Physically Distant, Socially Connected – LKYSPP Alumni Virtual Get-Together

02 May

On 2 May, more than 40 Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) alumni across the world got together at the 'Physically Distant, Socially Connected – LKYSPP Alumni Virtual Get-Together', where 7 alumni shared their personal experiences of managing the Covid-19 pandemic. Johannes Loh ('10 Exchange) initiated the meet-up and chaired the panel. He is based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, as Senior Manager (Government and Public Sector advisory) at Ernst & Young.

Speakers included Louise Beehag ('18), Chief Engagement and Operations Officer at the Sydney Policy Lab in Australia. She shared that there was “a real sense of community” in her neighbourhood as people felt solidarity with each other and interacted more – though from a safe distance. Zainab Kyari ('17) heads to work daily at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency in Lagos, crossing five to six police checkpoints which are in place due to the lockdown regulations in Lagos State. Her role as Chief Officer (Personnel and Records) includes ensuring that staff identified for enforcement activities have the appropriate passes for movement, which are essential to the continued working of the ports.

Naila Maya Shofia ('11) said restrictions on gatherings in Italy have more than doubled the workload for educators like her at the Bocconi University in Milan. As a PhD candidate at the Department of Social and Political Sciences, she found the shift of all academic activities into online platforms an interesting experiment for the higher education system. Virtual interactions also form a major part of the day for alumnus Cui Fuqiang ('15), currently in Geneva, Switzerland, as Technical Officer with the WHO. He is also a professor in the School of Public Health at Peking University. In his personal capacity, he spoke on the importance of research-driven policymaking. Information on the virus and its spread has been made available to all countries at the same time but many things are yet unknown in this evolving situation, leading to uncertainty.

Singapore-based alumnus Allen Lai ('08), Regional Director for Medical Affairs and Market Access at Ferring Pharmaceuticals, agreed on the need for constant and clear communication as part of crisis management. Such communication must factor in how different parts of the community get their information. The need for clear and reliable messaging from the leadership was underscored by alumni like Minnesota-based Corey Christianson ('10), owner of KC’s Country Market. His grocery stores serve communities that are coping with disruptions in food supply as workers in meat-processing plants have tested positive. His stores have implemented regular disinfection procedures, mask-wearing and also curbside deliveries for the elderly.

Alumni on the chat also discussed the long-term implications of the pandemic, such as concerns about economic recovery and the likelihood of migrant work becoming more limited. The virtual get-together proved that although travelling in the near future seems unlikely, connections can still be forged and strengthened despite distance.

  • Alumni Group - Lee Kuan Yew School Alumni Chapter (Singapore)
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