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.... :-)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

SUN Late Afternoon Class ALERT!

Follow-up articles on our discussion today:

1) The Value of Silence (click HERE)

2) The Importance of Colours (Click HERE for sample essay outline)

3) Second essay outline for Colours essay:

Sample Qns:
1. Consider the importance of silence.
2. Consider the importance of colour in our world today. (CJC Prelim 2012)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Exploitation of Employee in Singapore....

Check out this link HERE on a local case of employee exploitation that's making the rounds recently....undergrad employee kenna slapped by employer and pay low wages of $500 per month for three years, with no bonus and medical benefits (take MC must dock salary!), no annual leave and must work ten hours per day....!!!!!!!!!! and now physically assaulted by boss!

Relate to earlier link here on same issue (click HERE). See the parallel with Rana Building collapse, Foxconn, and the recent SMRT strike due to poor accommodation?

Notice the same pattern of argument:
1) there's actually legislation to protect employees, i.e. labour laws
2) these laws are useless if employee ignorant or unaware of them; or if employee needs job badly, hence exploitation better than no job at all, so dare not complain; or if employee too timid and intimidated into a kind of paralysis or inaction....
3) watchdog bodies like the Worker's Union (NTUC?) and the ILO (International Labour Organisation) exists to ensure labour laws are adhered to
4) the role of the media as watchdog to bring to light acts of injustice to apply pressure on relevant authorities or the guilty party itself to rectify the situation....

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Punish Criminals = Justice?

Some of us did the qn as stated's another example to make the point that punishing criminals could be politically motivated and not about justice at all....

Also, note how religion is the cause here for the outbreak of sectarian strife,  causing one religion to be intolerant of another, leading to killing -- the majority Buddhists killing the minority Muslims.... Religion can contribute to divided loyalty that polarises the society into 'us' vs 'them', to the point of intolerance, hatred and then killing.....

Sample Qn:
1) 'Punishing criminals is all about justice.' Do you agree?
2) 'Religion has caused more harm than good.' Do you agree?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Is there true multiculturalism in Singapore?

Add caption

Consumerism leading to Exploitation

An excellent article here, esp for those who recently did the compre on 'The Suffering of Others' and 'Wealth Causes Misery'.
In the former, the writer made the argument that we are indirectly responsible for the suffering of humans (i.e. workers) through the purchases we made, though we are ignorant if it.
In the latter compre, the writer mentioned that wealth can make society better as we can use wealth to invest in businesses that will create jobs for the poor.
In both arguments above, the issue of exploitation can come in, to support the argument in the first case, and refute it in the second.
Things to note in the article:
1) The examples of Foxconn and the factories in the collapsed Rana Building in Bangladesh. Foxconn is a major supplier of spare parts to Apple products, but is infamous for harsh working conditions that have seen many workers committing suicide. The media coverage on this has applied pressure on Apple to protect its image, consequently causing Apple to apply some pressure on Foxconn. Hence, this desire to protect its image and consequently profits, will ensure workers are not unduly exploited.
2) note the reasons given for the 'ignorance' resulting in the exploitation...the outsourcing makes it difficult for the parent company to exercise control and be in the know; likewise for the consumer who is none the wiser. However, the rise of the digital age means that nothing is unknowable. Recent media coverage on the Foxconn suicides is a case in point. So we cannot plead ignorance as an excuse....
3) As consumers, we have a role to play by voting with our pockets. We can choose to boycott callous businesses guilty of exploitation. See pic in article. This is a role we can play in saving Mother Nature too, instead of leaving everything to the govt, NGOs, MNCs, etc. The power of choice among consumers should not be underestimated....
4) Other than legislation to curb exploitation, note the existence of watchdog bodies like the International Labour Organisation
5) Make a link to the Singapore context concerning the recent SMRT strike over poor living condition of foreign workers (is this exploitation?) and how one of the drivers took to the internet to raise awareness of their plight and rally for support.

Sample Qns:
-Entrepreneurship is just another name for greed. Do you agree?
-To what extent should businesses be socially responsible? (SAJC Prelim 2011)
-Should profit be the only thrust driving businesses? (VJC JC2 Common Test 1 2012)

article 1a

article 1b

article 2

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Downsides to the Pursuit of Excellence

Some articles on comments of our Education System. Article 1 is an excerpt from an interview of Opposition Member Hazel Poa in today's Straits Times. Quite an inspiring read if u have the time.

Article 2 talks about our obsession with excellence (number 1s), and the resulting impact on our education system and society as a whole, such as:
-stigmatisation of under-achieving students and consequent low self esteem
-anxiety and stress for those at the top
-arrogance and discrimination towards those who do not make it
-kiasuism and ungracious behaviour, no compassion, selfish
-killing the innovation spirit (aversion to risk-taking, too narrow a focus when it comes to studying, promotes and rewards conformity as opposed to 'breaking the rules' which is necessary for creativity)
-stymied or kill the love for learning

Note also the quotations by Lao Zi at the end on the doctrine of moderation that is characteristic of Taoism and Confucianism.

Sample Qn:
1. Is Singapore paying too high a price for success? (NYJC JC1 CT3 2009)
2. To what extent is your society's education system effective in preparing the nation for its future?

Article 1

Article 2a: 'In Pursuit of Being Good Enough'

Article 2b: 'In Pursuit of Being Good Enough'

Women Can't Run for President in Iran

A useful example for gender related question:

Stem-Cell research breakthrough

Note the part about how it may now be possible to create stem cells without the controversial means of destroying fertilized human embryos.
Can frame this as a rebuttal to the point on the ethical implications of stem-cell research where fertilized human embryos are often destroyed in the process of extracting the stem cells, making the whole process tantamount to murder. Argue that problems caused by the limitations of technology often require technology itself to resolve them. As a Chinese saying goes, 'to untie the bell, you still need to rely on the person who initially tied the bell there in the first place'.

Sample Qn:
'Technology alone can save us.' Do you agree?

article 1a

article 1b

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Celebrity influence -- Angelina Jolie

An example of how celebrities can influence attitudes and norms through the media, in this case, a positive one.
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Ethics concerning IVF

A good example on how science presents ethical issues that need to be addressed. In a sense, it can also be seen as a perverse sense of medical tourism, where instead of going to another country to get medical treatment for your illness, your medical treatment involves controversial elements which are forbidden in your home country, e.g. buying a kidney, treatment involving stem cells, and here, gender-based pregnancy.
article 1a

article 1b

Some examples for 'The Suffering of Others'

If u have done the compre AQ on 'Suffering of Others', here are two examples that u can avail urself to when tackling the AQ.
In article 1, see how the aborigines (local native tribes) are 'suffering'...In the past, their children are forcibly taken away from them to be 'adopted' in the families of the Australians -- a policy by the govt in an attempt to integrate them into the mainstream population. These children are dubbed 'the stolen generation'. The Australian govt recently apologised for this.
In article 2, note how foreign workers here 'suffer' as they are put up in poor housing facilities. The most recent case is that of the SMRT which resulted in the bus strike. All these prompted PM Lee's May Day exhortation to employers to take better care of their workers. Note also the strict regulations and their enforcement in Singapore that act as a check and deterrent against errant employers that persist in flouting the law and exploiting the workers.
article 1

article 2

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

When Helping is Harming.....

An interesting look at how helping can actually be harming....In article 2, see this in the context of the Singapore Govt. The Govt has tried to avoid the welfare state model for a long while because of this, especially so given our lack of natural resources and shortage of manpower, which demands that everyone's potential has to be milked and maximised, i.e. we cannot allow complacency to set in, which is what is likely to happen if we know the govt WILL help us. But the recent budget seems to indicate that the govt is indeed moving more towards the welfare model.....

Help is good, but too much help can be crippling....(crutch mentality syndrome)

article 1

article 2a
article 2b

Monday, May 13, 2013

Democracy = 'Gang Rape'!!!!!

An interesting metaphor for democracy....Usually described as 'tyranny of the majority', it is now given a more provocative and risqué label that otherwise puts forth the same criticism about democracy. Being based on majority votes, it can be seen as a 'gang rape' on the rights of the minority if the people did not vote responsibly and in an enlightened fashion. If u think of recent overturns of autocratic regimes by democratic ruling, it is not unlike the 'gang rape' mob rule where disorder and chaos are often the result....think the Arab Spring, Iraq and Syria.....and look at Malaysia now...GASP!

Sample Qn:
Consider the view that efficient government is more important than democracy. (2011)

Investment in local Sport

Note the various arguments for investing in sport, otherwise known as the roles and functions of sport in the local context....

Sample Qn:
 Does sport merit the vast sums of money that are spent on it? (2010)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Links on Compre "The Suffering of Others"

For those who have done this compre, check out the following links which are related to some fo the writer's arguments:

1) Fair Trade:
Link 1 (contains a pic on 'no plastic bag' policy at Bossini);
Link 2

2) Switching to no-meat diet to save Mother Earth and alleviate her suffering:
Link 3

Note how the following shops/businesses advertise themselves....without fail, there will be a socio-environmental responsibility component to their corporate image and branding, i.e. their marketing strategy......'business with a heart'

3) Body Shop:
Link 4

4) Starbucks:
Link 5

5) Timberland:
link 6

Friday, May 10, 2013

Trees help reduce pollutants and noise in Singapore

For those who have done the 2011 compre on green spaces and parks, below is an article that shows how trees in Singapore are 'like lungs', filtering the air of pollutants. Also, trees 'reduce noise pollution by the dense screening they can offer'..... (these quotes are lifted off the compre passage).

Those not familiar with BCA Green Award, please refer HERE.

Fri Evening class ALERT!

Click HERE for the AQ answer key for the animal rights compre we did.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013


Some articles here on meritocracy in the local context. Note some of the pros and cons, why Singapore needs meritocracy despite its drawbacks, and the solutions our govt adopt to mitigate the ill-effects of meritocracy in Article 3.
Note useful statistics in Article 2: 6 out of 10 students from top pri and sec schs live in private property, when only 2 out of 10 do so across Singapore. In short, a high concentration of our high-performing students are from rich families, and they are likely to go on to attain good jobs (given their academic performance) that will seal their position in the upper echelons of society. So what does that say about the effectiveness of education as a social leveller? What's going to happen to those students who are performing well academically (i.e. not in elite schools) and who are also in poorer families? Won't meritocracy continue to favour and reward the brighter students who are also the richer ones? Won't meritocracy continue to 'punish' those who are less bright, who are likely to be from the poorer families, and who will continue to be poor since their less-than stellar academic performance would not clinch them a high paying job in the future...........
article 1

article 2
article 3

Animal Cruelty

Chanced upon this article from last year, I think.....(compare with Article 2 found HERE)

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Syariah Law

Some aspects of the Syariah law (which is based on Islam / the Koran) can be controversial, as not only are they restrictive, but the punishments meted out can be non-proportional to the nature of the offence committed:
-women must wear the veil or burqa, and cannot wear sexually revealing outfits
-women cannot go outdoors unless accompanied by male relatives
-women(and men) cannot kiss or hold hands with members of opposite gender unless they are related [a report goes that a guy was given 90 lashes of the cane, 4 month jail and a 2 month ban from a shopping mall because he was caught on the CCTV kissing a girl in the shopping mall!)
-women do not have the right to vote
-oppression of gays and lesbians
-cutting off hands of thieves
-caning/flogging for those caught drinking alcohol
-stoning to death for adultery
-death sentence for converting from Islam to another faith
-condones 'honour' killings

As with most accusations heaped on religion, be aware that there is always the possible rebuttal that it is not religion per se, but peoples' interpretation (and possible manipulation) of what is said in the religious text, that is the guilty party here. Let us not forget that while God may have said those words (though even this could be disputed), it is man who has recorded them down and interpreted them the way he thinks is in accordance with God's intended meaning. Some may deliberately pervert or twist those words in order to further their selfish agenda, as cloaking anything in the name of God would enable them to mobilise the people towards their cause.

Sample Qns:
1) How important is it for people in your society to retain a sense of tradition? (2008)
2) 'An eye for an eye'. Is punishing criminals all about justice? [use the Syariah law example to show that sometimes, punishing criminals may not deliver justice at all if the punishment itself is unjust]
3) 'Women have it easier than men in today's society.' Do you agree?
4) 'Men rather than women face greater challenges.' Is this true today? (SAJC Prelim 2011)
5) 'Women are edging men out from their comfortable niches.' Comment.
6) 'Religion has done more harm than good.' Do you agree?

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Diminishing 'Natural' Greenery in Singapore

Pertaining to an earlier post on the importance of 'natural' greenery to Singapore, as opposed to 'cultivated'/'managed' greenery, (see HERE), below is a follow-up: