When a government’s finances for social welfare are limited, should they be directed towards the young or the old?

JC General Paper

When a government’s finances for social welfare are limited, should they be directed towards the young or the old?

This question requires students to understand that all governments have limited funds for social spending and there is a need for governments to decide if more funds should be directed towards the young or the old. This question assumes that governments are not saddling themselves with extra burden to borrow money to fund both segments of the society. A stand has to be made whether this money is directed towards the young or the old. This of course will depend on the context of the society- is the society facing a rapidly aging society or a society that is rapidly replacing itself? Is the society a mature one or an emerging economy? Also, the question requires students to assess the costs and benefits of just directing funds towards one segment of the society-either the young or the old and why.

Government should spend on the young

1.The young holds the key to economic development for any society, and it makes pragmatic sense for the government to invest in them, as they are the next building blocks of society. The young are likely to be more innovative, energetic and ambitious compared to the older workers, and it is a more efficient allocation of the government’s capital.

E.g. Europe is currently facing very high youth unemployment, and with such high levels of unemployment, it spells disaster for the economy and leads to social unrest.

  1. The young are the ones that are going to change the social culture of the nation and set the direction for the nation. It only makes sense for the government to spend on them. It may sound very callous but the time has come to pass for the older workers, and soon it is no longer their society.

Government should spend on the old

1.In rapidly aging society, the government should spend on the old so as to reduce the tax burden that the young will face. If the tax burden is too high on the youths, it may lead to a brain drain in the society, which will impact economic growth in the long run.

E.g. Japan and Germany are facing aging population- where governments are looking for an effective means to deal with their healthcare needs and retirement issues.

  1. The aged who have contributed to the development of the economy should be rewarded accordingly during their golden age. They have ample experience and when valued, they are likely to contribute even more back to society in the long run. It is a common misbelief to think that the aged is a social burden. In fact, in many developed nations, government starts to think that they are an important economic resource to tap on as they have the financial resources to spend after many decades of work. They are known as the “silver economy”.

Eg. Singapore has been considering building retirement style homes for the aged. These homes cater to the higher socio-economic classes, and the facilities include golf courses, medical clinics, and other recreational activities.

How effectively is public health promoted and managed in your society?

JC General Paper


How effectively is public health promoted and managed in your society?


Effectively- What is effective? To decide if something is effective, one has to measure the results against the intended objective. In this case, what is the state’s objective with regards to public health?

Promoted- to raise awareness about public health

Managed- suggests a deliberate control by the government to shape Singaporeans’ health and lifestyle into their state’s vision

This question requires students to assess whether how successful the state has been in meeting her objective to ensure that Singaporeans age gracefully, keep active and are healthy so that they will not be a burden to the state. Students are required to take a look at the strategies adopted by the government and assess them accordingly. Students need to also define what is “public health”. Does it just mean the general health of all Singaporeans? Or does it mean the public spaces of health in Singapore?

Yes it is effectively managed and promoted

1.Public spaces of health have been well managed and promoted, so much so that Singapore has been making waves as a prominent medical hub for tourists to come and seek treatments.

E.g. Raffles Hospitals cater to the rich Indonesians for medical treatment mostly, new hospitals have been built to cater to rising demand such as Ng Teng Fong Hospital. Singapore has a medical research institute- Duke NUS to respond to new medical advances and at the same time, Singapore has various specialist and general practitioners clinics to deal with medical issues.

2.The government has been active in raising awareness and influencing the lifestyles and mindsets of Singaporeans with regard to health.

E.g. Healthy lifestyle campaigns; recent rise of marathons to encourage running, free screening tests for the elderly at the community centre, advertisements to encourage individuals to go for regular screenings.

  1. The government ensures that every Singaporean takes responsibility towards his or her health by ensuring that the state co-pays instead of adopting a total welfare perspective.

E.g. Medisave, Medishield work on a co-payment system. Even government officials on pension schemes have to co-pay 30% for their medical bills to prevent abuse.

No it is not effectively managed and promoted

1.Lower socio-economic Singaporeans find it hard to keep pace with the high costs of healthcare here, and current schemes we have are unable to ensure adequacy.

E.g. Increasing number of Singaporeans crossing over the causeway to buy over-the-counter medicine in order to save costs. Some have even gone to seek medical treatment there or even operations. Medisave is inadequate for many Singaporeans especially if they have been down with a critical illness.

“No cause is ever worth dying for.” Discuss

JC General Paper

“No cause is ever worth dying for.” Discuss


Cause- fighting for freedom, ideologies, rights, status, wealth, power etc

Dying- Can interpret in both the literal and metaphorical manner. What exactly can constitute dying in the metaphorical manner? Dying in the sense of not living the life that an individual desires and wants?

This question is pretty simple, as it just requires students to assess whether if there are any worthy causes for an individual to sacrifice his or her life for. These causes can span many different areas such as the fight for freedom, the fight for religion and even personal causes like the rights to express oneself and sexual identity. Students should focus on different causes in order to have a better scope of the question. Students should also expand up the definition of “dying” in the paper. It should not just be viewed as death literally. Sometimes, “dying” can refer to the slow and gradual death of an individual, best manifested by the loss of passion in what one does, so much so that one is not living a life worth living. Also, it can refer to great personal sacrifices such as being jailed by political opponents. It may not be death in the literal sense, but still the sentence is slow death that leads to the dying of their beliefs. The term “ever” suggests that across time, it does not make sense to die for any cause as it is too idealistic, and what is important today, may not be important at all in the future.

Yes, causes are worth dying for

1.Extremist militant groups feel that dying for their cause display the highest form of commitment that one can display. In such a situation, death is seen as a badge of honour and it represents an individual’s chivalry to the end. This is also applicable in times of war where certain individuals are willing to die rather than betray themselves, their comrades, and their nation to the enemy state. Betrayal would be viewed as worst and more humiliating than death itself.

An instance would be the ISIS fighters who are willing to sacrifice their lives and even suicide bombers just to proceed with their cause and to attain their goals. Also, the Japanese has this culture of “Harakiri” (Ritual suicide) if they lost in battle and it is too shameful for them to bear. Also, during the Second World War, Japan had Kamikaze pilots who are willing to sacrifice for their nation and to advance their cause.

2.Every individual should have a cause that he or she should be willing to die for, otherwise they have been living their life in vain. This cause does not necessary have to be anything significant to society, as long as it is important enough for an individual. This cause could be the driving force of how an individual leads his life.

For instance, Steve Jobs is one such case where he lives his life for his cause- to constantly innovate and improve on Apple. He is so passionate about his work that he is willing to go to work even at the last stages of pancreatic cancer. His zealous and zeal in life can be seen as an attempt to even die for his cause to create better products for his company. In fact, in his biography and speeches, Steve Jobs have always said that he is willing to die for what he believes in and is passionate about in life.

No, causes are not worth dying for

1.There is no need to resort to death in order to make a point to fight for political changes in a country or even to stand true to one’s political ideology. Death in itself is unable to solve problems; the way forward is to have courage to triumph forward and the stamina for the struggle before changes are even implemented. In fact, when a non-violent approach or struggle is adopted, it could mean greater empowerment, as there is greater strength in non-resistance than resistance in the long term to win the hearts and minds of the people.

For instance, Nelson Mandela and Ghandi are well known peace freedom fighters that get to change the history of South Africa and India respectively through the legacies they left behind. Apartheid was abolished in Africa and Ghandi managed to wrestle independence from the British for India. All these legacies were achieved through a peaceful struggle and these well-renowned leaders did not die for their cause or even their political ideologies.

2.No cause is ever worth dying for as self-preservation is key. There is no value in dying for a cause, and not see the fulfillment of the cause to the end. Also, what is important to many in today’s world may not necessary be important to others in generation to come. What an individual sets out to achieve and earmark in history may be tore down by others in the future. If that is the case, then the very act of sacrificing oneself may be viewed to be very foolish. Also, it is unlikely that society will progress forward or even adopt the cause if anyone dies for it. Death equalizes everything and things are likely to remain at status quo.

For instance, the military in Myanmar refuses to recognize the election results and to give power to Aung Sun Suu Kyi. The rights of democracy and human rights are not respected. In such an occasion, by choosing to “die” for democracy does not mean that Myanmar will suddenly become a democracy the next day. Such transition takes time and it is not easily solved through making a statement of sacrificing oneself. Ironically, it would mean the death of democracy. However, one should note that the hunger strike by Aung Sun Suu Kyi that nearly resulted in her death is effective in getting concessions from the military only because she is the daughter of the well-respected Aung Sun. The military does not want a backlash from its own people.

Should there be any controls over the production of energy when the need for it is so great?

Should there be any controls over the production of energy when the need for it is so great?

JC General Paper

Should there be any controls over the production of energy when the need for it is so great?


Production of energy: refers to the production of petroleum (crude oil), natural gas, coal and other alternatives such as electricity and even nuclear energy etc.

Controls- what kinds/methods of controls? Controls over the quantity of production? Controls over the kind of energy to have?

This question assumes that energy production should be produced as long as demand meets supply needs in the market. There should not be any controls by any nations to artificially restrict the supply in order to push up the price of this much-needed resource, as it could be seen as unethical.

Yes there should be controls

  1. Controls are essential to ensure that no rouge nations have access to production of these essential energy supplies, which they can use as a leverage against other nations. It is detrimental if production falls into the hands of an extremist state especially if the state decides to pursue nuclear production as a form of clean energy for their state. This phenomenon has the potential to disrupt world security and peace.
    For instance, countries that would like to pursue nuclear energy should be under the checks and supervision of the United Nations (UN) yearly in order to ensure that they are really using it for energy and not to build up a nuclear war zone to use against other nations. There has to be some checks and balances involved and accountability to the rest of the nations.
  2. Countries that are highly dependent on oil or any energy source for that matter as part of their country’s revenue should look into controlling production, as oil is their main source of income. Cheap oil and energy prices have widespread ramifications that go beyond their own countries. Demand will automatically adjust itself due to such expensive prices.
    For example, many Arab states have been hurt by the low oil prices recently as they are dependent on the revenue of oil for their social spending, otherwise it will result in a social turmoil in their states. Cheap oil does not necessary mean well as it will lead to a widespread unemployment in many industries, which may stall future economic growth. Also, countries that are dependent on oil may witness their currencies plummeting with cheap oil prices. Malaysia, Australia and even Indonesia have seen their currencies losing value in this last one year due to cheap oil and commodities prices. If such a situation continues, the world may be thrown into a currency crisis.
  3. Greater innovation and research into alternative energies are likely to follow when there is high-energy price following production restriction. This is to meet the high demand of these energy resources. This helps to develop the world in terms of green technology, and allow industries to pursue more efficient methods of production for sustainable development in the world.
    For instance, Japan and Germany have been looking at investing in wind, solar and even uranium to supply their energy needs. Developments have taken place to reduce the usage of oil through electric cars in the market. Telsa has been one such example of electric cars that is likely to replace fuel-emission cars today.

No, there should not be controls

  1. Countries should be free to pursue their own energy self-sufficiency so that no country can have a political leverage over them, especially when demand for energy is so high.
    Production should be left up to the supply and demand of the world economy considering how oil is seen as a precious natural resource that every nation needs in order to run their economies. Due to this importance of oil, the restriction of the supply and production of oil has the ability to create war and tensions among countries fighting for this natural resource, and any restriction or embargo could manifest itself in a full-scale war.
    An example would be Japan’s aggression in the Second World War due to an embargo. Also, the USA has been investing in their shale gas revolution so that they can be a net exporter of oil in order to have energy self-sufficiency. USA does not want to be dependent on the cartel in the Middle East (OPEC) to meet their demands of oil, as it would mean that OPEC has a strong political leverage over the USA.
  2. It is to most countries’ benefit in the long run if there is no restriction to the production of energy. When technology advances to the point that there is an oversupply of oil like currently, this will be met with a drop in price of energy. Oil has plummeted from US120 a barrel to as low as US42 a barrel, and this “cheap oil” has been welcomed by many industries that are highly dependent on oil for growth.
    For instance, airlines and transportation will have better profit margins due to cheaper oil and this has translated to cheaper air tickets allowing the mass-market to benefit from this. Also, in Singapore, our transportation fares have been adjusted downwards in 2015 due to cheaper oil that has resulted in a lower production cost for SMRT, and these extra cost savings can be passed on to consumers, helping to ease the burden of the lower socio-economic class. Finally, core inflation has dipped for many nations worldwide due to cheaper energy costs such as natural gas and oil, and this has helped to improve the standard of living of many individuals.


Students should note that by the nature of the subject, there is several other possible pointers too, so feel free to discuss freely below!

Back to: 2015 A’levels H1 General Paper (8807) suggested solutions

Top 10 Pitfalls for Essay Writing

JC General Paper

In this week essay’s writing series, we will be talking about the Top 10 Common Pitfalls that students make in the crafting of their essays!

These Top 10 Common Pitfalls never fail to infuriate GP tutors and if you do desire a good grade, you are advised to steer clear of these errors!

  1. Hijacking the question
  2. Generalization
  3. Misinterpretation of question
  4. Contradiction of stand
  5. No thesis statement/stand
  6. Weak content knowledge
  7. Missing/unclear topic sentences
  8. Irrelevant examples
  9. Incomplete explanation
  10. Unclear concluding statements

There you have it all! Be conscious with these errors and it will put you in a better position than your peers in the examination!

How to tackle GP summary (part 2)

JC General Paper

As promised, this is the second part of our summary series! Let’s get on to how to paraphrase your summary points.

How to paraphrase?

  1. Replace the fancy descriptions with adjectives e.g. kills up to half a million people each year à deadly. If possible, use a single adjective as that would greatly save on your word count.
  1. Do NOT do word for word substitution! Many students are guilty of this and end up writing unnatural-sounding and way-too-long sentences, for example:

A “universal vaccine” is the ultimate solution of vaccination efforts to stop the flu, a versatile virus which kills many people every year, reported the World Health Organisation.

Attributed to epSos.de
Attributed to epSos.de

Remember that the goal of paraphrasing is to retain the main ideas while delivering them in the most concise and natural way possible. Your sentences have to “flow”.

That said, if you really cannot find a way to paraphrase your points then lift the whole point; but of course try and reduce the number of words. You will lose marks for language though.

Use connectors

Connectors are great way to help link your ideas and boost language marks. Here are some useful connectors and their functions:

Function Connectors
To introduce similar ideas Moreover, Furthermore, In addition, Similarly
To introduce contrasting ideas But, However, Contrastingly, Although, Though, On the other hand, Apart from
To introduce sequential ideas Firstly, Secondly …, Subsequently
To introduce a cause Due to, As a result of, Because of,
To introduce an effect Consequently, As a result, Hence, Therefore
To conclude Finally, In conclusion, In summary, To sum up, All in all, Lastly, Overall

I recommend using one-word connectors as they save on word count.

So there you have it, 6 easy steps to writing a better summary. Always remember to allocate at least 20-25 minutes for your summary so do not dilly-dally on the earlier sections. The trick is not to read the entire passage before attempting the questions, but to read only the introductory paragraph and then go straight to the questions. Find out what the question wants and scan for the answer in the passage. Doing this helps free up a lot of time for your summary and more importantly, the application question (AQ). You only have 1.5 hours to complete GP paper 2 so learn to manage your time wisely.

[Image by epSos.de]