Thursday, August 23, 2007

I refer to Jeremy Su’s blog post “Ageism + sexism = axeing older women?” I’ve read the article he’d made reference to and too, found it ridiculous for the particular local nightspot to refuse a 55 year-old women of the free drinks promised to all ladies, just because she is over the age limit of 35.

I agree that this is a case of ageism. It is unfair that the special privilege was only entitled to young and attractive women. However, I feel that it is not as much of sexism. It is a stand taken by the nightspot, to attract more people, consisting of mainly the men and hip youngsters. Older men are not denied from entering nightspots as they form a big percentage of the customers. Thus, in order to keep these potential customers, the nightspot has conveniently excluded older women as they are labeled as less attractive.

Clearly, this is a case of the “demand-supply” effect. In this case, older women face discrimination in nightspots which has the stereotype of being a fun and youthful place. Older men were not denied entry, entirely because of the fact that there are bigger groups of them and they spend at the nightspot. Hence, economically, they have no reason to discriminate older men.

The argument that ageism plus sexism is also observed in our workplaces and communities could not be more true. There has always been some form of gender discrimination in the society. Men are viewed as the stronger sex and are more capable. Women, on the other hand, are thought to be dependent on men, substantiated by most women being housewives. They are supposed to belong to the home while men, on the battle ground. Besides that, many companies prefer younger workers, who are thought to be more efficient. That puts older women into further disadvantage in the working society.

However, this is a problem faced by many countries and in Singapore, the government had taken a strong stand against ageism. There had been efforts made in retaining older workers and upgrading women to help them return to the workforce. We have to be more practical and accept the fact that our population is ageing and being old is not a crime. It also does not mean that we get useless when we’re old. In fact, we have more life experience and that make us a better person, in our career as well.

I find it impossible for government to criminalise such acts as it is not going to be within their control. Say, if a company does not want to hire someone, even if it is because of her age, they can come up with a dozen excuses of why they refuse to employ her. After all, its ultimately their choice. The are limitations to what the government can do. Yes, it is the mindset of the society that has to be changed.

For that, everybody plays a part. We have to start with the younger generation by educating and instilling into them, the point that beauty does not go with age. Experience comes along with it, beautifying our lifes. Especially older women., they should be viewed upon as role models for the younger women, not discriminated.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Can poverty ever be eradicated?

The stand I’m going to take is no. Poverty will never be eradicated. The major factor to eliminate poverty is to improve the level of technology in the society.
However, the poor will always be trapped in a vicious poverty cycle. They cannot afford to upgrade themselves. There is no way we can solve this problem. To give them loans may end up causing them to be burdened with a bigger sum of unpaid debts. Subsidies and incentives are not practical, as it is not possible for any country or any organization to come up with such a huge amount of money to help all of them. One example, is the high yielding varieties (HYVs), which only benefited the rich, widening the income gap as the rich get richer and earns more profit from it while the poor are forever trapped in the poverty cycle, with no money to pay for the crops, land, fertilizers etc. In the passage it also mentioned that “
As an alternative, a poor country that wants to be richer cannot expect to develop its own technology. Therefore, a poor country must import technology that produces more and better goods and services for its own people and for producing goods and services for trade with foreigners”. Whatever said might be hard to put into action. As stated, it is a poor country. Where will they get the money to import technologies and upgrade themselves?

Some others can argue that when there is an overall increase in absolute wealth, it is inevitable that some will spill over from the rich to the poor, via trade and globalization. The government can play a part by strongly encouraging the people to work harder, hence generate more income for the country to get richer. Well, making use of the limited natural resources a country have may also be one of the choice to take. But, my question is, how far can all this bring us? Can it really make us richer? Will it eradicate poverty?

The scope of discussion should be wider. Education is another factor. Also, its not all about technological advancement. We have to take cultures into account. Here comes the problem. Culture is not something that can be changed in a day or two. It requires constant effort and careful actions of the government. We need a competent and honest government to bring us through this progress. The point I’m trying to bring across is, no matter what, poverty will remain a concern in our society. We’ll try our best to solve it, but to completely eliminate it, is not possible.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Are you for or against the death penalty?

I agree that death penalty plays an important role in deterring murders. It serves as a warning to other potential murderers that they will not get away with it. They will have to pay for the misdeed, for the life of their victims, with their own life. It is unjust for the innocent victims to lose their lives. Hopefully, with death penalty, murderers will think twice before committing the heinous crime.

However, some argue that death penalty is a question of morality and a violation of the human rights. It radically negates the doctrine of human rights, which is founded on respect for life and the dignity of human beings. This seems like a paradoxical statement to make. Nobody has the moral right to take anyone’s life, not even that of the most condemnable murderer. If that is going to be the case, why are there still murder cases? Who gave the murderers the right to kill people? So, are we going to just let the murderers get away with it?

Fine, they may refute that punishment should not be retributive in nature; instead, we should try to rehabilitate the criminal in order to enable him to live in society with other human beings. But, who is going to account for the victim’s life? Looking at the interest of the criminal, we cannot forget the rights of the victim’s family. They don’t deserve to lose their loved ones.

The learning point is: If we intend to abolish the gallows, we should also fight for the prevention of crime and against the inhumanity of many prisons.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Girls aged under 16 be banned from catwalk modeling. Do you agree?

It is often debated that girls under 16 should be banned from catwalk modeling to protect them from eating disorders and sexual exploitation. There was a trend for industries to use younger models, who are more vulnerable to eating disorders such as anorexia. So banning them from catwalk modeling is to keep them always from these health problems. Many models are conscious about staying skinny, to keep their jobs. For teenagers however, nutrition is very important. At a puberty age of 16, to deprive them of their daily needs and over focus on staying skinny will affect their growth. Health risks also include stress, substance abuse and poor working conditions, which a 16 year-old girl may not be able to cope with. Also, one advantage of banning girls under 16 from catwalk modeling is, it will stop young girls from getting obsessed with being skinny and attempt to follow some super thin “size zero” models. When they get older, they should then be able to balance their own diet better. Then only, should they go into the modeling career.

On the other hand, we will also have people for the opposition side. Girls under 16 should be portrayed as adult women. They should too be sensible enough to know what they are doing and what’s good for them. Instead of banning girls under 16 from catwalk modeling, laws could be enforced for industries to weigh models and ban those under a certain weight. Tests to access their body mass index, a measure of fat, could be done on models to ensure they are in good health. There is no established need for girls under 16 to be banned from catwalk modeling. However, better training could be provided for designers and agents to help them spot models with eating disorders.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

I feel that Szilagyi’s view is more suitable for a multi-racial country like Singapore. Freedom of speech is believed to be an essential of a democratic country. However, how practical is that? It is for us to judge. True enough that it is own basic human rights to have the freedom to say or do what we want. But, at the same time, we have to think of the consequences. We need to spare a thought for others. How will they feel and react to our irresponsible criticism. We have to be responsible for what we say and not freely express what we feel. It is selfish to challenge the law of freedom, and stirring unnecessary mixed feelings in people of other races.

Especially, in Singapore, the government always focus on racial harmony. We are a country with different religions, races and cultures. Hence, we need to be sensitive to others’ feelings and not freely express our point, in turn hurting others. Freedom of speech is what we commonly hear. But why do we not voice out some negative opinions that we have on our friends but instead keep it to ourselves? It is a way of communicating with others better. It is to be socially responsible and not hurt or harm others by being irresponsible and speaking bad of others. This way, there will be more peace and stability in a country. From the 1960s racial riots, we’ve seen for ourselves how vulnerable we are to racial conflicts due to the presence of different races, we have to be tactful in what we want to say and be sensitive to others’ feelings.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Is it fair for talented pupils get a bigger chance at direct entry to sec 1?

Under this year’s Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme, 9 more schools have been added to the existing 47 schools that are part of the scheme. About 3500 places, 7 per cent of the total sec 1 cohort can be admitted through DSA. This is 500 more places than last year. The idea is to promote holistic education and give schools more flexibility.

This could be seen as an incentive to the talented pupils, to be recognised for their talents. This gave students talented in fields like sports or the arts an advantage over ordinary students. They have what it takes to be in the school, be it academically or in any other ways. Hence, they deserve to be allowed to enter the school with a lower cut off point as they have taken effort of their studies to concentrate on the niche sports or arts.

It would then be a win-win situation for the pupil and the school. Schools can recruit pupils who are talented in its niche areas to maintain the school’s standard. The school is tapping on the student to keep up the school’s good work in a certain area. At the same time, the student is benefiting from the school’s good teachers, improving academically.

However, others may find it an unfair system. Students who are admitted through DSA are usually weaker academically. They deprive the better students of a place in the school. Is it fair? I would counter argue that it is the freedom of the school to choose whom it wants to admit. It is also not only a measure of how academically capable are you. As the government emphasizes, it should be a holistic development and obviously average pupils who are talented would be preferred to pupils with plain good results.

It can also be argued that this will only benefit the school, not the student, as he struggles to cope. His academic ability may be a problem in his four years stay in the school. Is this environment going to be healthy for the children? I would say this is going to be considering factor for the student and his parents even before applying for the programme. If the student is confident of coping with his studies and is prepared to work hard, it is not going to be a big problem. I am sure the school will also try its best to help the pupils.

Hence, I would say that it is fair for talented pupils to be admitted to better schools through DSA. It is a big step taken by the government towards encouraging a more holistic education system.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Having woman remain in or return to the workforce is something that has come under the spotlight recently. Discuss the considerations and challenges they face.

Only around 54 per cent of all females of working age were in the workforce, compared to 76 per cent for men. Women are now targeted in the current drive to beef up the Singapore workforce, now that the job market is tightening and unemployment rate is low. More jobs will also be created over the next five years.

Many women would sacrifice their careers for the family and their children. This could be quite a waste as young mothers usually find it hard to get back to the profession after a few years of break to take care of their children. True enough, it may be difficult to juggle between family and work.

It seems impossible to keep a balance, to give enough care and concern to the children and at the same time, remain high performance at work.To solve this problem, we need to first change the mindset that parenting and having a job cannot mix. All women have to do is to learn to prioritize. In both areas, commitment must be there. Women should plan her time for family and work, not confusing the two as one. Employers should also try to understand and see that for mums who want a short break to care for their children and return to work is a norm.

Middle aged women make up the majority of the untapped labour. They are women who have stopped working for several years to care for their children who are now grown ups. They have to upgrade their skills consistently and keep up with the developing industry to remain employable.

There are also various benefits on why women should work. First of all, having two salaries in a family means more income and hence, can boost the family finances. Especially to lower-income family, they will become more financially abled. And will be able to close the widening income gap. Secondly, due to the advancement in medical technologies, human have got a longer lifespan. More money is then needed to support ourselves in old age. So, by working, women can build up their CPF funds for retirement.

Singapore requires labour to sustain its development and women are the targeted group. Family and career should come hand in hand in the future years to come, as more jobs vacancies will have to be filled up.