at the NUS Open Day at UTown . The winner in the fiction category was “Fire”, a moving piece that touched on intergenerational student activism and the 1989 ‘June 4th Incident’.  The non-fiction winning film was completely different – “Old Toilets: Memoirs of a Daily Affair” was a fascinating, amusing, albeit discomfiting, personal historical account of Singapore’s toilet customs before modern sanitation. The runner-up films were equally diverse:  “Hello, Miss”, an dark urban chiller, and “The Broken Porcelain”, a reflection on the changing face on Chinatown(s).

Chris Yeo and the film-makers of “Fire”, Chen Lingzi, Wu Si and Lee Sin Poh
Chris Yeo and winning film-maker of “Old Toilets” Tan Shin


The event, organized by  the Singapore Research Nexus (SRN), was open to all undergraduates taking a module by FASS which involved film-production in 2012. The films had to be under 15 minutes in length, be related to Singapore and could  be creative works, documentaries, genre-explorations or pieces of visual ethnography. On Saturday the  top eight entries were screened to the public and the four judges gave  illuminating commentaries after each film for the audience and young film-makers to savour. The judges were: celebrated local film-maker and FASS Alumnus Mr Chris Yeo (Chair), Dr Ingrid Hoofd (CNM), Dr Valerie Wee (English Literature), and Dr Ivan Kwek (Sociology). The winning films each won a $500 prize with the runners up each receiving $200. In summing up, Chris Yeo commended the high quality of the films and iterated his pleasant surprise at how FASS Students have created films that would outshine films produced by their contemporaries at prestigious film schools.

A/P Michelle Lazar, Head of the SRN, introduces the judges and films

While the judges were deliberating there was a screening of  “Incorporating Film-making into Coursework at FASS” a short film of interviews with FASS Faculty Members who offer film as part of their courses: 

For more details on the winners and to watch the top four films please click below:

Fire (produced for the Department of Chinese Studies module Understanding Modern China through Film) – Filmmakers: Chen Lingzi, Wang Yao, Aw Luo Min, Lee Sin Poh, Wu Si, Allison Angelene Swieca

Old Toilets (produced for the module Everyday Life of Chinese Singaporeans: Past & Present) – Filmmaker: Tan Shin

Hello, Miss (produced for the Department of English Language and Literature module Film Genres: Stars and Styles) – Filmmakers: Haikal Aziz, Corina Tan, Kenneth Ang, Tricia Chean, Yang Tzu Hsuan

The Broken Porcelain (produced for the module Understanding Modern China through Film) – Filmmakers: Dina Berrada, Foo Fang Yu,Wong Siew Fong, Sim Wen Yan, Chua Wei Fang


FASS Ageing Research Influencing Policy and Changing Mindsets

FASS’ ageing-related research has been in the spotlight lately.  Much of the media interest has focused on two conferences and one special research paper as below.

Most recently Mr Chan Chun Sing (above), Acting Minister for Social and Family Development and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, attended the ‘Europe-Asia Forum on active ageing and intergenerational solidarity’ on 30 November, a conference co-organized by the Health and Family Children and Youth Clusters of FASS and the EU Centre in Singapore. This special forum brought together a delegation of European, Asian and NUS experts to share their insights and discuss good practices. The Minister and participants agreed ageing is not a crisis but an opportunity. Ageing is only a crisis if we do not apply our minds and think through the issues and put into action some of the measures to pre-empt the challenges.

Earlier in October, Dr Amy Khor, Singapore’s Minister of State for Health and Manpower, also attended a roundtable discussion titled ‘Ageing in Place – How Prepared is Singapore?’ Hosted by the Singapore Research Nexus and the Health Cluster of the FASS, the roundtable discussion saw some 130 NUS researchers, eldercare practitioners, advocates for the elderly and policy makers converge to examine the issue of ageing and how prepared Singapore is for the inevitable process.
Photos and video of the workshop can be viewed here:

Finally, a Ministry of Manpower-comissioned study by Assoc Prof Chia Ngee Choon and Assoc Prof Albert Tsui from the  Dept of Economics was scrutinized extensively in the local media as it reviewed the projected sufficiency of CPF contributions towards retirement. The paper titled ‘Adequacy of Singapore Central Provident Fund Payouts: Income Replacement Rates of Entrant Workers’  revealed three caveats for adequate retirement CPF payouts for young working Singaporeans

Augustine Kang Wee Cheng wins Young Investigator Award from the International Society for Peritoneal Dialysis (ISPD)

Augustine Kang’s honors thesis project recently won him the Young Investigator Award from the International Society for Peritoneal Dialysis (ISPD)! His write-up for this research is provided below. Congratulations, Augustine!

The research that earned the Young Investigator Award from the International Society for Peritoneal Dialysis (ISPD) was titled “Quality of Life & Emotional Adjustment in Peritoneal Dialysis vs. Hemodialysis: the Paradox of Higher Care Satisfaction in Peritoneal Dialysis Patients Despite higher Depression and Poorer Physical Health”. This was presented  at the 14th Congress of the ISPD from September 9th to 12th, 2012, in Kuala Lumpur, a biannual international meeting that bring together renal health care professionals, nephrologists, nurses and social workers that work in patient front care.

 The research thesis work brought up together data from two major research projects that Dr. Konstadina Griva spearheaded. The work provided first data on patient reported outcomes under different models of renal delivery outside tertiary centers, namely at home vs. community care. It is the first investigation to compare Quality-of-Life and emotional adjustment outcomes between patients on community-based Hemodialysis (HD) and Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) patients.

Based on a sample of 232 HD and 201 PD patients, the results not only confirmed marked impairments in quality of life in both dialysis modalities relative to general/healthy population, but also identified an interesting paradox: PD patients reported higher rates of depression and poorer physical health compared to community-based HD, yet they also expressed higher satisfaction with care and greater self efficacy in managing their illness. This pattern of results raises interesting questions as to what places patients on home dialysis (i.e. PD) at risk for emotional distress and how to best expand the existing models of renal care, which elicit high patient satisfaction to cater for the emotional needs of these patients.  There is the need explore more context of dialysis within the home environment in future research. The clinical implications highlight the importance of psychologists to work closely with nephrologists and their renal teams to identify early signs of emotional distress and provide support as needed.

Overall, the research project was identified as a major contribution to the area of psychosocial research by the ISPD and would not have been possible without the constant guidance from Dr. Griva.

Julianne Tan Wen-Li and Soh Wei Jie win Singapore Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Awards!

We are very proud to announce that two of our undergraduates, Soh Wei Jie and Julianne Tan, have had their undergraduate research recognized by the Singapore Psychological Society. Specifically, Wei Jie won the 2012 Best Undergraduate Research Award while Julianne won the 2012 Undergraduate Research Award for Best Qualitative Research. Congratulations, Wei Jie and Julianne!

julesprofile Photo


While recent research on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has turned its eye towards better understanding the high rates of comorbid anxiety difficulties in children and youths with ASD, there is a knowledge gap regarding how anxiety is qualitatively experienced in their everyday lives and the impact of this condition. Specifically, in this population of children who are different in terms of the way they perceive the world, behave and express themselves, are the various triggers and signs of anxiety, and the coping strategies used, unique to ASD or shared with other common experiences of anxiety in non-ASD individuals? Most studies have so far utilized standardized checklists developed for typically developing children and not children with ASD. Important information is often missed out as we try to “fit” ASD children’s experiences into those of children without ASD. Moreover, in most cases parents provide the information; teachers, who can provide unique and important observations from the often stressful school environment, are often ignored .

Therefore, this exploratory study reported a series of focus groups discussions with teachers from Special Education schools in Singapore regarding the anxiety difficulties of their students with ASD, most of whom also have associated intellectual and adaptive behaviour limitations. Teachers were interviewed in depth about their experiences with regards to their students’ anxiety triggers, signs, impact and strategies employed to manage anxiety. Their rich narratives were coded verbatim and a detailed coding system was developed to explore shared and autism-specific themes emerging from their perspectives. Taken together, the teachers’ views were strikingly consistent and provided a unique constellation of findings. Teachers identified change/unpredictability, aversive sensory experiences, social-communication difficulties and being prevented from engaging in stereotyped interests and activities as ASD-specific triggers of anxiety. These are thought to reflect common ASD-specific difficulties in sensory sensitivities, impairments in communication and perspective taking, and inflexible processing styles respectively. In addition, they also identified anxiety triggers that are shared with non-ASD individuals, such as specific phobias and performance-related demands. Strong themes were evident when we asked teachers how they can tell that their students are anxious, with most saying that they largely “see” anxiety in their students’ behaviour. For example, when children with ASD get anxious they will engage in more challenging, sensory or repetitive behaviours and more avoidance/escape behaviors.

The focus group results were also used to examine the potential validity of an existing framework of ASD-related stressors that has been proposed to account for heightened anxiety in ASD. While the existing model by Wood and Gadow was largely supported by the findings of the study, we also argued that the model was incomplete and that a more broad-based conceptualisation of anxiety across the entire autism spectrum is required.

Wei Jie:

The winning work is entitled “Hear No Evil: Can Music Attenuate the Irrelevant Speech Effect?”. Dr. Lim commented, “Many students listen to music while they study. We believe that this phenomenon transcends preferences towards learning styles, so that the benefits reaped from music listening during study actually have a very fundamental (biological) basis. Our goal was to show that music helps to consolidate cognitive resources that will in turn boost learning. Imagine the following scenario: In a noisy environment that is highly distracting, music creates this “transparent room”; when you step in (and close the door behind you), the distractors surround the room, remain visible (or rather, audible) and intelligible, are in fact processed, but they can no longer stifle you. Importantly, we think that it is the “music-ness” in music that creates this fascinating effect (which is why students listen to “music” in the first place). Through this work, we also hope to understand at least in part just what exactly constitutes “music”, a long-standing philosophical question that continues to fascinate scholars across a variety of fields.” For more information, go to our earlier story:

Soh Wei Jie wins Singapore Psychological Society (SPS) Best Undergraduate Research Award 2012

Among the top psychological research entries from the respective Universities and Institutes in Singapore, the NUS Department of Psychology is proud to have won the overall Best Undergraduate Research Award conferred by the Singapore Psychological Society (SPS) this year. This Award recognizes the top psychological research of the year accomplished by an undergraduate student, and can be withheld unless there is a deserving candidate. Mr. Soh Wei Jie, who recently graduated from the NUS Department of Psychology with First-Class Honours, pursued his undergraduate thesis research under the supervision of Dr. Lim Wee Hun Stephen, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology who has won multiple awards for excellent teaching and student research supervision. Mr. Soh’s thesis research emerged as the best among all 83 Honours Theses received and examined by the NUS Psychology Department in the 2011-12 academic year, and was subsequently nominated for the 2012 SPS Undergraduate Research Award.

Dr. Stephen Lim (left); Mr. Soh Wei Jie (centre); SPS President and MinDef Psychology Head Col. Dr. Bernard Lim (right)

The winning work is entitled “Hear No Evil: Can Music Attenuate the Irrelevant Speech Effect?”. Dr. Lim commented, “Many students listen to music while they study. We believe that this phenomenon transcends preferences towards learning styles, so that the benefits reaped from music listening during study actually have a very fundamental (biological) basis. Our goal was to show that music helps to consolidate cognitive resources that will in turn boost learning. Imagine the following scenario: In a noisy environment that is highly distracting, music creates this “transparent room”; when you step in (and close the door behind you), the distractors surround the room, remain visible (or rather, audible) and intelligible, are in fact processed, but they can no longer stifle you. Importantly, we think that it is the “music-ness” in music that creates this fascinating effect (which is why students listen to “music” in the first place). Through this work, we also hope to understand at least in part just what exactly constitutes “music”, a long-standing philosophical question that continues to fascinate scholars across a variety of fields.”

Our heartiest congratulations to Mr. Soh and Dr. Lim on winning this Award!