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.... :-)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Ten Years directors on why the Hong Kong film spoke to people

Click HERE

A good example of how films are more than just an escape, but to remind us of the reality, or to WARN us of an impending reality that will materialize if we do nothing about it, much like films carrying an environmental message.....The resulting awareness is usually targeted to provoke a kind of reaction and action from viewers so that we can avert the negative scenario depicted in the film....

Issues on censorship can also come in, as this film was banned in China. Compare this film with 'To Singapore, With Love', a political film about Singapore that was banned here for portraying Operation Cold Store in a negative light....Should films that erode people's trust in the govt and put the establishment in a diminished light be left uncensored?

1. Do films offer anything more than an escape from reality? (Cam. 2014)
2. ‘For the majority of people, the Arts are irrelevant to their daily lives.’ How true is this of your society? (Cam. 2014)
3. Is the need for media censorship increasingly greater in your society?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Japan, Singapore and 50 years of post-war friendship

Click HERE
Given the recent 50th anniversary in the ties btw Japan and Singapore, this article gives a good look at the background on the friendship btw the two countries....

it's interesting how our ordeal is not used to induce hatred but to bind us in a shared destiny and identity instead:
then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said: "We meet not to rekindle old fires of hatred nor to seek settlements for blood debts. We meet to remember the men and women who are the hapless victims of one of the fires of history. We suffered together. It told us that we shared one destiny."
The Singapore Government's attitude was to remember the past but not to be imprisoned by it.

but realise that this is only possible if both countries think the same way....I suppose the same cannot be said of Malaysia (and perhaps Singapore too?) which is why relations btw the two still remain patchy despite us being next-door neighbours....

Here's another article from an old post which suggests reasons why Singaporeans do not hate the Japanese : (See HERE)

Qn: How far is it possible for one country to forgive another for its past actions? (Cam. 2015)

3 global giants drop Malaysian palm oil supplier over deforestation

Click HERE
Remember the parties involved other than the individual: govt, MNCs, NGOs....

Qn: "Individuals are expected to save the environment." Do you agree?

Technology 'has raised extremist threat'

Click HERE

An important characteristic feature of "the world today" and 'in your society':
"We now live in a world of fragmented echo chambers... a world in which there is a dearth of deep thought and cogent discussion across diverse perspectives. You get a more monochromatic world and a narrowing of minds."

When answering qns with this context 'in the world today', try to pull in this characteristic features into the elaboration of your point. Recall my recent lesson on Paper 1 Qn Type....

Qn: Is the need for media censorship increasingly greater in your society?

Thai water festival begins amid drought

Click HERE

A good example of how certain tradition/culture is actually bad for the environment....The other one is the burning of incense papers during the Hungry Ghost Festival....

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

Woman, 60, caned for selling alcohol in Aceh

Click HERE

A catchy example to be used either for your BANGs or as evidence in your para.....shows how harsh certain religious laws can be, esp when it is extended to non-believers....

Obscene sums of money in US politics: Clooney

Click HERE

one of the problems with democracy is the huge amount of money involved in election campaigns that could have been put to better use elsewhere...
The US, being one of the largest democracy nation in the world, is particularly guilty of this...

Note the quote by George Clooney in the title -- useful for opening/closing BANGs!

Pursuit of smaller nuclear weapons sparks fears of Cold War arms race revival

Click HERE
The deterrence factor of owning nuclear weapons is now wearing down, as this article shows....'cos newer nuclear weapons are now 'less destructive', making it more tempting to use them:

"One fear about the new weapons is that they could undercut the grim logic of “mutual assured destruction”, the Cold War doctrine that any attack would result in massive retaliation and, ultimately, the annihilation of all combatants. While much debated and often mocked, MAD, as it was known, worked. Now, the concern is that the precision and less-destructive nature of these new weapons raises the temptation to use them."

So we see that unlike in the past where deterrence is futile when dealing with a mad man like Hitler, today, we also have to contend with ambitious leaders who won't hesitate to use the weapons since they know now that the collateral damage is small (i.e. won't lead to 'mutual assured destruction').

Note also the colourful twist to the imagery used to close with a BANG! :
“The world has failed to put the nuclear genie back in the bottle,” said Dr Gubrud. “And new genies are now getting loose.”

Qn: Examine the extent to which expenditure on arms and the armed forces is justified in the modern world (Cam. 2014)

Rui En says sorry on stage over carpark controversy

Click HERE

After Rebecca Lim's fiasco on quitting showbiz, we now have Rui-En being in a similar situation of being in the limelight for the wrong reason....
But her apology in the media can be seen as an instance of how the initial bad publicity provides an opportunity for her to explain herself and dispel people's earlier misconception of her, earning her more fans in the process. So bad publicity is actually good publicity?

Qn: ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity.’ To what extent is this true? (Cam. 2015)

It Changed My Life: No paint, no gain

Click HERE
Art functioning as a cathartic outlet for stress, allowing us to short, therapy.

Qn: ‘For the majority of people, the Arts are irrelevant to their daily lives.’ How true is this of your society? (Cam. 2014)

Holding one's peace may no longer keep the peace

Click HERE
Other than the stuff on Edward Snowden, Panama papers, here's something a bit different....

Qn: "Silence is golden." Do you agree?

Restaurants sacking robots for being 'dumb' waiters

Click HERE
if you have been following my earlier posts on the use of robots in nursing homes, restaurants, hospitals, hotels, etc, this article provides the limitations to the use of robots...

As waiters and chefs, we are told they can't pour hot water and their dishes are not very palatable. Note the final comment of the article:
"while robots were excellent at improving productivity in the manufacturing industry where tasks are repetitive, they were unable to perform well in fields where frequent human interaction was necessary."

Heritage fest to feature next-gen hawkers

Click HERE
Remember that heritage is not just buildings and memorials, but also 'soft' entities like language (dialects?), dance, music (xinyao?), food, clothes....

Qn: To what extent is it important to preserve the heritage of your society?

Mitsubishi: We've been cheating on fuel tests for 25 years

Click HERE

Like the Volkswagon scandal last year, Mitsubishi has also been lying to the public about their so-called fuel-efficient cars....

Useful for qns where competitions lead to cheating....
A good example of 'green-washing'

Haze fight needs consumers to vote with their wallets

Click HERE
Do remember to go into OTHER parties such as the  govt, MNCs NGOs

Qn: 'Individuals are expected to save the environment.' Do you agree?

Mall's toilet ban for construction crew raises a stink

Click HERE

Brings to mind the ruckus over the building of a dormitory for workers in Serangoon Gardens some years back, where the residents protested vehemently due to concerns of safety and how it will cause the value of their property to drop.
Apparently, our attitude towards the foreign workers who work hard to build the infrastructure for us are not well regarded in our eyes....

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

Controversial mayor remains man to beat in Philippine election

Click HERE

Possible usefulness in two areas:
1) how democracy can fail us, as people are poised to elect such a controversial figure as their head of state in the Philippines, much like the Donald Trump syndrome where candidates deemed deficient actually get elected due to their popularity...

2)the use of humour as a political weapon. Some of us did a compre and AQ on this recently. In this case, the humour clearly backfires on the politician.

Radicalisation and its threats to a small nation

Click HERE
Your sch would have alerted you to the Primer section in the Straits Times, as it is specially created for you in the national newspaper, and tied in with an inter-JC quiz. This is one of the 12 primer articles.....
Read it (them) for the Singapore context useful for those 'in your society' qns and of course, AQ.

Fare cuts by Uber, Grab will hurt sector: Taxi body

Click HERE

For those who did the jig-saw puzzle recently, recognize that this presents a good local example for how competition benefits the consumers.
But if you apply the 5W-1H method and activate the WHO angle, you may realise that yes, it benefits the consumers, but it does NOT benefit the industry or the taxi players themselves -- that's a potential rebuttal for you!

Qn: "Competition brings about healthy consequences." Discuss.

The value of prevention in the war on diabetes

Click HERE

useful vocab: 'clarion call' in para 2.

1.     How effectively is public health promoted and managed in your society? (Cam. 2015)

2.     The key to good health is lifestyle rather than medicine. How far do you agree? (Cam. 2010)

Yasukuni Shrine visits provoke anger

Click HERE
There it goes again!!!

Qn:   How far is it possible for one country to forgive another for its past actions? (Cam.2015)

Nationwide parcel locker network in the works

Click HERE

Sat afternoon class, we discussed the NYJC AQ (?) which has the following quote: people go online to shop but they don't buy anything....
Here in this article, we probably have an answer as to why this is so in Singapore: delivery problem.

Note also the revealing stats:
According to Visa's 2015 Consumer Payment Attitudes Survey, over 70 per cent of consumers here shop online at least once a month.

RI's Jonathan Chua's sporting act: No big deal? Such sporting deeds deserve retelling

Click HERE
A good local example of how sport can instil and inculcate values and sportsmanship....The writer is responding to a recent incident in the National 'A' Divisions (See HERE)
Note how the closing BANG echoes the opening BANG to good effect....

Rise of cybercrime 'still a big challenge'

Click HERE
Note how technology and the internet have changed the face of crime, making it more difficult to track down criminals and bring them to justice....

Monday, April 11, 2016

Arts in Singapore

For those keen to do qns on the arts in Singapore, this recent speech in parliament is useful....

See HERE for the clip on parts of his speech, and HERE for the full transcript of his speech...

Qn:  ‘For the majority of people, the Arts are irrelevant to their daily lives.’ How true is this of your society? (Cam. 2014)


Click HERE
I'm refreshing this old link on humour for those who did the humour compre recently....

Qn: Can humour ever be serious? (Cam. 2012)

Insights into Singapore's soft and hard power

Click HERE

Useful to know:
-A 2015 study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found Singapore to be among the five countries with the biggest defence budgets.

-Devoting about 6 per cent of Singapore's yearly GDP to defence spending

We want everyone to love MFA and fear Mindef.
love + fear
diplomacy + Deterrence

Deterrence: 'fear MINDEF':
Singapore's defence strategy was to project "the ability to bring firepower on people you want to hit".

Dilomacy: 'love MFA'
the essence of Singapore's foreign policy: to be a friend to as many countries as possible, without aligning itself with any of the major powers. Doing so would help it extend its influence and so expand its political and economic space internationally

Qn: Examine the extent to which expenditure on arms and the armed forces is justified in the modern world. (Cam. 2014)

Drones change the way Aussie farmers work

Click HERE
so drones are used not only for military purpose, but also in farming!!!

Qn:   Is effective farming possible without science? (Cam. 2005)

Richest countries in the world

Click HERE

I mentioned  this in one class over the weekend....Singapore is ranked 3rd richest country in the world by per capita....useful in arguments where you want to assert Singapore's affluence...

but do note our high Gini coefficient (see HERE) which indicates that the wealth is not even distributed but in the hands of only a small portion of the population.....(but do note also the rebuttal to this high Gini coefficient)

Friday, April 08, 2016

Spending kept up with eye on future: Ng Eng Hen

Click HERE
Note that S$14b is budgeted for defence this year for Singapore....

Examples of what weapons our defence budget is being spent on:
They include a new armoured vehicle for combat support troops, eight new littoral mission vessels and two new submarines, and the move to finalise new helicopters for the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

Now that war at the battlefield is slowly migrating to cyberspace, we are also beefing up our cyber defence capabilities. Recall that some of our govt websites were hacked into by professional hackers some months back.....

In this last sentence of the article are three reasons given by our Defence Minister for the continued high spending on defence in Singapore:
"But I think for Singapore, a little red dot in the middle of a region of extremist threats, rising nationalism and strategic rivalry, we should guard against the worst and prepare ahead."

Qn: Examine the extent to which expenditure on arms and the armed forces is justified in the modern world. (Cam. 2014)

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Support for young and old alike

Click HERE

some useful local eg from the recent budget catering t both the young and the old....
For the comparison qn below, note two approaches:
1) can agree to BOTH A & B, instead of having to choose one over the other
2) can also reject both and go into a C. but since there is no meaningful C to come up with for this qn, u can just reject both by going into the reservations of having too much help for both:

But even as state support increases, Singaporeans should hold on to their spirit of self-reliance, he said.
"We must be cautious that Silver Support does not undermine values such as filial piety, or lead to a divisive mentality among citizens."

Qn:   When a government’s finances for social welfare are limited, should they be directed towards the young or the old? (Cam. 2015)

Stop lugging around your books!

Click HERE

Qn:   ‘Books serve little purpose in education as technological developments become more sophisticated.’ How far do you agree? (Cam. 2015)

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Terrorist threat: Tempering grief with quiet determination

Click HERE
an interesting article about whether we are giving too much attention and coverage to terrorism, and in the process, playing right into the hands of the terrorists by creating panic and fear. After all, according to the article, Obama has said that more people died in the US each year by falling into their bathtubs than those who fall prey to terrorism. (this has BANGing potential!)

Note opening BANG of intro using a famous example n the past....

While it is all very justified for the media to create awareness over what is going on, esp when it threatens our lives, the very act of reporting it, or more specifically, THE WAY the media reports it (exaggerating, sensationalizing, or just intensive reporting) can result in more than just can create paranoia and an overreaction on the part of the public. And we are not just talking about terrorist attacks, but SARs, bird flu, ebola, etc. At the crux of this problem over where to draw the line is the need for censorship. We do not want to cause a panic (which will make it difficult for the authorities to manage the problem), yet the people have the right to know what's happening, esp if it affects their life directly.
What caught my eye is this phrase "orgy of overheated coverage" in the media.

Note the use of comparison (with plane crash) when elaboration to make clear a point:
Yet none of this suggests that the current public response to terrorist attacks is inappropriate. To start with, it's human nature to pay more attention to a single incident in which a larger number of people are killed, rather than to many incidents in which single people perish: that's one reason why, say, a plane crash attracts more coverage than the grim but sadly routine carnage of road accidents.

Divisive politics could grip Singapore too: PM Lee

Click HERE

for the class where we discussed politics recently, recognize that political gridlock (a bane of democracy) will occur when there is divisive politics, esp when pple feel that the govt has neglected their welfare. Currently, the PAP still enjoys considerable trust in the pple, but one day when certain groups feel that they have been overlooked by the govt, then dissenting voices will start to rise, and when these get loud enough, they will be able to oppose the govt and result in a gridlock, or worse, a toppling of the govt at the ballot box....
This is why the govt is at pains to foster an inclusive society to prevent an Arab Spring from occurring here.
Seen in this light, what is negative about democracy can also be seen as positive, as the govt will be incentivize to ensure that the welfare of ALL groups are looked after....but this, of course, is easier said than done....

Fear, scarcity vs innovation, generosity

Click HERE

Qn:     Taking risks is an essential part of life and should be encouraged. Discuss. (Cam. 2011)

UN peacekeepers face new abuse claims

Click HERE

Qn: Does the presence of a foreign power ever help a country with problems? (Cam. 2008)

Online values, Ai and AI

Click HERE

a good article on how the internet is divisive...note esp the reasons for why we behave so differently online, saying things that we otherwise would not do when face-to-face....

note balance on anonymity:
To be sure, online anonymity is not without its blessings. It offers privacy and security to those who wish to seek information and support for awkward personal problems or embarrassing health conditions. Whistle-blowers and the politically persecuted can also leverage online anonymity to advance their causes with reduced threat to personal safety.

the paradoxical nature and duality of the internet
Technology is therefore paradoxical in its effects - beneficent yet toxic, empowering yet crippling, amplifying yet silencing - but never neutral, despite its seemingly mechanical logic. Simply consider how technologies such as smartphones, social media and location-based services have ushered in as many advantages as they have trade-offs.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Don't grade schools on grit

Click HERE
What caught my eye was just this quotation by Martin Luther King:

The Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr once observed: "Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."

Qn: 'The education system places too much emphasis on grades at the expense of character development.' To that extent is this true of your society?

Sunday, April 03, 2016

China cracks down on illegal vaccines

Click HERE

This is just an example of the numerous medications (esp those sold online) that are threatening the lives of people....
Nowadays, we do not just worry about war, terrorists, ebola, MERS, global warming, Fukushima, air crash, natural disasters.....even the food we eat can be dangerous (think Sanlu milk powder and the various food scares)...and now, even medicines, supposedly to help alleviate our pain, cannot be trusted.....!!!!
What is presented here is both the problem as well as the solution of govt crackdown, providing us with a useful rebuttal....

1.    Do you agree that ethical considerations only get in the way of medical progress? (TJC Prelim 2015)
2. Do you agree that we live in a  dangerous world?

Prize money debate is demeaning, dull and outdated

Click HERE

Sheds some interesting insights on gender politics in sport....useful for those tackling the AQ in the 2015 compre where Passage 1 brings up a gender angle to the discussion.....Note the great disparity in the prize money btw male and female athletes, which is not unlike that of the gender wage gap among Hollywood celebrities (apparently, Chris Helmsworth was paid many times that of Jennifer Lawrence in the movie, even though it was clear to all that the success of the movie rests squarely on the shoulders of Lawrence)

Time to reconnect with nature

Click HERE

an excellent article why urbanites like us have little or no environmental conscience....and how any solutions towards saving mother nature cannot exclude a change in our wasteful and indifferent lifestyle habits.....The arguments goes that any success in saving mother nature through technology will be negated if man continues with his wasteful lifestyle....

Qn: 'The common man needs to come on board if mother nature is ever to have any chance of surviving.' Discuss.

Meat the Culprit

Click HERE

What we put into our mouth have implications on the environment, ethics and morality (cruelty to animals), health....

Check out these posters on further reasons why our meat diet is detrimental to the environment.....contains some useful stats:

Singapore's 2016 National Budget

Where the money is going: HERE
Where the money is from: HERE

Some useful stats for BANGING!:
Govt spending $14b on defence, $12.8b on education and $11b on health

Note an earlier post where Australia announced that it's spending $30b MORE on defence! (see HERE)

1. Examine the extent to which expenditure on arms and the armed forces is justified in the modern world. (Cam. 2014)

Laptops in Aussie classrooms: Learning aid or distraction?

Click HERE

Note the intro structure where 4 'BANGS' are used....

Qn: Do electronic devices, such as tablets or smart phones, help or hinder students in their studies? (Cam 'O level 2015)

Facts, not fears, the key to dealing with GM foods

Click HERE

Qn:   Is genetically modified food the answer to world hunger? (TJC Prelim 2015)