GP Samples Essays – Social Issues

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Q1: Discuss the moral issues raised by euthanasia.


Euthanasia means mercy killing, terminating the life of a terminally ill patient who is suffering great pain and distress, Euthanasia is not a new issue; in the olden days, it was carried out in different parts of the world. One ex ample is found in the Eskimos whose aged go out into the icy cold weather or allowed themselves to be carried out so that they could freeze to death. However, nowadays, euthanasia has become a major medical ethical problem as it contradicts most religion teachings.

Euthanasia can be divided into two types, active and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia is said to be carried out when a lethal chemical is injected into the victim’s body and a passive one is one which involves the withdrawal and withholding of the treatment administered to the patients. It can be further classified into voluntary, involuntary and nonvoluntary euthanasia. It is voluntary when the patient chooses to end his own life and involuntary when the patient is not asked for permission by the person who ends his life and non-voluntary euthanasia is carried out when the patient does not give consent because he is not physically fit enough to do so.

Some people argue that euthanasia is a painless and merciful way of ending the life of a person who is suffering excruciating pain. Others think that life is a sacred gift and thus no one has the right to wilfully end it. It caught the world’s attention when in 1992, Dr. Jack Kervokian invented a suicide machine and helped a number of his patients to commit suicide. He was facing first degree murder when two women died using his ma chine. Is it right for him to aid euthanasia?

Modern scientific advances have made it possible for brain-dead patients to be kept alive on respirators. Some people think that for surgeons to prolong life beyond the point of death is “playing God”, as these patients would have surely died if this had happened in the past. Thus, the inventions of these life-supporting systems raise questions on the right to live and die. Euthanasia then occurs when family members of patients ask for the machines to be turned off when there is no hope for the person to re cover.

There are several major arguments against euthanasia, one of which is of course the contradictions with most religion teachings. Religions believe that the death of a man lies in the hands of God and ending another person’s life is defying the divine will. Also, euthanasia might also cause possibility in the abuse of medical rights by doctors and nurses. For example in Vienna some time ago, four nurses were charged for murder when they injected deadly chemicals into their patients whom they think would never recover and were better dead than allowed to suffer. Apart from medical rights, there is also possibility of selfish family members who have ulterior motives to inherit the patient’s wealth. It is also a gross in justice to victims who could not express their wish as a result of severe paralysis and who might still want to live Medical science is advancing so fast nowadays that in curable patients could become curable patients tomorrow Hence, all patients should have the right to continue living until that tomorrow comes when they could be cured. The acceptance of euthanasia as a legal process would mean loss of hope in medical science and scientists might not be so enthusiastic in searching for new treatments. Finally, the possibility of a wrong diagnosis by doctors must also be considered.

As there are arguments against euthanasia, there are also arguments for euthanasia. People who support it feel that it is better to end the life of a person who is suffering great pain and has no hope of recovering. It is inhumane and cruel to prolong their lives on life supporting ma chines without which they would die. Also, the family of the patient would also be suffering grief seeing their be loved ones in such a condition. These supporters think y of that the quality life is definitely more important than mere physical existence. A person with a severely de formed body and damaged mind will not be able to lead a normal and meaningful life. Patients lose self-esteem when they are completely dependent on their family to perform basic bodily functions. They would rather die in dignity than to continue living under such conditions. One good example is a German girl named Ingrid Frank who was paralysed from the neck onwards. She committed suicide in front of a video camera. She was totally de pendent on her family and friends after an automobile accident. She felt depressed as a totally helpless without personal dignity person and finally decided to take a lethal dose of cyanide in front of a video camera as an ap peal to the West Germany Government to revise its anti euthanasia law.

Another point which supports euthanasia is the financial burden on the family of the patient. Euthanasia should be carried out when the financial burden is too much for the patient’s family to bear. This must be performed only when the condition of the patient is confirmed to be doomed and there is no hope for recovery.

Doctors are also facing dilemma on euthanasia issues This centres around the Hippocratic oath they take at the outset of their career. The oath states that medical practitioners should devote their life to preserving life and relieving pain. When doctors keep patients alive on respirators, they are contradicting the oath as the patients suffer pain. However, if they do not do anything to the patient, they are not preserving life. Different doctors approach the problem in different ways until they find an agreeable answer to this dilemma. Euthanasia can only be carried out on patients who are in coma or have be come a ‘vegetable’ being supported by life-supporting machines. Turning off the machines just means that the doctors step aside and let nature takes its own course.

There exist contradictions in life. When a person kills his enemy in war, it is an honourable thing. It is, however, despicable to murder and commit suicide. It is there fore not right to treat a mercy killer prompted by true pity and compassion like any other murderers. The difficulty in finding a solution in euthanasia shows a lack of consistency in our values systems. It is, therefore, necessary for us to develop some insight so as to be able to judge the problem in its proper perspective.


Q2:”We live in an increasingly violent world.” Do you agree?


Some historians of this century claim that the present century we live in is incredibly violent with two world wars and the arms race in the Cold War period. In the post-Cold War era of today, some people think that global violence has decreased and with the United Nations playing a more important role today, peace is more than ever ready to be secured. I do not agree completely with this idea as more conflicts are breaking out whether internal or between states. Furthermore, it is not just global conflicts that we have to think of today but the increasing crime rate that has rendered the world more violent.

Global strife has increased tremendously since the fall of the Soviet empire in 1991. This can probably be attributed to the fact that the nation states once under the domination of the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, are now free to conduct their own affairs. Unfortunately due to greed or fear or the desire of ethnic or religious groups for greater power and territories, civil wars have broken out, causing the deaths of thousands. One example is Rwanda where two tribes, the Hutu and Tutsis, massacred each other to the extent that it is estimated that half a million Tutsis died during this civil strife. What about Bosnia which has experienced murder, rape and pillage for nearly two years with no sign of improvement? This is not to say that during the Cold War we lived in a period of peace and stability. There was the Vietnam War (1964-1975) which claimed about 58,000 deaths of American troops and tens of thousands of deaths of civilians in South Vietnam. However, be yond this, there was a period of uneasy peace during the 1970’s and 1980’s with minor outbreaks like the invasion of Grenada in 1983 which involved few casualties. Thus, in comparison, the uncontrolled and ongoing strife in the world today can be said to be an indication of increasing violence.
(Alternate examples are East Timor aka Timor Leste, Aceh & Afghanistan, etc)

In addition, the world we live in today is potentially violent. North Korea’s refusal to allow its nuclear power plant to be checked is one example. Not only does South Korea have much to fear but so does the rest of the world who, with bated breath, wonder if the instability of Kim Jong II and his regime may lead to the annihilation of the world. In addition, while much attention is focused on North Korea, there are also other countries like China and India with large stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Some countries like Pakistan and Iraq may be slowly amassing them too. With the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the potential for increasing violence and instability will remain.

Aside from global conflicts, we are also experiencing a surge in crime rates worldwide. America is now grappling with problems of increasing teenage crime rates and murders. President Clinton unsuccessfully tried to pass a new Crime Bill in Washington in response. Another problem is the emergence of criminal societies in various countries, like the Red Mafia in Russia and Yakuza in Japan. These societies have increased in size recently probably due to the present economic difficulties in these countries which have made many see crime as a more profitable occupation. Thus these countries are now facing problems of increasing violence committed by such societies like armed robbery, smuggling, murder and the kidnapping of girls for vice.

Unfortunately, criminals today are not just slimy and sleazy gangs but young children as well. An example of this is the kidnapping and murder of James Bulger in 1992 by an 11-year-old and a 12-year-old. The increasing violence in societies could therefore be caused by a rise in the juvenile crime rate which has never previously been so high.

In addition, there is an increasing xenophobia in the world today that was not so prevalent before. An example is the violent clashes between the Neo-Nazi “skinheads” and the various ethnic groups living in Germany. Even in Australia there is increasing violence by white Australians against the Chinese and Japanese. Yet in the 1970’s and 1980’s such violence was practically unheard of. Again, the signs of the times show that we are living in an increasingly violent world.

To conclude, I agree to a large extent that the world today is becoming increasingly violent and there is potential for even more violence to come. Therefore, it is necessary for countries to cooperate to combat the in creasing crime rate and ethnic strife, not only internally but externally as well. We should certainly not be complacent that the “New World Order” heralds peace globally, for the violence may erupt from within as well.


Comment by GP tutor: Strong examples. can include domestic violence too.


Q3: “Punishment should fit the crime.” Discuss.

“Teen Vandal Receives Six Strokes.” The bold head lines of our pro-government Straits Times bellowed out to law-abiding Singapore citizens. “Psychological scar remains forever,” roared a fuming American daily. The focus of such hysterical media debates was none other than Michael Fay, the American teenager who obtained instant notoriety for his errant acts of vandalism in Singapore but received intense support from the media back home. “Inhumane.” “He deserved it.” “If he was my son, I would’ve killed him.” “Communist regimented tactics.” Conflicting opinions were tossed about, debating the appropriateness of his sentence. When the sentence was reduced to four strokes, another fiery storm of criticisms and support poured forth.
(Can bring in David James Roach, who robbed a bank in 2016)

The overwhelming fuss and hysteria over this incident boiled down to questions such as these was the punishment suitable to the crime committed? When a person commits a crime, how should he be punished? To what extent? When is it too lenient and when is it too harsh?

Yes, I feel that punishment should fit the crime. A thief is fined and imprisoned if guilty. A litterbug parts with his wallet and his “face” for his inconsiderate act against the environment. Pinch the offenders where it hurts the most and they will learn their lesson sooner or later. However, how should a murderer be dealt with? Should he be killed to “repay” the life lost at his hands? Should we embrace the “an eye for an eye, a life for a life” philosophy? Hanging, the electric chair, firing squads are all different methods of execution passed down from previous generations in the fight against society’s threats. Nevertheless, are we not being equally cold-blooded if we endorse these and other ways of extermination?

Consider the murder of two-year-old James Bulger in Liverpool. His tormentors were – horror of all horrors two ten-year-old boys! James was repeatedly bashed with bricks and slapped. His agony was ended by a passing train slicing his body into two, after being dragged onto a railway track unconscious. This seemed like a scene from a horror movie show the hideous cruelty, the beastly stupidity and the senseless violence – but it was a real life tragedy. Appalled and revolted, an entire nation sickened by mushrooming violent crime went on the offensive baying for the murderers’ blood. British Prime Minister John Major summed up the popular sentiment that they should “condemn a little bit more and under stand a little bit less.”

James’ two tormentors will forever be labelled as murderers. Their relative youth but dark brutality have stunned the world into disbelief-are young boys and for that matter, children, really capable of such uncivilised acts towards their fellow beings? I agree that there is no excuse for the crime those two boys committed and I agree that they must be punished. So the thorny question arises: how do we deal with them? A life for a life? So do we, the moral majority, put rapists, murderers and their to death? If we do, then are we no different from those who have claimed another’s life? Are we not killing as well? Is there really a moral claim to justify our punishment then? If we follow the idea of punishment fitting the crime, how should we deal with, say, a rapist? Castrate him?

Regarding petty cases such as littering. I agree that these offenders should receive their just desserts. The effectiveness of Corrective Work Orders has greatly strengthened my belief that people “reap what they sow.” The hefty fines, community service and media coverage have all contributed to ensure no repeat incidents from guilty and greatly embarrassed litterbugs. The case of the punishment fitting the crime certainly seems appropriate for minor infringements.

However, the reasons for crimes being committed are worth more than a mere thought. Instead of focusing on deterrent measures, I strongly believe that preventive measures are equally, if not more, important. The old saying “Prevention is better than cure” certainly rings true. If more emphasis was placed on preventing crimes, society would have fewer worries on its hands. A warm and economically stable family is an essential ingredient in crime prevention. Statistics have shown that most criminals hail from poor and broken families. They also have a stronger tendency to commit crimes again after being freed from jail. To remedy this situation, school and family should put more emphasis on the proper up bringing of children. There should be more activities such as Neighbourhood Watch to discourage potential criminals from committing crimes. Prisons should provide counselling and training sessions to assist inmates in their rocky re-entry into society. Society’s prejudices against ex-convicts should be slowly chipped away as many former prisoners face deep-rooted bias in their fight for acceptance by society. It would greatly benefit society if preventive measures were applied.

Lastly, I feel that punishment should fit the crime for most, but not all cases. Where there are exceptions, logic and reason should take over instead of blindly applying deterrent sentences, I acknowledge that it is a near impossible task to ensure punishment fitting a crime totally as personal opinions, comparisons and prejudices influence every single individual. Nonetheless, I have faith that man will strive to find an acceptable compromise between emotion and logic.


Our GP teacher’s comment’s; Can brig in fresher examples like Phoon Chiu Yoke, the ex-Navy office who repeatedly refused to wear mask dung Covid-19.  (Link to article on CNA here)



Q4: Gender equality is not possible? Discuss.


Equality between the sexes means that male and female are treated fairly regardless of their gender. It means that both sexes have an equal chance in life, and are not judged by their sex.

I personally feel that it is difficult for men and women to ever be equal. Firstly, the stereotypes of men and women are deeply rooted in the minds of people. A simple example is the toys children play with. While boys are given machine guns and battleships, girls are given dolls and cooking sets. Boys are also encouraged to wear blue clothes, while girls are made to wear pink, supposedly, a colour that is “feminine.” This thus illustrates the different stereotypes people have of the different sexes: of males as being macho and brave, and women as dainty and cute. These stereotypes are passed from parents to children and in turn from these children to their children in future. As long as these stereotypes exist it will be impossible for men and women to be equal.

Also, for men and women to be equal, women must be prepared to give up the privileges they have at present. Thus, if a woman wants the men in her company to treat her equally, she should not expect to get any privilege previously reserved as a result of her sex. A good example is the “golf-club saga”, in which women fought for their rights to play golf on Saturdays, which were men, While this was eventually approved, they lost the privilege of having Thursdays reserved specially for la dies as “Ladies’ Day.” Many women were unhappy about this. As long as women constantly clamour for equality, and yet are not willing to forfeit the privileges that their sex brings them, it will be difficult for them ever to be equal.

For men and women to be equal, women have to de sire this equality first, and this is where another problem arises. While some women have been fighting actively for the rights of women, these activists have not received the fullest support from their own sex. In fact, these activists have ironically, been criticised by other women as “trouble-makers”, both by those who want to keep the privileges their sex brings them, as well as by those who firmly believe that men are superior to women. If these activists for women’s liberation are not even able to garner support among their own sex, what, I ask you, is the possibility of men and women ever being equal?

However, women have indeed come a long way from ancient times, when women were virtually slaves of men, with no right to voice their comments, and who remained faithful to their husbands no matter how badly they were treated. Many women have now climbed to the top of the corporate ladder, where they reign over many men.. Women have also gone into politics, the most obvious example being Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minster. Women can now have equal educational and voting rights, in many parts of the world and are in dependent and no longer helpless and reliant on their husbands.

However, although women have taken a great step towards equality with men, I personally feel that because of the deeply rooted stereotypes people have of the different sexes, the reluctance of women to give up privileges their sex brings them, as well as the opposition women face not only from men, but also their own sex, it will be quite impossible for women to ever be equal with men.


Q5: The modern society is still intolerant of the different. Do you agree?


Question interpretation:
Modern society with all its attendant advances, is supposed to be progressive and open in its outlook, hence receptive to all. However, this is not the case. The question implies that, in present day situation a culture of intolerance of the different is still found/prevalent.

Being intolerant of the different: does not accept / discriminates against those who are different. ‘The different could refer to those of a different race, religion, socio-cultural background, sexual orientation, education, nationality, have a different political ideology, disabilities, etc. The different could also refer to the non-conformist / those not of the mainstream.

‘still’ this is to say that a situation or state, or action which began at an earlier time has continued right up to the present. Here, the word ‘still’, suggests effrontery, as it implies that this is an unacceptable situation in today’s context. The word ‘still’ requires students to show an awareness of the degree of tolerance or intolerance society demonstrates today as compared with the past.

This is a two-part question. Need to address the question by way of assessing the validity of the first statement. It is imperative to provide examples to illustrate that such practices of discrimination or intolerance do/do not exist.

Possible stands to adopt:
Society is tolerant of the different today as compared to the past.
Society is still intolerant of the different today as compared to the past.
Society remains just as intolerant of the different today as it has been in the past.

Possible points for discussion:
Society is in the position to be more tolerant

Education people today are more educated and are taught to be more accepting of differences / made more aware of the need to be tolerant/ more likely to read and be exposed to other cultures, beliefs etc. Education broadens horizons / cultivates a more open mind. (E.g. in Singapore. in the past-racial riots, divisions drawn very clearly along racial / religious lines. Today, people are more educated national education has also helped to increase our tolerance of others and helped us live in harmony.)

.We live in more civilized and enlightened times where people are not so fearful of the unknown or the different due to education and science. (compared to during the Dark Ages where superstition ruled the people -witch hunts carried out, people who were born with physical defects put to death, considered as freaks etc.)

Media / Communications, the internet. comms system – Advancements in technology / mass media’s influence e.g. TV programmes, books etc. has led to better understanding of other cultures. religions, ethnic groups (National Geographic programmes etc.) People no longer view people of other cultures, races or religions as ‘aliens’ or ‘devils’ as compared to in the past.

Transport – advancements in transport systems has made traveling easier and led to more people ; traveling and working in different parts of the world. Increase in the number of cosmopolitan societies leads to less suspicion of the unknown or different

In the USA, the recent case of California ban on Gay marriage being overturned marked the first milestone, nor the last, on America’s road to equality and freedom. It provided an opportunity for all Californians to consider their history and reputation of treating all people and their relationships with equal respect and dignity.


Society of Intolerance still found in present society as seen in these instances:

With the rise in terrorist threats, people are becoming increasingly suspicious of those who are different-viewing them as potential threats. This is especially true in USA, where post-Sept 11 saw a rise in anti-Muslim sentiments and to date this is seen in the recent development of a project called Park 51, involving building a community centre near Ground Zero. The building structure meant the Muslims has been labeled a Mosque, and attracted much ire from so many quarters. The most important fallout of this controversy, however, has been open venting of feelings by people about Islam and Muslims in general all over the country. The controversy seems to have opened a Pandora’s Box. It has unleashed a wave of negative feelings about Islam and Muslims that may have been latent in the majority population in the US. Is this right in a country that prides itself in a constitution founded on the rights of people, irrespective of race, colour and religious persuasion?

Foreigners / immigrants are viewed as threats and competitors in countries that have a large number of immigrants. With increasing numbers of immigrants, locals feel increasingly less welcoming and tolerant of them. E.g. incidents of racism and racial politics in Australia (Pauline Hanson case etc.). the nomadic population aka ‘itinerant’ people in Europe, largely the Roma people and the gypsies are discriminated against, especially in France. Even, UK, Australia, Spain and Italy have seen increased racial violence.

More educated people / IT-savvy people are increasingly less tolerant of those who are not ‘keeping up with technology increasingly they are seen as dinosaurs or backward and are retrenched or side-lined (the gap between the IT literate and illiterate is increasing as we live in a fast-paced world coupled with advancements in IT developments which outstrip our patience for those who cannot keep up.)

America seems to be imposing its ideal of democracy on other non-democratic countries – increasingly there less to be less tolerance and space given to the countries who do not share the dominant political ideology of the States – e.g. countries labeled as Axis of Evil etc.

AIDS stigma and discrimination exist worldwide, although they manifest themselves differently across countries, communities, religious groups and individuals. Fear of contagion coupled with negative. value-based assumptions about people who are infected leads to high levels of stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS. The fact that stigma remains in developed countries such as America, where treatment has been widely available for over a decade, also indicates that the relationship between HIV treatment and stigma is not straight forward.

Although great strides have been made in our understanding of anatomy and physical illness, unfortunately our present day understanding of mental illnesses is not precise at all. Until we know and understand mental conditions for better, prejudice will remain and even the best of media attention will tend to reinforce rather than break down the prejudice and discrimination. The influence of media on discrimination against schizophrenia, exemplifies this. Even normal unbiased news reporting can maintain the prejudice which causes discrimination. In the Jill Dando (USA) murder case, it was mentioned that the wrongly convicted man was schizophrenic. This would immediately have reinforced a pre-existing prejudice in many people’s minds that Schizophrenics are dangerous.

Discrimination of the disabled is a very real problem that still exists in today’s society. No one wants to admit that when they see a handicapped person, they immediately feel embarrassed. The embarrassment a “normal” person feels usually leads to avoidance. Avoidance is one form of discrimination, Treating a disabled person like they are not there is probably the most common insult that they receive. No one is comfortable when they are suddenly avoided. The same thing happens if someone notices another person’s gaze suddenly shift to something else.

A comment mode by President Barrack Obama has thrown the difference between the disabled and the normal, into light, once again. The fact that someone as high ranking as the president continue to use a derogatory statement about his bowling being as bad as Special Olympics, is a sign of how. people perceive the handicapped. Even though it was supposed to be a “joke”, it only adds to the problem. In this fast-paced society that is highly competitive (like Singapore) there seems to be little use or tolerance for the slow, mentally challenged or disabled. Society marginalizes them.


Society remains as Intolerant as it has always been.
Bring up the point that there have always been and still exists cases of discrimination in society whether social, political, racial or religious in nature. (Show that these existed i the past by giving some examples and show that they still exist today by citing some examples from today’s society.) Human nature has not changed fundamentally. Often, the reasons for intolerance are so deeply entrenched that they are difficult to be rid of. They could stem from fear, hatred, jealousy, ignorance. bigotry, superior or inferior complex. Very often such feelings of intolerance will manifest in different forms of prejudice and discrimination based on their own definition of what is considered the norm, resulting in stereotyping what is socially acceptable to them. Be it that the roots of their actions are primal or ignorant, they often do not stray far from the fact that historical baggage and media influence play a big part in instilling feelings of intolerance in some societies. So they begin to shun. avoid, stigmatise, abuse or even turn violent against those considered different.


Q6: Do you agree that loneliness is a major problem in city life?


Approach: Clarification of terms:

• Loneliness: feeling of being disconnected from other people; City life: urban environment

Loneliness is a problem in city life The conditions of city life cause loneliness
There are other problems in city life besides loneliness


Possible Approaches
1) While there are many problems in city life, the most serious is loneliness as it has many grave consequences.
2) Loneliness is not a serious problem as it can be addressed through specific policies.

Loneliness is a major problem
City life is competitive and fast-paced.

Caused people to be self-centred and individualistic giving rise to mistrust and alienation from others. This sense of alienation makes it easier for people to indulge in anti-social activities such as committing crime.

Technological advances in a city have caused less face to face interaction among people as people communicate via electronic means. This increases likelihood of conflicts and misunderstandings due to poor social skills. (all the social media apps and platforms)

High cost of living and the fact that work has become a central feature of city life necessitates people to spend long hours in their work. This has caused many people to put off their marriage, contributing to the loneliness of singlehood.


Loneliness is NOT a major problem
Loneliness is not a great problem in city life as there are social support systems available such as religious institutions, welfare and leisure activities that can provide its dwellers with the opportunity to interact.

Through technological advances, there are more opportunities for one to make friends and to connect with loved ones via electronic means.

Loneliness is a minor problem compared to other problems that plague city life such as pollution, overcrowding and high unemployment rate which have wider and graver consequences.


Q7: Do you agree that the Singapore education system meet the needs of the modern world?


Key terms: to what extent, Singapore education system, needs, modern world
Type of question: Direct Argumentative + Extent

Focus of the question:
1) Establish what the needs of society currently are, e.g. to forge an open and inclusive society, to work towards political harmony and co-operation etc
2) How does the Singapore education system prepare our youths for these needs

Students should discuss the key characteristics of the Singapore education system that have an impact on the future, and grooming our youths to be able to contribute back to society.
1) Compulsory 6 years of basic primary education ensures a basic literacy rate, and a population that has a minimum amount of education. Student however, has to link this characteristic to WHY this is necessary in the modern world today.

2) The move towards creative thinking is a reflection of the government’s acknowledgement that Singaporean students do not think out of the box, and are largely followers, (i.e. to follow the tried and tested way) and not leaders.

3) The Singapore education system has shown itself to be dynamic, and makes effort to adapt to the changing environment, e.g. the incorporation of Project Work to the JC curriculum is aimed at cultivating communication, co-operation and creative skills previously thought missing in our education. 4) The diversifying of education, e.g. the Integrated Programme, is aimed at addressing and recognizing the varying abilities of different members of society, and giving opportunities for excellence in various areas. With other economies opening up, e.g. India and China, this diversification of skills prepares youths to think flexibly and explore different job opportunities in future.

However, many argue that the Singapore education system is flawed on several counts. For example:

1) Singapore is a highly-competitive society that depends heavily on its manpower resources for economic success. Results therefore, become the key indicator of what success constitutes, and students are taught from primary school to be “exam-smart”. With schools having a heavy curriculum to finish teaching each year, not much room is given for exploration, experimentation and diversified teaching. This also means we have students who are good at rote-learning and application, but not “street smart”, creative, or critical thinkers.

2) Youths in Singapore are seen to be sheltered and protected from the realities other societies face, e.g. poverty, civil strife, environmental disasters etc. The education system however, has attempted to counter this problem in recent years by opening up exchange programmes, school field trips to developing countries to expose students to life and education in other countries.


Q8: Choose any period in the history of Singapore. Examine why you find this period interesting.


Singapore, a multi-racial paradise of peace and prosperity, melting pot of culture, an international port and city: it is hard to imagine that, almost six decades ago the country was entrenched in total chaos. The 1942 Japanese Occupation of Singapore was the most testing time our short history has ever encountered.

I am fascinated with the Japanese Occupation of Singapore which lasted from 15 February 1942 to 15 September 1945 mainly because of its paradoxical situation. Singapore then was a colony of the great British Empire. Being a protege of one of the world’s most powerful nations seemed to cast a spell of invincibility over the tiny. island. On paper, Singapore seemed to be totally secure from any invasion. With a potent combination of world class British battleships and carriers, together with an excellent geographical location, resistance to Japanese Occupation should have been no problem. However, the Japanese not only invaded and conquered Singapore but they did it in a short space of seven days! It was shocking yet interesting to read about how Singapore – the “impregnable fortress” was captured by such a small nation such as Japan within such a short time span! It left me totally dumbfounded at how Singapore turned out to be a paper tiger.

A very interesting point about the Japanese Occupation was the military tactics involved. Being totally impartial, I would say that the strategy employed by the Japanese was brilliant at times but often suicidal. It is utterly amazing how the Japanese troops were willing to die for their Emperor and country. Their level of patriotism left me gaping in awe. I deeply respect their love and willingness to sacrifice for their country. The Japanese often employed ruthless tactics to win. Their desire to win was so strong that even if it meant death, they were willing. Riding on such extreme patriotism, the Japanese Imperial Army formed a squad of “Kamikaze” pilots. These were suicide pilots put on missions that would cost them their lives. Their job was simple: to deliberately crash the plane onto the British ships and aircraft carriers to sink the vessels. It is mind-numbing how, despite knowing that they would die, several thousands of soldiers stepped forward to take part in these missions. To these numerous young Japanese soldiers, it was a great honour to die their Emperor, their country. It is incomprehensible by the Japanese Army had such a deep love for their country. Despite their uncountable atrocities, one cannot help but admire their spirit.

What makes the Japanese Occupation so interesting for me is the fact that I know people who have survived it. My grandparents have recounted their experiences s many times to so many people but yet each time they re tell their age-old tale, their emotions of pain and anguish are still as strong as when they first told it. To me, the f that so many people survived that inhumane period, is indeed a triumph of the human spirit. For one who ha not gone through the Occupation, I cannot even begin to imagine what my grandparents had gone through. The torture and humiliation which the Japanese Army subjected the country and its people to often left me in shock and utter disbelief. The tactics the Japanese used to in duce fear upon the population often leave me in disgust, ci During their reign of terror, hundred of thousands of civilians were interrogated. The Japanese method of inter rogation could leave a person scarred for life emotion ally, mentally and physically. If the soldiers did not get what they wanted to hear, they would either pump water into a person’s body by forcing a hose through his mouth, then stomped on his inflated belly to force the water out, or, they often whipped a person until he fainted, then rubbed salt into the wounds to make him scream in pain. Often people confessed to crimes they were never guilty of to stop the torture. Most of the “criminals” were brought in truckloads to the beach where they were blindfolded and then shot in cold blood. Amazingly, there were a few miraculous survivors who managed to feign death and fool the Japanese. What is so interesting is that my grand father was one of the rare few who somehow survived!

It is interesting how a person can live, if he really wants to. The Japanese troops often raided the houses and took everything the house had, food, livestock, vegetables and money. As if that was not enough, they raped the women they found, regardless of whether she was eight or eighty. Even the war had its light moments as the women started to cut their hair short or even shaved bald to escape the Japanese troops’ cruelty!

To me the Japanese Occupation of Singapore is the most significant part of local history. Like a “thousand and one nights”, it has interlacing emotions of love, hatred, triumph, courage and fear. The several unanswered questions as to why Singapore fell to Japanese hands serve to deepen the enigma surrounding the plot.



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