Thursday, September 6, 2007

World in the Balance

A counter in the Nova website tells us how many are born every second. It may just be a rough guide, but it does remind us that our population is growing. However, demograhpic disparities exist between countries, which may bring about global repercussio

Long ago, the life expectancy for a neanderthal male may be just over 20. Now people can be expected to live well over 60, a good yet bad thing i suppose. In the industrialized world- Japan, Europe and the United States, birthrates are dropping steeply while there seems to be more and more senior citizens. Pensions and decaying economic productivity can very well cripple a growing country. Yet little can be done to 'encourage' child birth, with the price of child rearing soaring and women seeking increasing marital independence in pursuit of a professional career.

In yet another demograhpic crisis would be Africa, where people are dying in the prime of their life, largely due to AIDS and sexually transmitted disease. How can a country fend for itself when all of its strongest members are either missing or not capable of working. Is the country expected to survive off the very young or the very old? Africa would be trapped in this vicious disease-ridden cycle of poverty for quite some time to come, and with no effective means to stop it, may stay that way.

China is now one of the fastest expanding economies in the world. As it strives for a higher standard of living for its people, this has taken its toll on the environment. Already the effects are felt as far as California in the states. However, China's relentless economic growth surges on.
If they were to reach the standard of living of a standard american citizen, we would virtually require 2 earths. Since one is all we have, we will try our best to make this one last.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

National Day Rally

Through the National Day Rally, the prime minister has brought forth many interesting issues that have to be addressed.

Through the rally, the Prime Minister states that Singapore aims to grant every child top grade education by putting great emphasis on the quality of schools, not just that top ones, but all the nightbourhood schools. Education is undoubtedly important in determining the future of Singapore. Having a society consisting of highly skilled and educated people would be the first step in realizing Singapore's future. I believe that this step is a realistic one, something like breaking a big task up into small steps and this would be one of the steps, small, but essential.

The Prime Minister also raised the issue of citizens possesing a third language. People here tend to neglect mother tongues due to the greater use of English and changes in living environment. Incentives have been given now to encourage people to take up a third language. This is very effective indeed giving extra point for JC admission if a third language is present. Students would find this a great incentives and take up a third language. When this becomes the norm, having a third language would not be an advantage, but rather the norm.

In an effort to push our education levels further, there are plans to build a fourth state-funded university. I believe this is an ambitious step, but would prove to be extremely essential step in realizing our dreams. Much still has to be done before this is possible but there must a start to everything.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Blog commentary

Referring to Jeremy Su's blog ( entitled "Giving Birth to Your Sister-Right or Wrong?", I would like to write a commentary.

The blog is regarding a controversial decision of a Canadian mother to donate her eggs to her daughter, who is suffering from Turner's syndrome, rendering her unable to develop eggs.

Jeremy believes that her decision to donate eggs has been unethical and believes that her decision has turned motherhood into merely conceiving and getting pregnant. To this point I may not agree. She has given her daughter a chance to give birth to a child and that alone is wonderful. It is true that giving birth to one does not make you an automatic mother, such is the case of surrogate mothers, but caring for the baby after birth as if the baby was fully yours, i believe, is one of the biggest parts of motherhood. Therefore, her actions of donating eggs does not confine motherhood to conceiving, but instead broadens its definition and does not confine the term 'mother' only to those who have a genetic child.

Another point raised by Jeremy is that the interestes of the child has not been taken fully under consideration as the child would possess reasonable messes up ties with other family members. This i would have to argree on. A child born of this method would acquire incorrect family ties. Such is this case as she and her "mother" have genetic makeup of that of a half-sister. Yet, there exist an age gap and she would grow up to know her genetic sister as 'mother'. This poses a problem when the child grows up to know her origins. The truth cannot be hidden from her throughout her lifetime.

However, I see many possibilities and benefits to this method. Just a Jeremy mentioned, this allows people cursed with such conditions to experience the miracle of childbirth and actually have a child to call your own. I believe that this method is a middle ground between having your own baby and adoption that has yet to be accepted by society as ethical and acceptable.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Virginia Tech shooting

On 16th April 2007, the world was shocked when the news of Virginia Tech massacre—the deadliest single-perpetrator mass shooting in modern US history came to their knowledge. It had killed 33 people, including the perpetrator himself, Seung-Hui Cho. He had a history of incidents at the school, including allegations of stalking, referrals to counseling, and a 2005 declaration of mental illness by a Virginia special justice. No doubt, this might be the key reason that caused the tragedy as reported by most of the mass media. However, this will not happened if he does not have weapons with him, which are the two guns he used to shot the students, professors and himself.

Although the sale of firearms to permanent residents in Virginia is legal as long as the buyer shows proof of residency, Cho should have been prohibited from buying a gun after a Virginia court declared him to be a danger to himself in 2005 and sent him for psychiatric treatment. A gun in the hands of an enraged or desperate individual could be a sure recipe of disaster or tragedy. In addition, Virginia Tech has a blanket ban on possession or storage of firearms on campus. However, this policy has been challenged, how can Cho brought in the guns and no one realizes it? All this can be prevented if the school has strong security enforcement. Besides, the accessibility of firearms in US should be re-examining to as the mass shooting reminded us once again how disturbingly common guns fatalities are in the US.

When the citizenship of the shooter became known, South Koreans expressed shock and a sense of public shame. South Korea’s ambassador to the US even asked the Koreans living in America to fast for repentance in apparent reference to fears of possible reprisal attacks against Koreans in US. A minister official expressed hope that the shooting would not stir up racial prejudice or confrontation. News reports noted that South Koreans seemed relieved that American news coverage of Cho focused not on his nationality but rather on his psychological problem.

Friday, August 17, 2007


I believe that poverty may never be eliminated.

Referring to Sarup, he believes that a country with an unfavourable geography, or culture, or economy or polity is severely handicapped to make sufficient technological advances that increase the wealth and living standards of its people. In his example, he states that a poor country may import technology from others as poor countries are incapable of developing their own tech. Yet, acquisition of tech costs a lot, far more than a poor country can afford. Thus, a country in poverty will be trapped in a vicious cycle where they can acquire neither of the required resources. This is particularly true in countries that have a handicap in the first place. They either have insufficient natural resources, or are unable to produce products of significant value for trade. There is no available way to generate a higher income per capita without having enough money to start with. Even with aid, it would be difficult for countries to push out of the cycle, and this is proven by the condition of the world as it is now.

Sachs believes that poverty can be removed completely if a step by step approach is taken, such as that of providing mosquito nets in an attempt to stop malaria.
In my opinion it is a worthy solution worth contemplating but poverty is far too wide spread to stop in such a short time. Not all countries face malaria as a problem and providing such aid may do little to alleviate their condition. Furthermore, he points out that few countries actually do as they promise in aiding poor countries, however little the amount. Poverty is something to be eradicated over period of time. Consistent aid must be given until a country breaks free from the cycle of poverty.

I believe that there will always be poverty just as there are smart and less intelligent people. It is somewhat important that there is a balance of the rich and poor. However, we should always try to help the poor when we can.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Capital punishment

After reading both articles and giving this issue some thought, i would have to be for the death penalty. Both authors gave some interesting points worth considering but Becker's arguments stood better.

Becker was on the dot regarding the point that arguments on this issue revolve around deterrence. He states that taking one's lives is considered very wrong, even if that person may be a murderer, however, if the action of killing may save more lives in return for one, then it can be justified. Through his examples, he has proven that the death penalty is considerably terrifying and serves well as a deterrent. More often than not, murder victim are socially more valuable than murderers and if killing one may deter few others from attempting murder, then that is the way to go. Through his article, i feel that capital punishment when matched with the severity of the crime and implemented properly, serves as an effective measure in deterring murder. The death penalty is something horrendous, but i see no reason in removing it as it is capable of stopping murder. I choose the lesser of two evils.

Cassese states in his article points for and against capital punishment but he himself believes that the death penalty goes againsts human rights. In his article, he mentions that even if death penalties were to be abolished, much action must be taken along with it. He believes that inhuman living condition along with poor treatment in prisons is no better than being sent to the gallows and these should be changed. Which brings me to my point; Imprisonment and capital punishment are supposed to be deter one from committing crime. If criminals are not to be subjected to the death penalty and what awaits them is a prison which fervently defends their rights, i myself see no deterrance to committing a crime. Criminals could commit crimes, and treat imprisonment as a small price to pay for being caught. One might even attempt crime right after release knowing that only imprisonment awaits them.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Embracing otherhood

It has came to light that Singapore is actually housing a good amount of foreigners, more than one out of four people you see here a foreigner. This condition will undoubtedly cause some challenges to arise.

One of them would be to actually let the people of singapore accept this. As the article pointed out, people here do not seem to see this matter in a good way. It may be the fact that a large intake of foreign talent will take up opportunities that may otherwise go to locals. This may be jobs, residential areas and even education. However we rarely look at the fact that foreign talent need not only encompass high end talent. Most blue collar workers are included in the term "foreign talent". If we are to stop their entry, who would be the ones to build us houses, clean the streets and toilets. Are the people here willing to clean a toilet after JC education.

Another challenge we may possibly face is a less than united society. Foreigners who come in usually take time to assimilate completely into the society. As a country, we must show a united front so as to not be exploited by others. How can we effectively call ourselves one when a quarter is missing. Both sides should understand each other well and be less-prejudiced. Then can the 'foreigners' be integrated into our society and called a Singaporean.

Much like Malaysia, when Singapore tries to bring in foreigners, the country itself becomes extrememly multi racial. In Malaysia, there have been racial riots caused by sensitive issues regarding race. Since then, laws have been erected to prohibit one from even touching on these topics. I believe that Singapore has less restrictions as racist jokes are still heard here. Even i myself only truly understood the true extent of "racist jokes" here in Singapore. These small things disturb the unity of a society and if possible should be avoided.