1. Does the presence of a foreign power ever help a country with problems?

Presence: direct and indirect intervention, colonialism ( political/ economic presence)
Foreign Power: Military forces, corporations (MNCs), international political organizations
Problems: civil unrest, disaster-hit areas (humanitarian), poverty and joblessness, political and social instability etc.

Question Requirements
-Student should try to justify why the intervention of a foreign power may alleviate, accentuate, or simply be helpless in assisting a country with problems.
-Students should specify the different types of foreign intervention: political, aid-relief, corporations etc.
-Students should specify the problems that a country may have, rather than generally discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the presence of a foreign power.
-Student should support arguments with specific examples.

Yes, the presence of a foreign power does help a country with problems.
1. Setting up of infrastructure in colonial countries, which helped in the lack of structure and development in colonized societies (e.g judicial system in Singapore)
2. Helped to unify a country: backlash to colonialism led to nationalistic movements in Asia (e.g Indonesia was a very fragmented country before colonialism but it was unified in their fight for independence from the Dutch)
3. Political intervention does help to raise awareness for human rights (e.g. Iraq under Saddem Hussein, Afghanistan under the Taliban).
4. The presence of foreign corporations bring expertise, infrastructure and jobs to the country (benefits of global expansion)
5. Presence of foreign powers help in humanitarian issues e.g natural disasters and famines (eg Sichuan Earthquake, Cyclone Nagris, education provided by NGOs or international organizations etc)

No, the presence of a foreign power does not help a country with problems, and may even accentuate them.
1. Divide and rule policy utilized by the colonial masters may result further fragmentation of society and civil wars after colonization, rather than to unify the country. This problem can be seen in the advent of many civil wars in Africa after colonialism
2. The presence of foreign corporations exploit the natural resources of the country at the expense of the locals, accentuating their poverty in the long run (e.g. depletion of natural resources without replenishing or conservation, displacement of locals, low wages and the exploitation of labor).
3. Foreign intervention in another’s economy may worsen the economic situation due to the lack of understanding of the uniqueness of each economy / socio-cultural constraints (e.g. failure of IMF)
4. Political problems have to be ultimately dealt with by the country itself, for intervention of a foreign power may be perceived as an infringement of national sovereignty, or the effects may be short-lived. (e.g. The resurgence of the Taliban after being overthrown by the US in Afghanistan in 2001)

Good Scripts
Students are able to provide historical and current significant examples. Candidates understand that there will be limitations even if real solutions are provided; the country in question has to play an important role as well. Students consider the context of the country in question; severity of the problem and attitude of governments in the recipient countries determine the success or failure of foreign intervention. Students demonstrate that there are usually ulterior motives to foreign intervention.

General discussion on the pros and cons of foreign intervention, without linking it to how it may or may not address the problems that these countries are facing. Arguments and examples are restricted to war or political intervention

2. How important are dreams?

Importance: significance, driving force (motivation)
Dreams: literal dreams, goals and aspirations, daydreaming (minor point)

Question Requirements
-Students should measure the importance of dreams in terms of their actualization.
-Student should recognise that dreams can be destructive, as well as their limitations

Yes, dreams are important
1. Dreams provide the focal point or aspiration for politicians and visionary leaders to achieve goals for society. (e.g. Nelson Mandela’s dream of abolishing apartheid, MLK’s dream of equality for all, Barack Obama’s dream of being the first black president, Dalai Lama’s dream of having an independent Tibet, Ronald Reagan’s dream of the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin War)
2. Dreams provide the motivation for personal achievements and goals (sports talents like Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods dream and constantly strive to break their own records and be their personal best)
3. Visionary businessmen and entrepreneurs achieve great economic success due to their single-minded focus on achievement (e.g. Olivia Lum form Hyflux, Sim Wong Hoo from Creative, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Coco Chanel of Chanel. These people embody the importance and potency of dreams for they built their business empires from scratch )
4. Dreams are important for they provide a vision for a better world, driving individuals to effect social changes, e.g. businessmen and activists who set up social enterprises or non-profit organizations to help disenfranchised groups of people, like the Gates Foundation, Grameen Bank and microcredit to assist women and families, Mother Theresa who dreamt of helping the poorest of the poor and spent her whole life achieving it).
5. Daydreams are very often the catalyst for creativity, and they have the valuable and intangible value of reviving or refreshing the individual.

No, the importance of dreams is limited
1. Though dreams may be important, they may misfire with terrible consequences, when they are pursued excessively without consideration for others or ethics (e.g. Hitler, meglomanias, Madoff)
2. Though dreams are important, favorable environmental or social factors have to be in place (e.g. dreams of prosperity cannot be divorced from political stability and stable infrastructure, dreams of personal achievements are hard to attain for a girl in a staunchly conservative or patriarchal society)
3. Dreams have to be accompanied by action and determination.
4. Failure of fulfilling dreams or rejection of dreams can lead to greater disillusionment
5. Daydreams can become a reason for inertia and indolence!!

Good Scripts
Students are able to discuss the psychological implications of dreams (e.g. Freud and the subconscious in dreams). They are able to analyse the motivations or reasons for the dreams, rather than merely describing them.

Students merely list a catalogue of dreams without explaining the motivations or reasons behind dreams or measuring its consequences or impact.
-student merely harps on personal dreams and aspirations without linking them to wider social or political significance.

3. ‘The more science advances, the more religion will decline.’ To what extent do you agree?

‘science’: pursuit of knowledge by scientists in various scientific fields
‘religion’: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe. This may involve the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, devotional and ritual observances and often contain a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs
‘advances’: develops and improves
‘decline’: decreases in its importance

Question Requirements
The Qn requires an understanding of how scientific advances will affect the spread and influence of religion. An adequate essay will evaluate how specific advances (in stated scientific contexts) will cause a re-evaluation of the roles/importance/significance of religion to individuals, groups or even societies. A good essay may raise the issue that there is a false dichotomy or the two contexts need not be mutually exclusive. The assumption that current-day society will be more affected/influenced by scientific advances cannot be challenged. This is a situation that is already happening.

• Listing the importance of religion without linking back to address the qn.
• Failure to draw cause-effect link; looking at the issue from 2 separate contexts.

The more science advances, the more religion will decline.
 Religion will become less significant as science advances. In many cases, Science could progress faster without religion. In fact, religion could make Science 'lame', by hindering its movement and hence the progress of society. This is especially so if religions (such as the Roman Catholicism) advocate a blanket ban on practices that are deemed to devalue and desecrate life. For example, in Italy, no preventive diagnosis can be made on the embryos and they cannot be destroyed, even if it is known that the parents carry genes that could pass a fatal disease to their child. Is this respecting the sanctity of life then?
 The ability of Science to provide us with insights into the physical world has empowered us in many ways. Religions, on the other hand, are practised based on faith. By its nature, religion thus lacks rationality and arguably wisdom. For example, religion was used to explain many natural phenomena and the uncertainty as well as superstitious beliefs struck fear in many. This has led many pragmatic individuals, organisations and even countries to place greater emphasis and value on the importance of scientific research rather than religion to solve problems.

As science advances, religion will not necessarily decline.
 Science needs religion to provide ethical parameters so that mankind does not progress at the expense of humanity. Religion should continue to be the vanguard against experiments or research that would devalue human life. This is especially pertinent for medical science, since it deals directly with matters of life and death. Hence, people will continue to use religious values to draw parameters or boundaries for scientific practices.

As science advances, religion will in fact gain importance/significance.
 Where Science is not able to provide explanations, religion fills the gap. For example, religion can help to answer the 'big questions' about life and death, fate and destiny.
 While much of earlier debates about Science vs religion seem to suggest that they are dichotomous and anti-thesis, the discussion suggests otherwise. In fact, it seems that they share a symbiotic relationship. Religion (or ethics for that matter) acts as the moral conscience of Science and society while Science helps to remove/allay any irrational fear brought about by religion's failed attempt to make sense of the world.

4. How far do physical features, such as size and location, determine a country’s progress?

‘physical features’: natural landforms/characteristics
‘size’: magnitude as measured in area of land mass
‘Location’: position (vis-à-vis other countries)
‘Determine’: shape/influence/determine
‘Progress’: advancement, gradual improvement, growth or development;

Question Requirements
The qn requires an analysis of how physical features determine the advancement of a country. An assumption is that physical features will and have played an important role in bringing about progress. Advancements will refer to more than economic, tangible or measurable growth.

• An assumption that physical features are the only determinants.
• Over-use of Geography jargon.
• Over-reliance on subject specific knowledge (Geography)
• Wrong focus on “other factors” – a case of hijacking the question.

Physical features, such as size and location do significantly determine a country’s progress.
• Size:
- Big countries with natural resource endowments have more potential for economic and political development. These two forms of development combined to give the country dominance on a regional/global scale. This size of their economies can affect trading patterns. This advantage can be further enhanced if countries have a large skilled workforce. An example is China.
- The converse can be true. A small country can be easier to manage and the population becomes the social capital of the country. For example, Singapore is successful because of the focus on niche industries and a skilled workforce.
• Location:
- A country’s unique location vis-à-vis surrounding nations may give it added advantage as it can serve as the extended hinterland/ activity hub from which goods and especially services can be transacted. An example is Switzerland. At the same time, countries might be land-locked and hence do not have access to such infrastructural advantage. An example is Myanmar. In this case, the problem is further worsened by the presence of the military junta.
- Countries that come together to form an ‘association’ of nations have the combined advantage that comprises the strengths of many nations. Some examples are the European Union and ASEAN.
• A country’s geo-political location can affect positively or negatively its development.
- Israel’s position in the midst of dominant Muslim nations compelled it to adopt a fairly aggressive military stance to ensure its economic survival. It has to carve an alliance with sympathetic countries such as the United States. Tibet’s position as a buffer between India and China sealed its political fate, resulting in unique present-day status. (Tibet is administered by the PRC, claimed by the ROC (Taiwan) in its constitution while a small part, according to the PRC and the ROC, is controlled by India)
- The unique context of North-South Korea with its ensuing and at times escalating conflict creates a stalemate. These two Koreas are developing at such different speeds and with such different emphasis that reconciliation seems to become more elusive.
- Some African countries, which are mired in internal conflicts and strife, may have porous borders through which the citizens can flee. This depletion of human population handicaps the country’s growth.
- A traditional example would be how Singapore progressed in the 1900s because of her strategic position between India and China.
• Resources
- Some countries depend on natural resources to grow and a large part of the GDP is contributed by one or a few crucial industries.
- Some examples:
- Australia has a huge tourism industry based mainly on the natural beauty of its natural beauty. Her many tourist attractions include beautiful coastlines, an awe-inspiring Outback and her marine biomes. New Zealand is another similar example.
- The Gulf States are oil-rich and many OPEC nations have capitalised on oil money (since 1900s) to build magnificent cities (like Dubai). Her people are among the richest in the world.
- Russia has vast natural gas reserves and this resource , when it is more fully tapped, will jumpstart Russia’s economy and give her more influence (both politically and economically) over neighbouring countries. This is especially pertinent if one considers how quickly traditional fossil fuel reserves are being depleted and how the problem will only become more pressing in coming years as the world’s demand for energy increases.

While physical features will affect progress, other factors like good governance, mindset of the population, cultural/social capital will come into play (to achieve progress)

• In the globalised context, the traditional advantages of traditional factors of production (land and resources) may be reduced as more and more people across the globe trade, live and transact in a global economy. The global context is the international labour market, emporium, playground and activity hub.
• Focus on Governance
Systems with sound and fair principles, transparency, uncorrupt governance and focus on the rule of law provide the most conducive environment for growth. Singapore has this form of social/cultural capital and these conditions are very suitable for the growth of industries like banking, finance and telecommunications.
• Focus on Services
- Switzerland, despite being landlocked and having very few natural resources depended on an international banking system to generate wealth.
- Iceland built on the strength of its telecommunications systems and banking to give her citizens one of the highest per capita GDP in the world.
• Focus on Ideas/values (soft power)
- America, with her hegemony over global media, exports her cultural ideas, trends and values worldwide, to the extent that this equates to cultural imperialism.
- South Africa has continued to grow as the richest country in the African sub-continent after she denounced state-sanctioned apartheid.
- Deng Xiaopeng led China towards market economics through the introduction of “Four Modernizations’(meaning advances in agriculture, industry, science and technology). The new brand of socialist thinking (Socialism with Chinese characteristics/ Chinese economic reform) opened China to the global market in successive stages.

5. “Nowadays, the pleasure of reading can never compete with the pleasure of visual entertainment.” To what extent do you agree?

Nowadays: modern day context, 21st Century (inference: comparison to the past encouraged)
pleasure: enjoyment, leisure, joy, intellectual stimulus
reading: books, magazines, newspapers, comics, periodicals etc.
visual entertainment: movies, television programmes, Internet media (YouTube etc.), moving images (non-text)
never compete: impossible to contest/rival/challenge (absolute term)

Question Requirements
This an absolute question but students are given room to take a clear stand for or against this statement WHILE showing awareness of counterarguments. Instead of a piece-meal description of how reading or visual-entertainment is pleasurable, BETTER scripts will actively compare both genres simultaneously. Better scripts will also acknowledge that with technological progress, there is increasing convergence between text and visual elements.

Students, being more media-savvy, may be too eager to celebrate visual entertainment without seeing the merits of conventional mode of reading.

Reading CANNOT RIVAL pleasure from visual entertainment
• Reading may be text intensive, thus laborious, time consuming vs seeing the entire story in a 3-hour movie/ 1-hour TV drama. E.g. Dickens novels (500 pages or more) vs a movie adaptation.
• Language is a barrier (issue of literacy) vs picture paints a thousand words
- medieval English
• Visual media concretises the abstract.
- to aid academic learning, especially of abstract theories, visual depiction helps in the understanding of the phenomenon e.g. HIV virus spread in the body, the concept of how DNA splicing occurs.
• TV viewing or a movie outing often a social event that encourages bonding, hence a popular form of leisure.
• Visual media such as online-gaming enhances the level of interactivity, while reading is more passive.

Reading CAN BE MORE pleasurable than visual entertainment
• Text allows readers to exercise creative imagination, emotional connection.
• Conventional print media may also be more convenient for the mobile reader
• Some readers have the sensorial preference for printed books (smell, touch of the pages, the experiential pleasure of literature shopping etc.)
• Certain genres of literature foster intimacy between reader and writer e.g. biographie may be lost when told via visual medium (e.g. bad acting or weak plot development)

Reading and visual entertainment both just as pleasurable
• Humans are multi-dimensional, individuals derive enjoyment possibly from both forms of entertainment, hence the 2 media are not mutually exclusive. The Internet (blogs, You-Tube, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter) encourages the use of video uploads to compliment text, allowing more total sensorial experience of the netizens.
• Many novels and short stories have been adapted into screenplays and have achieved both box-office success and therein encouraging the sales of the original books to be on national best-sellers’ list. E.g “Brokeback Mountain”, “Sense & Sensibilities” etc.

6. To what extent does the migration of people have a positive effect?

Migration of people – movement/mobility of pple, urban-rural migration, transmigration (Note: excl. overseas posting or studies, travelling, movement of employees to 3rd World countries due to opening up of MNCs, foreign aid workers)
Positive effect – benefits, advantages, gains to groups, individuals, host nations and countries of origin. Students are to include the negative effects as well.

Question Requirements
The question requires an understanding of the detriments and advantages of the migration of people permanently on the individual migrant, the countries of origin and the host countries. Better scripts will be able to consider the implications of migration from the perspectives of the individual AND the states involved. They would also differentiate themselves by the quality and originality of their examples.

Students fail to give specific egs to substantiate assertions. Students muddle the definition of ‘migration’ to include short term employment postings & overseas studies.

Positive effects of the migration of people.
1. Economic benefits
• increase in strength/numbers of workforce eg. S’pore, Hong Kong, Australia
• increase in quality of workforce eg foreign talent who take up citizenship of host countries “brain-gain” especially in the technology and IT industry
• in developed countries, where blue-collared jobs have a low take-up rate, migrant workforce fill in these gaps
• higher pay packages for migrant workers than in countries of origin
• remittance of pay from migrant workforce to their home country
• historical perspective: migration in SEA helped develop emerging economies and literally build nations eg the trading activities in the Malay Archipelago, Chinese ‘samsui’ women who built Singapore’s roads and buildings.
2. Cultural Benefits:
• cosmopolitan society which is attractive to foreign investors (implicit assumption that the society is more accepting of differences and work practices, also an economic benefit)
• cultural diversity eg different races/ethnicity in SEA  uniqueness of M’sia and S’pore for tourism purposes
• exchange of ideas between migrants and locals
• broadening of horizons of citizens of host nations/ respect and acceptance of other cultures
• eg Canada, among the EU member countries (transmigration)
3. Other benefits:
• develops potential/ self-actualisation due to greater opportunities to develop talents in host countries, which are not available in country of origin.
• host countries are able to tap on foreign talents. Analogous to big fish in small pond (in host countries) vs small fish in big pond (in countries of origin eg China & India) eg. table tennis stars in S’pore who won the silver medal at the Olympics  this may not be possible if they stayed in their own countries.

Negative effects of the migration of people.
1. Socio-Political:
• as a result of cultural diversity, there may arise divisiveness, leading to possible
tensions or xenophobia eg Pauline Hanson’s xenophobic policies in response to excessive migrant numbers
• ethnic enclaves: alienates migrant groups from locals, lowers the likelihood of integration because of the strong sense of belonging to these groups. Eg of little Italy, Chinatown in many developed countries like the UK, Canada which are rather exclusive to ‘others’, who are the locals
• brain-drain: countries of origin, especially those from 3rd world nations, do not contribute back to their home countries eg foreign students who decide to stay on in countries where they have been educated in eg. Indian and Vietnamese IT scholars who stay in Silicon Valley (talents are utilized)
• excessive competition posed by foreign workers and students may cause disgruntlement among native citizens (but this may also spur locals to work harder to do better than them)
• eg. Citizens are unhappy that migrants are given local jobs when locals are struggling to find work, equal benefits accorded to migrants  Germany (Africans migrate and are discriminated against)
• eg. Students in Singapore feel extensive pressures in local schools due to the influx of Chinese migrant students in their midst, who do exceptionally well in Maths and Science as compared to local students. Parents of local students complain in the forums.
• Loss of identity/cultural dilution
- language: second generation migrant unable to speak native tongue eg American-born Chinese
- traditional beliefs and practices: no longer practiced or meaning is lost on or unappreciated by the younger generation, and instead take up host countries values and traditions
- patriotism/ loyalty to state is challenged: Indians who migrate to the UK think of themselves more English than Indian, Singaporean Chinese who feel more Singaporean than Chinese

7. ‘Air travel should be discouraged, not promoted.’ To what extent do you agree?

Air travel: Use of airplanes for travel, whether for private or commercial use, or by governmental/international organizations.
Should be discouraged, not promoted: Should be curtailed/ controlled/ reduced rather than being expanded further.

Question Requirements
Students should understand the context in which this comment is made i.e. in the light of problems created by the rapid expansion of air travel today, it is timely to evaluate the costs/ consequences of promoting air travel.

Merely listing the benefits/ disadvantages of air travel without considering the complexities involved in taking advantage of the benefits and promoting air travel, or reacting to the problems caused by air travel and discouraging it.

Air travel results in problems (therefore it should be discouraged)
1. Air travel results in large amounts of carbon emissions from the large quantities of fuel burnt, adding on to the problem of global warming and climate change.
2. Expansion of air travel leads to the expansion of airports, which affect land use around the airport. Buildings around the airport are generally 5 stories or lower, resulting in inefficient land use.
3. With the expansion of air travel, the threat of terrorists hijacking aircraft or using it as a weapon for destruction increases. The expansion of air travel also makes the monitoring of terrorism more difficult.

Air travel has its advantages (therefore should be promoted)
1. It is crucial for business: conferences, exhibitions, negotiations etc.
2. International co-operation, world governance etc. facilitated by air travel, eg. meeting of world leaders, evacuation of refugees, airlifting of emergency aid…
3. Air travel promotes education – internationalization of education, advancing knowledge – increase in foreign students in universities, research and advanced studies.
4. Promotes tourism – advantageous to individuals, broaden outlook and experiences; and countries that depend on tourism for economic growth.

Air travel is a necessary evil. Its continued use should be promoted; the solution is to find ways around the problems created by its continued use.
1. The benefits of air travel far outweigh the problems its presents.
2. The problems created by air travel can be reduced; the key is efficient use, monitoring carbon footprint, political will…
3. Air travel has come under attack mainly because of concerns about carbon emissions and global warming, as well as tourism causing environmental degradation. However, these problems result largely from other causes.
4. In an age of globalization, there is no turning back. The key is not discouraging but responsible use.

8. Many developed counties are paying increasing attention to the needs of the disadvantaged. How far is this true in Singapore?

Developed countries: having achieved economic status recognized as advanced and acquiring the traits associated with countries of such standing.
Increasing attention: acknowledging the rights of such groups to be incorporated into mainstream life, preventing them from being marginalized; doing more than just tokenistic acknowledgement.
Needs of the disadvantaged: identifying ‘disadvantaged’ to refer to minority groups that are marginalized because of physical impairment, but also including those who suffer setbacks not of their own doing, and therefore requiring help.

Question Requirements
• Students need to identify which groups constitute the ‘disadvantaged’ in society and what their needs are.
• Students should argue that the state is responsible for the disadvantaged minority and should go beyond simply catering for the needs of the general populace.
• Students should also highlight that the progress of a country is also measured by its compassion for and its ability to cater to the minority groups such as the underprivileged and disadvantaged.
• Students should also recognise that the needs of the disadvantaged should not be met by just the government alone, but also by society as well as institutions within the country.

• Definition of ‘disadvantaged’ being limited in scope - eg. referring merely to those who have lost their jobs in the current economic recession.
• Merely describing what is being done for the disadvantaged without any evaluation of whether this is in line with expectations of what a developed country is morally obliged to provide.
• Failure to provide a fair and balanced viewpoint – i.e. taking the view that nothing is being done, or more than enough has been done; restricting evaluation only to role of the government in catering to these needs.

Yes, it is true that Singapore, just like many developed counties, is paying increasing attention to the needs of the disadvantaged.

1. Singapore’s status as a developed nation - going beyond mere survival and catering to the needs of the disadvantaged minority.
Government-led initiatives eg. increased funding, upgraded facilities for schools, as well as training of personnel catering to special needs in Singapore; facilities catering to the physically handicapped and the aged in housing estates, public transport etc. (almost $60 million in funding for programmes catering to the disadvantaged as well the elderly, almost $100 million in funding for re-integration programmes for juvenile delinquents as well as an increase in financial assistance for those unable to afford school fees. The amount set aside in every Government Budget to help the disadvantaged in society has also been increasing year on year).
2. Pragmatism in national planning – no country can continue to prosper without integrating minority groups into mainstream society; the cost of allowing them to be marginalized and then catering to their needs is too high.
3. International respect/stature in line with developed status, not merely appeasing criticisms of civil rights groups, brings other benefits, tangible as well as intangible ones.
4. Society’s changing attitudes - graciousness/compassion/recognising the rights of all individuals irrespective of their ability (or the lack of) to be treated with respect – traits that are valued as hallmark of a developed nation – one that is affluent and better educated. Being ‘disadvantaged’ no longer seen as a stigma.
5. Rise of Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) - over the years, the number of VWOs catering to the disadvantaged in Singapore has increased. VWOs are also moving out of the traditional spheres of work such as helping the elderly and disabled to more non-traditional spheres such as family dispute mediation as well as helping juvenile delinquents or youth at risk.

Not true. Attempts to engage and to provide for the needs of the disadvantaged are still limited in scope / tokenistic:

1. The nature of meritocracy means that elitism is to be expected, thus the disadvantaged would naturally have a lesser standing in such a society. The focus has always been on excellence, resulting in the disadvantaged minority being displaced and treated as second class citizens.
2. Government funding and facilities for the disadvantaged in society is substantially limited compared to those in the mainstream eg. special schools catering for the intellectually disabled have far less facilities compared to mainstream schools.
3. Funding for the disadvantaged is lower compared to other countries although this is changing in Singapore. (It must be recognized also that these countries are largely welfare states).
4. Recent scandals involving high profile charities (National Kidney Foundation, Renci Hospital) catering to these disadvantaged members in society are setbacks.

Catering to the welfare of the disadvantaged is part and parcel of a country’s progress. As a country becomes more developed, democratic ideals will inevitably seek to bring about greater equity and to eliminate unnecessary lines of division.

9. Discuss the view that too much faith is placed on statistics.
‘Too much’: excessive, more than necessary
‘Faith’: Belief, trust, value
‘Statistics’: Figures, facts, rankings, mathematical data
Question requirements
Students need to evaluate the term ‘statistics’ on a wide scope, considering areas like economics, environment and politics. The limitations of this representation have to be analysed in accordance to predictability and the eventual results shown. Concrete examples of such phenomenon should be provided.
Students can reconcile the view to show that there can be value in statistics as it is at least somewhat of a concrete measure in providing direction for certain policies and decisions, but there must be consideration not to place too much faith in them as well, as statistics hold their own inherent limitations.
A failure to define criteria within the phrase ‘too much faith’ or ‘too little faith’ and evaluate judgment of statistics according to these features.

Yes, too much faith is placed on statistics.
• Economics – GDP, per capita income, literacy rates etc are all quantitative measures and are the easiest to use and compare, to reflect the welfare of the citizens in the country (eg. definition of “Developed Country status”). Yet, these statistics are limited in terms of reflecting other factors that may be more difficult to measure (eg. quality of education, happiness level etc).
• Environment – especially in terms of global warming. An over-reliance on statistics may not present an accurate picture because trends may not continue in a linear fashion and could make governments/countries take unnecessary actions to combat the predicted environmental degradation. Statistics do not take into account the unpredictability of nature (eg. effect of natural disasters, how unforeseen changes affect each other etc)
• Politics – over-reliance during elections may influence people’s decisions especially before a big election. Polls that demonstrate the popularity of a candidate may not be accurate and if a person is undecided about candidate choice, the statistics from a poll may unnecessarily influence a person’s decision.
• Ranking of universities, airports, cities, etc – these statistics do not take into account multiple factors, and present a single statistic representative of the entire institution. Other statistics may be unquantifiable, for instance, happiness and quality. They may also lead to self-fulfilling prophecies as these institutions may feel demoralized.
• The accuracy of online polls such as Gallup may be limited because they appeal to a certain demographic of people only (e.g. people who have access to the internet).
• Statistics in research may not take into account standard error and may not be representative of the entire population when presenting the results of surveys. Due to cost constraints, it is often impossible to take into account the results of the entire population when doing such research.
• Possibility of corruption of statistics (eg. Iran elections in 2009 were suspected of being rigged). Accusations of rigging, or of vote-buying (eg. Thailand’s elections) suggest to us that one should not place any faith on election statistics, especially in countries accused of being corrupt.
• Education – The system of meritocracy dictates that people are rewarded based on merit and this is often determined by academic results, quantifiable achievements. This often leaves out the more intangible factors (eg. interpersonal skills, persuasive techniques, creativity etc)

No, adequate faith is placed on statistics.
• Statistics present concrete proof such as in economic terms and allow for policies and decisions to be subsequently taken. For some issues such as the economic recession, environmental problems, statistics may be the only way for policy makers for which to base their next moves on.
• Statistics can be an accurate measure of certain phenomenon such as population demographics, e.g. what percentage of women there are in the workforce, and hence give an evaluation of whether or not certain laws/policies are working.
• Modern surveys can ensure a wide target audience to minimize any results bias or under-representation of any segment of the population (eg. the pre-election surveys in America in 2008)
• Meritocracy is an efficient measure of a person’s ability by academic statistics. Because this compares results from the same examination, this is the fairest way of coparing candidates

No, too little faith is placed on statistics.
• Environment – Naysayers do not take heed of the statistics that show signs of global warming, and continue to pollute the environment
• Corruption/ Bias – There will always be those who disregard election or survey results especially when it threatens the status quo, dominance or decisions of those in power. (eg. Burma’s military junta which ignored Aung San Suu Kyi’s election success in 1990 and chose to imprison her.
• Skepticism – Iran’s 2009 election results were suspected of being rigged and this resulted in riots in June 2009, upsetting the country’s peace and stability.
• Humanitarian aid – The UN has advised that rich countries should give at least 0.7% of their GNP to Official Developmental Assistance (ODA) in order to alleviate poverty in developing countries, but at least 18 out of the 22 identified rich countries have chosen to disregard these statistics and donate less than 0.7% GNP.

10. ‘Contemporary music has no artistic value.’ Is this a fair comment?

Contemporary music: Modern genres of music eg. rap, rock, pop, hiphop, indie bands, remix (DJs/ bedroom DJs), techno, blues etc
Artistic Value: Develops the genre further, aesthetically pleasing, showcasing creativity – to be determined by music critics/ general populace/ in comparison to classical canon?
Question Requirements
The Qn requires that students discuss a range of modern genres, highlighting their merits and benefits in relation to its artistic value or lack thereof. This must also be balanced by a discussion how contemporary music is perceived to be shallow, unoriginal, mass-produced, not contributing to the richness of music. A competent script should define criteria within the phrase ‘artistic value’ and evaluate pieces and groups according to these features.
- An assumption that the Qn was seeking a defence of ‘classical music’ per se
- Lacking examples
Contemporary music has little artistic value:
• Rock music is often jarring with clashing tones, often played at a volume that is above the healthy level for humans
• Rap is often monotonous with a repetitive beat, which seems to lack creativity
• Mass-produced music often caters to the mass market. Many pieces are mere imitations of previous successfully-marketed songs & albums (‘bubblegum pop’)
• Proliferation of self-created music (eg. mixing own music/ singing own songs to upload to Youtube) which does not require any musical training or ingenuity/ No quality control
• A lot of songs are merely cover versions of old songs, suggesting a lack of originality
• Contemporary classical music can be quite jarring and atonal, in stark contrast to the lyrical balanced musicality of more traditional classical (eg. Bach etc)
• Contemporary musicians seem more image-conscious, or are marketed in a way that seems more about the allure, sex appeal, sensationalized lifestyles of the artiste (eg. Paris Hilton, Britney Spears), rather than the artistic value of the musician’s work
Contemporary music has artistic value:
• New genres of music are extremely original (eg. The high-pitched quirky tunes of Mika, surreal tones of Icelandic band Sigur Ros etc) except that they may not be appreciated due to differing tastes. Very often those who are judging whether the music has artistic value or not are older ‘experienced’ critics who are accustomed to earlier forms of music
• Even music produced for the masses sounds pleasing & it is enjoyed – should be judged as having artistic value in its own right (eg. Miley Cyrus, Kelly Clarkson etc)
• Cover versions are valued when they are sung in an innovative and creative way (eg. American Idols’ versions of songs that showcase the new style of the singer, such as David Cook’s husky version of Mariah Carey’s “I’ll Always Be Your Baby” and Adam Lambert’s version of “Mad World” originally by Tears for Fears). New forms of art always build on old ones – this need not make it any less artistic.
The term ‘artistic value’ is a subjective one that is impossible to quantify:
• ‘Artistic value’, like ‘art’ is impossible to define. What is artistic to one could be shallow, formless noise to another. What the critics consider the canon of ‘artistic’ musicality could be old-fashioned and dull to another. Each generation should be allowed to define its own artistic value and judge its works by that. Some works may only be appreciated by later generations for its contribution to musical development.

11. How far is it possible to ensure that all producers of food and goods are fairly rewarded?

all producers of food and goods: farmers, manufacturers
fairly rewarded: equitable source of income

Question Requirements
Candidates must have a fairly good knowledge of the notion of “fair trade”. Candidates will give a range of examples of countries/ producers of different food and goods. Balance must be provided to show that there are systems in place to ensure fair trade and that there is a greater social/political/economic awareness of the case for fair trade.

Yes, it is possible that producers of food and goods are fairly rewarded.
• Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been doing their part to ensure that fair trade applies to Third World producers who are often exploited. NGOs such as Oxfam and Amnesty International have been providing market access to producers, cutting out middle-men, providing product certification.
• Producers in developing countries have also formed organisations to protect their rights. E.g. The Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), created in 1997, is an association of three producer networks and twenty national labeling initiatives that promote and market the Fair trade Certification Mark in their countries. The FLO labeling system is the largest and most widely recognized standard setting and certification body for labeled Fair trade. It regularly inspects and certifies producer organizations in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
• Developed countries which have been largely responsible for the exploitation of the Third World have also taken action to champion fair trade. E.g. In 2006, the European Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution on Fair Trade, recognizing the benefits achieved by the Fair Trade movement, suggesting the development of an EU-wide policy on Fair Trade, defining criteria that need to be fulfilled under Fair Trade to protect it from abuse and calling for greater support to Fair Trade.
• Consumers have easy access to information (even information online), so they can make informed choices about the goods they purchase e.g. the Wine Economist Blog on “Fair Trade Wine”
• Consumer themselves pressure companies they patronize and therefore companies will make more concerted efforts to raise standards e.g. by participating in initiatives such as the Ethical Trading Initiative in the UK and the Workers' Rights Consortium in the US.

No, it is not possible for producers of food and goods to be fairly rewarded.
• Practice of protectionism by the developed world to protect their own domestic producers e.g. subsidies to farmers in the EU and the US, tariffs and quotas on imported steel in the US, etc. E.g. Due to trade liberalisation policies, subsidised rice from highly efficient producer countries, such as the US and Japan, is dumped in foreign markets at prices below production costs.
• Exploitation of Third World farmers by the developed world E.g. The agriculture sector and small farmers in developing countries are being adversely affected by a web of global trade rules that ironically protect big farms in rich countries but pressurize the developing countries to open up their markets.
• Producers are forced to sell their products to intermediaries at unreasonably low price because of the limited available channels in their isolated location.
• It is very difficult to monitor every process in the production of goods and services. E.g. Even if there is effective monitoring of the conditions for cotton farmers--in itself a difficult task--there is no guarantee that workers are not being exploited at other steps in the production process. Consumers who think they are choosing an ethically untainted product might actually be buying clothing sewn with child labour or finished in a dangerous overheated factory.
• Fluctuations of prices of commodities are not within the control of any nation or organisation especially if this is the result of demand or supply changes. E.g. oversupply of coffee depressing coffee prices even further.
• Ironically, the movement for fair trade can worsen the situation. Fair trade attempts to set a price floor for a good that is in many cases above the market price and therefore encourages, as fair trade opponents claim, existing producers to produce more and new producers to enter the market, leading to excess supply.

Students focus on answering the merits and detriments of free trade versus protectionism, failing to recognise that the question is focused on the issue of fair trade.

12. To what extent is design important in your society?

design: the aesthetical aspects concerned with beauty, ergonomics
important: of value, significant, crucial, integral
your society: candidate’s country

Question Requirements
Candidate should examine the importance of design in the context of his society and tackle the “extent” of its importance. The essay should be balanced. Candidates should use a range of examples in terms of the different areas of design such as fashion, advertising, buildings of various types and public projects.

Yes, design is important in my society.
• Design serves aesthetic purposes and helps to beautify the landscape e.g. landscaped HDB estates, Horticulture Park (HortPark).
• Design is an important identity marker of the society and the society’s different cultures e.g. Esplanade, Changi Airport, Marina Bay, tiled Chinese roofs, minaret, ethnic attire, SIA uniform
• Design is important for the local creative industries and enhances business competitiveness in today’s crowded marketplace e.g. digital media industry, local fashion designers such as Thomas Wee and Ashley Isham, the arts and cultural industries
• Design inspires creativity and new forms of expression e.g. work lofts in Essex Estate in Portsdown area which are popular with the creative community of artists, designers, photographers, architects, and actors etc.
• Design is an expression of an individual’s uniqueness and an avenue by which one can stand out and attract attention e.g. design of personal blogs, the design of online business websites

No, design is not important in my society.
• Functionality/Useability is more important than aesthetic merits. E.g. The new terminal 3 in Changi Airport has a “butterfly” roof architecture which allows soft natural light into the building while keeping the tropical heat out.
• Development of the creative industry still lags behind other traditional industries such as finance and biomedicine because of the government’s focus on what it regards as more economically valuable trades that would give Singapore the comparative advantage over others. E.g. The finance industry accounts for 13% of Singapore’s GDP vs less than 2% for the creative industry according to 2007 figures from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
• Singapore subscribes to a pragmatic and practical ideology which manifests itself in our governmental policies such as educational policies which favour “practical” subjects in Sciences and Mathematics over aesthetical subjects such as Art and Design. Therefore, Singaporeans have conventionally shunned careers in aesthetics or are unable to appreciate them.

Candidates may not have sufficient examples or have a limited interpretation of the notion of design. It is also likely that weaker candidates may not be able to provide balance.


:a: :b: :c: :d: :e: :f: :g: :h: :i: :j: :k: :l: :m: :n:

Post a Comment