GP Essays on Singapore Society

Looking to prepare for a grade ‘A’ essay (Paper 1) answer on our Singapore society & context? Here are the top General Paper essay answers, graded 36 & higher, that will surely help you to secure that elusive distinction.


Q: How successful is your country in tackling significant issues facing her today?


Singapore has progressed remarkably from Third World to First World over a short span of 39 years since independence. Perhaps what has spearheaded the growth of this once thriving fishing village to the bustling, cosmopolitan city of today was the foresight of shrewd leaders such as Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Keng Swee and the unity of Singaporeans. Obviously, as Singapore enters the 21st century, she faces many political, economic and social issues, which have been successfully tackled to a certain extent, and needs to fully overcome them in order to remain as one of the tigers of South East Asia.


On the economic aspect, Singapore faces a dearth of babies, a trend common in developed countries. such as Japan and Italy. In fact, Singapore’s birth rate was at an all-time low in 2003 and hastened the government’s procreation policies. Babies are crucial for Singapore, as they are the future of our workforce and sustain Singapore’s population rate. With fewer babies born, Singapore faces an ageing population and a larger burden on current taxpayers to provide for the elder y’s increasing need for healthcare benefits and housing. Indeed, Singapore has tried to tackle this problem by her “Baby Bonus schemes, where couples who bear children receive. monetary incentives, extending maternity leave to a maximum of six months for civil servants and even a “Romancing Singapore” campaign to encourage couples to procreate: However, while the government’s initiatives are commendable, they have been unsuccessful, as couples attest to having children as a personal decision and lifelong commitment, where monetary aid is useful, albeit temporary. Indeed, the hectic pace of working life in Singapore has forced many couples to abandon plans for children. Perhaps the government is only curing the symptoms of the problem but not getting to the root of it, as shown by surveys which explain couples wish for a five-day working week and hence less stress, which may encourage them to have children. Perhaps, though, the government should stop using a one-size-fits-all panacea method but actively seek the views of couples.
(Economics issues in Singapore)


Another issue is globalisation, or specifically maintaining the Singapore edge, Currently, outsourcing of jobs to China and India, the outsourcing giants of manufacturing and services respectively, has caused many Multi-National Companies (MNCs) to relocate their bases from Singapore. Further, ports such as PTP in neighbouring Johor threaten the survival of Singapore’s PSA, which is a cornerstone of our economy. While the phenomenon has been condemned by US politicians, pond who blame outsourcing for major unemployment of both blue and white-collar workers, Singapore has tried a win win approach and encouraged her citizens to ride on China and growth and create our niche areas, India’s growth such as in biotechnology. Indeed, Singapore has devoted millions to building up One North, the life sciences hub, where major research and main development on developing cures for diseases, such as SARS which paralysed Singapore in 2003 and pushing the frontiers of science. Hence, the government has been very successful in acknowledging the issue, identifying key areas for Singapore’s future growth and taking immediate action on developing Singapore in other areas which are not threatened by outsourcing or such problems.
(Economics issues in Singapore)


On the political aspect, Singapore is revamping its image as a nanny state. The ban on chewing gum has been lifted (partially to allow nicotine chewing gum to cure addiction to smoking), bohemia is encouraged with certain towns like Holland Village being promoted as a hotbed for creativity and a speaker’s corner created in Hong Lim Park, modelled after Hyde Park in London. Even the new “Uniquely Singapore tourism campaign features bar top dancing (once banned in clubs) as the norm. While Singapore tries to create a less uptight international image, its efforts have been successful in the national media still only to a certain extent as these seem to be mere the international cosmetic changes since the inter criticizes Singapore as being a democratic socialist state since we have a lack of opposition in the government and pervasive government control in almost all aspects of citizens’ life. Maybe the peace and security we enjoy do come at a price and Singaporeans have not voiced outrage, even with the presence of Feedback Units to gather opinion on issues.
(Political issues in Singapore)


Moreover, in the social area of the education system, while Singapore shines in international competitions in Mathematics and the Sciences, the education system has been criticized as rigid, with much emphasis on rote-learning, stifling creativity and creating stress which has led to several teen suicide cases. Indeed, the Singapore government has implemented overwhelming changes recently to address the issue, such as giving more autonomy to local universities for student admissions such as taking into account leadership qualities and coming development, creating a school in the arts such as the Julliard School in New York and starting a sports school. Thus, Singapore has been successful to a small extent in tackling this problem which had caused the brain drain of many talented students who could not cope with the education system and went overseas. Hence, while the measures implemented now. recognize the diverse abilities of students, they may have been too late, since much criticism about the education system has been made in the daily newspapers and parliamentary debates, but taking action only now, while worthy of credit, has been at the expense of many students before who struggled and eventually gave up on the system.
(Social issues in Singapore)


Further, another social issue is finding the threads that bind Singapore or enhancing the Singaporean identity. PM Goh Chok Tong made his famous “stayers or quitters” speech a few years back, which highlighted the vast number of Singaporeans relinquishing their citizenship and choosing to live abroad permanently. The government has been successful to a small extent in curbing this ill trend by using didactic methods such as national education in schools, ministers encouraging Singaporeans to be nationalistic and holding a massive National Day Parade annually. Singapore was built on the shoulders of immigrants and we are still a young country, hence, nurturing the Singapore identity needs time and less pressure from the government. Nationalism comes naturally, but perhaps more in a crisis, such as the Americans united as one in the aftermath of September 11 and Singaporeans during the SARS crisis and the latest being the crisis of Covid-19. Thus, subtle messages by the government may be useful.
(Social issues in Singapore)


Overall, Singapore has been fairly successful in tackling significant issues facing her today. Much credit is due for Singapore is such a young country and yet has come so far. Still, Singapore has risen to challenges due to her government willing to bite the bullet and overcome each problem with the well being of citizens in mind.


GP Tuition Teacher’s comments: Good effort! I like your mature and well-informed assessment of the topic. 36 / 50


Q: To what extent has increasing material affluence affected life in your country?


The increasing material affluence in Singapore has affected the citizens’ lives to a great extent. Not only has it affected the prices of goods but the values of the people as well.


With more income to spend, the people now have a greater demand for luxury items such as handphones and fancy sports cars. In fact, goods which were once viewed as pricey are now considered ‘reasonable to the average individual. With increasing material affluence, the people’s view of what is expensive has changed.
(Economic issues in SG)


Now, Singaporeans are more knowledgeable about fine-dining, imported wines and so on. Gourmet restaurants have sprung up over the last few years in response to the people’s desire to indulge in expensive fare. Thus, increasing material wealth has created a veneer of sophistication in the country.


However, the increased spending of the people has caused the prices of goods to go up. Basic amenities such as water and electricity have increased in costs. Property prices have soared as well.


The values of the younger generation which was brought up during this period of economic boom differ from those of their predecessors. In the past, people went to school to receive education so that they could get a good job and live comfortably. Now, students would try to chase degree after degree, in order to ‘beat’ their fellow counterparts. Their acquisition of a degree is not fuelled by their thirst for knowledge. Rather, the degree is their ticket to material success. Even though this was not uncommon in the past, it has become the norm rather than the exception.
(Social issues in Singapore)


Increased material affluence has also changed the people’s activities in the country. Instead of spending the weekend at the seaside or cycling in the neighbourhood park, people now love to go shopping as they have the means to do so. This is evident in the nickname tourists. have bestowed on Singapore – The Shopper’s Paradise’. Indeed, spending money has become a national pastime.


As the increased material affluence increases the price of living in the country, people have to work doubly hard in order to maintain their standard of living. This, they do so most willingly, with plenty of executives working overtime, but often to their families’ disadvantage. With less time spent at home, parents often neglect their children in their effort to give them what they themselves perceive as the good life. The family unit begins to break up and traditional values such as ‘family togetherness’ have started to erode. The parents and their children lead totally different lives with little time for interaction with each other. This problem has become significant enough for the government to embark on a ‘family togetherness’ campaign in order to strengthen family ties.


Furthermore, with increased material affluence, there is a greater exposure to pornography, drugs and other harmful influences. Surfing the Net will reveal many sexually explicit pictures. All these negative influences have caused a significant number of people to commit crimes such as drug trafficking. Although the harm so far caused by these negative influences is slight (crime rates in Singapore have not increased much), the legitimate anxiety is not.


In conclusion, increasing material affluence has greatly affected our life to the extent of increasing the standard of living, changing social values and influencing our behaviour.


Q: Choose any period in the history of your country. Why does it appeal to you?


From 1819 to 1824, numerous major changes took place in Singapore, then known as Temasek. These changes helped transform a small Malay fishing village into a prosperous, thriving nation and hence this is the period in the history of my country that appeals to me most.


Raffles landed in Singapore on January 28, 1819. He was then in charge of finding a third trading port in the Malayan Archipelago for the British East India Company. Raffles found that with Singapore’s strategic geographical location and naturally deep, sheltered harbour, Singapore had great potential for becoming a renowned trading port. And it was the foresight of this great man that turned Singapore from a swampy island with few inhabitants to a focal point of trading and telecommunications. Raffles’ treaty with the Sultan Hussein Mohamad Shah of Johore and the Temenggong of the island proved to be the turning point of Singapore’s social and economic history.


It really seems a miracle how a backward island can undergo the same process as a caterpillar, to climb out of its cocoon transformed into a beautiful creature, resembling nothing like what it was before. This is what appeals to me. Before Raffles set foot on Singapore, there were only a few Orang Lauts living on the deserted is land. But after the treaty was signed, the population in Singapore rose rapidly, from a mere 5000 in 1821 to 11,000 by 1824. Meanwhile, Singapore’s port continued to thrive and businessmen and merchants from China, Europe and India came to set up businesses and trade. In 1821, the trading value of goods was ($8 million) which was very impressive for such a young trading port. This period shows us how Singapore went against the odds and grew into a prosperous country.


Another appealing factor of this period is the meticulous planning of Raffles for the settlement. It really seems amazing how he managed to gain control of the scattered population by setting up a proper plan for the settlement. In 1822, the whole population was living in houses scattered all over the island. Raffles knew that this could develop into a major problem if left unchecked and thus told the Town Committee that “the proper allotment of the native divisions of the town” was necessary. He set about building parallel roads which were lined with properly numbered houses. Different dialect groups were al located to different “kampongs”. For example, the Hokkiens, merchants and carpenters went to live at Amoy and Telok Ayer Streets while the Cantonese, tailors and goldsmiths, lived at Temple, Pagoda and Mosque Streets. This meticulous planning of Raffles helped our leaders to recognise the importance of planning and organising for the population and hence explains the orderly housing estates in Singapore now.


The final appealing factor of this period is the fact that this was the time when most of our ancestors from China, Thailand and India migrated to Singapore in search of better-paid jobs. They, being the pioneers of Singapore, worked and slogged all day for a better living. With out them, we would not be what we are today. Our ancestors encountered all sorts of hardships and built our nation from scratch. Every inch of our land is the fruit of their labour and much sweat and blood of theirs have been sacrificed for us. All these serve as a motivation for us that anything is possible and every goal is attainable as long as we are willing to work hard for it. Their hard work has given us a good head-start in growing to be a thriving nation.


All the above reasons explain why this period of his tory appeals to me. Singapore would probably have remained an unknown island if not for that fateful day when Raffles set foot here. It was destined that the Lion City was to be awakened on January 28, 1819.


Q: The world is fast becoming a global village. Assess the impact of this on Singapore.


The Singapore economy has been transformed by massive influxes of foreign investment capital. Multinationals have provided jobs on a very large scale. Singapore, using the technology that makes for a global village, has been able to set up a stock market and a monetary exchange (SIMEX). Such institutions provide opportunities for Singaporeans which can be lucrative.


The global village makes for stiff competition how ever. Many countries and regions now compete more intensively for investment dollars. Currently, therefore, there is an emphasis here on upgrading of infrastructure to ensure she competes for the HQs of the MNCs and the improvement of workers’ skills to head off possibilities of unemployment in the future. Such stiff competition can make people feel that the quality of life to be had in a material sense is eroded by the stresses and strains of such competition.
(Economic issues in S’pore)


One further economic impact of being part of the global village is that Singaporeans now look and go beyond the shores of Singapore. This is part of being competitive. Apart from the regional growth triangles, Singapore companies are investing heavily in Vietnam, China and even Russia. Some countries are even adopting Singapore’s style public housing and science parks. Thus increasingly, young executives will be expected to spend time abroad or risk being passed over for promotion. Perhaps one consequence of this is that several schools in Singapore now have boarding schools.
(Economic issues in S’pore)



Singaporeans now live their lives surrounded by international products, from air-flown Australian strawberries to Swiss watches to Japanese stereos. Singapore’s buildings and transport systems are designed around the world. Moreover, when Singaporeans travel abroad, as they do extensively because of the numerous flights avail able to numerous destinations, they feel at home, with such goods and services on offer there too.


It is clear that economically and materially Singapore has benefited greatly from being plugged into the global village. There is a fair degree of personal affluence balanced by national, social, welfare facilities like schools and public housing. However, some people would argue that materialism is not what should lie at the heart of a society and older people worry about young people’s “I want it all, and I want it now” attitude. They feel that traditional values are under threat, particularly thrift and respect for authority. The impact of this has been to try to address the question of values in schools and in the media.


Despite concerns about selfishness, the impact of the media has been such, that periodically Singaporeans reach out to the world in an altruistic way-e.g. sending aid to earthquake victims. On an institutional level the Singapore police have taken on peacekeeping duties in Namibia while the Singapore International Foundation sends concerned professionals on voluntary service stints to places like Nepal. Such efforts are laudable and enable Singapore to feel a certain pride in its role in the world, which goes beyond pride in economic achievement.


Like any other country plugged into the world, Singapore has increasingly sought to make its voice heard in the international community. Professor Tommy Koh, for example, was Chairman of the Rio UN Conference on the Environment. P.M. Goh, recently, did battle in the USA over Singapore’s political system. Being part of the global village increasingly means not only a greater role but a need to assert one’s position when one comes under scrutiny.


Singapore is a cosmopolitan society and increasing numbers of different racial groups are coming here to live and work and have fun. Tourist arrivals continue to go up and Singaporeans have benefited again in terms of jobs, but also in terms of using facilities developed to maintain tourist interest in Singapore e.g. the Night Safari. Increasingly too, foreign workers or rather, foreign talent are to be found living here. These are not just the expatriates but those who have been moved here, because they have desirable skills, with offers of P.R. status e.g. Indian computer analysts and Hong Kong media people. Thus the talent pool is expanded.
(Social issues in S’pore)


With increased affluence Singaporeans seek modern forms of entertainment. With improved air transport and communications, more international arts events are being seen here. At the same time this would appear to have galvanised local arts groups to be more professional, more ambitious and more competitive. As such the Arts scene is considerably more vibrant than it was when Singaporeans themselves saw their country as a “cultural desert”.


Finally, as part of the global village, Singapore is not immune from some of its uglier aspects. Amongst these are Internet porn, the influence of international drug rings and crime syndicates (e.g. South America thieving rings)


Comments by GP Essay Tutor:
SOUND APPROACH to this GP Essay:
1. Define global village – a world connected by modern telecommunications, a world considered as being interdependent, economically, socially, politically. The body of the essay should consider these 4 areas.

2. There should be an awareness of both the beneficial and the possible negative consequences, especially as Singapore is a growing nation, whose growth is all about being plugged into the global village, but a nation also king a national identity alongside an international one.

3. Modern technology has had a major affect on Singapore’s development. These include the jumbo jet, all forms of telecommunications like faxes and now Internet, T.V. is also ubiquitous. The ramifications are numerous.


Q: What are the merits and the demerits of the system of education which exists in your country?


Briefly talk about the education system in Singapore, examples: its importance, exam-oriented, closely tied to the economy, good intention of providing an all-round education.

(definition – worth or superior quality, excellence)


1. Highly organised and regulated with almost full government supervision of all aspects ie. Ministry of Education curriculum is set, standardised, as a result national standard and quality are maintained. fair as every student is assessed from the same exams systematic and orderly regular research carried out to check and improve the quality of the education received eg: 1980s Towards Excellence in Schools. government funding, therefore at least the bare minimum ensured, constantly seeking to provide better facilities in every aspect.


2. Meritocracy
Fair and just as based on exams; as a result you can. rise on your own ability, regardless of who your parents are, how much money you have, what race or religion you belong to – therefore, encourages industry.


3. Sufficiently diversified
To allow students of different abilities to learn at the appropriate pace eg: streaming helps to assign students to courses which take their abilities into account – secondary express, normal, gifted etc choice; could choose the course that they are inclined and more interested eg: science, arts also if you aren’t so academically inclined, you can choose to go to the vocational institute and learn practical, craft-based skills.


4. Choice of schools
Now a slightly greater degree of leeway in terms of choice of school for those seeking a certain ethos. (and can afford to pay, of course!) eg: Independent Schools, Government Autonomous Schools, Government Aided Schools, Government Schools: choice in terms of religion, language orientation.


5. Education recognised
Widely recognised as being of a high standard (but not the best in the world, as some students claimed), internationally accredited: on par with British and possibly somewhat more intensive on acquisition of skills than the US- examinations highly recognised (Singapore-Cambridge Exams Syndicate).


6. Accessibility
Under government supervision, education within reach of all fees heavily subsidised by government all the way to university. Many scholarships and bursaries available government makes sure that there are many schools. around Singapore, every satellite town, neighbourhood, within easy reach for almost all in terms of distance (that is if one is not choosy, of course)


7. All-round education in theory an intention, seeks to provide an all-round education eg: emphasis on compulsory ECAs and PE, personal development – pastoral care and career development.


(definition – faults, defects)

1. Very pressurised and stressful, education can be come a dread to some;  emphasis on excellence, importance of certificates, many tests and exams excessive competition, may lead to “kiasu” attitude , especially with the ranking of schools and colleges now robs children of childhood, freedom to explore; spend a lot time on studies in and out of schools, during and after school hours.


2. Too academic
Yes, in theory, seeks an all-round education but in practice, stresses almost exclusively on academic results and development and very little personal development (moral, physical, emotional independence etc).


3. Rather restricted, actually little leeway, greater need to conform and fit into mainstream, otherwise few alternative styles of education to the Ministry of Education system; few opportunities for artistic, musical, real craftsmanship types of work (though there are encouraging signs recently) even at varsities, severe restrictions and quotas.


4. Style of learning – results questionable because of style of learning, does it actually develop real meaningful learning, or merely rote learning, repetitive, regurgitative skills stifles creativity and innovation, individuality stamped out; encourages uniformity, conformity is regarded above all little sense of exploration and risk-taking seen.


5. Elitism
Meritocracy creates and perpetuates a sense of elitism, pride, arrogance ; those who succeed can often feel superior and patronising in attitude, and feel they can push the “ordinary folk” around sense of inferiority complex on the part of those who “don’t make it”.


6. Exams can be unfair
Unfair to test students on one exam students may be ill or not in the mood, can’t per form at their best besides, may not have learnt genuinely, but only acquired exam-skills.


7. Rise of “Kiasuism”
Excessive competition may lead to the rise of Kiasuism and negative traits like selfishness (refer to point I).


Conclusion: draw your own conclusion for this GP essay on the topic of Educational System in Singapore.


Comments from General Paper tuition teacher:
Strength of this General Paper essay answer:
Most of the students were able to come up with at least two points (unfortunately, points were usually superficially developed)

1. Extremely weak arguments which are not fully explained. No details and no logical development of ideas. eg. The idea of the exam-system; yes, it is a merit in many ways. Students are able to say so but many are unable to explain logically how that type of system serves people well, how it is a merit.
2. Massive generalizations (sweeping statements) and very simplistic views of issues.

3. Ridiculous and wild claims

Examples: education causes myopia; education trains us to cope with stress; education makes us realise what society is like so that we will be less of a “country-pumpkin”; education reduces rape cases; teachers don’t encourage students. to develop their other talents eg. music, except to force them to rote-learn.

4. Students tend not to see the education system as a whole but only a part of it and only dealt limitedly with this one and only one aspect. eg: School, Exam-system, curriculum.


Q: Choose a sport and account for its popularity in your country: Soccer


Soccer, or loosely known as football, a very popular sport in Singapore. Evidence can be found in the gate takings at the last Premier League and Malaysia Cup matches where each match raked in thousands of dollars. The National Stadium was also al most full for each match. People actually camped out side the National Stadium overnight so as to obtain tickets for the Malaysia Cup matches. For the “away” matches, many die-hard fans travelled all the way to Malaysia, fuelled by the desire to see the “Lions” win, shrugging away fatigue brought about by their jobs. These examples are evidence of the immense popularity of soccer in Singapore.


Many reasons account for soccer’s popularity in S’pore. The mass media have a great impact and are one of the reasons why soccer is so popular in Singapore. Singaporeans have long been bombarded by English soccer, Italian soccer and even German soccer. What they want now is local soccer, soccer which they can be a part of, to which they can give their hearts and loyalty. Media like the television and radio give this opportunity. While the television brings live or delayed telecasts of matches in SG or Malaysia, the radio brings live commentaries (tune to FM 91..3). This brings the people very close to the soccer team as they can watch them. play, actually feel their determination, echo their dejected cries of defeat or savour with them the sweet taste of victory. The people thus can always be behind the team, even if they cannot make it to the stadium. Also recently, the national soccer team clinched the Malaysian Cup as well as winning the Premier League Second Division. This brought about an increasing popularity for the sport as many people who once condemned the national team as being “born losers” are now also swept by the national soccer fever. The “everyone loves a winner syndrome” now that the national soccer team has clinched both titles, has made more people interested in soccer.


Another reason is the rise to stardom of the local players. Superstar millionaire Fandi Ahmad has undoubtedly brought many fans to this sport. He has become an idol for many aspiring young soccer players, who strive to be like him. The soccer team has also released albums which were snapped up by the public. This increased their fame and indirectly, the interest in the game. Commercialisation may also have been the key. T-shirts and caps sup porting the team have brought the people closer to the team and to the game.


The government has not been idle in promoting this sport. A few years back, the Goh Chok Tong scholarship saw Nazri Nasir off to Czechoslovakia to improve his soccer. Also much attention has been paid to schools, where talented soccer players are looked for and groomed. Sometimes some of the members of the national team visit schools and teach the budding soccer players a trick or two. This is very inspiring and encouraging to the young players. The attention that the government and the Singapore Football Association now give to football boosts its popularity as the FAS publish in the newspaper their plans for the future of soccer.


Sponsorship by many sports companies like Puma, Lotto and Adidas has helped local soccer. For the local league, sponsorship is necessary for the prize money without which the teams would lack motivation. Money is also needed to hire soccer players of high calibre. As the saying goes: “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.” Some foreign players of high standard have been hired.


The Premier league and the Malaysia Cup have been run smoothly due to the efficient administration of the departments concerned. Though a few cases of corruption have been found, the games nonetheless still appeal to the people, who believe the matches are on the whole clean.


With such an abundance of reasons, it is no wonder that soccer is one of the most popular sports in S’pore. Government attention has helped in nurturing young talents and the mass media have helped by bringing the people closer to the soccer scene. But also in a way, soccer has been part of Singapore for a long time so the interest in the sport has just been fanned by these attempts to popularise it.


Q: Would you plan the layout of your neighbourhood differently?

I reside in the west of Singapore, at Tanglin Halt Road in Commonwealth. My neighbourhood is situated in be tween Holland Village and Queenstown. Flats of 10 and 14 floors dominate my neighbourhood. They were built somewhere in the late 1970’s by the Housing Development Board (HDB). I would not, however, plan the lay out of this neighbourhood differently because of several factors.


One of the best things about the layout of my neighbourhood is that many amenities have been carefully planned and located conveniently for the residents of Tanglin Halt. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is conveniently located nearby and allows residents accessibility to town as well as other places. Many SBS bus services ply Queensway and Commonwealth Avenue, both roads practically surrounding the neighbourhood. Residents need only to walk five minutes to the bus stops. As many as 20 different bus services are available to us. The good and accessible roads also enable many taxis to ply my neighbourhood. Q: Obtaining a taxi is easy since they frequently pass through the area.


An essential feature included in the neighbourhood is the wet market. Housewives are able to obtain their groceries and poultry conveniently. The wet market is situated near the farther end of the neighbourhood so that its smell does not offend the residents. With the wet market and seven minimarts within the neighbourhood, we need not travel all the way to town for our necessities.


The Commonwealth Hawker Centre is situated in the centre of the neighbourhood with rows of shophouses surrounding it. Here we have a range of multi-racial food to tempt our taste buds and it is most convenient for a quick lunch. There are many types of stores located in the shophouses and they include the stationery shop, the bakery and provision shops. There are also the neighbourhood kindergarten and the Neighbourhood Police Post. Churches and temples can be found at the two ends of my neighbourhood. The Indians have their temple while the Christians have churches to practise their religion.


Schools are located in nearby areas. The residents have a choice of good neighbourhood schools without the fuss of travelling too far. The HDB has also provided a com munity centre and sports complex to provide recreation for the residents. Conveniently situated in nearby Queenstown are two cinemas and a bowling centre. The residents need not go too far for recreational activities, thanks to their availability nearby. The HDB has also made provision for a library in Queenstown to satiate those with an appetite for books and for those who need a quiet place to study.


The layout of my neighbourhood is well-thought out and planned by the HDB. Lots of attention was paid to the convenience of the residents with the location of the many amenities in the neighbourhood. There is accessibility to many parts of the island and my neighbourhood is by no means isolated from other parts of the country. The layout of the neighbourhood is such that it is attractive and surrounded by lush greenery. There is comfort and security living in my neighbourhood. The blocks of flats are very easy to locate because of their orderly positions and large lettering which indicates the block numbers. And throughout the neighbourhood, the residents can sit in small shaded areas for an evening chat.


Indeed, I would not plan the layout of my neighbour hood differently because I am happy living there as it is.


Q: How attractive is your country as a tourist destination?


Treat this essay as an exposition (a detailed explanation of an idea or a discussion of a problem). Do not merely describe, narrate or list without explaining.

Points to be included in the essay:
A) SINGAPORE – her attractiveness as a tour destination:

1. Strategic location – at the crossroads of international air routes. Convenient place for a stopover holiday “Gateway to Asia” and en-route to the Middle East and Europe.


2. Many tourists include SG in their itinerary – tour operators include a stopover holiday here at no extra costs – attractive packaged deal.


3. Reputation of our national carrier and international airport – SIA a popular airline for its safety, reliability. efficiency and comfort (voted No. 1 carrier by international business and travel agencies). Changi Airtropolis – high commended for its modern and excellent facilities and efficiency in handling visitors and baggage. New T3 and T4, and now The Jewel, even more beautiful.


4. Excellent infrastructure of the country – communications net-work, hotels, restaurants, shopping and entertainment facilities.


5. Friendly and courteous service from the local people making the visitor’s stay pleasant and memorable. Generally, cosmopolitan city, and we welcome foreigners, not xenophobic.


6. Singapore Tourist Promotion Board’s relentless efforts to maintain a high standard of the tourist industry – aggressive selling of the country abroad via advertisements, exhibitions and participation in international events such as the Pasadena Rose Parade to expose S’pore to the rest of the world;; and at home, upgrading the popular tourist spots and providing ample and useful information via brochures and maps.


7. The multi-racial character of the country with its unique blend of eastern cultures is appealing to tourists who come from the West and would like to experience a different lifestyle.


8. Language poses no problem to tourists as most Singaporeans are able to speak Mandarin and English, even Japanese.


9. Singapore’s reputation for its high standard of hygiene and general safety (not threatened by natural calamities like earthquakes and typhoons) makes her a preferred tourist destination. With Covid-19 (C19), she further strengths her reputation as a very safe place.


10. Favourable reports from tourists about Singapore to their relatives and friends when they return home after a stay here help to publicise Singapore as an ideal tourist destination. This is borne out by the STPB’s statistics – about 5 million visit Singapore yearly!


B) Limitations:
1. Because of her smallness in size, Singapore lacks the natural scenic landscapes of other countries such as New Zealand, Europe or the U.S.A.. Tourists find Singapore rather monotonous in terms of scenery as a large part of her is densely built up. If tourists want to see high rise buildings, they would rather go to Hong Kong or Tokyo, or New York or Chicago!


2. Even the so-called “Instant Asia” image is not genuine as Singapore is too modern and western. Chinatown, Little India and Geylang Serai have been mocked up to please the less discerning tourists. They are packaged to suit tourists’ tastes.


3. The government’s belated effort at conserving parts of old Singapore e.g. Chinatown, is unsuccessful. The buildings there have been renovated to such an extent that they are no longer authentic. Besides, shopkeepers who purport to sell tourist artefacts are only interested in “fleecing” the unsuspecting tourists and not trying to impart “culture” to them.


4. Shopping is not cheap, contrary to expectation, and there is always the danger of being short-changed by un scrupulous shopkeepers. The proliferation of “designer houses” to cater for the wealthy tourists has led to a situation where the budget-conscious tourists have limited places to obtain a good bargain. As a result, many would rather go to nearby destinations like Thailand and Malaysia where the rate of currency exchange is more at tractive and goods are relatively cheaper.


5. Singapore is facing stiff competition from her Asian counter-parts in the tourist industry. She will have to look for new angles to sell herself as an attractive tourist destination if she wants to remain popular among the tourists.



General Paper Tutor’s remarks:
Good response! Avoid merely provide a long list of tourist attractions in the country without explaining why they appeal to the tourists, they are unlikely to do well, no matter how good the description is.


Extra Comments by our Specialist on this essay for GP: 
1. Students are generally well informed about their country’s tourist attractions.

2. Better students were able to compare or bring in, relevantly, examples of other countries’ tourist attractions.

3. Some students could provide an excellent analysis of just how attractive their country is as a tourist destination, weighing both their strengths and limitations. (Un fortunately, these were the minority.)


1. Many students thought they could get by with paragraphs of description of our places of interest (the zoo, the bird park and Sentosa, of course); BUT, they did not explain why these would be so attractive.

2. Most of the students merely listed what made us attractive, but that is not answering the question.

3. Very few realized they had to discuss the limitations as well.

4. Many regurgitated points they memorized from class notes about tourism in Singapore in general and did not really know what was really attractive (or unattractive, for that matter) about the country. Therefore, a lot of elaboration and examples given were not useful to the question.

e.g. Many insisted that our multi-racial society was very attractive but could not elaborate beyond giving a lot of the types of racial groups existing in Singapore, their various festivals, and types of food, their traditional dress, and etc. They need to show WHY these would be so attractive.

5. The opening paragraph is often weak in that it is either written in the wrong style or is irrelevant to the rest of the essay. Introductions tend to be unduly lengthy be cause of descriptions of how Singapore was founded and why tourism was so important to the economic survival of the country.


Q: Consider the problems of ensuring adequate supplies of fresh water in your country.


Suggest GP Essay Answer:
1. Students can begin by acknowledging in the intro duction that Singapore does have a major problem in ensuring adequate supplies of fresh water for her people.


2. One problem that must be mentioned is her extremely small size and limited catchment areas. The problem has been that of finding a balance between allocating land for development and that for storing adequate sup plies of water. Half of the island has been designated water catchment areas. [Refer to the synopsis on the documentary “Finding a Balance”, especially Part II on Water.] 3. Singapore lacks naturally hilly areas for water catchment. The best area is the hilly central catchment with four reservoirs – MacRitchie, Upper Peirce, Lower Peirce, and Seletar.


4. Singapore’s rivers are also too small to provide us with sufficient water. We thus have to depend on reservoirs to collect and store water. Most of the reservoirs in the western part of the island are formed by damming the river mouths e.g. the Kranji and Tengeh Reservoirs.


5. The island’s internal water supplies come from rain water and water from the rivers. There are 13 service reservoirs and 18 raw water reservoirs. In a country of only about 640 square km, there is virtually no land left to build more reservoirs.


6. A big problem is that of pollution. The reservoir water has to be clean and unpolluted. Very few human activities such as farming and industry are thus allowed in the central catchment areas. Many precautions are also adopted to ensure that the numerous reservoirs in catchment areas which are populated or industrialised are not polluted. Strict laws are implemented and thick forest normally surrounds reservoirs, forming nature reserves. Dense vegetation also reduces the temperature and helps to prevent water loss due to evaporation.


7. It took a decade for the government to co-ordinate measures to clean the Kallang River and other waterways. Massive programmes were undertaken such as phasing out pig and duck farms, relocating hawker centres and the bum-boats, resettling squatters, and providing mod ern sanitation and more public housing. [Do refer to your synopsis on the documentary “River Reborn”.]


8. The increase in population and the growth of industry mean that water will increase in demand. The rain fall is monsoonal and insufficient, our rivers too small. We therefore depend a great deal on water supplies from Johor, Malaysia.


9. Dependence on an external supply means that we walk the tight rope of politics, that we are at the mercy of another’s good will. Fortunately, both Malaysia and Singapore understand the importance of long-term co-operation. The memorandum of understanding signed in 1988 by both countries, among other things, renewed the original water agreements of 1961 and 1962. [Refer to the newspaper extract “Details of Singapore’s water business to be made known to Malaysia”. It took four years to negotiate. The two water contracts will expire in 2011 and 2061 respectively. Details of the business of treating and selling water in Singapore had to be made known to Malaysia to allay deep-rooted suspicion that Singapore was reaping huge profits buying untreated water at 3 Malaysian cents per 1,000 gallons and selling treated water to households at S$2.40. Treated water is sold to Malaysia at 50 Malaysian cents per 1,000 gallons, cheaper than what it would cost for the country to process it. A new price formula would apply to additional water sold to Singapore beyond the limit of 250 million gallons per day.


10. Singapore cannot depend on a single external source of water as the demand increases. Johor’s water requirements have also increased. Dry spells are a problem for its people when Singaporeans share the water from its rivers. The Republic thus signed an umbrella pact with Indonesia in 1991 which allows Singapore to draw up to 1,000 million gallons of water a day from the Riau is lands. For a start, 60 million gallons a day would be piped to Singapore from Bintan island. Supply of water from other Riau islands would be covered by separate supplementary agreements. In January 1993, an agreement was signed to develop water resources in the Kampar River Basin in eastern Sumatra for sale to Singapore. This area is within the Riau Province and is about 45 km from Singapore.


11. What is evident is the great cost involved in the provision of water to the nation. The supply and treatment of water, the maintenance of the treatment plants, the very infrastructure itself, all require a lot of money to ensure adequate supplies of portable water for people.


12. This burden is alleviated by the use of industrial or non-portable water by industries. Some factories in Jurong Industrial Estate use such water. Other factories also use sea water, rain water and even recycled water.


13. To assist the S’pore government to ensure that water remains adequate for all, we must all learn to conserve this precious resource.


14. Desalination is a costly process which the SG government is not considering at the moment, given the present workable alternatives which enable it to provide its people with adequate supplies of fresh water.



Comment for this General Paper Essay Question (Paper 1)
Candidates understood the importance of adequate supplies of water and the need to conserve this precious resource.


1. Indeed, the essays tended to be merely essays on water as a precious resource, and what Singaporeans and the government can do to save water. Much of the con tent of the essays was environmental in nature.


2. Essays displayed very little knowledge of the actual problems of providing and ensuring adequate sup plies of fresh water in the candidates’ own country. A factual question like this requires evidence of some specific knowledge, not just skimpy general knowledge. A number of essays did not even mention the existence of reservoirs.


3. A few students wrote much, and one entirely, on the problems which SG faced in the past, without realising that problems still do exist today. While a sizeable number of students did not mention the water pacts between Singapore and Malaysia, two students wrote two to two and a half pages on the political situation alone.

4. Numerous students identified the laying of pipe lines as a problem, without realising that pipes have to be laid anyway, as part of the process of supplying water and that S’pore did not have a special problem in this respect.

5. Only a very few distinguished between drinking water and industrial water. Likewise, only a handful mentioned desalination as a possible solution to the shortage of water.

6. The question very often became one on “adequate supply of fresh water” and not at given, “adequate supplies of fresh water”.


As you can see, we have provided many local examples here for your preparation with respect to the Paper 1 (GP Essays) for Singapore context and society). Click here a list of S’pore context example for Application Question (AQ) in your Paper 2 (GP Comprehension).

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