O/A Level Resource – Indians/Society

This information, in my opinion and analysis, would be useful in the Singapore context for Social Studies (SS, Syllabus 2204, the outgoing syllabus) and General Paper (Syllabus 8807 – more immediately Application Question or Essay/Paper 1). Generally, it may be helpful for students taking English since Text 3 (Paper 2) of the 1128 syllabus is ‘a non-narrative text’.

The content comes from the book ‘Indians’ (published 2015) by Vineeta Sinha (locally based sociologist). It would be useful for the topic of Social Cohesion and Harmony – with related concepts (SS syllabus document) being: discrimination, compromise and mutual accommodation, common space, minority rights, and integration. The pages are:

  • 47 to 48
  • 54 to 55
  • 62 to 63 (useful for SS, 2267 Syllabus – Blue coloured textbook)
  • 88 to 90

The author, became a Singapore citizen in 2002. Her rather interesting and heartwarming life story (dated 15 Jan 2016) can be found on tabla! – hosted online by Asiaone news.

Repost: Financial (or Capital) Globalisation

This would be useful information and analysis for the GCE Cambridge A Level History and General Papers; and would more be useful for the GCE Cambridge O Level Social Studies paper (Syllabus 2267 rather than Syllabus 2204).

It is a summary/review of Chapter 2 in Part Two of <The End of Finance>. The term ‘capital’ refers to financial capital. The book describes one subset as ‘portfolio investment’. This has traits similar to subprime mortgages – which were sold and purchased on secondary markets; such capital can be recalled and disbursed quickly. One can consider the ‘capital flight’ during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis as an example. The authors argue that such volatile inflows and outflows form the crux of crises from Mexico (1995), Southeast Asia (as written above), Russia and Brazil (1998), Turkey and Argentina (2001). Hence, history continually repeats itself. Why does this happen? Arguably changes in market confidence, which ironically can be a self-fulfilling prophecy… [Foreign Direct Investment were deemed less responsible for fluctuations of international capital availability and transfers].

This globalisation was underpinned by 3 things: international freedom of capital flows; ostensibly unrestricted enlargement of money supply; and central banks acting as a lender of last resort to prevent collapse (for most of the years after 1945, this was the US Federal Reserve; and perhaps of greater prominence in recent decades, its Governor Alan Greenspan). The trend began in the mid 1970s. [Technology was also pinpointed as a catalyst by Walter B. Wriston (August 3, 1919 – January 19, 2005), a banker and former chairman of Citicorp, in 1988. It should be surmised though that technology’s role should be considered contributory, in my opinion.]

Relating the recent subprime crisis, it had been the ‘international capital market’ who targeted the credit shaky borrowers in the US with ‘predatory practices’, and ‘often underhand and occasionally fraudulent’ methods. This has some parallels to the 1970s ‘oil shocks’ and resultant ‘petrodollars’ which flooded Latin America, providing the structural foundations for the Debt Crisis of the 1980s. The negative repercussions from the subprime collapse amounted to an estimated net loss of homeownership for approximately 1 million American families (quoting from Subprime Lending: A Net Drain on Homeownership, 27 Mar 2007, Center for Responsible Lending – headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, US)


Wriston’s works can found at his Tufts University archives.

More on the Debt Crisis from <10. Debt Crisis of the 1980s> by Japan’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS). [Do note that their analysis for the causes of the crises may differ.]

=> Reproduced with approval from https://chenweilun2014.wordpress.com/2017/03/23/financial-or-capital-globalisation/.

Sample – Hybrid Essay

Following up on the previous post on essay trends, the below presents an attempt on a (partial) hybrid essay containing elements of ‘personal recount’ and a reflection conclusion.

They say experience is a hard and painful teacher. I went through that first hand last year…

It was a night out with my classmates in the second week of the year-end holidays. We had grown and gelled in the eleven months, from strangers to friends; and some even became close buddies. My own initial discomfort was overcome by their comical jokes and the common bond in face of the recurrent tests and examinations. They had accepted me into their fold in spite of my taciturn shyness. Sadly, most of us would spend the next year in different classes having selected our preferred humanities and science combinations. Not wanting to think about that, we tried to spend as much time together before the actual split.

So that night we picked a movie to watch… (Description of the movie and the experience) Though the film fell flat and disappointed, our spirits were hardly dampened. As the night was still young, Ahmad proposed that we headed to the arcade. We dived headlong into action. The group of us streamed into the arcade and topped up the game cards. Eagerly, we headed out to the First Person Shooter game, or the tennis player, while I made a beeline for the fighting games. Recalling it now, it seems things went in slow motion as I put my wallet right on the controller panel. I was full on into battling my ‘live’ opponent sitting opposite me. Unfortunately, after three rounds I made no headway. After one lost match, I felt something pushing against my shoulder, I turned to look but it just happened to be someone who nearly fell. Without much thought I went back to my game with more than a hint of desperation to beat my opponent. I gave up after ten minutes. As I stood up, I felt something was missing… Then it hit me – my wallet was gone.

My heart sank.

I remembered that my Identification Card and the whole week of allowance was in it. At that moment emotions raced through my head until Rajoo caught up with me. The others then offered to look around, unfortunately, to no avail. It was gone without a trace. Resigned, I trudged ever so reluctantly to the nearby Police Centre… (Description of loss reporting)

Although my parents did not give me a good telling off, I truly felt bad about the incident. Upon reflection, I thought it best to have constant sight of my wallet and mobile phone. Most of time, I put them in my front pockets. Maybe that explains why my trousers have such deep ones. On a more serious note, I remind others to keep their personal belongings on them. In doing so I hope to protect them from the hard, and rather painful teaching which experience gave me.

By: CWL, Jan 2017

Essay questions from Cambridge in Singapore: Trends

In the recent few years, the number of questions to choose from for the English Cambridge Secondary GCE ‘O’ [Syllabus 1128] and ‘N(A)’ [Syllabus 1190] Continuous Writing sections (Paper 1) have seen a reduction from 5 to 4. Concurrently, narrative type essays seem less likely to appear. Consequently, argumentative type essays or exposition type essays increased in frequency. Both these require a fair deal of general knowledge or being up to date with current events/issues. But that may be where the similarities end. There is disagreement over interpretation of both categories. Expositions, according to some schools do not require a stand. It serves only to list and explain the benefits and costs of say electronic books (e-books) for instance. But in other situations, an expository essay may similarly be written as an argumentative essay. Taking the example of the e-books, the answer should include a stand in the introduction and conclusion of the essay. The stand/thesis would inform the reader whether or not e-books be accepted or rejected (be it in the majority or minority). [For the argumentative essay, there are also different schools of thought pertaining to the structure of the essay.]

Perhaps in response, certain schools have begun preparing their students through the ‘hybrid’ essay.

By: CWL, Jan 2017

Organising Tips

Are you tired of doing last minute work?

If your answer is yes, here are 3 crucial tips/methods that would help you .

Firstly, Agenda booklets (Planners) are my best friend. Keeping one of those is a great start to being organised, especially if you are one of those forgetful people like myself. Agendas come in a variety of sizes, colours, textures and layouts. There are monthly layout, weekly, or even both to choose from. What I usually do is that I will jot down the homework or the things I need to complete by the next school day/tuition lesson. If I don’t have an Agenda with me, sticky notes are used as temporary subsitutes.

Secondly, I keep all my class handouts, homework and notes in separate plastic files to further organise them. For instance, I have a blue file for Science tuition, pink for Mother Tongue and so on. For school, I find it is easier to carry a general file to store all subject paperwork rather than having 8 files for each. (This would be extremely bulky!)

Thirdly, I do regular checks on my files and agendas to make sure I have completed everything before I go for school/tuition classes. I will check the school timetable every night before the next school day to pack my textbooks, homework for next day’s classes. I seldom do my homework at the last minute unless it has really slipped my mind or something important cropped up. There was once I completed an essay but I failed to email it to my teacher and was unfortunately penalised. The solution to the problem is to constantly write everything and I mean every little detail required by the teacher in order to avoid trouble. For example, when teachers instruct us to bring textbooks for the next lesson, I will write it down even though it seems like the most basic thing to do. However small the material to bring or the task to do, I habitually jot it down so that I will avoid forgetting what is required.

Of course the above methods might not be foolproof but they do minimise the chances of forgetting things. I must be totally honest with you. I used to be guilty of being the ‘last minute’ type of student where I did everything the night before the given deadline. I believed that I had the luxury of doing my homework during the holidays, but I ended up with only a few hours left before school reopening to complete the mountain’s worth of holiday assignments. As a result, I did not get enough sleep and the quality of the work I produced was not to my fullest potential. After entering secondary school, I learnt not to repeat my mistakes and instead better organised my time for both school and tuition work.

Hope all this information will help you breeze through the school years!

Author: TSH (Jan 2017)

[with structural editing by CWL]

Bourgeois James

James is a cunning, self-confessed and proud bourgeois. Being obsessed with fame and glory, he wanted to do something that would give him a certain cachet among the other men. Therefore, he began helping the poor in the rural areas by providing them with money, food and medical aid. He also ensured that the water in these rural areas was safe for drinking. Resultantly, cholera and many water borne diseases showed great signs of diminution. However, it was later discerned that by providing such aid to the poor they in turn had to work under harsh conditions for James’ industrial company. The truism “a leopard never changes its spots” holds much truth for a person like James…

by LMZ


Sally ruefully recalled how her son, John, ended up in jail.

On the night of his 18th birthday, he had decided to go drinking with his friends to celebrate. He eventually got lost amidst the noisy and frenetic club. When his friends found him, he was visibly befuddled. However, they thought nothing of it and assumed that he was only under the influence of alcohol.

Over the next few weeks, John started spending more and more time with his new friends from the club. His complexion worsened and her started coming home at later times. Sally sensed something was amiss and asked her son if he was encountering any problems. John, as usual, told her to mind her own business.

It was a Sunday when Sally heard a knock on the door only to find the police waiting outside. John was promptly arrested for aiding his reprobate ‘friends’ in their practices of vice – the sale and consumption of insidiously addictive drugs.

(The author prefers to remain anonymous.)