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Demographics -Aging, Low Birth Rate,

2. Sexuality and Gender issues
3, Education
4. Sports
5. Economics and Globalisation
6. Med ia
7. Pol itical isation
Li bera I

8. Science and Technology

' To highlight the relevance of issues already discussed to

. A focus on arguments, supported by examples.

. A clear move away from example-driven essays.


GP is all about arguments and using logic to persuade your

reader. The examples, merely support the arguments. We
often forget this and obsess over examples.
. lssues/Arguments r AlternativeViews
The rise in our elderly population poses
problems for Singapore as it would lead to a
shrinking workforce which would then
reduce the economic productivity of the The elderly will continue to fuel
nation. Foreign investors would also place the demand for goods (physlcal aids) and
their money in countries with mqre young services (healthcare) that are related to their
people that would fuel future growth. The age and the groMh of that particular market
current fertility rate stands at 1.29 which is would benefit both the country and the
below the replacement level of z,r. ln zoo5, elderly. This is called the Silver lndustry. t'lore
one out of every 12 5ingaporeans was aged mature and experienced workers would also
65 or above. By zo3o, this ratio will becorne give our economy a competitive edge.
one out of f ve, This also creates a huge The challenges of an aging population are
burden on the government as it will need to not insurmountable and have led the
spend to suppoft these elderly through government to make numerous changes to
various qovernment services such as health adapt. For example, the retirement age has
care. been increased to reflect a heaithier
workforce capable ofworking for more years.
The qovernment has also done much to
highlight the positive contribution older
workers can make through campaigns.
r lssues/Arguments . Alternative Views
The highly stressful and competitive The phenomena of decreasing birth rates
society has both reduced our sex-drive is not unusual and reflects globaltrends
and incentive to have children. Couples where development often occurs at the
cdnnot seem to flnd t me away from their expense of family. However, the
work to procreate or to spend time w th problem is not insurmountable and
children, For example, the zooS Durex Singapore has adopted measures similar
Survey showed that Singapore had one of to other developed nations, The
the lowest frequency of sexual intercourse government has put in place many
in the worldl This is especially true for the ncentives for couples to have children by
generatlon of married adults who find it addressing their concerns. Cash gifts of
hard to achieve'Work-Life Harmony'. $3ooo will be given for th_e :'t child, s6ooo
Rising cost of living also deter cou ples for the second and sgooo forthe 3'd and
from having ch ild ren. 4th. Childcare subsidies of up to sr5o per
month are a lso provided a long with a
reduction of foreign maid levy. tMaternity
paid leave has also been extended to 4
months from 3, These policies help address
many of the concerns of cost and time as
reflected by married couples.
. A possible Rebuttal
Howeverthe truth ofthe matter is that
the incentives provided are either
insufficient or do not address the root of
concerns. One-off baby bonuses are
mediocre compared to the cumulative
expenses that would in incurred for
bringing up the child, Maid and.childcare
subsidies may not be sufficient in a id ing
families with a lower income. The demands
at work still do not change and the much
needed parentaltime with children cannot
possibly be replaced by childcare, maids or
even relatives.
. lssues/Arguments . Alternative Views
There are too many foreign workers in Even if there were less foreign workers
Singapore. The increased competition around, it would not necessarily mean
created has led to the Ioss ofjobs for the that the newjobs created would go to
locals. ln zoo7, 6r% of newjobs created Singaporean citizens. The skills required
went to foreign workers. Th is also creates for the job and willing ness to take on the
a potential problem for the ag6ing job are factors that need to be taken into
workforce that we have. Employers would cons'deration. Certain jobs that require
prefer chea per and you nger foreig n foreign talent that Singapore is lacking
workers to older localworkers. would definitely have no 6ther better
candidates. Jobs that are considered to be
demeaning to social status or having too
iow wages would also never be taken up by
S ngaporeans. Recently/ the StraitsTlmes
p blished the bottor-,- :o-obs that
S ngaporeans do not want. These included
Bus Dr ver, Waitress, Security G uard and
r lssues/Arguments . Alternative Views
Singapore women today have
greater status and rights and
institution a lised sexism is close to
non-existent, Women have clea r
legal and human rights via.a recently _These improvements are
strengthe ned Womans C ha rte r. cosmetic in that women do not hold
Many women play prominent positions of real power in politics, the
leadership roles in the private and military, law enforcenrent and the
public sector. Women are particularly judiciary. Singapore is still run by the
we ll- represented in Singapore's 'old boys club'. (Eg/Elab) Since
education and legal sector. Examples independence, Singapore has seen a
include the Director General of maximum of one female cabinet
Education at MOE Ms Ho Peng and minister at any one time. (Eg)
High Court Judge Bellnda Ang.
. lssues/Arguments
Singapore is still largely a conservative society
which frowns on alternative sexual lifestyles, S -ch
r Alternative Views
rntolerance 's iot co.qruent to tl'e level of . Given that we are an Asian and highly
education and eco-oiic de\ elopment of Si-gapore. paterna listic society, Singapore has
In zoo8, Parliament voted to keep Section 3774 of done well in slowly accepting people
the Penal Code, maintaininq that sexual relations of alternative sexual orientation, The
betwee- nen is illegal, in spire of an arenome^-
which legalised un^arL-a sex between public sector now recruits homosexuals
co.rsenunq l^eterose".-ral couple:. I'l^ s shows tl-at rye even in highly sensitive positions in the
are far from developed n our attitudes.towards m ilitary, law enforcement and
people wno are drffere.t.37'A also makes l'rtle education, The government is also
5ense, e\cept as d syrbol ofour national ir creasing.y to lera nt of gay n ig htspots
Intolera.ce/ as politrcians c'early sard rha'tl-e aw and activities as long as these do not
,.rou d neler be enfo-ced. Why keep a law rhdt aon r
be usedt The 'e( e.'AWARE saqa where o smal
violate the law in any w5y. The AWARE
gro Jp o! co- servatives laurched a coup of fe'rrrnist saqa actuality did in fact reflect national
organisatlon also highlights our national maturity and growing liberalism on
conservatism in sexual matt€rs. While the liberals sexual mattera as a dlverse range of
returned to power, the l,4inistry of Education views weTe reflected.
suspended work with AWARE on sexuallty
awareness co-rses, reflecting trar rhe p:br c
per(ei/es AWAaE to be p-o horose",al and that
this is nof a(ceptab e to the ra nsT.ea - The issLe
also righ,ignred tl'at S.rgapo-eans are una ble to
l-a-dle deba"es on sLrcL in a ba anced way.
. A possible Rebuttal
These so-called improvements are in fact a
fagade and merely represent the mercenary
nature of the Singapore government, The
government is still very intolerant of
homosexuality, but tolerates gay nightspots and
activities as they help earn 'pin k dollars'- a very
iucrative and fast-growing economic.sector.
'Pink'spenders and tourlsts tend to be hig h-
spending. Also, such nightspots contribute much
in terms oftaxation (alcohol, cigarettes and
licensing), The government is also aware that
many homosexuals are highly talented and
wishes to retain and attract such talent to
r lssues/Arguments . Alternative Views
The privileged status of elite school students The stratification of students according to
has sparked resentment and suspicion of academic ability is a natural element of any
many, A keen sense of difference is felt by society and should not be resented. Any
most students that are in better schools. They progressive society must filter out its leaders
are generally proud and have a higher level of and talents. While it may indeed be true that
self-confidence/esteem as a result of school Gifted Education Programme students are
brand ing. Such students tend to believe that proud to be part of a privileged class, they are
not everyone is born equa I in life and that they often mistaken to be arrogant when being
shou ld accept their fate and seek to excel in earnest/ aggressive when passionate and
other area. Society also appears to adopt a condescending when ind ifferent. Such
biased view of students from the elite schoois. students also suffer the same teenage woes
TheWee Shu Min saga of zoo6 h igh lig hts this. and ind ulge in the same interests as other
She wrote a rude blog entry reflecting a teenagers. There is no discrimination, only
dismissive attitude towards the non-elite and d iffe re n ce.
was soundly rebuked by the pu blic. Her father,
MPWee Siew Kim was told by the PL4 to
apologise a second time following a half-
hearted first apology, Th s reflected the
political sensitivity of such divlsions in society,
r lssues/Arguments r Alternative Views
The Singapore education system has been Others criticise our education system,
successful. Singapore has a hig h literacy rate of arguing that it has churned out students
96%, with 89.5%o having Secondary or h ig her that are ill-equipped to handle the global
education (zoo8 demographics). lVuch of its economy, The "force-feed ing" approach
success has been attrlbuted to disciplined rote employed i- many Asian countries,
learning where students are constantly d rilled includ ing Singapore, will not be able to
and made to memorize answers, enabling them prod uce th in king, questioning ind ividuals
to fair very well in national examinations, such as for the knowledge economy. Students
the GCE 'O' and 'A' levels. Our education system need to create their own knowledge as it is
is also popular with other countries in the region not possible for a teachelto transmit all of
such that many foreign students come here to his or her knowledge to students.The
pu rsue their ed ucation, This reflects the h igh ly d isciplined school system has also

perception that Singaoore education prepares been accused of stifling creativity and
students for a globalised future in a holistic ind ivid ua lity in stude nts. Teache rs are
fa sh io n, known to be more criticalthan affirmative
in Singapore too.
. A possible Rebuttal
The Singapore government has made
changes to the education system to
address criticisms and concerns. To
address the problem of rote learning and
lack of creativity, MOE placed greater
emphasis on th in king skills and
stream ined the currlculum to.allow for
infusion of more activities that promotes
creative and critical thinking skills. The
introd uction ofthe inter"disciplina ry
Project Work at the JC level a lso a llows
students to learn better problem solving
and com mun ication skills. Vision
statements such as'Thinking Schools,
Learning Nation'and initiatives such as
'Teach Less, Learn More'all reflect MOE's
shift towards a more effective education
system for the future.
r lssues/Arguments . Alternative View
ln a globalised era, where high migration flows Critics argue that many ofthese foreign.talents
are occurring, there is no pride lost in are economic mercenaries who do not speak
importing foreign tal€nt to achieve sporting English or adopt Singaporean habits. So, are
glory (and thereby further national pride). For they really Singaporeans? One Brazilian football
example, the entire 5 inga pore Olyrnpic team import returned to Brazil and has reporlediy re-
that wo. a Silver ar rhe Beijrng Olyn pics '.tere app ied for Brazilian nationality. Furthermore, such
China-born, natura ised Singaporeans. lf we had practices deprive up and coming local sporting
utilised only Singapore-born talent, we may talent from playing for the country.
never have achieved this monumentalfeat.
Foreign-born talent is also used in other
Singapore national spofts teams such as football
and badminton. Besides, why should It makes no sense to spend millions on a Spods
Singaporeans be over-sensitive about such School and then imporl a foreign-born athlete to
foreign-born talent when major first worid represent Singapore.
countries like the US, UK and Australia also
adopt sim ila r policies?
r lssues/Arguments . Alternative Views
With insufficient talent it makes more While it is indeed true that school sports are key
to building character, it would be a grave error
sense to focus on school sports (to
to abandon international sports simply because
develop character) than waste millions we Iack world beating results as international
on international sport, which bring sports are a fundamental glue that bind people
negligible returnS to SingaPore, from various races and religions together. lt is
impossible to speak of national pride without
international sports teams to cheer on. For
exampl<!, many Singaporeans look forward to
football matches between Silgapore and
lValaysia as an oppoftunity to don the national
colou -s and d isplay nationalpride.
. A possible Rebuttal
These foreign-born talents do not seek to
replace localtalents but actually stretch and
further develop local sports standards as far as
possible. By acting as sparring partners and
teammates, they eventually draw ocaltalents into
the ranks of regional and international sporting
elite. Kendrick Ng, a local badminton prodigy is
one such example. He used to spar with Ronald
Susilo, an lndonesian-born Singapore badminton
player, Kendrick is now a regionaltalent. Also, if
imported at a young age, many ofthese foreign-
born talents do become Singaporean in their
habits. Susilo and China-born Singapore national
swimmerTao Li are two such examples. Tao Li now
speaks Eng lish qu ite fluently, and her ma nnerisms
are very local.
. lssues/Arguments . Alternative Views
The influence of globalisation can Although globalisation's
weaken national identity and detrimental impact on social
disrupt social cohesion within the cohesion is valid, awareness of it
country. The young are especially has.resulted in both the people and
vulnerable to foreign values and life the government making a conscious
styles as a result of globalisation. The effort to resist it's impacts.
world has become borderless. Our Educational policies such as national
own citizen s comprising young education help teach the public to
mobile profess ion a ls and budding value what it means tcbe
entrepreneurs no longer Iimit their Singaporean. Sin ga po rea ns are also
dreams within the confines of proud of who they are. Although they
Singapore or even Asia. The world is appear to embrace foreign culture,
their hinterland. This loss of national they are often proud to be identified
identity and belonging can translate as Singaporeans when travelling or
to brain drain and a reduction in living abroad. Singapore Day, a
motivation to contribute to society. h iqhly successful Singapore festival

hosted in a different major city every

year is one such example. (Elab)
r lssues/Arguments . AlternativeViews
However, globalisation has also
allowed local brands to attain
international recognition by rising
So ny, Toyota a nd beyond our shores to compete
Pa n ason ic have become h ouse h old against other major brands in the
brands in Singapore. Local brands global market. One such example
such as Enzer and Akira are unable to would be London-based desig n er
compete in terms oftechnology and Ashley lsham. Other successful local
quality, and have no choice but to brands include Breadtalk, Hyflux ,
reduce prices greatly in order to get Adam Khoo Lea rn ing Technologies
a small piece of market share. and Pasta ma n ia.
. lssues/Arguments
The Singapore media, while increasingly r Alternative Views
bold in its coverage and opinions, is still
The balanced and responsible and
viewed by the West and more liberal
approach taken by the StraitsTimes is in
Singaporeans, as a mere mouthpiece of the
fact a correct one. Unlike the adversarial
ruling party and elite establishment.
role take by the Western press, the
Editorials and think-pieces may be more
Singapore media sees its role as more
openly criticalthan the 8os and 9os, reflectinq
const'uctive. lt olfers alternat ve views,
a new breed ofjournalists, but often they siop
but stays clear of politicking by not taking
short of making pointed criticisms of politlcal
s des in palV oolirics. Whrle the 5ingapore
office-holders, as in other democracies. For
media may advocate issl.ies, they see it as
example, following the escape ofSingaporean
beyond their role to interfere in the
terror st N4as Selarnat from a detention centre,
political process by advocating against the
ma ny called for an a pology from the M inlste r
government. The local media also never
of Home Affalrs. The Straits Times, did not,
criticizes or mocks local leaders, ln
podraying such calls as reactionary and
adopting sucl- p-acrices, it is keeping
logically flawed.
within the available political parameters
and practicing responsible journalism.
. A possible Rebuttal . A possible Rebuttal
It is not responsible ofthe mainstream The New Media has also played a
media to stop short of criticising major role in pushing for greater
politicians. Suchjournalists are in fact
accountable to the public. lt is also
transparency. ln light of massive
disjngenuous to attack or mock foreigr losses by government owned
leaders with a free-hand, while treating Temasek and the Government of
local leaders with kid gloves, This is simple Singa pore lnvestment Cooperation
hypocrisy and patronising towards the (GlC), netizens were far more vocal
educated pu blic.
in their call for open ness. The
The New Media has in fact been more
bold than the mainstream in criticizing mainstream media was far more
the government, and the government is circumspect.
find ing it increasingly hard to control
this new mouthpiece ofthe people. For
example, durinq the recent organ trading
case against retailerTang Wee Su ng,
netizens were h ig hly critica I of the
governme nt's elite-biased a pproach.
r lssues/Arguments . Alternative Views
The Singapore political scene is liberalising,
The liberalisation of Singapore's political
albeit slowly, and in a manner which reflects
is moving at far too slow a pace for some.
the usually cautious approach adopted by the
ruling PAP and Singaporeans in general. 1n June The openness of Singapore's political
2009, PM Lee announced legislative changes that scene is completely incongruent to the
would ensure smaller Group Representative level of openness of the economy and the
Constituencies (GRCs) and a minimum of 9 globalised nature of the population,
oppositlon m€mbers of parliament, all in a bid to Given their exposure to foreign lifestyles
i-duce g edte'debate and a te-^ar ve views in and political systems, many rnobile young
parliament. These may not be big changes, but Singaporeans find Singd-pore's political
they indicate thdt the PAP acknowledges the climate stifling. ln pafticular, the media is
needs of a modern, highly-educated and traveled seen as a rnere mouthpiece ofthe PAP, The
populace, who find a'rubber-stamp' parliament
recent changes are viewed suspiciously as
patronising and not befitting a modern
piece mea I efforts to control and pacify the
developed first-world nation.
desire for more political openness. The
argu ments is that many won't vote for the
ooposrllo- \rov. ing rl-at alte.'ratrve /iews
in Parlrament are now guaranteed.
r lssues/Arguments r Alternative Views
The Singapore government has moved too fast in Arguments against the rapid development of
instituting technology in government processes. technology in government services fail to see
For example, in most government counters, until that slowing down the process would in fact
recent complaints, custorners were expected to go slow down the technological pace ofthe entire
cashless. This was very inconsiderate to the poor and country as government services are
elderly who don't have such ba nking services. The fundamental services which have national
government should adopt a more gradualapproach. impact. While some minorities may be affected,
Elements of E-government wh ich have crept into the the vast majority adapt fast and this leads to
mainstream have greatly inconvenienced those who great nationaltechnological leaps. There is then
are not internet sawy and highlighted the growing a ripple effect, impacting the private sector, and
technological divide in Singapore. For example, other areas of technology. For example, the e-
whe r the gove rn ment issues Eco'o^iic Nets function first used by the lmmigration and
Restructuring Shares and CPFTop"ups for the elderly, Customs Authority for online passport
the recipients often have to apply on line. They often applicatlons, was later used by several prominent
turn to community centres and volunteer driving schools and other service providers such
organisations for help. This is grossly inconsiderate as Singa pore Post.
to the needy and elderly poor.
Singapore's seemingly pragmatic and
balanced approach to bioethics is in fact a
fagade aimed at creating the appearance
that the needs of the various communities
have been met. ln fact, the decisions are
largely driven by a mercenary desire to allow
For example, in the case of embryohic stem-cell embryonic stem-cell research/ abortion and
research, a hot-button topic in rnany countries/ in-vitro fertilisation (amongst others) as
the Singapore government allows such research these a.ctivities represent an active segment
as long as embryos are less than 14 days old. The of our diverse economy. Despite widespread
religious communities agreed that embryos after concerns about the easy ava ila bility of
r4 days had heart beats and were thus abortion and the social and emotional
'ensouled'. (Elab) Aborlion and in-vitro consequences/ the government allows these
fertilisation are also allowed in Singapore as long services to be ava ila b le with the caveat that
as patients are fully briefed on the physical and 'education'should be undeftaken. Moral and
emotional considerations. This in spite of religious considerations are merely given lip-
opposition from the religrous camp. This service and are not major factors in decision-
highlights the balanced approach taken by the making where the economy is concerned.
Singapore government.
. lssue/Arguments r Alternative Views
5ingaporean society has over- The early emphasis on science and
emphasised education in and technology was a necessary stage of our
development as a modern nation, Now that
developments of science and
we have consolidated our status as a Asian
technology, so much so that hub for research and development, we have
Singaporeans lack soft"skills and the staded pushing for more holistic education,
local arts scene is poorly supported. All balancrng a scienrific focus with a growing
this leads to a country with a strong focus on vaiues, a deep sense of history and
economy, but lacking in soul and soft skills such as speaking and advocacy. A
character. lt is often noted that simple example would be the introduction of
both the International Baccalaureate and the
Singaporean students cannot present or
compulsory status of Project Work in the A
spea k and argue well.
Levei syllabus. Both ofthese developments
emphasis public speaking and the art of
pe rs ua sio n.

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