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.... :-)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Last Note for those Sitting for ur 'A' levels next week....

hi all

1) Wishes:
it's that time of the year again when I bid another batch of students adieu,,,, Now that the finishing line is within sight and barely a few days away, here's wishing u ALL THE BEST and GOOD LUCK for Monday's papers. It's been a good 2-year run, and I hope that having a shadowy accompaniment alongside a certain segment of ur run, or for the whole stretch, has been of some help and comfort -- not juz for the shade it provides, but also for the light it reveals.....

2) Feedback:
To give me some idea of the impact of my shadow, I'll be eternally grateful if u can complete this simple and brief feedback here for me....You can of course choose to do it anytime u wish, but before I become relegated to a footnote, or become completely extinguished from your memory without even the trace of a shadow, it may be a good idea to do it NOW....treat it as taking a break from ur studies....If you're game on this Operation Shadow Feedback, click HERE. Feel free to embark on this operation even if u r not taking the 'A' levels this year.....And of course, it can be anonymous if u want it to be so; juz download the file, complete it, and then email back to me at

3) Next Year....
You'll probably forget it by then, but if you can still retrieve it from the faintest shadowy corner of your mind, do drop me an email ( when u receive ur GP grade next year....

4) Signing out....
And let me end off with this GP Prayer:

and this beautiful verse by William Wordsworth:

Small service is true service while it lasts,
Of humblest friends, bright creature! scorn not one.
The daisy, by the shadow that it casts,
Protects the lingering dew-drop from the sun.

                                                   --   William Wordsworth
Add to my favorite list

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nixon's Watergate Scandal

1. To what extent does the media reflect what is wrong with society today? (RVHS Prelim 2014)
2. As long as people in the public eye do their job well, does it matter what they do in private? (2009)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Use of Analogy/Comparisons to Persuade

This is a reply by the govt to the Straits Times Editor's request to allow the controversial film 'To Singapore, With Love' to be screened publicly here. See background HERE.

Note in the article below:
1) this is like an AQ response. See how it always starts with a view/point argued by the passage writer (in this case, the ST Editor) before the response to it kicks in with reasons and examples
2) note the comparison and hence evaluation achieved by comparing the different impact of a book and a movie on the people's consciousness
3) the similar use of comparison, but in this case an analogy, or comparison with a negative/inferior alternative to make one's point convincing and persuasive....u can see this in the comparison to allowing extremist jihadist screen a movie showing their version of Islam here in public screening.

Comparison is a useful persuasive technique when it comes to making an argument convincing. In your PEEL, the first 'E' -- Explain, is focussed on giving REASONS WHY as well as COMPARING if u can.
Eg, To convince examiner that Singapore should open our doors to immigrants, compare with how Japan's refusal to do so lead to its economic stagnation and demise. Or u can compare with a positive scenario of the US, where its open embrace of immigrants lead to a vibrant economy, esp in the Silicon Valley where more than half are immigrants.
Eg. To convince me that social media should not be blamed totally for paedophilic or other sex-related crimes because the social media is just a tool, contrast with how in a murder, we don't blame the murder weapon.tool (be it a gun or knife), but we go after the murderer.

Use analogy or comparisons to make the logic of your point persuasive.

Drop me an email ( if you want to take a further look in my handout on the use of analogy/comparisons/contrasts in persuasive writing.

Shopping with a social purpose

Note how the local example below can be used for and against the prelim qn below. One can argue that businesses can differentiate themselves from others by branding themselves along social and environmental causes (this is exactly what social enterprises are doing). But such a move can be argued to be ultimately for profits.
Note also that as consumers, we have the power to effect change too. As mentioned by Tangs Chairman in the article, they are imply 'going along with where the society is moving'. As consumers, we can vote through our wallets at the cashier counter to pressure businesses to go for the 'Triple P' bottomline (i.e. People, Planet and Profit) instead of just aiming for one P (i.e. Profit) alone.

1. 'Obsession with profit should no longer be the driving force for businesses.' Discuss. (ACJC Prelim 2014)
2. Is it possible for businesses to do well and at the same time do good? (VJC Prelim 2014)

HK Protest Leader -- and only 18 Years Old!!!

Excellent current example of a young person (he's YOUR age!!!) who's a political activist! He's one of the student leaders in the current HK protest. And he had already made headlines for himself when he was 16, when he helped mobilised the protest against the national education syllabus which the Chinese Govt wanted to impose on public education in HK.

And don't forget Malala [I know you're hungry, but don't confuse with Mala hotpot (huo guo) or masala or that Christmas song Fa-la-la-la-la), the Pakistani education activist who recently became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Do you know there's even a 'Malala Day' designated by the UN?

Think about why there's dearth of such youth in Singapore...why S'pore's youth tend to be labelled as politically and socially apathetic (with some exceptions of course....think Roy Ngerng(?) and Han Hui Hui who recently made the news...see clip HERE ...SCARY!!!).
And of course, there's the view that these protestors are actually being selfish under the guise of selfless protest for the sake of others (see my previous link  HERE.

Qn: Young people today think of nothing but themselves. Is this a fair description? (RI Prelim 2014)

Compilation of 2014 JC Prelim Essay Qns

Use the link HERE to practise:
1) choosing question
2) analysing qn
3) speed brainstorming
4) content re-call
5) essay structuring
6) crafting intro and conclusion
7) rebuttals
9) timed essay-writing (90min)

Get back to me on those qns that you have problems with. Those who have problems accessing the link can juz drop me an email and I'll send you the soft copy....
There are still some JC's qns not captured in the list. If you have access to them, do pass me a copy or email me at so that everyone can benefit. Thanks to those who have contributed to this list.....



Monday, October 13, 2014

Microsoft boss sparks uproar over women's pay

For those who have done the Hana Rosin's gender compre, she mentioned that men try to maintain the status quo by paying women low wages....This is the case in Japan (see HERE) and now even the US is not spared from this....Note the useful statistics that women's pay in the US is 20% less than their male counterparts.

SUN Morning Class: ADS

We discussed this qn this are some eg for you to brood on....

Qn: To what extent do advertisements have a negative effect on society?

ARTICLE 1: This one's quite funny! Make sure that you don't juz giggle but also walk away with the points.


ARTICLE 3:  The IKEA Catalogue 2015 can see the actual ad HERE that has been the talk of the town; and it's created in SINGAPORE!!! A possible point here for this eg is that ads like this help to foster creativity in the nation.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

HK Protest

Article 1 gives a balanced perspective to the recent reports on the Hong Kong protest...Bring in issues about:
-idealism (which is incompatible with constraints of reality)
-easily swayed by values of other cultures or media (many of the student protestors probably do not have complete info on the background behind the whole issue) They're probably out there because there's always been this prejudice against Mainland China which is regarded as a threat, a we vs them mentality
-the effectiveness of democracy
-compare with similar student protests in Taipei recently, and the protracted protest against the govt in Bangkok
-reliability of media reports
While it may be tempting to conclude that the HK students' protest is proof that they think about other larger concerns besides themselves, recognise that article 2 below points out that it could ultimately still be about themselves. The same goes for people fighting to save Mother Nature. It could be rebutted that they are actually doing so for themselves because our very survival is tied to the fate of Mother Nature. If she dies, we go down along with her. So it's all seemingly very noble to say we care about the country, the environment, etc....But think deeper, and maybe, just maybe, it is we ourselves and our interests that are the root and motivation underneath it all.....
Qn: Young people today think of nothing but themselves. Is this a fair description? (RI Prelims 2014)

ARTICLE 1: Western media coverage biased against China

article 1a

article 1b

ARTICLE 2: Economic anxieties lie beneath democracy demands
article 2a

article 2b

Sharing -- for a price

Sharing economy sparked off by social media... not only does it benefit us by cutting costs for the consumer, such sharing also helps to mitigate consumerism, as by sharing, we do not have to consume so much....

Jihadists' "Weapon" of Choice

1. 'Young people today think of nothing but themselves.' Is this a fair description? (RI Prelim 2014)
2. The social media has enslaved, not liberated us. Do you agree? (YJC Prelim 2014)

805 million in the world suffer from hunger

Note the statistics and the reasons why hunger continues to be a worldwide problem.

Qn: How effective are international efforts to ease the problem of global hunger? (2010)

Denying a part of the nation's 'history'

Reading the articles below, do you not find an uncanny similarity? In both cases, the ruling govt sought to muzzle or censor a period of the nation's earlier history, as it involves the political foes of the ruling govt. Note the reasons given by the Singapore govt and assess whether they are legitimate reasons for censorship.
How would this compare with the Japanese govt's 'whitewashing' of their nation's history in the school's history textbooks over the atrocities committed by the Japanese in WWII?

ARTICLE 1: Film-maker appeals against MDA rating
Article 1

ARTICLE 2: Film on exiles contains 'untruths and deception' -- Allowing public screening would mean condoning use of subversion: Minister

Article 2

ARTICLE 3: Thaksin's name erased from Thai textbook

Article 3a

Article 3b

Extra-Marital Affairs and Politics

Note how it is the media that is responsible for the 'macho culture' that overrides any moral concerns when it comes to electing leaders in the Philippines.
Other reasons:
-continued poverty that makes it hard for people to say no to corruption and bribery e.g. vote-buying
-social norm where there is 'cultural acceptance of bribery as a fact of election'
-lack of education?
How does this measure up with the Bill Clinton scandal where he almost became the first US President to be impeached while still in office for having oral sex with an intern in the Oval Office of the White House. And what about in Singapore where Yao Xinrong of Worker's Party and Michael Palmer of PAP both fell from their pedestal and had their political career abruptly terminated due to their extra-marital affairs?

Qn: As long as people in the public eye do their job well, does it matter what they do in private? (2009)

Half of world's vertebrates 'wiped out'

Some useful and alarming of which is that the way we are consuming the earth's resources right now, we need 1.5 earths to sustain this consumption rate -- i.e. we are overconsuming by 50%!


1.     Is there any point in trying to predict the future trends?

2.     Discuss the claim that in the modern world people should care more about international than national issues.

3.     How important is it to save plant and animal species which are in danger of extinction?

Looking Outwards instead of 'navel-gazing'

1.     Is there any point in trying to predict the future trends? (2013)
2..   Discuss the claim that in the modern world people should care more about international than national issues.(2013)
3..  Why should we be concerned with current affairs when most of them will soon be forgotten? (2013)

Asian Games becoming African?

Remember this controversy that erupted over the Sochi Olympics? See HERE. Singapore has its own share of this when our team struck Silver at the Beijing Olympics with the help of foreign talent. And as recent as the Asian Games that was just over (?), Joseph Schooling's feat was cast in a bit of a shadow when some thought he is a 'foreign talent' due to his surname and Caucasian looks. (He's actually an Eurasian, but definitely Singaporean).

Now we can see comment here that the Asian Games is no longer Asian and there are more African faces among the competitors -- and victors! This not only posed some unfairness to the competition as they have a comparative biological advantage in certain sports, but it also revives the controversy about whether sport can gel  the entire nation together by getting the entire nation to rally behind a compatriot who's increasingly a foreign import.

GP Angle: can sport really help to stoke patriotism and elicit a love for one's country?

Hosting international sporting events creates more harm than benefits. Do you agree?

When Govts become 'Murderers'

A useful article to show how POLITICAL WILL is crucial and needed before problems can be solved.
Sometimes, the solutions are actually available (eg the technology is already there) but it is politics that hinders the eradication of the problem, as politicians drag their feet over petty internal politicking or other politically sensitive implications.
Another case in point is how the Indonesian govt take its time to ratify the ASEAN Transboundary Haze Pact (which it eventually did recently) even as other member countries like Singapore and Malaysia are willing to chip in to help.
And in the mean time, people will continue to die from the Ebola virus, and the forests will continue to burn, and we will continue to suffer from the haze. Incidentally, the haze reached its peak yesterday at PSI 153.  

How a 'Suite' experience causes Envy over Social Media

Remember the point about how social media causes envy (and maybe even depression)? Click HERE to freshen your memory.
Well, I recent heard about this when the DJ shared it over the radio and I sms-ed her for the link...Click HERE. It's about how this guy gave a detailed breakdown of his experience flying the SIA A380 flight from Singapore to New York -- and he flew first class on the suite! And get this, it cost a whopping S$23,000!!! Follow him on Facebook and the envy brims over as he details other kinds of experience he's been through that instantly relegate the 'suite experience' to a footnote. It makes you feel like an utter failure in life......Well, maybe not for you. Who knows, you may even surpass him in future!

GP Angle: Social media allows for the sharing of experience; but it can also result in envy (an even depression, as the article I posted in the first link above claims) on the part of the reader for whom those experiences are unattainable.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

You're being Tracked....No Kidding....

An interesting link here on how the use of iphones has compromised our can actually track our movements! scary! Still proud of that new iphone 6 u just bought?! Click HERE

Qn: To what extent does social media compromise privacy?

Your Phone & TV set may be spying on you

SAT Morning Class

One of you asked me about examples on Arts...I've collated some previous links from my blog:

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Sports Hub Pool

Took a dip in the new competition pool at the 1.2 billion dollar sports hub just now....costs only $2 if u flash ur Singapore IC. It was an out-of-this-world experience. The pool is like 3 metres deep and the water was icy cold! brrr.....but it was an orgasmic swim! Wonder if the roof above can retract to let in the sun's rays instead of those artificial lights. Best thing is -- I was the ONLY one in the pool, at least for the first ten laps. It's the best $2 I've spent this year!
Come here for a dip if u need to de-stress from the exams!

By the way, HAPPY CHILDREN'S DAY! Celebrate the eternal child in you! And Selamat Hari Raya Haji to the Muslims. Thanks to you, we have a long weekend!

Racial Sensitivity in China

A thought on multiculturalism in China surfaced during a lesson recently. Over here in Singapore, we are always over-paranoid about race issues, with all the incessant harping on inherent social fractures along racial lines that can threaten to break out into racial riots. In contrast, countries with relatively homogeneous population like Japan and Korea have no such worries.
But when it comes to China, it presents an interesting perspective for argument. Essentially, China is considered majority Han Chinese with some minority tribes on the fringe. But unlike Singapore, these minority tribes are situated in far-flung areas or little pockets located far beyond the major cities. Think the Uighurs in Xinjiang and the tribes in Yunnan, and of course the Tibetans high up in the plateaus. Hence, even as there are other races, there is little concern about racial conflicts as the minority races do not interact that pervasively and intensively with the majority Han Chinese. Racial issues do not dominate the national agenda and reverberate so strongly the way they do in Singapore. This is to some extent still true today.
However, flip the coin to the other side and you have a different scenario. With increasing transportation between the major cities and the far flung lands of the minority tribes (think the Qinghai railway that stretches all the way up to the Tibetan Highlands), there is now more interaction between the various races. The younger generation from the minority tribes also move to the major cities to find better jobs to eke out a better life. On top of this, to ensure greater integration, the Beijing govt has also been encouraging transmigration of the majority Han Chinese into areas like Tibet and Xinjiang. Add on the influx of foreign talent into the major coastal and capital cities and u have a melting pot of various races. Oh, and there's also the ubiquitous presence of social media that ensures contact with other races beyond China. All these result in greater and more intense interactions between the major and minority races (both local and foreign) in the China we see today.

Disclaimer: This makes for a logical argument, but whether it is backed by factual reality is arguable. Get it verified with those who know China well.....
Any feedback on this email me at