The Dark Shadow Shrine

If u think u need extra coaching in General Paper/English/Literature at the 'O'/'A'/International Baccalaureate level, the gates of my shrine are always open.....Drop me a note at or wadsapp me at 91384570 for more Singapore only hor.... :-)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Consumerist Society P2 Answer Key

Wed/Thur evening class, I managed to upload the answer key for the compre test. Click HERE to access. Read the AQ portion, which is quite informative for ur Paper 1.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Controversial Photo: Piss Christ

This is a controversial award-winning photo that depicts a crucifix dipped in the photographer's own urine, before he took the photo. Click HERE for more info. Isn't this uncannily reminiscent of the recent anti-Muslim video that made fun of a major religion, except that in the case of this photo, no Christians staged any mass protests, and no violence erupted. But this is exactly the kind of provocative art work or materials that need to be censored and not be allowed in the name of art or freedom of expression. Relate to questions on art, censorship and freedom of expression, democracy, creativity, etc.

Defending Free Speech..

A read-worthy article where Obama defended freedom of expression: 1) no point censoring as the internet scene today is such that govt's attempt to control info is obsolete

2) the best way to counter hate speech is not to censor it but to confront it in the open, allowing it to be debated, as this will give it a chance for misunderstanding to be clarified and resolved. Forcefully supressing it will only cause it to go underground where the hatred will fester and grow. To quote Rowan Atkinson (aka Mr Bean), censorship laws will only produce a 'veneer of tolerance concealing a snakepit of unaired and unchallenged views". In the light of this, do you think S'pore's Sedition Act is effective is maintaining racial harmony?

Monday, September 17, 2012

More on Salman Rushdie and the Prophet Cartoons

Article 1: Salman Rushdie
This first article came out in today's papers, and I couldn't resist posting it here as it resonates with the post entry on 'Film Violence' earlier. You can see how in the three cases mentioned (Salman rushdie's novel, the prophet's cartoons, and the maker of the film video), all three have to go into hiding after they incurred the wrath of the muslim world, resulting in a price tag on their heads. I'm including an older article on the prophet's cartoons that created a similar storm some years back.

Article 2: Commentary on the prohpet's cartoons

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Equal Treatment?

Article 1

Article 2: Call for Equal Rewards
The first article appeared in 2008 when singapore won a gold medal in the beijing paralympics (betcha didnt know!); controversy erupts as to whether there should be equitable payouts for both the silver medallists of the olympics and the gold medallist of the paralympics. This time round, the same controversy repeats itself after we won the silver medal for the london paralympics (see second article) you can familiarise yourself with the arguments mentioned in both articles. But what is useful here is how we can use this as an exampe to show that perhaps equal treatment (as in same payout) may not bring about fairness. To insist on same prize money for the gold medallist in both events would be an arguably unjust act (though you can choose to argue both sides, i.e. rebut). Why? you ask? 'cos it will not be giving the olympic winner the due recognition which he/she deserves, as the olympic event is clearly the more prestigious one. For an analogy, how would u feel if a winner at the national level competition is given the same recognition or prize money as a winner at the school level competition? The prestige and recognition is simply not the same, and to insist on treating both winners the same on some sanctimonious grounds is to shortchange the winner competing at the national level. Hence some discrinimination is necessary and even desirable here.
Sample qn:
All forms of discrimination are undesirable. Do you agree?
Does equal treatment always lead to better outcomes?
There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals. Discuss.

Film Violence

This is an important example that you want to commit to memory as it is very useful for a wide variety of questions. In case u are still in some state of limbo, recognise that last tue, on the anniversary of 9/11, a protest erupted in many Arab nations over an anti-muslim film made in the US and circulated on youtube. the US Ambassador to libya was killed in the process when the protestors stormed the US Consulate.
a) doesnt this eerily recall salman rushdie's novel 'the satanic verses' -- a book he wrote which angered the muslim world, earning him a price tag on his head, upon which he had to go into hiding.
b) Doesnt this also echo the prophet mohammed's cartoons by this danish cartoonist in 2007, which also earned him the wrath of the muslim world, leading to protests arcoss many countries, resulting in some deaths and a price tag on his head...think he also went into hiding. for details, check out an earlier post on this in my blog. if cant find, email me and i will send u the link. the cartoons featured the prophet's head attached to a dog's body. there's a series of this comic strip; another one shows the prophet wearing a turban that's actually a bomb.
c) dont miss out on the irony here also...Libya was liberated from the tyranny and oppression of its dictatorship govt with the help of the US/UN. For a while, it was seen as a shining example of how foreign intervention into the domestic affairs of other countries is necessary, esp after the mess created by  US in Iraq. but the latest turn of events shows that things are getting messy in libya, and that a fairytale ending is no guarantee. On the contrary, libya is becoming like iraq, which already has the dubious label of being the 'second vietnam' -- all three are testament to the mess created by foreign intervention into the domestic affairs of other countries. in a nutshell, it doesnt pay to be a kaypoh!

How can we use this latest example:
1) censorship and media's power and technology
2) violence
3) freedom of speech/expression/rights
4) art
5) democracy
6) religion

Sample questions
To what extent should the international community interfere in the affairs of another country?
Consider the view that efficient government is more important than democracy. (Cambridge 2011)
Can prejudice ever be eliminated? (Cambridge 2011)
How important is play in your society. (SRJC Prelim 2012)
Consider the view that artists should be given absolute freedom. (SRJC Prelim 2012)
How far should the government limit creativity in your society? (CJC Prelim 2012)
Would you agree that the media hold too much power in the world today? (CJC Prelim 2012)
The success of social media is also its problem. (VJC Prelims 2012)

Power of the People?

Article 1 : Revisit all Policies with prudence, says PM

Article 2: HK Govt does U-turn on national education plan

Article 3a

Article 3b
The articles featured here has one common theme -- the power of the people. In the first article, the call by PM Lee for locals to partake in the national conversation is not just an exercise for the govt to elicit feedback, but a strong signal that we people have a say in the vision of the Singapore we want in the future. This follows closely after similar incidents like the Bt Brown U-turn by the govt (see related article in earlier post), the revising of minister's salaries, slowing down inflow of immigrants, etc, all taking place significantly after the water shed election last year where the PAP lost a GRC and two cabinet minsiters. But note the limitation to this argument -- it is mentioned in the article that the conversation, while signalling a 2-way traffic rather than a top-down approach, is no session for culling sacred cows. Previous hostile policies by PAP that do not play to the populist tune include the building of the IR, GST hike, ERP, etc. Hence, the daddy-knows-best syndrome is not exactly totally erased...
Note also similar manifestation of people's power elsewhere: U-turn by HK govt on implementing the controversial national education programme in public schools; pledge by the japanese govt to phase out nuclear (see attached articles) Other examples u want to recall include the Arab Spring last year, the riots in China now over Diaoyu Island, and the so-called Arab Autumn now over the anti-Muslim film.
Sample qn:
Consider the view that power is now in the hands of the people. (DHS Mid-year 2012)

Invasion of Privacy

This example follows closely from the one involving the naked pictures of Prince Harry recently....both cases involve an infringement of privacy. link this also to the example involving 'News of the World' scandal (See Entry dated Sun Feb 12 2012, titled "Role of Newspaper" with the article 'The Fall of the House of Murdoch")

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Importance of DESIGN

Fri evening class, this is the article I was talking about, which depicts Apple's success as being attributed to its design rather than its functions -- packaging IS quality in this case!
Sample Qns:
1) To what extent is design important in your society? (Cambridge 2008)
2) Society places more importance on appearance and packaging than quality. Discuss.

Friday, September 07, 2012

BCA Green Mark

More on the BCA Green Mark, an initiative by our govt to do our part for the environment by encouraging firms to design/retrofit  their buildings in a green way....note the cost savings benefits as well as the co-funding scheme by the govt to encourage this trend....

Rich-Poor Divide

An excellent article on the rationale behind addressing the rich-poor divide. Zoom in particularly on the quote: 'Inclusive growth should not just mean that everyone should be included, but that no one group should be consistently excluded.'
Connect to the following, some of which are alluded to in the article: Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Education, Meritocracy, Inclusive Society, Discrimination, Notion of real progress, Children enrolled in 2 kindergartens...
Sample Qns:
1) How far would you agree that the only divide worth addressing is the rich-poor divide? (VJC Prelims 2010)
2) We are devoting too much of our lives to formal education. To what extent is this true? (VJC Prelims 2010)