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, December 29, 2013

the iPad baby seat and TV

-example of iPad baby seat (see pic below)
-pros and cons of technology on children
-the provision for evaluation and rebuttal 'cos tech actually ok for older children (provided programmes are vetted by parents) BUT not so for very young children (2 years old and below)

Sample Qns:
1. Does science and technology always improve the quality of people's lives?
2. Assess the impact of technology on children. (CJC Prelim 2013)

Fisher-Price's Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Abe's Shrine Visit -- revisited

Further to my previous post on Jap's PM Abe's controversial visit to the Yasukuni war shrine, as expected, both China and S Korean kicked up a big fuss.....but it also earned Jap a rare rebuke from its staunch ally, the US. Looking at the pic below, don't u wish u were there to witness the drama?!

Pulling back to Singapore, have you ever wondered why Singapore's response to Jap is so muted despite our suffering under the Japs during WWII? See HERE for an interesting take on Singapore's muted response to Japan.

For more on patriotism, check out this earlier posting as well HERE.

Sample Qns:

1.     National boundaries make little geographical or economic sense nowadays. Discuss. (Cambridge 2006)

2.     Should crimes that were committed many years ago simply be forgotten? (Cambridge 2006)
3.  Should countries interfere in the domestic affairs of another?

Friday, December 27, 2013

'Worsening ties embolden Abe to make shrine visit'

They've done it --yet again! I mean the Japs....every now and den, the Jap govt officials will visit the controversial Yasukuni shrine to pay respects to the war dead, many of whom are regarded by Asian countries as war criminals of WWII. Diplomacy and bilateral ties with China and South Korean will inevitably suffer each time this happens....I made a recent visit to this shrine last month....check out my take on it HERE.
This makes for a good example on qns related to patriotism and love for one's country, or heightening tension and challenges facing the world....

Sample Qn:
Should a love of one's country still be encouraged? (Cambridge 2009)

IVF trumps Adoption

Note the comparison....can use for :
1) elaborating the point on IVF by comparing with an inferior alternative, i.e. Adoption
2) to point out the limitations of Adoption, then introduce an alternative OTHER (i.e. IVF) when dealing qns that require u to introduce Alternative OTHERs....

Sample Qn:
Should people be allowed to have children by artificial means? (Cambridge 2012) 

Monday, December 23, 2013

More Gender Examples

Some useful new gender examples (it can be quite boring mentioning Marissa Mayer all the time...or do u know who she is?) and statistics.....
-Japan as an example where only 1% at the top in the corporate world is helmed by women, and where women earned only 66% that of men (see HERE)
-Singapore where the gender wage gap is among the narrowest in the world, even better than a developed, liberal country like France and the US. Women in France earn about 73% of men's pay. But female board representation in the corporate world for Singapore is still lacking at 7% (based on 2011, see HERE)
-mid management often well represented by females, about half in the US, but at the top management, only 15% in US...use this to rebut and short, discrimination usually sets in only in the upper echelons
-note the reasons given for the underrepresentation of women
-the use of laws and quota to ensure gender diversity and equitable gender representation at the top echelons, see eg on Scandinavian countries and Italy, France....

Social Media -- Political Angle

A good read on the political use of social media....
Note esp:
-open with BANG! using interesting anecdote method, but don't BANG so LONG lah...
-note closing BANG which echoes the opening BANG!
-the excellent point that feedback or impression garnered from social media may not be representative of reality...note the reasons for this phenomenon....
-the other pros and cons of using social media in politics....
-my oft-mentioned rebuttal to the point that social media can help govt reach out to the masses and garner votes....this may NOT be true becos the new media operates in such a way that it preaches only to the converts, i.e. to those who are willing (since it requires u to actively go to their sites to where their info is awaiting u before it has any chance to affect other words, if u do not like that govt, u will not bother to go to their websites to give them a chance to persuade u....even if u r forced to go there, or end up there by accident, u will not believe what u read there...for that matter, u may not even know they have a website....

Sample Qn:
To what extent does social media pose a challenge for governments? (MJC Prelim 2013)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Jailed for trying to rape a baby!!!! GASP!

Own up! U click to get here becos of the title of this post!!!! We'll be looking at the two articles here when we do the AQ for this year's compre on Celebrity and Fame.
Back to the 'colourful' title, the protagonist is Ian Watkins, of the Lost Prophets fame.....see second article below. There's an even more disturbing article about him in todays life section of the Straits Times, titled 'Singer fantasised about child rape'. It's so disturbing that I'm not gonna upload it here....suffice to say that this is a very sick man, and all those who worship him better get ur brains checked!

Punishments and Terrorism

When doing qns on punishments, do not forget terrorists, not so much as a point, but as an example that can give u a point.
- the harsh punishments and OTHER alternatives to harsh punishments the Singapore govt used agst terrorism...note that harsh punishments per se are not effective deterrents agst terrorists as they go into the act with the readiness to sacrifice their life....One important OTHER alternative is engaging the community to be the eyes and ears of the govt...more penetrative, and hence more effective than CCTVs (cynics will call this spying or secret police of the Nazis) The accompanying eg to this on how the JI attempts to blow up Singapore were uncovered......
-the colourful comparison of terrorists to pickpockets
-Malaysia's repeal of the ISA, only to reinstate it shortly under another name upon realising that they need harsh laws (not to confuse with punishments?) to combat terrorism
-Note the loophole/limitation to harsh laws/punishment
-the example I mentioned in lesson of the religious leader in Indonesia who's the brain/mastermind behind the 2002 Bali Bombing.....Abu Bakar Bashir. Apparently, he was spared the death penalty for his role in the bombing due to the tremendous influence he has on his religious followers. Instead of the death penalty, he was imprisoned instead (not sure whether it's for life...go google lah), and even then, given five star treatment in jail and a lot of freedom. Compare this with the opposition leader of the protest riots in Bangkok, Suthep. Do you think he'll be given the maximum penalty accorded under the law if Yingluck managed to nab him and indict him in court? Recognise that he has powerful links with the top brass of the influential Thai military as well as the powerful elites in Bangkok, not to mention the Thai monarchy.
Here's some pics of the protest riots in Bangkok I took...not the current one, but the bloody one in 2008?

I like this one, the commercial symbol of Central World Shopping Mall  'enmeshed' in the net set up to provide shade to the Red Shirts 'camping''s like commercialism being entrapped and strangled by the protest...

Sample Qns:
1) How effective are harsh punishments in dealing with crime?
2) To what extent is it possible to make the punishment fit the crime? (Cambridge 2013)
3) Is it ever possible to eradicate terrorism?

More on Little India's Riot

A useful article that can be used to address:
1) the plight of the disadvantaged
note some of the various alleged grievances suffered by the foreign workers here (second half of column 3)...note also that PM Lee has publicly dismissed the welfare of the workers being an issue in igniting the riot, claiming there's no evidence of this. Let's wait for the report from the inquiry committee that will shed more light on this in a few moths' time...

2) harsh punishments
are these sufficient enough to deter future riots? or should we also consider OTHER alternatives like tackling root causes like their grievances? Or should we also use technology like CCTV in tandem with harsh punishments?
Try comparing this with the riot and protest ongoing in Thailand.

3) media
there's a bit on this towards end of article....Note how viewers often walk away from the media with a distorted o misrepresentation of reality, and I'm not saying the media is doing this deliberately. By giving us snapshot of reality, we often walk away with the misguided notion that the snapshot is representative of the WHOLE. eg, only 400 rioters, but we think the WHOLE one million plus foreign workers here are all rioters (but actually only about 0.04% are rioters!).....only one or two black sheep Singaporeans circulating xenophobic comments online but outsiders walk away from the chatrooms with the impression that the WHOLE Singapore is xenophobic....a testament that inaccurate impressions can acquire the illusion of truth when fed from the media, esp new media.

Sample Qns:
1) How effective are harsh punishment in dealing with crime?
2) Can we ever rely on the media to convey the truth?
3) Many developed countries are paying increasing attention to the needs of the disadvantaged. How true is this in Singapore?

Social Enterprise: Coffee school helps Better people's lives

Note how the idea of social enterprises can be a way/eg in which we help address the needs of the disadvantaged. It's a win-win situation: the disadvantaged get the help they want, whereas the businesses benefit from the positive branding that would attract more customers, hence profits. There is also of course the shortage of manpower here, which means businesses are forced to look for unconventional sources of labour, which they prob otherwise wouldn't in the event of an oversupply of labour.

Sample Qns:
1. Many developed countries are paying increasing attention to the needs of the disadvantaged. How far is this true in Singapore? (Cambridge 2008)
2. Profit is the sole motive when it comes to doing business. Discuss.

Special Privileges of the Malays in Singapore

A good example under the Singapore's context.....Under our Constitution, the Malays, being the original people of this land (i.e. not immigrants or descendants thereof), are granted special rights and privileges. Plough through the article to get an idea of what some of these are....To some extent, these can be seen as affirmative actions to help those in need, a form of positive discrimination. Malaysia is doing this also, as seen in their bumiputera policies that favour the Malays. But the bumiputera policies have been under criticisms. Likewise, most societies practise some form of affirmative policies (i.e. discriminate in favour of a particular group) in order to give them a leg up.

Sample Qns:
1. All forms of discrimination are undesirable. Do you agree?
2. Many developed countries are paying increasing attention to the needs of the disadvantaged. How far is this true in Singapore? (Cambridge 2008)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Gender Politics....

Had always thought Yingluck had no equivalent or contender (other than that lesbian PM of Iceland, whose name I can't spell!)...but now got ang-moh equivalent that eludes me till now. I give you Denmark's Barbie doll look-alike PM, Ms Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
So what is it like to have women as leaders of a country?
- being women, they tend to be more conciliatory and peace-seeking, consensus-seeking......see how Yingluck does it in contrast to the aggression of Suthep (opposition leader) who obviously wants blood!
-women's most powerful weapon is their tears! Once again, Yingluck does it with style! See pic below. Whether deliberately or not, if u're a man, u won't want to make a woman cry, esp a beauty like's ungentlemanly and ungracious....She probably won not quite a few sympathy votes with her shedding of tears on TV. This makes women good at negotiating because the men wont want to come down too harshly on them, esp when the media is watching. In contrast, men have no such recourse to this weapon. A man shedding tears in the media! GASP! total turn off! Weakling! But then again, our LKY did it on national TV during that historic moment when he announced our separation from Malaysia. (did he use a hanky or tissue?) How is it that there is no stigma attached in his case?

-with a woman at the top, the men don't like it, and because of her rarity, the media turns its spotlight full blast on her, leaving no stones unturned....we then get the case of the Denmark PM, where the attention goes to her Gucci fashion. Her credibility is totally eclipsed, even though she has the brains for the job. With women, esp beautiful ones (that's why Angela Merkel has no such problems!), the attention is inevitably focussed on her looks than her brains
- seriously, can a woman like Yingluck and the Denmark PM (pardon me, I'm too lazy to check out and spell her name here) battle against the likes of aggressive types like Suthep, Saddam Hussein, Osama and North Korea leader?

Sample Qns:
1. Men have it easier than women in today's society. Do you agree?
2. 'The world would be a better place if more political leaders are women'. What is your view?

REvisting Syariah Law

Given the recent discussion in class on punishments, decided to revisit this earlier HERE.

Sample Qns:
1. How effective are harsh punishments in dealing with crime?
2. To what extent is it possible to 'make the punishment fit the crime'? (Cambridge 2013)

Inequality and the role of technology

The beginning of this article once again illustrates the importance of govt paying heed to the plight of the disadvantaged in the country if they want to maintain social and political stability. Think the recent Little India riot, the protests in Thailand (red shirts neglected), and of course, the Arab Spring! History has shown that when those in power cast a blind eye to the suffering of the poor, displeasure and resentment at the ground level will swell till it reaches tipping point. The French Revolution was sparked off by the peasants as a result of this, as were major empires in Europe and China. In Singapore, it is not just the foreign workers' welfare we have to look after (think Little India riot and the SMRT strike) but also the low income, and the minority races.

Sample Qns:
1. Addressing the income gap should be the main concern of any govt. Discuss.
2. To what extent can technology be used to address the growing income gap?
3. Many countries in the world are paying increasing attention to the needs of the disadvantaged. How far is this true of Singapore?
4. To what extent can science and technology improve the quality of people's lives? 

Little India Riot -- the related issues.....

A concise account of the issues revolving the recent riot in Little India. Noteworthy is the idea how the media (both online and traditional) can create, perpetuate and cement certain biases. It's only 400 rioters, but we walk away from the media with the impression that it's the entire foreign workers community of 1.1 million! but that's not even 0.04%!!! Likewise, it's only that few Singapore netizens online making those malicious remarks, but outsiders walk away from the media (esp online chatrooms) thinking that the entire Singapore population is xenophobic and does not welcome foreigners. Media has this ability and tendency to MAGNIFY one small portion, making it representative of the whole, giving it the illusion of truth, but in effect, distorting or misrepresenting reality -- whether consciously or unconsciously.

Sample Qn:
Can we ever rely on the media to convey the truth?

Harsh Punishments -- really effective?

Of course, most will argue that harsh punishments are effective as they act as a deterrence. But sometimes, it can backfire, as in the case below. While the court in Bangladesh has chosen to go by the book and 'make the punishment fit the crime', many may have done otherwise in the light of the highly charged and volatile political climate. Consider Singapore's controversial reduction of the strokes of the caning from 6 to 4 for the Michael Fay incident some decades back....Consider also this: If Yingluck managed to catch Suthep (the Opposition Leader of the current protests in Thailand), do you think she will give him the maximum penalty under the law in order to make an example of him so that no others will dare to protest against her govt in the future (i.e. deterrence)? And what about the Indonesian govt letting that religious leader (forgot his name) off with a lighter sentence despite his role in masterminding the Bali Bombing some years back? And does the Italian courts dare to touch the mafia? But then again, Kim Jong Un (leader of North Korea) dares to do what these others did not. Only a few days ago, he executed his uncle for daring to challenge him in an alleged power grab. So what makes for the difference?

Sample Qns:
1. How effective are harsh punishments in dealing with crime?
2. To what extent is it possible to make the punishment fit the crime? (Cambridge 2013)

The Great Islamic Divide

Gives you some background between the split within Islam. Just like the Christians have the Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc....the Muslims have two major factions also, i.e. the Sunnis and the Shi'ites.
Can be a useful rebuttal to the view that religion helps to bond people and promotes unity and stability. Note that the catch is that this is true only if we are referring to people who share the same religious faith. Even with those who worship the same god, this is not a guarantee! Think Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
You want to know that the majority Sunnis and the minority Shi'ites are having a bit of problem in neighbouring Malaysia now.....and in Iraq, the two factions are embroiled in a major power struggle that has led to much violence and bloodshed.

Sample Qns:
1. Religion has caused more harm than good. Discuss.
2. Discuss the view that the world would be a better place without religion.

Death Penalty in Singapore for Drugs....

Familiarise yourself with the laws in Singapore regarding drug-trafficking. Instead of the mandatory death sentence, the revision in laws early this year has led to some changes.
With this new revision, there is now more fairness(and mercy), and ensures that the 'big fish' will not be able to get away.

Sample Qn:
How effective are harsh punishments in dealing with crime?

Friday, December 13, 2013

The 'little' riot in Little India

Click HERE for quite an interesting take on the recent Little India riot.....
Some netizens have compared our exploitation of foreign workers to a kind of 'modern slavery'!

Attention: PY (Thur Afternoon)

Check out these two links related to our discussion earlier:

1) Environment Notes : check out the table with pros and cons of going green
2) Cambridge 'A' level Essay Qns Sorted by Topics : use these qns to help u make sense of the articles u read

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Can technology solve our big problems?

A recent clip that made it to my email....
check it out HERE.
Note the way the speaker begins the speech with the example of the Apollo mission and statistics, much like what one would have done for an intro BANG in an essay....
Note also the OTHER factors that must work in tandem with sci&tech before the latter can be effective, esp political will.

Sample Qn: How far science and technology improve the quality of life of people?

Friday, December 06, 2013

Account of My Recent Backpacking Trip

enjoying ur hols? if want to take a break from ur heavy reading, come in here to read about my recent trip, or juz browse thru the pics HERE.