GP Comprehension Paper – Government & Nationalism

General Paper Comprehension Sample Question Paper & Answers (Paper 2)

GP Comprehension Question Paper – Government & Nationalism


(Note that 15 marks out of 50 will be awarded for your language, namely, for the quality and accuracy of your use of English throughout this paper)

Note: When a question asks for an answer IN YOUR OWN WORDS AS FAR AS POSSIBLE (IYOWAFAP) and you select the appropriate material from the passage for your answer, you still must use your own words to express it. Little credit (out of the remaining 15 marks) can be given to answers, which only copy words or phrases from the passage.


Questions on Passage 1

1. (From paragraph 1) “By this definition Singapore is not a nation” (l.5). Explain in YOWAFAP, why Goh comes to this conclusion. [2]

He comes to this conclusion because

Singaporeans come from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

the majority of whose ancestors were immigrants to the island / were not indigenous to the region
OR Singapore’s borders were only recently re-drawn.

They do not possess linguistic homogeneity / They do not speak a unique “Singaporean” tongue / They use their own mother tongues.

They do not have a uniquely Singaporean traditions customs.

They do not have one identity that results from living through years of undergoing the same situations.


Lifted from GP Passage:
From lines 2 to 4
-A single people,

-traditionally fixed on a well-defined territory.

-preferably speaking a language all of its own,

-possessing a distinctive culture,

-and shaped to a common mould by many generations of shared historical experience



2. (From paragraph 3) “It will be forged only when we have gone through fire together” (lines 15-16). Explain, IYOWAFAP, what Goh means by this sentence. [2]

Goh suggests that a mutual reliance on/belief in each other (among Singaporeans) will only develop / be formed / fashioned / shaped / built, after they have shared in / collectively experienced / aided each other during trials and tribulations / through difficult periods.

-I forged
-gone through fire together (lines 15-16).


3. (From paragraph 3) Why does Goh clam that the younger generation’s bonds to Singapore are not as strong as the older generation’s? Answer IYOWAFAP. (2)

Older Singaporeans faced the challenge of those who opposed Singapore’s democratic principles.

They helped ensure Singapore’s survival as a sovereign state/nation/entity.

They have a natural sense of duty to the nation.

In contrast, younger Singaporeans have not had to face ethnic conflicts and dangers that originate from foreign outside sources
OR Their existence has been relatively carefree.


– “The older generation fought the communists together [From lines 17 to 18]

They have also fought for Singapore’s independence

– They also feel an instinctive moral obligation to serve the country [From line 20]


(On the other hand) From lines 21-22

“The younger generation have had no experience of racial riots and external threats OR Their lives have been plain sailing.”


4. (From paragraph 5)  According to Emerson, what qualities should a genuine community of people possess? [1]

They should have meaningful shared traditions experiences / a meaningful shared history / past and possess the same long-term aspirations and goals.


From the passage
From lines 37-39 “deeply significant elements of a common heritage … a common destiny for the future



5. (From paragraph 5) “We can create the Singapore tribe” (line 39).
Why do you think Goh uses the word “tribe” to express his hopes for Singapore’s future? Answer in your own words as far as possible. (2m)


The “tribe” is a basic social grouping that is not easily challenged / broken up by external influences
OR The word -tribe suggests a small yet closely-knit community of people who will fiercely defend their sovereignty and each other.

The use of this word by Goh conveys his hopes that Singaporeans will develop a strong sense of patriotism/ loyalty / belonging to the country.



Questions on Passage 2:

7. (From paragraph 5) ‘ … the ‘evil orientals’, the  ‘fanatical Muslims’, the inferior races of the colonies’ …” (l. 27-28) Why has Sardar placed these labels in inverted commas? (1)

The inverted commas suggest that Sardar aware that these we derogatory stereotypes. By using the inverted commas, he shows that he does not think that these labels hold true but that they reflect the prejudice of those who use them.



8. (From paragraph 6) Explain, IYOWAFAP, what Sartar means when he says “we can desire similarity, but not homogeneity” (line 43) (2)


He means that while, for the sake of harmony, we should strive to find common elements that cut the same across cultures / commonalities between individuals, we should not want everyone to be exactly the same.



9. (From paragraph 6) According to Sardar how can traditions and customs become harmful? Answer in your own words as far as possible. (2)

If society treat traditions and customs as absolute values that cannot be changed despite changing times,

they can be turned into means of control / tools to restrict freedom and rights of people.


-From lines 43-45 We can value traditions and customs but, if they do not adapt.
-they become instruments of oppression



H1 JC GP Passages – Article Sources for Government & Nationalism:

JC H1 GP Tuition (Syllabus Code: 8807)
Source of GP Texts:
Speech Adapted by Goh Chok Tong, 1999
Nothing left to belong to By Ziauddin Sardar, 2002


Q10. Vocabulary Question (5 marks)
From both passages

Word1 Mark 1/2 Mark
Assimilated (1.9)

absorbed into and become a part of a larger body group


No mark: absorbed


Slogans (1.15)

short, easily remembered phrases that are used in popularising ideas / catch-phrase



No mark: phrase


Imbue (1.37)
instil / infuse


No mark: insert


Transcend (2.42)

Rise above / move beyond


No mark: rise

Historic anchors (2.45)

Roots that are grounded / firmly fixed in / tradition / custom / the past


No mark: roots


Reminder: Do not try to give a string of answers. Credit is most often be awarded to the first word, and the rest are disregarded.


Q6. Summary Question (SQ) (8 marks)
Questions on Passage 2

According to Sardar, why is important to have an identity and what factors have contributed to the “identity crisis” throughout the world today? Using only material from paragraphs 1 to 3, write a summary in no more than 150 words ,not counting the opening words which are printed below . Use you own words as far as possible (8 marks)

It is important to have an identity because it…


Importance of having an identity


From Passage Re- Expressions

a fundamental Human urge (line 1)

identity supplies a reassuring sense of coherence in our increasingly frenetic (lines 1-2)

from a socio-cultural perspective, it is a label which gives us a clear idea of where we belong (line 2-3)

-permitting us not only to recognise ourselves as part of a wider community (line 4)

-but also appreciate differences in others. (lines 4-5)

On a purely pragmatic level, it functions as a passport which permits social integration (lines 5-6) and a toolkit to facilitate the smooth conduct of our daily affairs. (lines 6-7)

In a more profound sense, identity acts as a compass which not only directs us how to treat our fellow man (lines 7-8)

-but also provides orientation in a dizzying world devoid of moral absolutes (lines 8-9)

Finally, on a philosophical level, identity acts as a kind of depth gauge, helping us to plumb our inner selves to discover who we are (lines 9-11)

endowing our lives with purpose and meaning (line 11)


is a basic instinct that people possess

and provides order/ structure / unity in our hectic / busy lives

It affirms our roots / affiliations

making the individual aware of himself as part of a larger social group

and enabling him to recognise and understand cultural/social diversity / variety

More functionally, identity allows us to fit into society / coexist harmoniously with others

and helps us to live our ordinary lives effectively without problems / disturbance 7 difficulty

On a deeper level, identity prescribes / recommends right correct / decent conduct/ behaviour towards others,

guiding / navigating individuals by giving spiritual and ethical direction in a confusing world of relative/subjective values

It gives a sense of one’s being and self knowledge / encourages self-realisation

giving us goals and making our lives significant enriches our existence


Each point is worth half a mark. So any 8 points to obtain a maximum of 4 marks.



Factors that have contributed to the “identity crisis”

From GP Text

Factor 1: Globalization (state this factor in their answers)

(The) things that provided us with a sense of confidence in ourselves are being challenged (lines 12-15)

(These include) nation states (line 13)
with distinct populations (line 13)

well-established local communities (line 14)
an allegiance to history and tradition (line 14)

All labels become ambiguous (line 15)
and contentious. (line 15)


Factor 2: Medical and biotechnological advance (state this factor in their answers)

-to be a ‘mother in a world where in vitro fertilization is becoming common? (lines 21)

20. Or ‘old’, when you have rebuilt your 65-year-old body through plastic surgery and look like a young starlet (lines 23-24)


Factor 3: Liberalisation of social norms (state this factor in their answers)

Or when surrogate motherhood is increasingly acceptable? (line 22)

What does it mean to be a wife in a homosexual marriage? (lines 22-23)


Generally the elements that once gave a strong sense of belief in the self granted us self assurance have now come under attack/ been questioned/ interrogated.

These include sovereign independent countries with identifiably / characteristically different peoples / inhabitants

groups of people which have lived in the same place for many generations (with deep roots)
and a faith in / loyalty to the events, practices and beliefs of the past.

Categories and definitions are unclear / equivocal / subject to different interpretation and controversial/ disputable in nature


F2: Advances in artificial/ assisted reproduction techniques

F2; The significance of ability to assess one’s age is also now problematic as medical procedures can repair and preserve the body.


F3: and the willingness to have someone else bear one’s children have redefined parenthood

F3: The acceptance of same-sex unions questions traditional spousal roles

Each point is worth half a mark. So any 8 points to obtain a maximum of 4 marks. Hence 4 marks each for the ‘why” and for the “what’.


Note: Do state the number of words used.



Q11 Application Question

Questions on Passage 1 and Passage 2

Goh and Sardar response different to the challenges of creating a strong and stable sense of identity in today’s rapidly changing world.
Which position would you prefer the movement of Singapore to adopt? Justify your choice, illustrating your arguments by reference to relevant material from each passage well as your own knowledge and experience . [8]


Outline Answer to GP AQ:
Begin by showing a clear appreciation of both arguments and the writers’ different positions.

Goh adopts a more conventional, chauvinistic / nationalistic / propagandist approach to the task of “building a nation” (note the metaphor), regarding it as a process of forging bonds to create a “Singapore tribe” and united “family” (again, note the connotations of these metaphors)

Sardar sees the issue as more problematic / complex, requiring individual discernment / discrimination and relying on a humanist (as opposed to nationalist) ethos to appreciate differences as well as share common values.


Stand: In support of Goh’s approach

a) Some problems with Sardar’s approach:

Sardar adopts a liberal humanist Western model which emphasises individuality and celebrates difference, whereas Goh employs a more “Asian” collectivist/community before self approach which is more suited to the Singapore culture and context.

Sardar’s notions are too idealistic and difficult to implement with actual polices.

His implied criticisms of nationalism / tradition / heritage and their rigidity are unwarranted.

Observing tradition and loving one’s country do not mean rejecting change.

Although he admittedly (somewhat begrudgingly) acknowledges the value of historic anchors. his insistence on their critical assessment and his clarion call for change and emphasis on difference could very well result in throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.


Arguably the fact that the world is changing so fast actually reinforces the need for country’s to try and preserve a sense of national identity and unity. Their historic anchors may be the only thing that stops them being swept away by the increasingly strong currents of global change


b) Suitability of Goh’s ideas.

Singapore is a new nation which needs to forge bonds before it can appreciate and celebrate differences (a luxury it cannot yet afford).

Goh’s approach is a pragmatic one as unity needed to defend against external threats (eg. terrorism, economic competition). This may require a degree of blind loyalty and strong patriotism that Sardar’s prescription would actually dilute.

He recognises the obstacles / acknowledges mitigating factors of linguistic / cultural / racial diversity / lack of historical / political / territorial maturity / globalisation. Hence, there is the need to import foreign talent / be open to cosmopolitan trends / tackle the issue of apathetic / coddled youth etc.



Stand: In support of Sardar’s approach

a) Some problems with Goh’s vision

Goh’s chauvinism / tribalism is unrealistic / unworkable in modern, globalised, pluralistic world (considering issues of mobile talent, global citizens, immigration)

His approach is schizophrenic / contradictory. He wants a Singapore tribe of thorough-bred Singaporeans but also foreign talent and a cosmopolitan atmosphere – a case of wanting the best of two essentially conflicting worlds

His approach is oppressive and could be potentially harmful (could lead to xenophobia / jingoism). As noted in the point about integrating newcomers into the Singapore society they are assimilated into the community of thorough-bred Singaporeans.

His narrow and constricting “vision for Singapore is akin to Sardar’s analogy to fanatical and territorial football supporters. His choice of words (common heritage, common destiny) is based on rhetoric to stir patriotism.

His definition / conceptualisation of the notion of “identity is limited / narrow and it fails to allow for individual needs and growth.

His approach can be seen as unrealistic / romantic / nostalgic, clinging to imaginary / delusional notions of “heritage” and “tradition” It might alienate youth who find such a vision parochial and oppressive as well as at odds with talk about being a progressive society.


b) Suitability of Sardar’s views.

Sardar recognises inexorability of changing trends and impossibly of clinging on to old rationalistic mindsets.

It is crucial for Singapore logo global and become cosmopolitan both for economic survival and political progress.

He offers a more profound and perceptive definition of identity which rejects tribalism as:not only outmoded but also oppressive obstructive and potentially harmful.  Identity no longer a fixed notion based on historical roots baggage but a concept that is in flux as it responds to key agents of change (eg globalisation, cultural plurality, technology, etc.)


Our tutors will share the actual Exam Marking Criteria for Paper 2’s AQ, during the GP lessons.

Students are to specify the position which they prefer the government of Singapore to adopt with regard to creating a sense of identity They have to support their choice by referring to relevant arguments from both passages as well as presenting their own ideas and insights about Singapore and today’s world

Students are to clarify the reasons for their stand as well as provide their interpretations of the authors points when referring to the two passages Apt examples and references to Singapore are also to be included in their explication

Students are to analyse and examine the points by both authors for strengths and weaknesses in their arguments as well as provide counter-arguments where relevant • They also need to consider the points in the context of today’s changing world

Paragraphing and the use of connectors are critical to signal the direction of the student’s argument as well as transitions between points.



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