Hopes from Hong Lim: Disappointment could give way to delight

Not my President Sg 01 - Nikkei Asian Review

Photo: Nikkei Asian Review

This article is a bit old (from late 2017), but I only just discovered it and think it is still very much worth sharing.

One of the points that writer Jason Tan makes would probably be met with a firm rebuttal from the former president of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan. Jason Tan writes that it is the President’s duty to “be an effective check on the elected government” and “assert herself as a distinct and independent power centre and [counterbalance] the executive branch of government”.

In 2016, then-president Tan expressed in a message to Parliament that the Elected President must act in accordance with the roles prescribed in the Constitution and not hold back the Elected Government of the day from performing its executive role. He or she cannot be a second centre of power, he asserted.

You can read the official description from the Istana about the president’s roles and responsibilities here.

I agree to a large extent with Dr Tony Tan’s sentiments, as under our political system, Parliament is the primary setting for political contestation as well as checks and balances to be manifested. If the Elected President were to actively engage in political debate and seek to be another “power centre”, Parliament would be undermined and our system would be heavily unsettled.

However, the President also holds an office steeped in symbolic meaning; he or she is the Head of State, chosen by the people, and therefore is supposed to be a wise man or woman revered by the people. Given this status and exalted position, I believe that she should be willing to speak up on the basis of conscience and social duty if she feels that something is wrong in the country. Of course she should not wade into every controversy and public debate, much less to align herself with any political party. She should think long and hard about expressing a view on any issue with a political dimension, but expressing such a view does not necessarily mean that she is engaging in politics, in the narrow sense of the word. If done the right way – with respect and empathy for differing viewpoints – she could simply be speaking up for the shared values and common conscience of the nation, to protect values that Singaporeans hold dear. Of course some would disagree with any such viewpoint, but it would be more a unifying act than a divisive one on the part of the President – and thus compatible with the President’s role as a “symbol of unity” (quoting the Istana website).

Put another way, the President can and should share his or her wisdom with the people on matters where his or her wisdom is needed. It is something that the people expect of their elected head of state and esteemed elder – his or her wise counsel. The vast majority understand that the President has very limited executive power – but she certainly has influence, and should use it sagaciously for the betterment of the country.

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September 20, 2017
By Jason Tan

Anger, rage, disappointment and a profound sense of sadness – these were emotions which coursed through the veins of many Singaporeans who were aggrieved at the non-election of the next President of Singapore. It did not come as a surprise that only one Certificate of Eligibility was issued – to the former Speaker of Parliament and current President Halimah Yacob. Aspiring hopefuls and her would-be contenders for the highest office in the land were disqualified as they were unable to meet the SGD500million qualifying threshold for private sector candidates. Hence, the Presidential Election 2017 (PE2017) was consigned to a walkover for the PAP government-endorsed candidate.

I was not angry as much as I was disappointed at the way the ruling government push through complicated changes which all but assured that the preferred choice for the next president was appointed and not elected. I felt a profound and pervasive sense of sadness – how did we end up like this?

Prima facie, it is hard to argue that no tenets of democracy and meritocracy – key pillars undergirding Singapore as a nation and society – were undermined. Many Singaporeans would have celebrated the victory of Halimah Yacob with great and genuine joy if she were given the opportunity to contest and campaign against other candidates (she would probably have won with a decent margin, given her track record and her affable demeanour). Instead, she was denied the dignity of winning the PE2017 and becoming President by dint of her merits and mettle.

Read more here.

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Website owner Steven Ooi, a First Class Honours grad from NUS, retired from a distinguished 14-year career as an English and GP tutor in 2016. He continues to blog on issues of concern to GP and student life.

To view tutors recommended by him, click here.

GP model essays here.

English or GP tutors keen to be listed on this website (consistently ranked top 10-15 on Google) as a Recommended Tutor, please email stevenooi18 @ yahoo.com (remove the spaces). Tutors in other subjects interested in having links to their website are also welcome to contact him.

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Education arms race fuelling inequality; solution to improve income alongside access

Education arms race

Picture: The Edge

By Sharanya Pillai, The Edge

4 June 2018

SINGAPORE: Part-time supermarket cashier Rozaini and her husband, who works as a driver, earn a combined income of S$2,000 a month. That money has to support them and their four children, aged between four and 19. Their oldest son is currently undergoing national service, while the second and third children are in primary school. The couple pay $500 a month to rent their two-room flat, spend $800 on groceries and need another $100 for the medical expenses of one son with a skin condition. That takes up the bulk of their income.

In spite of this tight financial situation, Rozaini hopes to send her schoolgoing children for private tuition. She and her husband are both looking for a second job. Rozaini also sells clothes online, which brings her about $100 in extra income monthly. “I just want my children to have a chance to be better than us. They need to get better jobs than what we are doing, and earn more money,” she says. Rozaini and her husband completed Secondary Two and primary school, respectively, and want their children to attain higher educational qualifications.

Households such as Rozaini’s have come under the spotlight in recent weeks as discourse heats up on the concept of upward social mobility — that one can achieve a better socio-economic status than that of one’s parents. In Singapore’s meritocratic system, it has traditionally been a point of pride that anyone with some talent and the willingness to work hard will get ahead. Increasingly, however, this concept is being challenged.

Today, education has become transformed to less of a social leveller and more of an arms race. It has become harder for those from less well-to-do backgrounds to compete on equal terms with their well-to-do counterparts,” says Eugene Tan, an associate professor of law at the Singapore Management University (SMU) and a former nominated member of parliament. “So, even as the opportunities are open to all, access to and utilisation of those opportunities are unequal.”

Read more in The Edge business newspaper here.

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Website owner Steven Ooi, a First Class Honours grad from the National University of Singapore, retired from a distinguished 14-year career as a GP and English tutor in 2016. He continues to blog on issues of concern to General Paper and student life.

To view tutors recommended by him, click here.

GP model essays here.

GP or English tutors (including part-timers) keen to be listed on this website (consistently ranked top 10 on Google for GP tutor/ tuition searches) as a Recommended Tutor, please email stevenooi18 @ yahoo.com (remove the spaces). Tutors in other subjects interested in having links to their website are also welcome to contact him.

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Malaysia Finds an Unlikely Champion of Democracy: Its Ex-Strongman

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia waved to his supporters after Friday Prayer in Kuala Lumpur, the capital. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency, via Shutterstock

By Hannah Beech and Richard C. Paddock

The New York Times

May 11, 2018

The story line is a familiar one these days: A populist strongman with a long record of racially divisive commentary prevails in the polls.

But Mahathir Mohamad, who was sworn in as prime minister of Malaysia on Thursday, was not swept to power by the kind of nationalist demagoguery that has captivated electorates in places like Hungary, India and the Philippines.

Instead, Mr. Mahathir was at the head of a multiethnic opposition that ousted a government long dependent on stoking the fears of Malaysia’s Malay Muslim majority to prolong its grip on power. That Mr. Mahathir, 92, had for decades toughened the network of race and patronage that contributed to Malaysia’s political sclerosis is just one of the many surprises of the national elections on Wednesday.

It has produced a multiracial — not Malay or Chinese — tsunami of protest against the corruption, economic mismanagement and abuse of political power,” said Lim Teck Ghee, a public policy analyst and author of the book “Challenging the Status Quo in Malaysia.” “It has avoided racial and religious rancor and acrimony, which would have left a contentious and dangerous aftermath.”

Read more here.

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Website owner Steven Ooi, a First Class Honours grad from the National University of Singapore, retired from a distinguished 14-year career as a GP and English tutor in 2016. He continues to blog on issues of concern to General Paper and student life.

To view tutors recommended by him, click here.

GP model essays here.

GP or English tutors (including part-timers) keen to be listed on this website (consistently ranked top 10 on Google for GP tutor/ tuition searches) as a Recommended Tutor, please email stevenooi18 @ yahoo.com (remove the spaces). Tutors in other subjects interested in having links to their website are also welcome to contact him.

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Working smart: be active after eating

Tidying up

So here’s my work-smart tip of the day for y’all students. But before I share it, remember: in the hyper-competitive world of today, working hard is nothing special anymore. It’s working smart that will make the difference.

This tip is really very simple. You know how you tend to feel sleepy after a meal, especially lunch? Many of us doze off after lunch or just become completely unproductive, for instance staring at the phone drowsily for two hours. Not smart!

What I advise you to do is to be physically active after a meal. No, not running or football or rope skipping. But just doing some physical chores, for instance washing dishes and walking the dog; tidying up your room or your file; or doing your grocery shopping. This will help regulate blood sugar and not only reduce the drowsiness that comes from the surge in blood sugar followed by the crash, it will also lower the risk of diabetes. You can also lessen the drowsiness by eating natural, whole-grain foods (such as brown rice and whole-grain bread) rather than refined carbohydrates.

I find that after eating is the best time to do all the mundane chores as I have a surplus of energy from the carbohydrates that I just consumed. Not only do I get the annoying chores out of the way, I also reduce my post-meal sleepiness – which unlocks more energy for me to do other, non-physical work thereafter such as studying and writing.

A productive day is a cause for much satisfaction – it is a day well lived. May we all work smarter.

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Website owner Steven Ooi, a First Class Honours grad from the National University of Singapore, retired from a distinguished 14-year career as a GP and English tutor in 2016. He continues to blog on issues of concern to General Paper and student life.

To view tutors recommended by him, click here.

GP model essays here.

GP or English tutors (including part-timers) keen to be listed on this website (consistently ranked top 10 on Google for GP tutor/ tuition searches) as a Recommended Tutor, please email stevenooi18 @ yahoo.com (remove the spaces). Tutors in other subjects interested in having links to their website are also welcome to contact him.

Posted in Advice for teenagers, General academic advice, Students Working Smart | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Then they came for Peppa Pig

Peppa Pig

AP photo

By Josh Rogin
Columnist, The Washington Post

May 3, 2018

Most Americans have never heard of Peppa Pig, the cartoon star of a British television show for preschoolers, which Chinese censors started purging from Internet apps and Chinese social media over the past week. Americans may not be bothered that an animated pig was deemed subversive by China’s state media and a bad influence on China’s youth. But we should be.

That China would suppress Peppa at all shows the government’s insecurity about any cultural phenomenon it can’t control. But for foreigners, it may seem harmless. Last year, many reacted with bemusement when China began censoring Winnie the Pooh, partly out of concern he looks like Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Personally, I don’t see the resemblance.)

China’s internal Internet censorship regime is part of its greater effort to control the behavior of its citizens. Combined with blanket surveillance, intrusive monitoring and a new Orwellian social credit score system, the Chinese Communist Party links loyalty to success in all aspects of Chinese life. But aside from altruistic belief in universal human rights, why should Americans care?

Read more here.

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Website owner Steven Ooi, a First Class Honours grad from NUS, retired from a distinguished 14-year career as an English and GP tutor in 2016. He continues to blog on issues of concern to GP and student life.

To view tutors recommended by him, click here.

GP model essays here.

English or GP tutors keen to be listed on this website (consistently ranked top 10-15 on Google) as a Recommended Tutor, please email stevenooi18 @ yahoo.com (remove the spaces). Tutors in other subjects interested in having links to their website are also welcome to contact him.

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A difficult topic, but a moral responsibility for parents

Dear parents,

Many of us don’t talk to our kids about sex because we’re afraid that it will encourage them to experiment. Actually studies show the opposite – adolescents who are the best informed about sexuality are the most likely to postpone sex and avoid risky behaviour. So talk to your kids about sexuality and do not shy away from sharing your values. Explain your beliefs and your reasons for them, without forcing them onto your child (because we all know what happens when you try to force a teenager to take your point of view). Be an askable parent – someone whom your child can have a safe, non-judgemental, open conversation with about sex and sexuality.

Here are a few pictures from a wonderful book by Filipina college lecturer and development worker Pammy Godoy, who got pregnant at 17 and rose above her mistakes to raise awareness of sexuality education around the country. Please share this article with your teenage children.

Website owner Steven Ooi, a First Class Honours grad from NUS, retired from a distinguished 14-year career as an English and GP tutor in 2016. He continues to blog on issues of concern to GP and student life.

To view tutors recommended by him, click here.

GP model essays here.

English or GP tutors keen to be listed on this website (consistently ranked top 10-15 on Google) as a Recommended Tutor, please email stevenooi18 @ yahoo.com (remove the spaces). Tutors in other subjects interested in having links to their website are also welcome to contact him.

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H2 Economics vs General Paper: and why I’m taking the H2 Economics examination in 2018 — Mr Seah (dotcom!)

[W]hy do we study perfect markets, where firms are price takers? One reason is that they provide a useful approximation to the real world and give us many insights into how a market economy works. [. . .] Another is that perfect markets provide an ideal against which to compare the real world, since in […]

via H2 Economics vs General Paper: and why I’m taking the H2 Economics examination in 2018 — Mr Seah (dotcom!)

The above is a wonderful article by my friend and fellow GP tutor Kevin Seah. A must-read for all students taking both General Paper and H2 Economics in JC.

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Website owner Steven Ooi, a First Class Honours grad from NUS, retired from a distinguished 14-year career as an English and GP tutor in 2016. He continues to blog on issues of concern to GP and student life.

To view tutors recommended by him, click here.

GP model essays here.

English or GP tutors keen to be listed on this website (consistently ranked top 10 on Google) as a Recommended Tutor, please email stevenooi18 @ yahoo.com (remove the spaces). Tutors in other subjects interested in having links to their website are also welcome to contact him.

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