Keeping Singapore’s economy dynamic despite nation’s demographic challenges

Sg foreign workforce

This TODAY file photo highlights Singapore’s tremendous dependence on foreign manpower

Some have advocated for zero net immigration and no increase in share of foreign workers in the workforce, while others argue that it is necessary to expand the labour force here to sustain economic growth. Yet, Singapore can achieve only two out of these three objectives and must make balanced choices in addressing this demographic trilemma, said managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore Ravi Menon. Speaking at the IPS Singapore Perspectives forum on Monday (Jan 22), Mr Menon added that Singapore’s demography alone does not dictate its destiny, as he spelt out how the nation can sustain its economic dynamism in the face of demographic change. Below is an edited excerpt of Mr Menon’s speech.

I will focus my presentation on the economic implications of demographic change: what it means for economic growth and economic dynamism. The two are different.

My presentation will centre around two broad themes.

First, I will describe our demographic trilemma – the constraints and the choices we need to make.

Second, I would like to argue that demographics is not destiny – why economic dynamism is not a numbers game and how we can remain dynamic amidst this demographic challenge.

Let’s start with the total fertility rate, or TFR.

By the way, we must be one of the few countries in the world where most people know what TFR stands for! It is indeed an existential issue for us.

The TFR is the starting point of all demographic analysis. Singapore has had a sustained decline in its TFR. Our TFR fell from around 1.8 in the 1980s (which is already below the replacement level of 2.1) to about 1.3 in the early 2000s. This has weighed heavily on resident population growth as seen from the relatively close correlation with the TFR.

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 an English and GP 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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Taking the Misery Out of Revision: the RAYL method

Keep Calm and Start Revising

So this is another technique discussed in Dr Richard Palmer’s splendid book, Studying for Success. He calls it Review As You Learn (RAYL) and promises that it will take the misery out of revision. I will try to explain the technique as concisely as possible; if you want a fuller account and more priceless tips, get the book!

Essentially, says Dr Palmer, most students look dreadful at the exam hall – “pasty and drained, with bloodshot eyes and trembling hands” – and why? Because they’ve had to cram a year’s work or more into two months. The problem is a lack of long-term memory (LTM) of what you have learned in school. When exams draw near, you dig up your old materials and find that you have to do much more than just revise (the re-perusal of familiar material) – you need to learn from scratch because a lot of the stuff is no longer familiar to you.

RAYL3

So the secret is to Review As You Learn, “an immensely important principle” according to Dr Palmer. A key premise of this is:

The likelihood of remembering something is in direct proportion to the number of times it is used or studied.

This is why you probably find it quite easy to remember your ID number, your phone number or the lyrics to an overplayed song. Thus, the key to transferring content from short-term to long-term memory is repetition: a constant and regular review of past work. Figure 3.4 shows a suggested series of intervals at which to revisit past material. By your sixth return to the content, it should be firmly lodged in your LTM.

RAYL1

Dr Palmer stresses that this should not take much time: as little as ten minutes a day. Provided you concentrate properly for those ten minutes, such review can be done at the end of an evening’s work or at any fallow time.

It is exemplary time management. Invest these little bits of time on a consistent basis, and when it’s time to revise for exams again you will find it so much more comfortable. All or most of the material will look familiar to you, and you can quickly recap and reinforce. Moreover, you would have had months for it to ferment and synthesize in your mind. Chances are your understanding and appreciation of the material would have grown, and you would have developed deeper insight into it.

Happy Revision!

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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 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 sample 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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Artificial Intelligence Still Isn’t a Game Changer

Man vs machine

By Leonid Bershidsky
Bloomberg, 4 Dec 2017

Not much time passes these days between so-called major advancements in artificial intelligence. Yet researchers are not much closer than they were decades ago to the big goal: actually replicating human intelligence. That’s the most surprising revelation by a team of eminent scholars who just released the first in what is meant to be a series of annual reports on the state of AI.

The report is a great opportunity to finally recognize that the current methods we now know as AI and deep learning do not qualify as “intelligent.” They are based on the “brute force” of computers and limited by the quantity and quality of available training data. Many experts agree.

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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Overcoming laziness (or how to get your butt off that sofa)

Lazy

I’m writing this to address the oldest of all problems for students: laziness. You know, “today I don’t feel like doing anything”?

What do all forms of work – writing an essay, tidying your room or bathing your dog – have in common?

The hardest part is getting started.

It’s a form of Newton’s First Law of Motion. Part of it states that every object will remain at rest unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. This is also known as inertia (layman explanation: when your butt is on the sofa, it’s very difficult to get it off. And if I may add Steven Ooi’s Law: the longer your butt is there, the harder it is to get it off.)

But once you do get your butt off and get started on your work, you find that it’s not so difficult, sometimes even pleasant, to continue. That’s the other part of Newton’s First Law at work: every object will remain in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force.

Thus a very simple solution to laziness is this: push yourself harder to get started. And the rest is not so difficult.

Need additional motivation? Give yourself a reward for work done. If you work for half an hour, you get to have your favourite drink. If you work for two hours, you get to watch a TV show or Youtube videos. And if you manage to plow through four hours of work (do take breaks along the way), then you get to go out. Our brains are wired in a way that’s not so different from monkeys or dogs – we are responsive to reward. But don’t give yourself those rewards or play before you work. That is a surefire way to reinforce laziness.

Finally, if you don’t like a certain kind of work (or a certain subject), learn to look at it from another angle. Sometimes a teacher makes you feel that a subject is so boring, but if you look at it in a different way (say, linking physics to your favourite sport like soccer: the force or trajectory of a shot), then it might actually take on a new life.

Sound basic principles in life are the foundation for doing well.

The above is largely adapted from Dr Richard Palmer’s outstanding book, Studying for Success.

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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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Marbles, Mayhem and my Typewriter: the memoirs of Mano Sabnani

The cover of 'Marbles, Mayhem and My Typewriter' by Mano Sabnani

Former Business Times/TODAY editor, senior banker and legendary activist investor Mano Sabnani has published his memoirs. This wonderful and heartwarming book by my good friend holds rich narratives from Singapore’s early days and reminds us all what Singapore is really about. It offers many precious insights, not least of which is how even an ordinary person can find success and fulfilment by following a very simple, ethical set of principles. Mano belongs to that rare breed of human beings who speak so simply and yet hold such depth of wisdom. All of us, young and not so young, can benefit from hearing his story and his thoughts.

You can order this book direct from the author. Singapore-based buyers can just click here. Payment by Paypal or credit/debit card. Buyers outside Singapore, please click here. You will need to pay a little more for shipping.

(Disclosure: I rendered some assistance to Mano in the production of the book, but did not receive any remuneration for it. I will also receive no remuneration from the sales of the book.)

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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 an English and General Paper 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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Take breaks while you study

Memory

Dear students,

As you head towards those stressful final exams, you might feel compelled to lock yourself in your bedroom from 8 am to 10 pm and stare at your textbooks for 4 hours at a time.

That is not only a really torturous thing to do, but incredibly inefficient as well. Neurologists have found that our ability to concentrate and absorb information well continuously lasts only about half an hour on average (this research was mentioned by Dr Richard Palmer in his excellent book, Studying for Success). After half an hour, our ability to absorb falls precipitously and after an hour, most of us are essentially zombies pretending to study.

Zombie

Thus the intelligent thing to do is to take a 5 to 15 minute break every half an hour or so. This will refresh your brain and reset your receptiveness to information, and when you restart, you will perform at a high level again.

So what should you do during that 5 to 15 minute break? Well, anything that helps you to recuperate and revive, from taking a walk to dancing to sipping your favourite drink. But I don’t recommend staring at your phone or even worse, lying down (that break is likely to last a lot longer than 15 minutes!).

Other research has also found that sitting for long periods increases your risk of an early death. Thus the approach of taking breaks and getting up while studying is crucial for your good health, too!

Of course, different students perform differently when studying. You might also find that your concentration lasts longer when you’re revising your favourite subject. Thus for myself, I have no fixed intervals whenever I study or read. Whenever I find my performance fading away, I take a break.

All the best for your exams!

Steven Ooi

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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.

General Paper sample 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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The hoarder’s anguish and inability to discard things

28oct_opinion_art

You might ask yourself, why read an article like this for General Paper? It’s not on one of the so-called “hot topics” like globalisation, ageing population, cloning and so on. But the world is limitless and so is GP. For all you know, the next comprehension paper could be on the subject of mental health. And wouldn’t the local information on the Hoarding Taskforce (with the IMH, HDB and so on) in Singapore be useful?

As I’ve said many times before, GP is not a ‘studying’ subject. It’s a reading, thinking, talking (discussion), writing subject. So read, think, talk, write. Widely. And enjoy the journey.

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Chong Siow Ann

The Straits Times
PUBLISHED OCT 28, 2017, 5:00 AM SGT

Hoarding is a condition that is difficult to treat, and the authorities often have no right to intervene, even if angry neighbours complain, since a man’s home is his castle.

Many Americans would know about the Collyer brothers whose fatally intertwined lives have been a cautionary tale for children who don’t clean up their rooms and adults who let themselves slide into an undisciplined and unbridled accumulation of possessions.

Homer and Langley Collyer were the scions of a distinguished family (their father was a respected if eccentric gynaecologist who canoed to work from Harlem to Bellevue Hospital). The two brothers lived in a four-storey brownstone in Manhattan, in the first half of the 20th century. Homer had a law degree from Columbia University and Langley studied engineering. Both worked for a while, and quite inexplicably stopped working one day and withdrew into their mansion. The massive house fell into disrepair: broken windows were not replaced, the front stoop with its balustrades collapsed, and rubbish piled high in the basement entrance. Rumours of money stashed in the decaying mansion led to numerous break-ins.

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 a GP and English tutor in 2016. He continues to blog on issues of concern to GP.

To view tutors recommended by him, click here.

General Paper sample 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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