Every day on Page 2 of The Straits Times, reporters write about why certain news reports matter to readers. This is a weekly round-up of the columns.
The civil service's move to stop grouping officers by education levels is a step in the right direction as reducing the focus on the paper chase is a topic Singaporeans care about, reporter Chong Zi Liang said. The success of this move will depend on whether a non-graduate can rise to high ranks over time, as it should be when promotions are truly based on merit. http://str.sg/4Pu4
The number of people arrested in Malaysia for alleged involvement with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) rose to 119 last year, up from four in 2013. This ballooning of radical views is cause for worry and Malaysia bureau chief Shannon Teoh observed that the religious authorities seem unable to keep tabs on what is being taught in mosques, madrasahs and Islamic centres. http://str.sg/4P7i
The spiralling price of codeine cough medicine on the black market has prompted the authorities to impose stiffer penalties on those caught peddling the medicine illegally. Assistant news editor Poon Chian Hui noted that while higher fines alone may not be enough to stamp out the illegal supply chain, it is a vital part of trying to contain the codeine scourge. http://str.sg/4Pmz
Senior correspondent Nirmal Ghosh observed some rancour in the US over foreign relations. President Barack Obama stunned Israel with an abstention at a UN Security Council vote on its settlements and expelled Russian diplomats over hacking allegations. President-elect Donald Trump looks set to redefine the US' ties with Russia, Israel, China and potentially Iran. http://str.sg/4PgS
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said on Dec 29 that since Nov 1, it had received reports of 63 escalator incidents and 95 per cent of the accidents were attributed to "user behaviour". Transport reporter Adrian Lim said it is timely to study how design and function can make escalators safer, especially for senior citizens. http://str.sg/4PNC