Author Archives: GP

Source: https://theconversation.com/how-to-protect-nuclear-plants-from-terrorists-57094

Hi GP students,

You may want to have a look at this article and useful resource from The Conversation.

It highlights ongoing developments in terrorist activities and how our energy production infrastructure may be exposed or vulnerable to attack. This will be relevant to those of you preparing topics on the following:

a.  War and conflict OR Peace and Security

b.  Alternative energy sources OR Environmental issues and challenges

Two questions from the previous A Level years Paper 1 which this information can be incorporated within would be:

1.  2015, Qn 10;  ‘Should there be any controls over the production of energy when the need for it is so great?’

The Conversation article here illustrates the pragmatic concerns of balancing security with energy production in an energy-starved world.

The information here is therefore useful in illustrating a ‘there are compelling reasons to support’ controls over energy production: countries with access to energy resources such as nuclear energy may need to carefully weigh the economic benefits of developing energy exports against their ability to protect energy infrastructure from sabotage by extremist or terrorist elements

AND –

2.  2014, Qn 11; ‘Examine the extent to which expenditure on arms and the armed forces is justifiable in the modern world’.

The issues raised here are useful to illustrate a ‘strongly agree’ position:   the increased level of threat from terrorists who may target energy infrastructure justifies the need for raising arms expenditure and training on armed forces to deal with unconventional threats in the modern world.

Source: https://theconversation.com/taking-on-modern-slavery-and-the-challenge-of-making-it-history-24563

Hi GP students,

You may want to have a look at this article and useful resource from The Conversation.

It highlights the tragic and on-going modern slave trade or similar exploitative practices caused by globalization and some efforts to address the issue. This will be relevantto those of you preparing topics on the following:

a.  Human rights

b.  Economic globalization

c.  Prejudice and discrimination

Two questions from the previous A Level years Paper 1 which this information can be incorporated within would be:

1.   2014, Qn 2;  ‘How far should firms be allowed to limit their workers’ rights when profits are at stake?’

The Conversation article here illustrates the moral need or imperative to enforce ethical and fair compensation for workers, especially in societies where gaps in human rights interpretation and enforcement may tempt firms into ignoring or downplaying workers’ rights to fair compensation or other rights.

It would be useful as an illustration on a ‘strongly disagree’ point for this question: Firms should never be allowed to use falling profits as an excuse to cut back on their legal and moral obligations to their workers. Societies that excuse such deplorable behavior would in the long-run be complicit in creating unjust societies that favor the powerful and rich at the expense of the poor.

AND –

2.   2013, Qn 12; ‘How far, in your society, should unpopular views be open to discussion?’

For this question, the often understated extent of our country (Singapore’s) reliance on global supply chains can be discussed. Many of our products may be derived or have their origins in countries with controversial or under-reported human rights issues.

Thus, the issues raised here are useful to illustrate a ‘strongly agree’ position: unpopular views which compel us to review our personal consumption habits and focus on fair trade as well as ethical consumerism should be more openly discussed, given our present lack of attention to the matter.

Source 1: https://theconversation.com/six-things-a-tax-haven-expert-learned-from-the-panama-papers-57308

Source 2: https://theconversation.com/panama-papers-this-is-a-chance-to-fix-a-long-broken-system-57198

 

Hi GP students,

You may want to have a look at these two articles and useful resources from The Conversation.

They highlight the recent Panama Papers leak and its consequences (or lack thereof) on the rich global elite. The points raised may be relevant to those of you preparing either Media or Globalization as your main General Paper essay topics for the A levels.

Two questions from the previous A Level years Paper 1 which this information can be incorporated within would be:

1. 2015, Qn 1 ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity.’ To what extent is this true?

For this essay, the Panama Papers’ exposure of those who set up off-shore companies for purposes of tax avoidance would be a useful illustration of bad publicity and its potential fall-out for the influential individuals involved.

It is thus a useful illustration for a point that ‘disagrees to a fair extent’ with the question.

ALTERNATIVELY, some of the points raised in the article posit that the rules of economic globalization are rigged in favor of the rich and influential with the resources to write the rules of the game. They are thus largely shielded from any initial bad publicity or capable of weathering them.

It is thus a useful illustration for that a point that ‘agrees strongly’ with the question – that bad publicity is ultimately short-lived and of little consequence.

AND –

2. 2014, Qn 6 ‘How far is it important for people to be aware of current events in countries other than their own?

For this essay, you may want to consider the learning points people may derive from the Panama Papers expose. Countries which are (presently) untouched by the scandal may want to take note of the wide-spread nature of legally permissible but ethically dubious actions undertaken by the global elite to avoid tax responsibilities.

Some countries, such as Singapore for instance, are globally connected and hence more likely to become havens for such activities if their governments are less vigilant in policing dubious business practices. Thankfully, our country and government does maintain due vigilance regarding this matter.

Thus, this is a useful illustration for a point that ‘supports to a large extent’ the question statement, where people’s awareness of global issues helps clarify their understanding of stability, law and order in their own countries, which they may otherwise take for granted.

Source: https://theconversation.com/out-of-the-ashes-of-afghanistan-and-iraq-the-rise-and-rise-of-islamic-state-55437

Hi GP students,

You may want to have a look at this article and useful resource from The Conversation. It highlights on-going developments in the Middle-East that may be relevant to those of you preparing topics on the following:

a.  War & Conflict

b.  Political developments (especially on the specific concept of vulnerable, weak or failed states)

c.  Religion

Two questions from the previous A Level years Paper 1 which this information can be incorporated within would be:

1.  2015, Qn 4;  ‘No cause is ever worth dying for.’ Discuss.

The Conversation article here illustrates insidious and controversial appeal of terrorist ideology to disaffected citizens in a weakened state such as Iraq.

 It would be useful as an illustration on a ‘partially agree’ point on for this question: Against their better moral judgment, some people may be pressurized because of political developments in their country that push or pressurize them into adopting terrorist ideologies that glorify death or martyrdom as an act of patriotism.

AND –

2.  2014, Qn 10; ‘Getting what one wants in life matters.’ Discuss.

For this question, the use of violence to achieve one’s political ideologies reflects the inhumane nature of terrorist ideology that begins and ends in violence.

The references to terrorist organization’s use of technology and other means of sowing terror illustrate well a ‘strongly disagree’ position: that it is morally repugnant or unacceptable to achieve violent political aims for one’s ideology or cause at the the expense of innocents’ lives.

Source: https://theconversation.com/new-plastic-munching-bacteria-could-fuel-a-recycling-revolution-55961

Hi GP students,

You may want to have a look at this article and useful resource from The Conversation.

It highlights a recent innovation in bio-chemistry that may be relevant to those of you preparing Science & Technology as one of your main General Paper essay topics for the A levels.

Two questions from the previous A Level years Paper 1 which this information can be incorporated within would be:

1. 2015, Qn 6 ‘In your society, how well are the needs of the economy and the environment balanced.’

For this essay, plastic-eating bacteria would be a useful illustration of a new technological innovation that your society (Singapore for most of you) that is being discussed / explored by industries and the government as an additional means to further ensure sustainable development and the disposal of waste. It is thus a useful illustration for a point that ‘agrees to a fair extent’ with the question.

AND –

2. 2014, Qn 9’ To what extent can the regulation of scientific or technological developments be justified?’

For this essay, you may want to consider the potential and as yet unknown implications of this new technology and how widely it is implemented once it is proven to be successful.

The issue would revolve around businesses which patent this product and how much they may charge the public for the use of it. Regulation and in some cases, a price cap on what is essentially a public good may then have to be enacted by relevant government agencies to prevent profiteering.

Thus, this is useful illustration for a point that ‘supports to a large extent’ the question statement.

Source:  https://theconversation.com/heres-why-immigrant-students-perform-poorly-52568

Hi GP students,

You may want to have a look at this article and useful resource from The Conversation.

It raises some interesting positions and theories on achievement gaps for immigrant communities in the United States. This will be relevant to those of you preparing topics on the following:

a.      Inequality

b.      Education

c.      Politics and Government

Two questions from the previous A Level years Paper 1 which this information can be incorporated within would be:

1. 2013, Qn 11;  ‘Education should only be concerned with what is useful in life.’ Discuss.

The Conversation article here attribute a lack of language learning as a root cause for achievement gaps for immigrant children and youth in the United States educational system.  .

This is useful in addressing the question from a ‘strongly agree’ position: for societies which have faced a persistent challenge in adequately preparing their young for the modern world, education should prioritize and direct high levels of resources to developing basic skills critical to the learning and developmental process of their young.

AND –

2. 2012, Qn 11; ‘The key criterion for good government is how well the economy is managed.’ Is this a fair assessment?’

The article considers how inequality in the United States raises barriers to effective learning for immigrant communities.

The issues raised here are thus useful to illustrate a ‘largely disagree’ position:   good economic management by itself may widen the rich-poor divide and demonstrate poor governance.

Instead, effective social policies in education should be elevated as a criterion for good governance as they are more critical to eradicating inequality, which may sometimes be an unintended result of good or overly zealous economic management in the first place.

YES: THE STATE SHOULD BE INVOLVED TO A LARGE DEGREE IN BUSINESS AS DOING SO ENSURES A VARIETY OF EFFECTIVE BUSINESS AND SOCIETAL OUTCOMES.

1. Some vital aspects of governance, such as managing and growing the national reserves through sovereign wealth funds, should in most cases be undertaken by the state which has the long-term national interest rather than short-term commercial profits in mind.

2. The state should retain an extensive and influential regulatory role when it privatizes important public goods or services, such as transport, communications and healthcare, to ensure that social well-being and safety is not unduly marginalized by private operators focused solely on profits.

3. Economic factors related to pricing, supply and speculation pressures necessitate timely government intervention in some sectors, such as basic food commodities, housing and banking, to prevent financial elites or businessmen from exploiting members of the public or profiteering at the public expense.

4. The state needs to actively supportsocial enterprises, such as farmers cooperatives or factories which hire the handicapped, as such businesses assist the economically disempowered and are vital to building cohesive and civic societies.

NO: THE STATE SHOULD NOT BE INVOLVED IN MOST AREAS OF BUSINESS AS DOING SO DILUTES ITS EFFECTIVENESS AS A STATE AND ALSO UNDERMINES DESIRABLE BUSINESS AND SOCIETAL OUTCOMES.

1. The state should never be involved in business in countries with poor accountability and public transparency practices, as corrupt officials will likely abuse the public trust and pocket national funds or resources for themselves, leading to financial ruin for the nation.

2. Once privatization takes place, governments should maintain a minimal regulatory role as doing otherwise would interfere with the efficient daily operations of the related sectors, especially if officials do not possess the necessary expertise to contribute meaningfully to efficient operations.

3. State interventions into the free market may be driven by populist pressures, leading to highly complex, unpredictable and harmful economic consequences, such as the collapse of prices followed by unemployment in some business sectors or government subsidies in agriculture which breed farmers’ reliance on the government.

4. State involvement in social enterprises should be largely discouraged as supporting them would undermine their operators’ efficiency and pass their business problems to the state, unnecessarily burdening state resources.

YES: MAGAZINES AND TELEVISION PROGRAMS FOR SINGAPOREAN YOUTHS ARE GENERALLY WELL WRITTEN, THEREBY PROMOTING THE WELL-BEING AND DEVELOPMENT OF SINGAPOREAN YOUTHS.

1. Magazines and television programs for Singaporean youths provide articles and advice valuable to their social and emotional maturation.

2. Magazines and television programs with appropriate education content are often published and released to youths in educational institutions, providing a valuable resource for their intellectual development.

3. Magazines and television programs that target youth audiences have advertisements that promote products that are both appropriate to the needs of youths and affordable to their limited spending power.

NO: MAGAZINES AND TELEVISION PROGRAMS FOR SINGAPOREAN YOUTHS ARE GENERALLY POORLY WRITTEN, THEREBY UNDERMINING THE WELL-BEING AND DEVELOPMENT OF SINGAPOREAN YOUTHS.

1. Magazines and television programs for Singaporean youths provide articles and advice that is superficial rather than useful to their social and emotional maturation.

2. Magazines and television programs that ostensibly reach out to youths in schools may be of low production quality, thereby undermining their value as educational tools for youths.

3. Magazines and television programs that target youth audiences have advertisements that engage in deceptive marketing and promote products that are neither wholesome nor affordable to youths, causing them to develop materialistic outlooks and spendthrift behavior.