GCE A LEVEL 2003 Essay Outlines

1. To what extent are small businesses preferable to large ones?

Clarification of Terms

§ ‘To what extent’ – a relative term

§ ‘small businesses’ – small/ medium enterprise

§ ‘preferable’ – better or more suitable –

§ ‘large ones’ – businesses which are greater than average size e.g. MNCs


Possible Perspectives

§ Small businesses are preferred to a small extent.

§ Small businesses are preferred to a large extent.

§ Comparable; depends on context (i.e. from whose perspective? Businessman/ employee/ government?).

Perspective Taking


Small businesses do not enjoy economies of scale as small companies may lack the ability to buy products in bulk. Take for instance, NTUC (a local supermarket chain) is able to procure groceries at lower prices as compared to the provision shop ( mama shop) at the void deck….


It is not true to say that with the ability to operate via economies of scale and with huge capital backing are in navigating the swift unpredictable business landscape. it is the cyclopean businesses that will result in lethargy as there is more bureaucratic red tape in organization of human resources or dealing with problems.

Possible points

Small businesses are preferred to a small extent.

Small businesses are preferred to a large extent.

Less profit-taking. Small companies have less capital to invest.

Less benefits to the economy as small companies hire fewer people to work for them.

Do not enjoy economies of scale as small companies cannot buy in bulk and have less bargaining power.

As an employee, there are fewer benefits (e.g. gym membership, due to lack of economies of scale) and training opportunities. Within the organization, there are fewer opportunities for a job switch (e.g. transfers among departments). It is also more difficult to make a career switch/ jump to a large organizations if one has had no experience working for large companies.

For the employer, one cannot attract better quality staff as potential employees would rather work for bigger and more established companies than small firms.

Small firms cannot attract overseas investment from MNCs; the country would not be able to benefit from the foreign exchange brought in.

On a global scale, there is less information exchange and comparative advantage.

Less risks involved, esp. if the business is a start up. There is a high failure rate for new start-ups. (75 percent fail in a year and 25 percent of first-year survivors fail in the second year.)

More flexibility to make various changes to business strategies.

More personal attention for consumers.

Organizational and logistical problems unique to large companies do not affect small/ medium companies. Small firms deal with an organizational scale with less of everything: equipment, applications, and employees.

From the perspective of an employee, it is preferred to work in smaller enterprises as one gets to be (top) decision makers much earlier along the career path. One gets to make both tactical and strategic decisions for the company.

Vibrant economy for the country (e.g. Hongkong and Taiwan) since SMEs are nimble and can make adjustments according to the needs of the market faster.

2. ‘A good leader must always look beyond the needs of his or her own country.’ Do you agree?

Clarification of Terms

§ ‘A good leader’ – refers primarily to (political) leaders; students have to be specific in giving the traits of ‘a good leader’.

§ ‘must’ – an absolute term

§ ‘always’ – another absolute term

§ ‘beyond’ – farther on; to a distance outside and present sphere of influence.

§ ‘the needs of his or her own country’ – refers to economic, social and political aspects of a country’s interests.


Possible Perspectives

§ Yes. A good leader must always look beyond the needs of his/ her own country.

§ No. A good leader need never look beyond the needs of one’s country – need only to meet the needs of the country, need not look beyond them.

§ No. A good leader should generally look beyond the needs of his/ her own country, but not always. In certain contexts/ under some circumstances, a good leader need not look beyond the needs of one’s own country. This hinges on the meaning of ‘good’.

Perspective Taking


Just as altruism is a defining characteristic of humanity, it is also subsequently one of the traits of good leadership. They must also realise that by serving others (countries) who need help especially in an era fraught with global problems, will lead to establishing good relations with other countries so that other countries are more willing to help them in times of crisis/ need… In addition, it will also help them govern their own country better. Since politics is about service to the country, good leaders must embody this principle and lead by example. It is essential that a good leader must look beyond the needs of his or her own country…

Possible points

Must look beyond the needs of his or her own country.

Need not look beyond the needs of his or her own country.

In looking to the future, leaders need to have a organizing principle that is in line with the country’s interests, capabilities and influence (e.g. USA). This is particularly important as countries become more engaged with one another in an evolving interdependent, multipolar world.

Just as altruism is a defining characteristic of humanity, it is also one of the traits of good leadership. Since good leaders need to lead by example, it is essential that a good leader must look beyond the needs of his or her own country.

Leaders should look beyond the needs of their own country and learn from other countries as they may face similar problems in the future.

If all leaders take sufficient care of his or her own country, there is no need for any country to look beyond their own needs and as such countries can coexist peacefully and harmoniously.

Looking beyond the needs of one’s country is unnecessary if one is not a political leader. E.g. we respect Mother Teresa for her work with the poor in India.

Leaders, no matter how rich or poor their countries are, must establish good relations with other countries so that other countries are more willing to help them in times of crisis/ need.

It is beneficial, but not necessary, for good leaders to look beyond the needs of their own country.

3. Does the book have a future?

Clarification of Terms

§ ‘the book’ – refers to printed materials which are edited/amended/bound or, perhaps, to any extended piece of written/visual communication of thoughts or ideas.

§ ‘have a future’ – a chance of success (candidates have to define what this means) at a later time; or, have value / existence.


§ The value or the use of bound print materials is threatened by other means of communication (e.g. the electronic book).

Possible Perspectives

§ Yes, the printed book has a future – although limited.

§ Yes, the printed book has a great and glorious future.

§ No, the printed book does not have a future at all.

Perspective Taking

§ Compare the advantages, functions and effects of both methods of publishing (traditional books vs. electronic books) and how one form is likely to affect the other.

§ Examines how the printed book has developed – its long history and enduring nature.

§ Examines the issue in terms of the usage of the book in developed and developing nations – different futures, perhaps, in different places.

§ Considers the time frame involved (how far into the future?)

Possible points

Yes. The book has a future.

No. The book does not have a future.

Written symbols, the beginning of the printed form was created as far back as 4000BC. The printed form has served humanity well as a form of communication. All civilizations seek to have the printed form of some sort. Therefore as a component of the printed form, books have always been around and will continue to be so long as we wish to express ourselves.

Despite the increase in the use of the Internet, people still prefer the printed form (e.g. newspapers, magazines) because of its readability and convenience.

Although there is an increase in the use of the Internet, it is not a competitor of the book. The two forms of media are complementary and as such, a greater interest in web-surfing, E-books and the quest for knowledge actually spurs people’s interest in reading books.

Problems of the Internet. There is less reliablity, permanence and responsibility for the message. With the various difficulties involved in enforcing copyright protection on the Internet, authors will still prefer to publish their works in printed form.

With a widening income gap between rich and poor countries, those in third world countries will continue to have little access to computers/ internet. Hence books, as a cheaper alternative, will always be in demand.

Just as in learning to walk and speak, reading skills are acquired methodically. As an exercise in reflection and critical analysis, it is necessary that words ‘stand patiently in line’ and that the message is consistent for us to decipher, dissect and compare with our personal experiences.

Just because books have served humanity well as a form of expression, this does not necessarily mean that they will continue to do so in the digital era. If people wish to express themselves so much and want a larger audience, the Internet is a surely a more effective forum of expression.

There is a steady increase in the number of Internet users worldwide. As practical and forward-looking beings, people are likely to continue using the Internet.

With the relatively sudden emergence of a new technology, electronic publishing seems likely to overtake the conventional form of publishing.

In the past, it was difficult for authors to come together to work on a book. However, the Internet and the World Wide Web now take away the limitations on collaboration (which previously existed due to differences in time and space). So we can expect the idea of collaborative hypertext fiction to emerge as a new literary art form in the future

4. Is History anything more than the study of warfare?

Clarification of Terms

§ ‘History’ – the past experience of humankind; the memory of that past experience as it has been preserved.

§ ‘anything more than’ – of importance, substance, concerned with

§ ‘the study of warfare’ – the nature of, causes ed in the past, esp. the political, social or economic development of a nation. and effects of war, strategies of warfare

§ ‘warfare’ – The waging of war against an enemy; armed conflict. Military operations marked by a specific characteristic: guerrilla warfare; chemical warfare. Acts undertaken to destroy or undermine the strength of another: political warfare.



Possible Perspectives

§ Yes. History is more than the study of warfare

§ No. History is only about the study of warfare. It is too limiting and we are unable to use it for any other purposes besides the study of warfare.

§ Yes. The study of History is all encompassing, and therefore the study of e.g. humanity, politics, economics etc. is about the study of warfare.

Perspective Taking

§ Different aspects of what it means to be ‘more than’ the study of warfare.

§ Different levels of studying History.


The , beginning with the motive of pure curiosity and awareness that underlies any scientific pursuit.

. Therefore it is not merely about the study of warfare. E.g. History regarded as most important subject in the curriculum/ Munich 1972 not to misread “peace” amidst two foes/ Japan & China This is testament of the importance of history that reaches beyond war.


History reminds us of who we are, our origins and our ties to society. This is highly relevant in modern society as we live in a time of rapid change, a time of progress. We prefer to define ourselves in terms of where we are going, not where we come from. Our ancestors hold no importance for us. They lived in times so different from our own that they are incapable of shedding light on our experience.

Possible points

History is more than the study of warfare.

History is merely about the study of warfare.

History deals with everything that has happened to man. History deals with people, both humanistically (because of its attention to the individual person) and scientifically (because it deals with people in groups and its focus of long-term trends). – art history?

History involves language and communication, and as a subject/ discipline, it can only be set forth through the medium of language. Therefore it is not merely about the study of warfare.

There is great complexity behind the study of History. It is not merely about the study of warfare. Historical research begins with "primary source" records[em_dash]documents in archives, eyewitness reports and recollections, diaries and letters, and newspapers or other contemporary publications. The historian must develop a framework of questions and classifications, sift through what is often an enormous mass of material, and construct the sequence of events and their significance. The product of direct historical research, the "secondary source," is usually in the form of scholarly articles and monographs or specialized books. Finally, historical information may be reworked for its utility to the reader in "tertiary sources", taking the form of textbooks, encyclopedia articles, or popularized accounts.

History and politics have always been closely associated. The majority of politicians have been lawyers (e.g. Lee Kwan Yew), but an increasing number of them have been students of history (e.g. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy).

On a practical level for individuals, students of history, have a whole field open to them, namely the legal profession, librarian and the archivist.

The business world also looks for history majors for personnel and public relations positions. The advertising industry, the newspaper and journalism industry employs many former history majors because of their writing skills, social research skills and familiarity with cultures.

Warfare (e.g. information warfare, chemical warfare, guerrilla warfare) is the manifestation of politics and since politics is all encompassing (has great impact on the country’s/ world economy, society, culture etc,), therefore, the study of history is entirely about the study of warfare.

Traditionally, students of history focus solely on the causes, effects and nature of all major wars. Unless they proceed on to undergraduate studies, the study of history remains a limited subject.

5. Should medical science always seek to prolong life?

Clarification of Terms

§ ‘Medical science’ = any form of scientific pursuit with the aim of producing a cure for human ailments

§ ‘always’ = at all times (absolute term)

§ ‘seek’ = endeavour

§ ‘prolong life’ = extend life

§ Assumptions

Possible Perspectives

§ Yes, medical science should always seek to prolong life.

§ Yes, medical science should generally seek to prolong life but not always.

§ No, medical science should not always seek to prolong life, but to improve the quality of life.

Perspective Taking

§ Different views / aspects / types / dimensions / agents etc of medical science

§ Different functions of medical science

§ Different ways of prolonging life – drugs, life sustaining machines

§ Issues pertaining to the prolonging of life – to what extent should it be prolonged?

§ Role of medical science in determining the extent to when and why life should be prolonged


We only live once and should be allowed to live life to the fullest and experience as many events in life as possible. Coupled with the extensively frantic pace of life in contemporary society, there is hardly time to allow man to stand and stare. Most of our existence is spent on the mundane of meeting life’s demands and less on experiencing la dolce vita.


Medical science should the quality of life instead of prolonging it….

such as the problem of an aging population or a large dependent population. This is especially so in developed countries whose birth rates are decreasing and the high standard of living in such countries creates higher life expectancies. Prolonging life in such countries will exacerbate the problem of an aging population. In addition it may give rise to social problems such as loneliness and psychological problems.

Possible points

YES, agree! Medical science should always seek to prolong life

NO, disagree! Medical science should not always seek to prolong life

Life is precious and should be preserved at all cost. If given a situation of life and death it is only human nature to want to sustain and prolong life. Therefore, since medical science can do that, it should.

The life we prolong might be able to contribute in innumerable ways to society in the future. They may carry on being, or go on to be, future scientists, physicians, artists who help to improve, touch and add value to the lives of many others.

The experience gained or accumulated from a prolonged life can help us to contribute in various ways.

The aim of medical science is to enable a longer expectancy of life.

It upholds the sanctity we have for life and the value we place on the importance of the human life.

It depends on the situation. It does not make sense to prolong life that is in constant suffering.

By prolonging a life we may never know the repercussions of such an act. Who knows what this life may become one day? We can never be sure if this prolonged life would become an asset or a liability.

6. ‘The only worthwhile form of discipline is self-discipline.’ Discuss.

Clarification of Terms

§ ‘discipline’ = training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behaviour

§ ‘worthwhile’ = important to be worth one's time, effort, or interest

§ ‘self-discipline’ = training and control of oneself and one's conduct, usually for personal improvement

§ ‘only’ = absolute term


Possible Perspectives

§ Yes, self-discipline is the only worthwhile form of discipline.

§ No, self-discipline is worthwhile but it is not the only worthwhile form of discipline.

§ No, some forms of discipline are worthwhile, not solely self-discipline.

§ No, self-discipline is not worthwhile as all forms of discipline are not worthwhile (probably not a viable perspective).

Perspective Taking

§ Different forms of discipline – discipline that is imposed upon from external parties

§ Different areas and degrees of worthiness

§ Worthwhile from whose perspective? (the individual, country, organisation, etc)


External factors that that compel us to maintain discipline with the threat of punishment with the treat of punishment or dire consequences work as long as consequences remain real and punishment enforceable. Yet in modern times we have allowed things to be more permissible in what used to be a dogmatic and prescriptive world. This leads to a disregard for the consequences and practices. The Internet has created a world where there are few enforceable rules and constant flouting of established rules.


It takes maturity to realise that independence comes with a fair share of guidance. There is a need to understand rules and respect the need to keep them.

Possible points

YES, agree! The only worthwhile form of discipline is self-discipline.

NO, disagree! Self-discipline is not the only worthwhile form of discipline.

Ultimately everything starts from the self - one needs to start from the self before proceeding onto other things.

All forms of discipline are useless without self-discipline as one needs to discipline oneself before one can master any other discipline or discipline others.

Self discipline is an ideal form of discipline but due to practical purposes, other forms of discipline are needed such as discipline from parents, society, government, law enforcement, social circles/friends.

Some may be of the view that one needs to be taught discipline before one can discipline oneself. Hence, a baby or young child does not have the capability to exercise self-discipline on himself/herself. He/she needs to be taught and nurtured and disciplined before he/she can learn self-discipline.

7. How far can the needs of minorities be met in modern Singapore.

Clarification of Terms

§ ‘how far’ = to what extent

§ ‘can’ = feasibility/ability to meet the needs (not to be interpreted as ‘should’)

§ ‘needs’ = essentials (not wants)

§ ‘minorities’ = a group having little power or representation relative to other groups within a society

§ ‘be met’ = be satisfied/catered to

§ ‘modern Singapore’ = present Singapore

§ Assumptions

Possible Perspectives

§ to a small extent – issues relating to the minorities are often overlooked and seldom addressed in public

§ to a moderate extent – more members of the minorities are speaking up but it depends on whether the government is willing to take these issues seriously

§ to a large extent – Singapore has always been a caring society and the government has always sought to take care of the minorities

§ the needs can never be met (one extreme – a possible perspective, but not viable)

§ the needs can always be met (the other extreme – again possible, but not viable)

Perspective Taking

§ Different needs of the different minority groups

§ Different ways to address the needs of minorities

§ (opportunity) cost of meeting these needs in the past as compared to the present

§ compare and contrast time (past vs present Singapore) and space (Singapore with other countries)

Possible points

Needs cannot be met (Small/moderate extent)

Needs can be met
(Large extent)

Issues relating to minorities are often overlooked and seldom addressed in public as they do not voice their opinions and are few in numbers to make a significant impact that warrants attention.

The government needs to weigh not only the needs of the minorities but also the urgency and cost of these needs against the needs of the majority of the population. Hence, if the needs of the majority are more pressing and less costly then needless to say the minority’s needs will be put on hold.

Singapore has always been a caring society and the government has always sought to take care of the minorities.

One of the main reasons why Singapore is able to have and maintain what it is today is due to the emphasis the government places on social cohesion and social harmony. Hence in order to continue to sustain the peace and stability the country has been enjoying, the needs of the minorities need to be satisfied to a large extent.

8. Can the media ever be relied upon to convey the truth?

Clarification of Terms

§ ‘media’ = a means of mass communication (eg television, newspapers, magazines)

§ ‘ever’ = at any time

§ ‘to convey the truth’ = To communicate or impart fact or actuality

§ ‘truth’ = (definition needs to be specific)

§ ‘be replied upon’ = be depended on or to be able to engender confidence in the end users of the media


§ The media has a responsibility to convey the truth.

§ The media have been unreliable in terms of telling the truth and they are often perceived as compromising the truth.

Possible Perspectives

§ Yes, the media can always be replied upon to convey the truth.

§ Yes, the media can sometimes be replied upon to convey the truth, though not always.

§ Yes, the media can generally be relied upon to convey the truth, though not always.

§ No, the media can never be relied upon to convey the truth.

Perspective Taking

§ Different types of media

§ Different degrees of reliability – national papers vs tabloids

§ Different degrees of truth

§ Different countries and different contexts

Possible Points

YES, agree! The media can be reliedupon to convey the truth.

NO, disagree! The media cannot be relied upon to convey the truth.

The media industry has its own code of conduct to report the truth. The public look to them for the truth.

The media should be transparent and be able to stand up to public scrutiny.

The media occurs in many different forms such as newspapers, magazines, etc. These various forms of the media have different degrees of reliability. National newspapers have a higher degree of reliability in conveying the truth as compared to tabloids.

The media industry is often driven by commercial interest so they often sensationalise reports to attract viewership / readership. Media reporters are pressured to get the latest story or coverage and in order to save their jobs, are forced to distort and exaggerate the truth.

In certain contexts the media can be very controlled particularly by the government. Hence in order to ‘protect’ or ‘shelter’ their citizens the government manipulates or censors the truth from its people. Also, to protect country’s interest, government or media may not allow truth to be reported.

The media has been discovered to lie and deceive so often that they can no longer be depended upon to convey the truth.

9. Was life for young people in Singapore better in the past than it is today?

Clarification of Terms

§ ‘life’ = standard of living/ way of life

§ ‘young people’ = children, teenagers, and/or young working adults

§ ‘better’ = (comparative term) one is superior to the other

§ ‘past’ = period which is not recent (perhaps at least ten years ago?)

§ Assumption

Possible Perspectives

§ Yes, life was better in the past than it is today.

§ No, life is better today than it was in the past.

§ No, life was not better in the past but neither was it worse.

Perspective Taking

Possible points

Yes, life for young people in Singapore was better in the past than it is today

No, life for young people in Singapore is better today than it was in the past

Life was less stressful and moved at a slower pace in the past as Singapore was a less competitive society then. (Higher stress is linked with not only physical but also psychological ailments like depression, hence the incidences of young people committing suicide due to inability to cope with studies, relationships, etc.)

§ Education: In the past, education was a simple process; there was no streaming, ranking of schools, or other initiatives which would apparently increase the level of stress in students.

§ Work: The working environment was less competitive. Today, though jobs are more specialised, the truth is people need to be able to multi-task in order to stand out among others.

Due to globalisation, Singapore is influenced by trends in other parts of the world (e.g. freedom of speech, feminism, etc.) and has become more competitive now. Therefore, there are more opportunities open to different sectors of the youth population.

§ Education: Many educational initiatives introduced to empower the young in this modern age, e.g. the IT master plan. Also, edusave accounts and subsidies given to allow more students the chance to take up enrichment courses.

§ Work: System based on meritocracy attempts to give more equal opportunities to females and minorities.

The cost of living is lower in the past as compared to the present. Higher costs manifest through GST increase and transport hikes, etc. Young people are also consumers of certain goods and services which have costs increasing over the years, e.g. movie tickets.

The standard of living is higher today.

§ Lower infant mortality rate.

§ More young people own branded goods and make use of services of higher quality, e.g. eating in restaurants.

§ Ease of spending: many young working adults own credit cards.

§ Cleaner environment.

§ Air-con comfort.

Family ties were stronger as there were more extended families, so there were more adults to see to the needs of young people. Most of the families are nuclear now and with changes in the role of the mother, there are more latchkey children.

With Singapore’s declining birth rate, people have on the average only one or two children, and hence invest more resources on their children’s well-being and education for their overall betterment.

Young people were contented with the simple pleasures and entertainment in life.

Though life may appear more stressful now, the range of entertainment and leisure activities that young people can choose to engage in has increased. People are more able and willing to pamper themselves.

10. ‘Statistics measure everything but prove nothing.’ Discuss.

Clarification of Terms

§ ‘Statistics’ = Figures/ percentages, supposedly derived from research, that attempt to reflect certain trends/ phenomena.

§ ‘measure’ = quantify

§ ‘everything’ (absolute expression) = all trends/ phenomena, even trivialities and petty issues.

§ ‘prove’ = provide evidence to back up

§ ‘nothing’ (absolute expression) = not a single trend/ phenomenon.


Possible Perspectives

§ Yes, all trends/ phenomena can be measured using statistics but absolutely none of the results can be taken as proofs.

§ No, all trends/ phenomena can be measured using statistics and some/all of the results can actually be taken as proofs.

§ No, only some trends/ phenomena can be measured using statistics though absolutely none of the results can be taken as proofs.

§ No, only some trends/ phenomena can be measured using statistics and some/all of these results can be taken as proofs.

Perspective Taking

Possible points

Yes, statistics measure everything but prove nothing

No, statistics do not measure everything but may prove some things

Statistics can measure a range of things. (E.g. the prevalence of certain behaviours or attitudes on a variety of issues, changes in economic, social, environmental conditions, etc.)

As long as information can be obtained, any kind of trend/ phenomenon can be measured. This is possible with the many methods of testing and experimentation available. They are various ways to acquire information on different types of trend/ phenomenon being investigated, such as through surveys, questionnaires, etc. Data can also be easily analysed using statistical software.

Not all information can be captured or represented quantitatively. This is especially so with regards to people’s attitudes/ human nature. Hence the existence of data collection methods such as natural observation (to engage oneself in the society/ culture of concern to observe people’s behaviours) and interviews.

However, none of the results interpreted through statistics can be verified conclusively. After all, it is impossible to collect data from the whole society in question. Thus, though the sample involved is representative in theory, it cannot be absolutely so in reality.

Statistics may prove some things if a rigorous scientific method (which significantly reduces bias) is adopted to prove/ disprove the hypothesis, before the formulation of conclusions.

A randomly selected representative sample which undergoes a well-planned research is sufficient to prove some trends/ phenomena.

Statistics are merely surface manifestations of what they attempt to measure. We can prove nothing about the investigated issue, especially since people may be affected by certain bias/ ambiguities in the instruments (i.e. survey, questionnaire, etc) used. Deeper issues of concern may also not be reflected.

It is fairly safe to take the statistics produced by the research of renowned individuals and institutions, or those found in well-known books/ journals as proof of what is measured. This is especially so if similar findings are duplicated by different researchers (reliability).

The world in which we live in is changing constantly. Even if statistics are produced to measure something, nothing can ever be proved because of the changes that are taking place.

Though the world is changing all the time, reliable statistics can be taken as indicative of the truth, at least at a particular period.

11. Does the modern world place too much reliance on technology?

Clarification of Terms

§ ‘modern world’ = contemporary society

§ ‘too much reliance’ = dependence is more than is desired

§ ‘technology’ = application of science/ methods or items related to the achievement of personal, commercial, or industrial objectives.


§ The modern world relies heavily on technology.

§ It is undesirable to depend too heavily on technology.

Possible Perspectives

§ Yes, the modern world places too much reliance on technology and this may not be desirable.

§ No, the level of reliance the modern world places on technology is appropriate for its development.

§ No, the modern world has not utilised technology fully for its benefit and it is desirable to rely even more on technology.

Perspective Taking

§ Different parts of the modern world in which technology is/ is not prevalent – developed/ developing/ underdeveloped societies.

§ Types of people/ organisations who do or do not rely on technology.

§ Various ends that technology is being utilised for – personal, commercial, industrial, or national purposes – and the associated advantages/ disadvantages for individuals/ society.

Possible points

Yes, the modern world places too much reliance on technology

No, the modern world does not place too much reliance on technology

At the individual level, there is increased reliance on technology. E.g. more than 4 out of 5 Singaporeans own a mobile phone. Individuals also rely heavily on computers for education, work, and entertainment purposes. With their level of reliance on technology, time spent on communication may be reduced, and interpersonal relationships between various persons in society may suffer.

Reliance on technology is desirable to allow individuals to keep up with the demands in the modern world, by providing various day-to-day conveniences that save time and energy. Technology can also be communication tools that connect people from various parts of the world.

On the organisational level,

§ Industrial: Use of machinery controlled by a central processing unit.

§ Commercial: Use of computer programmes (database, word processing, etc), video conferencing, fax machines, etc.

The reliance on technology productivity tools is too much. At times, work procedures are made more complicated rather than simplified, as more information/ data has to be processed due to the assumption that technology brings convenience.

Many parts of the world are still labour-intensive, (e.g. children and teenagers work in sweatshops in developing/ undeveloped parts of the world).

With globalisation, countries/ organisations around the world are inter-connected, hence the need to rely even more on technology, to improve work processes as well as enhance relations.

Information technology: Anyone can create a website on the Internet. Not all the information sources are trustworthy and people are liable to be misled as a result of heavy reliance. E-learning may also render schools and teachers obsolete.

As long as one is able to evaluate the information received, it is desirable in this modern digital age that one has easy access to a vast array of knowledge available on the world wide web, in order to stay competitive. Besides, many parts of the world do not even have access to books, let alone IT.

Advanced medical technology (e.g. indefinitely prolonging the lives of comatose patients) and genetic engineering (e.g. cloning, genetically modified foods). As these may be perceived as going against the law of nature, reliance on such technology may be seen as too much and undesirable.

Life is precious so there should be no limits placed on how much we rely on medical technology in order to preserve life. Besides complicated surgical procedures, many individuals are dependent upon medical technology to stay alive or function outside medical settings. E.g. kidney dialysis machines. Moreover, there are forms of complementary medicines that are not technology-based, e.g. traditional Chinese medicine, aromatherapy, etc.

12. ‘The family has suffered at the expense of career in Singaporean society.’[1] Is this a fair comment?

Clarification of Terms

§ ‘family’ = institution in which groups of people are related, either by marriage or by blood.

§ ‘has suffered’ = has been afflicted with some adverse effects.

§ ‘career’ = vocation/ job with its associated duties and ambitions.


Possible Perspectives

§ Yes, the family has suffered because of the emphasis on career in Singaporean society.

§ No, the family has not suffered because of the emphasis on career in Singaporean society. In fact, the family can thrive when people have successful careers.

§ No, the family has not suffered because of the emphasis on career in Singaporean society. There are other factors that lead to the decline of the family.

Perspective Taking

§ Different ways in which the family has suffered/ has not suffered – emotionally, economically, cohesiveness, in terms of size, etc. To what extent has these suffered?

§ Whether different types of families (e.g. those with vs those without children) have suffered as a result of career.

§ Whether different types of careers or different career requirements (e.g. those of high-ranking positions vs those of low-ranking positions) will have different impact on the family.

§ Whether there are other factors that contribute to the suffering of the family.


In addition, many women now have to juggle family with career. The family has suffered in terms of size. While in the past parents had as many as five or six children (or even more), the birth rate in Singapore has dropped to 1.2 per woman.


E.g. the government had to introduce a “Eat with Your Family” Day last year, encouraging employers to let employees off earlier, so that people can dine with their families.

Possible points

Yes, the family has suffered at the expense of career

No, the family has not suffered at the expense of career

Many women now have to juggle family with career. The family has suffered in terms of size. While in the past parents had as many as five or six children (or even more), the birth rate in Singapore has dropped to 1.2 per woman.

Even though career has affected size of the family, size is unimportant as long as parents spend quality time to bond with each child, which is more possible with fewer children. More resources can also be invested in the development of each child. Besides, childless couples constitute a different type of family, and it is a subjective claim to say that they are inferior to families with children.

Emphasis on career could be a significant reason as to why both Singaporean men and women are marrying at a later age now, which could influence the birth rate. More are also choosing single-hood as they could support themselves with their career.

It is positive to the family unit in Singapore that many want to have a successful or at least stable career before and after marriage, as this is a factor contributing to financial stability within the family.

Single-parent families could be considered as a breakdown in the family unit.

§ There were close to 6000 divorces in 2003. One of the many factors could be the increased emphasis on career which causes some to neglect the family.

§ The desire to seek new opportunities/ rise up in career prompts many to leave the country: the family is dispersed.

Even if both parents are working, the family may not be neglected. Changes in the roles of family members may mean that men help to share the load previously reserved for women. It all boils down to an ability to strike a balance between career and family. E.g. of such a successful family: Claire Chang.

[1] Given the phrasing of this statement, another interpretation (other than the one reflected in this answer scheme) is possible, i.e. career is harmed because of the conditions of the family unit.


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