Behaviour Economics: Truth-telling

Reporting private information is common in most economics or non-economics activities, for instance, companies use advertisements to attract customers, a self-employed worker report her income to the tax authorities or doctors state a diagnosis. But there is a question that concerns us: does everyone choose to misreport their private information if this maximises their material…

Managing Water Resources

The management of water sources involves not only the local management of water resources through supply or demand management but also involves the management of transboundary water sources. As such, while the inflexible mindsets and attitudes of people and corporations, the looming threat of climate change and the inherent inequities within the private management of water, pose a significant obstacle towards the equitable and efficient management of water resources, they can largely be resolved. Conflicts surrounding local, transboundary and even global water sources arise primarily from the fact that water is a shared common resource, thus, conflicts are to occur when a pressure point is reached at the convergence of rising demand as supply shrinks and demands for water compete.

‘Developed countries have the responsibility to accept refugees.’ Do you agree?

Angela Merkel’s victory in the recent German elections came as a surprise to many given the rising xenophobic sentiments in the country. There was latent tension due to refugees taking away jobs and weakening the German economy, waiting to turn into an actual conflict. Since the Chancellor’s decision to take in thousands of refugees from Syria, her administration has been criticised for doing so at the expense of her people. This raises the conundrum as to whether economically developed countries like Germany and many others are obligated to accept asylum seekers, given the variation in sizes for developed countries, like geographically limited Singapore, to acres of land in the United States of America. We have to ruminate on whether this responsibility is present and justified. After all, displaced persons are usually the result of civil strife or racist sentiments from their own countries, such as in the case of the Rohingya refugees. When evaluating a country’s responsibility, we have to take into account its sovereignty and by extension, whether it affects or compromises its duty to protect itself. Every sovereign country is autonomous and would not be responsible for the citizens of others if its own citizens would be compromised. However, privileged developed countries may owe a moral responsibility on the premise of capacity and from a humanitarian perspective, preservation of life may transcend other rights to make accepting refugees obligatory.

Combating Fake News in Singapore’s Youth Population: Challenges and Solutions

Fake news is not a new phenomenon. However, the unprecedented speed and volume of its propagation is great cause for concern. The digitisation and subsequent democratisation of the media landscape has allowed actors such as foreign governments and radical fringe ideologues to have a far easier time disseminating information.

For the purposes of this paper, fake news will be characterised as news articles that are intentionally and verifiably false and could mislead readers. This definition is the most reflective of the current phenomenon and is widely agreed upon by academics. This paper will address responses to fake news with regard to young people.

How far can an individual be held responsible for crimes against humanity?

Even though war and conflict have existed since the beginning of time, the 20th century has been characterized by the rapid rise of massive crimes against humanity, providing much food for thought. Crimes against humanity refer toobjectively wrong acts deliberately committed as part of a broader systemic attack on a civilian population including rape, genocide and torture. Many of us analysing the countless atrocities in recent history – that of the Holocaust, the Nanjing Massacre and the more recent Rwandan Genocide – are disgusted by what we consider acts of pure evil. We are convinced that these manifestations of pure evil, actions that have claimed countless innocent lives, represent the worst of human nature. Many therefore automatically assume that individuals should take full responsibility for the consequences of their actions. In many cases, accountability is important, but when viewed in context, crimes like these are committed in sets of highly complicated and nuanced circumstances and conditions that must be considered. While crimes against humanity are indeed morally regrettable, I believe that there are certain factors that can prevent us from holding individuals, at various levels, fully responsible for these acts. I will thus analyse this from three different levels of complicity – leaders of organizations, their followers and officials, and members of communities.

How far is elitism inevitable in your society?

The issue of elitism is one that is prevalent in all societies, and has plagued many governments, with Singapore not being an exception. Elitism, or having a non-inclusive mind-set, with groups of exclusive individuals viewing themselves as superior to the masses, has always been present, and continues to prevail today. It can be observed since medieval times, where royal blood or relation to the royal family would immediate place one in a class above the rest, and even in modern times, when financial status immediately classifies people and society into groups. This is especially prevalent in Singapore, especially in financial terms, given the context of meritocracy, our financial gap, and the cyclical nature of an elite class. However, elitism, while pervasive, is not inevitable, and on higher and structural levels, it can be alleviated or avoided, and the government has made attempts to do.

Expectations of Women in Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice, set in the early 19th century, is one of Austen’s most striking novels in terms of exploring the significance of being a woman then, as well as the social expectations and restrictive conformities tied to it. As such, the given passage highlights the austerity of society’s lens of scrutiny and extremity when viewing women. Furthermore, the passage accentuates how different hierarchical upbringing and social environments can affect the way women themselves view their own sex and by extension, marriage. However, this scene also acts as a benchmark, foreshadowing Darcy’s change in attitude further in the novel, when he learns to accept that the ideal woman does not exist, but the perfectly imperfect one does.

‘Democracy has not taken root in Southeast Asia.’ Discuss with reference to the newly independent states of Southeast Asia. #2

Democracy refers to democratic forms of governance where the population gets to exercise civil liberties and to affect change through electoral processes, and taking root means establishing and having an effect. In the period after independence, many Southeast Asian states experimented with democratic forms of governance, but the record of these governments tended to be dismal as they often failed and were replaced by more authoritarian forms of governance. The question asserts that democracy has not taken root in Southeast Asia, implying that the political system of democratic ideals and institutions has not been established in the political and social fabric of Southeast Asian states, possibly due to Southeast Asia’s longstanding political culture, with its strong adherence to collective loyalties and conventional values, as well as the ineffectiveness of democracy which failed to have an effect on the political and economic stability, making other forms of governance more appealing to the people. On the other hand, it might be too sweeping to simply claim that democracy has not taken root in Southeast Asia, as there were instances where civil society voiced out against the form of governance preferred by the government through the presence of an educated middle class, trying to effect political change through their actions. Also, there were states where democracy had been successfully tested in and established in hopes of securing independence, implying that democracy had an effect on various states. Despite the longstanding political culture and values and its inefficiency in bringing about political and economic stability, democracy was established in some Southeast Asian states in varying degrees and periods.

‘Nature should always give way to the forces of urbanisation.’ How true is this of your society?

Singapore has made a quantum leap from a poor fishing village in the 1800s to the stunning cosmopolitan city that it is today, frequently topping global indices for our prosperity and quality of life. This commendable success can be largely attributed to the forces of urbanization, where Singapore has opened its doors to globalization and modernization, prioritizing the urgent need for economic growth and development to feed the demands of its people. However, this economic dynamism has come with a price to pay – Singapore often struggles with the dilemma of compromising our nature to suit the urgent requirements of our modern society. As such, while many Singaporeans may demonstrate a seeming apathy in bulldozing our nature for the sake of pragmatism and economic growth, I believe that nature should not always be sacrificed for urbanization in our society because nature brings about extensive benefits and can always be incorporated in our modern society to complement urbanization.

中国应不应该禁止“洋垃圾”?

在全球经济快速一体化的时代,国与国之间“你中有我,我中有你”的关系是毋庸置疑的。尤其是改革开放以来,中国政府快速增长的国力,让国际社会越来越重视这个强大的存在,但中国的快速崛起却让许多人忽略了她的另一个身份——“洋垃圾”的包揽者。 “洋垃圾”是进口固体废物的俗称,包括塑料垃圾、服装垃圾和电子垃圾等等。中国自1980年开始进口垃圾以来,已经有数十年的历史。在过去十几年,中国接收了全世界56%的垃圾,被称为世界最大的固体垃圾接收国。仅就塑料垃圾而言,自1992年有记录以来,中国在长达二十几年以来进口了全球72%的塑料垃圾。而中国为什么之前要进口那么多的“洋垃圾”呢?