On The Bird Wire

Climate Crisis: Is the Greta Effect enough?

Within a span of a year, Greta Thunberg’s weekly lone ranger act of skipping school to stage a climate strike outside the Swedish parliament has spread globally into what is known as the Fridays for Future movement. Despite being at the tender age of 16 and diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, Greta’s display of her commitment to the cause has been impressive.

By refusing environmental awards and refraining from travelling by air for international conferences, she has catapulted herself as a leading climate change campaigner, and earning audiences with various international leaders and politicians. Her message to them: to “listen to the science”, and also understand the acuteness of impending environmental disasters.

While these consistent and passionate efforts by a female teenager with disabilities are commendable, it is unclear how influential Greta’s call to “listen to the science” will be in getting politicians and corporations to address this “urgent climate emergency”.

Without discrediting the genuine concern that these young protesters have about the catastrophic impacts of climate change, one way forward would be to comprehensively understand existing societal concerns, and engage existing social movements. In other words, to listen to societies.

Read Sofiah Jamil’s full commentary here.

On The Bird Wire

What does curbing a culture of convenient consumption mean for Muslim societies?

Reflecting on global efforts to lead more environmentally sustainable lifestyles, our co-founder, Sofiah Jamil, presents her two cents on what these developments mean for Muslim societies.

Are Muslim consumers making better (ethical and environmentally sustainable) choices? Are Muslim business owners willing to provide these better choices to their clientele? Are the businesses that we are generating in the Muslim community meeting social and environmental needs, or simply feeding vanity and greed? And how can we cultivate a circular economy and business ecosystem that promotes environmental behaviours and services to all levels of the Muslim community?

These are difficult questions, and implementing such practices may be harder. Yet, these are highly crucial in a time which cannot afford further environmental apathy and inaction. Environmental challenges have socio-political and economic consequences. The faster we get up to speed with incorporating environmental sustainability measures into our businesses and daily lives, the better we are in ridding the stigma of playing “catch up”.

To read the full article (written for the Association of Muslim Professionals, Singapore), click here.

On The Bird Wire

Digital Vulnerabilities amidst Digital Opportunities: Cybersecurity in ASEAN

BEV-001While there are massive economic opportunities from promoting digital integration in ASEAN, the disparity amongst ASEAN member states’ cybersecurity preparedness capabilities are sources of potential weakness to cyber crimes.

This edition of Birds-Eye-View highlights what the recent wave of cyber attacks and data breaches in Southeast Asia means for organisations and the increasingly online populations in the region.

To download the article in pdf format, click here.

Media On The Bird Wire viral

Hornbills’ op-ed on Truth, Trust and Transparency published in two major Singapore-based newspapers.

Hornbills’ co-founders, Sofiah Jamil and Luenne Choa, recently penned an op-ed for The Business Times on 16 Aug 2018, to share their thoughts on the recent PR stunt by the WWF office in Singapore.

The article discusses the challenges in managing truth, trust and transparency in an age of social media and fake news.

An abridged version of the article was published the next day in another Singapore-based newspaper, “The New Paper”

Click here to read the full article on The Business Times website.

Click here to read the abridged version in The New Paper (page 16).

On The Bird Wire

Talent and Development

by Dilip Kumar

It has been said: “Knowledge is expensive but ignorance is even more expensive; human possibilities to learn are unlimited”. This should rank as a very useful guide to organisations as they set about the task of developing talent. It recognises that people are the strongest resource (and therefore must be nurtured) –  and the need to ensure each person is given opportunities to fulfill his or her long-term potential and personal aspirations.

Primarily, but not necessarily exclusively, talent development must serve to solve the organisation’s challenges and imperatives. It behooves an organisation to also subscribe to the concept of a “learning organisation”, one that promotes learning in the firm belief that knowledge with strategic importance helps to increase its long-term value.

Some principles that are useful to guide and inform talent development include:

  • Development is not the sole responsibility of the organisation; it is either that of the individual or it is a joint responsibility of the individual and the organisation.
  • Recognizing that the primary way (70% or more) an individual learns and develops is by “doing” and, as such, seeking to provide challenging roles and/or to utilize “action-learning” that contain “stretch”.
  • Diversity of talent and, indeed, where it is the case, diversity of business, are sources of strength that should be fully utilised to provide “stretch” and rotational assignments.
  •  Targeting 2-4% of an individual’s time to learning and development activities.

Development options include the following:

  • On-the-job stretch assignments including line and staff roles;
  •  Coaching & mentoring;
  •  Customized workshops and other class-room training
  •  “Action-learning”
  • Business School programs
  •  On-line courses and resources

One key output from the task of talent development in the organisation must be a strategic road-map that not only provides development in basic competencies (as defined by the organisation) but also the competencies expected of leaders as they move through from entry-level right through the to its upper levels.


On The Bird Wire

China’s Vulnerability in the South China Sea

hb-scs-btThe Business Times published an opinion piece by Hornbills’ associate and China specialist, Mr Brendan Forde, on 5 November 2015.

The piece provided a comprehensive summary of the existing arguments and analysis on China’s actions in relation to the South China Sea, which are mostly framed around what China is doing, rather than why.

The piece posits that to understand why China has taken the steps it has, requires a consideration of the significance of the South China Sea, and its relationship to the disposition of China.

On The Bird Wire

Death by a Thousand polls: Australia and the problem of leadership change

Turnbull articleThe Business Times published an opinion piece by Hornbills’ associate, Mr Brendan Forde, on 6 October 2015.

The piece discusses leadership change  in Australia, following the ascension of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister after ousting the incumbent and fellow party member, Tony Abbott.

Originally entitled “Death by a thousand polls”, the piece noted the role that opinion polling has had in exacerbating issues contributing to  leadership change.

On The Bird Wire

Pandemic measures during the Hajj

In a think piece “Ensuring Good Health During the Hajj in a Time of the H1N1 Pandemic”, Hornbills co-founder Sofiah Jamil – together with researchers at the RSIS Centre for NTS Studies – commented on the progress and prospects of H1N1 pandemic mitigation efforts in Saudi Arabia leading up to the annual Hajj pilgrimage in 2009.

The piece noted that despite the complex circumstances surrounding pandemic preparedness during the Hajj, successful mitigation of a pandemic spread is possible with efficient multi-sectoral cooperation amongst Hajj officials and pilgrims. Such efforts must also be given greater emphasis in the media so as to ensure accurate and holistic reporting of events thereby reduce the likelihood of media hypes of a pandemic outbreak.

To read the article, click here.

On The Bird Wire

Hornbills Co-Founder’s Op-ed on Climate Change and the Muslim World

ST clipping

On 27 February 2007, The Straits Times published an op-ed by Hornbills’ co-founder, Sofiah Jamil. The article entitled “Not enough heat of a hot issue” discussed the lack of attention that the Muslim World has on the issue of climate change.

Many countries affected by climate change are also members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), an international organisation of predominantly Muslim states. Environmental degradation has the potential to retard the OIC’s efforts at alleviating poverty and promoting progress in the Muslim world. Moreover, stalled economic development may feed into despair and instability in the Muslim world, which in turn may exacerbate existing political crises in the Muslim world that often hog the media limelight.

The op-ed is based on a piece written under the RSIS Commentaries series entitled Climate Change and the Muslim World: The OIC Can do with ‘Captain Planet’.

On The Bird Wire

Disasters in Southeast Asia’s Megacities: Protecting the Informal Sector

In the megacities of developing Southeast Asia, the important role of the informal sector in supporting economic development is often under-recognised. Cities seeking to address the economic risks and financial costs of natural hazards have to improve the resilience of the informal sector many of whom are from the low-income groups.

In the wake of the Jakarta floods in 2013, Sofiah Jamil presents her thoughts on not only the plight and resillience of the urban poor during disasters, but also why governments should pay more attention to them.

To read the article (as part of the RSIS Commentaries series) click here.