Sunday, August 19, 2007


Can poverty ever be eradicated?

Write a response of at least 300 words and 2 content paragraphs, and include materials from both articles as well as your own knowledge and experience.

Poverty, in my opinion, can never be eradicated. Efforts to relieve poverty in poverty-stricken countries can only aim to ameliorate the situation, but curbing the problem, I feel, is range of impossibility.

In countries stricken with extreme poverty, such as Africa and Cambodia, help rendered by the United Nations assembly has not stopped since time immemorial. Yet, every time help is rendered in the form of financial aid, and also labour aid, we see the countries falling back into depression. Why is this so? I agree with Sarup's point of view; that it is only a vicious cycle. With aims of eradicating poverty in our minds, do we really know if what we are doing helps the country? Yes, we save lives by pouring financial aid into the country. But our efforts do not affect the following generation of people living in that country. When poverty has affected a country for such a long period of time, it is difficult to change the mindsets of citizens. They have learnt to accept the fact that they are poor and since most of them will not be affected by humanitarian efforts, they rarely do concern themselves with the idea that they can be saved from poverty by grace. With mindsets like these, it is impossible to completely eradicate poverty.

Also, I believe that the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer. Its a rat race that never cedes. Due to the uneven income distribution, we cannot hope that all the poor people can manage to dig themselves out of this trench so deeply dug. Whereas people can associate with others passing into the different classes by chance or luck or pure inheritance, we should all be aware that this system is actually in dynamic equilibrium and the input and output are as defined by vice versa. People are selfish, its human nature. We cannot expect the rich to give without expecting to take. It is a cynical point of view, but, let's face it. Reality bites.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Term 3 Week 4: READING TASK 4

In your view, what are the likely political and socio-economic impacts of the demographic changes we see in the world today?

Write a response of at least 300 words and 2 content paragraphs, and include materials from the video “World in the Balance” as well as your own knowledge and experience.

Due to demographic changes such as ageing populations, pestilences and spread of life-threatening diseases such as AIDS, countries suffer backlashes on their economies, and citizens also lose their confidence in a country's ability to handle problems. We all know that such problems are the reasons why world leaders, for one, are those that were chosen due to their great foresight. Perspicacious leaders ensure that the impacts of demographic changes are kept to a minimum, and also place measures in order to curb problems as soon as they occur. Why? Because demographic changes impact the country in ways that war cannot. Epidemics, diseases, gender imbalance, all these factors are subversive to a country's well-being.

Diseases such as AIDS have plagued third-world countries since they first surfaced. The reason for which is simple. The country is so poor that it cannot afford to improve living conditions for the citizens, which leads to problems such as poor sanitization and housing conditions. These, coupled with the fact that the citizens are poorly-educated and thus do not understand the implications of contracting the disease, lead to an exacerbation of the problems which come down twice as hard on the government. It is imperative for the problems to be solved, but at times, this is as tough as trying to achieve the impossible. Therefore, we can see that demographic changes affects the society by manifesting the weaknesses of a country such as its financial capabilities and also, its leadership.

Political impact is obvious. When a country is set back by a problem such as the ageing population in Britain, it is up to the government to handle the problem. From the way it is managed, the abilities of the leader can be seen. How does it affect the politics in a country? For instance, Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin drew flak from his citizens for several wrong decisions he made regarding the country's SARS outbreak. It placed his position and life in jeopardy, and he had to resign as a result.
READING TASK 4 : Week (?)

Referring to the article : Gender Inequality in the Workforce

In the light of the author's views that gender inequality in the workforce is imaginary and founded on premises of medieval history, I find that the reason why we still think that men and women are unequally treated in our societal workforce is because we have always viewed them as such. It is enlightening to read that gender inequality in the workforce does not seem as serious as people might view it to be, because I believe, like many others do, that being egalitarian is the way to go.

The author brought up many interesting points worthy of note, such as the 'glass ceiling' that women consider a stumbling block in their professional career. Such an example is an epitome of being too pessimistic about prejudicial treatment in the workforce. I concur with the author's view that assertions of women being treated unequally in the workforce are exaggerated. We should, as teenagers, not be too quick to make a judgement about prejudicial treatment in the workforce simply because we have not experienced a working life.

Elizabeth Fox Genovese also articulated her views that "the differences between paychecks have more to do with the differences between social classes--and, increasingly, the education that, more than anything else today, determines class membership--than with the differences between the sexes. Within classes, differences between men and women persist, although they are steadily lessening. And, in the end, the best explanation for them remains women's ability to bear children--the inequality that no amount of social policy can erase." A good point to note, don't you think?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Reading Task 4.
Article : My Friend, The Garbage Bag.

I was filled with motivation upon completion of my read of the article, ‘My Friend, The Garbage Bag’, written by a Singaporean student currently studying in Japan. In a bid to fight global warming and pollution, it is heartening to hear that recycling habits as well as clean disposal techniques are being exercised in countries such as Japan, and that these practices are actually ingrained into the citizens, as denoted by the incident highlighted in the article.

With the article’s emphasis on several points to note for effective residential efforts against pollution in Japan, such as strict guidelines which punish or fine the citizens who do not abide by laws set, I feel that it is high-time that Singapore takes a leaf out of Japan’s book and thread in its footsteps which have proven to be successful. The adoption of such laws would fit in well at private estates, whereas residential efforts at government flats and condominiums would have to be instilled by the regional RC to spread the message for recycling. It would certainly do the environment well if we can make use of a worked modal for recycling, rather than just rely on the traditional method of advertising recycling through campaigns, which requires maximum effort, but shows minimum results.

Besides residential recycling, the article also mentions Japanese companies doing their part for the environment by exercising environmentally-healthy methods which contribute towards less waste. To reduce wastage is an essential key to achieving a clean environment, and therefore, it is imperative that our companies do as they should and follow certain environmentally-friendly rules and regulations that should be put in place by the government.

With regards to the “Bring Your Own Bag” campaign, responses to it have been lukewarm, especially since Singaporeans actually had a stupefying record of using up to 6 plastic bags per person everyday. However, it has certainly proved to be a good effort as people realize that they would not want to pay for their plastic bags and have subsequently brought their own bags for grocery shopping. Even though this practice has not quite taken off yet, it will surely work out in the future, as Japan, too, had taken some time since the mid-1990s before the citizens feel responsible enough for their country’s well-being. Certainly, it will not take longer than a few years for Singaporeans to realize the same idea too.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I refer to the article, 'Plastic Bags are not the enemy', published in The Straits Times on Saturday, 12th May 2007.

In it, the writer, Andy Ho, discusses the plausibility of adopting a plastic-bag-free society in a bid to do our part for the imperiled environment. Of course, the route to obliteration that the world had embarked on was designated by humans, and now, the efforts we take to steer Mother Earth back on the right track seem to be derisive and ironic, if I may suggest. Maybe it is why this article is of such great importance to us. It reveals an interesting fact ; that replacing the plastic bag with paper or cotton grocery bags may not be such a 'helpful' effort after all.

Quote 'Research in several countries shows that the main problem with plastic bags is not their environmental impact per se but littering.' The crux of the article lies in this line. The general misperception that most of us have, is that plastic bags are non-biodegradeable, which makes for less of a conservation effort for our environment as they will inevitably end up polluting our world when the only viable option to get rid of the plastic waste would be to incinerate them. However, this article throws light on the actual figures shrouding the so called alternatives to plastic bags. Comparing the consequences of using the paper bag and the plastic bag, results show us that we are not actually getting a better deal by switching over to using reusable carriers, and we risk doing more harm to the environment.

Alternative measures may not always be our best bet, in this case the plastic bags. However, I'm sure most people will think twice about the perceived repercussions from using plastic bags, as opposed to using paper bags. We ought to ponder extensively over our plans, and strategise our goals to suit our country's aims to conserve our environment. This is to make sure the facade of our efforts is not the only outlook we are trying to achieve. The deeper meaning to conservation should stem from our hearts' desires to do a part for what is really good for Mother Earth.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Term 2 Week 4 Task 4: New Media – Power to the people or threat to stability? Discuss this in the light of the arguments raised in the two articles and substantiate your ideas with examples of your own. Your response should consist of at least two content paragraphs and be at least 300 words long.

New Media, a phrase coined for the new-age mediums of information, to the likes of emails, Internet, and blogging, has moulded our world into a different one. Traditional mediums of information, such as the newspaper, have come to pass, for now, the new modes of broadcasting of information is faster and more efficient in the sense that we do not have to wait for news to come in reported style hours after events occur. They are preferred over the cliché newspapers for practical reasons. These mediums provide us with news ‘fresh from the oven’; the access of the news in these mediums is not restricted by the periodical availability of the newspapers. Although the arrival of New Media should herald an age of non-illiterates, many media entities have, in their so-called course for free press, misused it for the wrong reasons. As the first article suggests, the media outlets in many parts of the world find it their mission to "inflame and distort – rather than to explain and inform". This may be due to the fact that New Media calls for fewer restrictions on who can use them to relate information. Terrorists have used it to the best of their abilities to spread propaganda, and the slow-reacting American government cannot blame anyone other than themselves for not utilising it for counteracting the terrorism efforts. Such is a paradigm of the detrimental aspects of New Media.

Yes, I feel that New Media can be used as a tool for undermining some governing bodies. This is due to the fact that people do not use it for the right reasons. Instead of completely denouncing free press, we can put in place censorships to reduce the exacerbation of certain information, as countries feel that there is simply the need to do so. If we are to reach an agreement for what is best for both parties, namely the government and the citizens, we should alter the extent of censorship so that freedom of speech can still subsist in a country. If freedom of speech is to be unrestricted by any proper regulations, we can forget about stability in countries as conflicting interests will brew riots and anger among the people. Government and absolute freedom of speech can never co-exist. Take for example, before online slander was made well-known among the general public, racist remarks grew wild on Singaporeans' blogs. After receiving necessary flak, the government raised the penalty bar and controlled the inconsiderate remarks by imposing fines and jail terms. This is a fine example of countries being driven into controlling the freedom of speech given to the people. We cannot allow either the freedom of speech or the government to achieve authoritarian status in any countries as doing so will only obliterate a country’s socio-economy.

We cannot hold anyone responsible for the malicious intentions carried out by people abusing the power of media, for this is the price to pay for our technologies. However, what we can do is to educate our people so that they do not commit such extenuated offences, or not fall prey to these intentions, for the targeted victims are those who are ill-informed.