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.... :-)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

IRs needed or Singapore to keep abreast of top cities

Click HERE.
LKY's views of the controversial IR. One main arguments stood out, which is to make Singapore an exciting and fascinating city. This is not unlike the introduction of he Formula One race here to add 'buzz' to our city, to inject the 'fun' transform our city into the world's
playground' -- not only just to lure the tourists, but also to create the quality of life that will attract global talent and retain local talent (smart foreigners will come here; smart locals overseas will return, and smart locals already here will not want to migrate...)

Splurging on a Hamburger

Click HERE...
I thought this articles illustrates quite well the use of an interesting anecdote to Open with a BANG, as well as the use of a closure at the end to make reference back to the opening!

Govt's intervention in our private matters justified?

Click HERE (from 4.30)...the govt openly admits that they deliberately intervened in the personal sphere of people's lives whether through the law or campaigns...think ethnic quota in HDB, scrapping of Chinese dialects, stop at two policy, 377A,  anti-littering, etc.... CPF? gambling?

Qn: To what extent should the govt interfere in the private lives of its people?

LKY is finally dead!

Click to see clip HERE. (watch it before it's taken down by the authorities!)
A distasteful video put up by a local teen who has since been arrested and charged (see report HERE).
A useful example to ponder on issues regarding the internet and freedom of speech.

Consider these:
- such videos should be allowed as everyone should be free to say what they want in a democratic country

- asking sensitive questions about the establishment is one way to curb corruption by acting as a check and balance...remember the media's role as a watchdog. The western media holds this as the sacred mission of the media, what is known as the 'fourth estate'. LKY appears to oppose this as he saw this 'nosey-parker' role of the media as being the 'invigilator, adversary and inquisitor of the administration' (see clip HERE from 0.59). But influential and powerful organisations and govts will be more careful about toeing the line if they know the media is watching and will be reporting on what they do...the whole idea of the whistle-blower who exposes corrupt and unethical acts is only possible if people have the freedom to say what they want.

- can we allow people to anyhow just spread baseless allegations just because they don't like the person? Won't it be hurtful to the victim and hence constitute cyber-bullying?
Consider John Stuart's Mill's harm principle -- we have the freedom and right to do whatever we want, provided what we do does not infringe on the freedom and right of others.

-what if the person targeted here is someone of repute such as the King or politician or government of the country? would it erode the people's trust in the government and make it difficult for the govt to run the country, ultimately causing the nation to suffer? because once the govt's credibility is tarnished and called into qn, people will also doubt their policies no matter how good they are..(see clip HERE from 3.50)

-does it matter THE WAY we put forth our questions, esp if they are valid questions? Compare the way the guy (Amos Yee) deliver his argument in the video versus, say Catherine Lim's criticisms of the govt in her articles....Does the guy in the video comes across as credible, even if we give him the benefit of the doubt that his allegations might have some validity? (Catherine Lim is a political commentator in Singapore, but she is more well-known as a celebrated novelist. She was once a GP teacher! You can visit her blog HERE)

-what if the things people want to be free to say actually involves confidential information that will pose a disadvantage to the organisation or nation? eg military and trade secrets? Should teachers be free to say to you the answers of the exams?

-but instead of muzzling people's mouth and shutting them up, wouldn't it be a better way to debate the sensitive issues openly and challenge the false allegations and clear things up, so that misguided notions and falsehoods are shattered, hence strengthening the 'correct' views in the process? Clamping up people's mouth might actually deny the 'truth' of the opportunity of being revealed to the people, as people will be suspicious of the validity of your version, the more you try to suppress contrary views.

Another article to read HERE on the issue of freedom in Singapore.


Qn: To what extent should there be a limit on the freedom of speech?

Apple Chief plans to give all his $1b fortune to charity

Click HERE.
Possible to use this piece of info as open or closing BANG, or as an example to support ur point on increasing trend of philanthropy nowadays.......
When it comes to Qns on philanthropy and charity, Tim Cook is the latest examples after people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jackie Chan, Lee Kah Shing, etc....
Warren Buffet has previously pledged to give away 99% of his fortune to philanthropy during his life time, leaving only 1% for his family. He has also been actively campaigning for the rich to donate their fortunes and to pay higher taxes....
Jackie Chan has also announced before to the press that he will 'luo juan' (literally, donate until 'naked'), not leaving even a cent to his son.
Tim Cook is also a member of the LGBT community, having come out of the closet last year....useful example of a LGBT in the corporate world, as most of those we know are in showbusiness.

1.     The person who dies rich dies disgraced. Discuss. (Cam. 2010)
2.     Is there still a place for charity in today‚Äôs world? (Cam. 2006)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Roar that is heard no more...

In Memoriam....

Saturday, March 28, 2015

LKY, "I'll chop off your head...." and a touching anecdote

There's been an avalanche of articles on LKY during this national mourning week....I hope u have been following some of them - if not all -- esp if u r a local student.....Here're two pieces:

1) an interesting quote by our founding father, in his typical acerbic fashion:

"If from the start, you say it cannot be done, I'll chop off your head. But if you try it three times and fail, I'll still give you a medal".

2) A touching piece -- hanky-alert!

Apologies to the non-Chinese. Let me attempt to translate:

Taxi uncle's words;
Girl listened until eyes teared

Why is our nation's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, so fierce? An old taxi driver told a female passenger yesterday -- it's because of love, because of protecting those that he loves. Hence, he is harsh with his words, but has our interests at heart.

Yesterday, the female passenger, Joyce Lim, posted on facebook that the driver was around seventy years old. After she heard what the driver had to say, she cried for the first time in a taxi, because she was too touched by his words.

She said, these are the driver's words:

"Miss, let uncle tell you ah. I've met Lee Kuan Yew a few times, because he was our Tanjong Pagar's MP. Many people said that he is very fierce lah, black-hearted lah, but you don't believe them. Just ask them whether they have ever met Lee Kuan Yew with their own eyes first."

"Mr Lee may look very fierce, but he treats people very well. I once approached him for some help. He did not look down on a nobody like me, did not ask his subordinate to attend to me. Instead, he helped me personally himself. He has an excellent memory. We only met twice, yet he could remember my name. Who am I to warrant this? To think he actually remembered me! I can only say this is because I am his citizen, a member of the nation."

"Why did Mr Lee have to be so fierce in the past, so strict. do you know? It's because we are a tiny island with nothing. The people had no education, no money, lived on mudflats. So he had to rouse the people. He single-handedly fought for Singapore, fought against the terrorists, fought against the opposition, fought against those who wanted to bring Singapore down. Faced with so much difficulties and obstacles, of course he had to be a bit fierce lah."

"Uncle here use my life to bet with anyone. In today's world, who else has the capability to -- within fifty years -- transform a tiny backward island from a third world nation into a first world country?"

"Do you know, uncle here have never shed a single drop of tear in forty years. But yesterday when I was driving a passenger to the Singapore Expo, I saw from afar the TV screen showing Lee Kuan Yew's body being sent from the Istana to the Parliament House. I could not control myself any more. I hid in a carpark and cried for a full thirty minutes. Sigh..It's a pity that this year's national day, Mr Lee is unable to celebrate together with us our nation's fiftieth anniversary."

Last night, our newspaper shared this post on our facebook at the first notice. Quite a few readers said that they also could not control their tears after reading.

Netizen, Cap Zakir, said, "Both my eyes are moist. Tears are threatening to roll down. What uncle said went deep into my heart. Very touching."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

More responsible use of the internet needed

Note the parallel btw the Singtel scandal (see earlier post) and the rumour about LKY's death (before his real death occurs)....
For the Chinese article below, the main useful part is how reputable media like the US's CNN, China's CCTV and Phoenix channel actually reported the rumour they found online without verifying it first with reliable sources....

-the useful examples of falsehood and untruth spread online due to cloak of anonymity
-one common point often mentioned is that we should stick to reliable & reputable sources when getting info, but here we have even the reputable sources failing in their mission, proving that even the truth is not a guarantee when we go to them....

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

Cinderella's waistline under fire

A look at how fairytales, the media and movies influence our values and behaviour...and the need to regulate them?

Qn: Do films offer anything more than an escape from reality? (Cam. 2014)

When a chicken has no beak

An interesting read....Note:
1) the useful stats that Singapore imports 90% of our food
2) most of us grow up in an environment where we do not see the actual animals roaming around...chickens are just slabs of meat we find nicely packaged on the shelves of supermarkets....It is no wonder we have little or no environmental conscience or love for the environment. Realize that, just like in any human relationships, we need to be in contact and physically interact with them before we can develop any love and hence be willing to make sacrifices for them. In the case of Mother Nature, not only do we have little chance of interacting with her animals, the precious few greenery we have here also have to make way for buildings. With little contact with Mother Nature, you can't blame the little boy for thinking that chickens have no beaks but are just drum sticks. He will grow up having little awareness of Mother Nature and hence little love for her....He will be alienated from Mother Nature and be desensitized towards her suffering.

Schemes that rewrite the Singapore story

Qn: Many developed countries are paying increasing attention to the needs of the disadvantaged. How far is this true in Singapore? (Cam. 2008)

Shaolin temple abbot rejects 'CEO monk' nickname

Useful example of commercialization of culture. Don't get me wrong. Nothing wrong with exploiting culture for money, as most countries are doing it to attract tourists, but this one here seems to have crossed the line. Even as we exploit our culture for financial benefits, care must e taken not to distort the culture, and proper respect must be accorded to retain its dignity. See my own experience HERE in my japan trip in 2013:

Qn:  How important is it for people in your society to retain a sense of tradition? (Cam. 2010)

National Budget figures 2015

some useful statistics, esp pertaining to our defence, education and health expenditure for this year's national budget of $80billion!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sleepless, with a million thoughts

Click HERE.
An engaging read.....note the opening BANG using a question and the closing BANG using a famous line from a poem by the poet Robert Frost.

Tourists Dying....

For questions on tourism.....serves as reminder that tourists, instead of finding respite and rest, may actually end up encountering danger, either due to natural disasters (the recent one in China's Guilin where falling rocks killed some tourists; see HERE) or in this case, victims of political volatility in Tunisia; click HERE.

Qn: "Tourism has caused more harm than benefits." Do you agree?

Malaysia's hudud row tests PM Najib

After Brunei implemented the syariah law last year, now we have the Kelantan state in Malaysia trying to implement the hudud. Click HERE. Scan the end of the linked article on the harsh punishments involved....

Qn: Is violence ever justified? (Cam 2012)

The Gushcloud-Singtel scandal

Click HERE.
Two useful things I noted from this saga (there could be more):
-anonymity online is useful to encourage whistle-blowers to come forward to expose corruption or unethical practices
-the smear campaign advocated by Gushcloud is an example of untruths spread in cyberspace. But note the interesting paradox here: While the internet is guilty of spreading untruth, it is also capable revealing the truth, as in this case when the smear campaign came to light. Reminds me of the Chinese proverb --  "the one who tied the bell in the first place is also needed to untie it"

Here is some background on the scandal. Note the useful local example of CEO Singtel Ms Chua Sock Koong as a female corporate leader for gender-related questions.

Angelina Jolie removes her ovaries

Angelina Jolie created a sensation when she underwent double mastectomy to have both her breasts removed some years back . Now she has done the same with her ovaries. See HERE.
This makes for a good example of the hereditary illnesses or health risks (in this case, cancer) that parents pose for their children. Rather than saying in general that parents have influence on their children due to hereditary health risks, mention Angelina Jolie as a concrete example to convey the idea in a more persuasive way.

Qn: "Parents have (too) much influence on their children". Do you agree?

Parents influence children? -- Terrorism angle

There have been quite a few reports on young people from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the UK going to Syria to join ISIS after being influenced by social media, to the extent that their parents were shocked when it was uncovered that their children actually have such terrorist ambitions.
We can use this to show the limited influence of parents on children, as nowadays, young people tend to get their influence from social media and celebrities, religion and even strangers -- provided these strangers can gain their trust on social media. The argument that parents have great influence on their children is based on the assumption that there are close ties btw them and children look up to their parents, but this is no longer a given in today's society, esp when applied to older children.
Note that the names of the specific young people are not impt here as they are not that famous, but that collective identity as youth who go behind their parents' back to join terrorism is what interests us here....
But of course, on the flip side, there are also cases of parents who brought their children to Syria to join the terrorists. see HERE, and HERE.  

Qn: "Parents have (too) much influence on the lives of their children." Do you agree?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

HCIBS: Feedbak on Parental Influence Essay

(1) Feedback Pointers on ur essay: Click HERE

(2) Sample Essay structure Model 2 & 4: Click HERE (Note the signposting devices and potential content points)

(3) Sample Essay
This is a reasonably decent piece for foreign students newly introduced to the syllabus. Note that Model 1 is being used here, i.e. OV first followed by SVs with no rebuttals (but actually para 2 and para 5 can be framed as a rebuttal pair).

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

HCIBS ALERT!!! Diversity Stuff....

Brainstormed Points: Click HERE

Structure & Signposting for Model 2 & 4: Click HERE

If you have problems opening the links, email me and I'll send you the soft copy.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Five gender gaps women still face in 2015

Gives you the landscape of women's situation here in Singapore....note some useful examples of the gaps between men and women....

Qn: In your society, how far is equality for all a reality? (Cam. 2012)

Stuff on Youth Complacency....

Article 1: Kid's Spa

Article 2: Most Singaporeans unaware of Coldstore

Article 3: He's in the army... but she has the backpack

Article 4: Beware growing 'parentocracy'

Note how this last article can also be seen as a criticism or indictment of meritocracy, which is nowadays often blamed for impeding social mobility.


Rape film opens fresh debate -- and wounds

Quite a few things happening here in this article, e.g. censorship, discrimination....

But note especially the chauvinistic social attitudes towards women, not just those of the rapists, but also the policemen themselves....In India, where 'An Indian woman is raped every twenty minutes', it is seen as the victim's fault rather than the perpetrator.
Click HERE for article....

1) Do films offer anything more than an escape from reality? (Cam. 2014)
2) In your society, how far is equality for all a reality? (Cam. 2012)
3) Is violence ever justified? (Cam. 2012)

Japan can't close door on immigrants

Japan has often been used an as example of a 'xenophobic nation' in the sense that it is fiercely resistant towards having immigrants in their midst. (foreigners make up only 1.6 % of its population; whereas in Singapore, about 1.3 million of our 5.4 million population are immigrants) And this has contributed to its stagnated economy, which looks to worsen as its population ages.....Compare with Singapore.

Click HERE for article....

Qn: To what extent does the immigration of people have a positive effect? (Cam. 2008)

Let's have a Singapore Conversation about our finances

Click HERE for an overview of the various social policies implemented by the govt over the past few years....Note the interesting weiqi metaphor.

S;pore lagging behind in female directors

Click HERE for the article....Note the useful stats and  the "old boys' network" as a contributing reason for the dearth of women at the top. This is not quite the same as discrimination against women, but that the lack of women moving in men's circles means that by default they are not considered when it comes to filling up available vacancies at the top.....just like how there are no females in leadership positions in certain schools because these schools are pure boys schools; there is no deliberate attempt to bar women from reaching the top echelons.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

HCIBS: Model 2,4,5 and Signposting Devices

HCIBS Students:
Here are the handouts I did not manage to print out for u....I recommend that u print them out, study them carefully and then file them up for future reference and revision. The list of signposting devices at the end should be quite useful in helping the examiners navigate your writing, but be sure u know HOW and WHERE to insert them..... Click HERE

For those who experience difficulties opening the link, email to me at and I'll send you the soft copy.