A Study of Classism in Thriller Films – A Process Paper

How we chose our topic

The topic of classism has always fascinated our group; coming from different backgrounds, different schools, and different socio-economic levels, we were curious as to whether the perception of other, foreign nations on the issue of social inequality and wealth mattered as little as it did in Singapore. 

How we conducted our research

To do that, we decided on the use of movies and documentaries, and agreed to make our own documentary at the end. For research, we would watch three movies in particular: Us (2019), Joker (2019), and Parasite (2019). These three movies were decided on due to their wide variety: Us is set in the modern-day USA, and follows a small American family; Joker takes place in 1981 and follows one man in particular as he struggles to deal with society around him; and Parasite discovers the true divide between rich and poor, and what happens when they are forced together.

With this in mind, we watched the three movies on three separate occasions, to ensure that our minds would be fresh, and took notes during the screening.

Process of how we created and developed our documentary

Firstly, we had to understand the significance of classism, decide on the basis of comparison and discuss how to showcase our understanding of classism in films in the most effective manner. Eventually we decided on a documentary to illustrate how symbolism is used in all three films to show classism and the differences in types of classism portrayed in the three different movies and their impact on presenting classism as a whole. 

We chose to do the documentary because we felt that there was no better way to share our thoughts but to showcase it through the same medium these filmmakers have utilised. By doing so, it allowed us to better understand what these filmmakers were thinking and was also a more interesting manner of showcasing our idea which helps in capturing our audience’s attention.

Secondly, we had to plan out how the documentary is going to be executed before we can start production as well as coming up with the comparative analysis which is crucial as it is the backbone of our documentary. We attempted to do a storyboard and kept researching by studying relevant media. We had many trials and errors but luckily under the guidance of our Capstone project supervisor – Mr Jared Goh, we were able to come up with a storyboard and our comparative analysis. Next, we had to fit our ideas in our comparative analysis into our storyboard and organise it in a minute by minute breakdown format so as to showcase our thoughts in a more efficient manner and improve production quality. After we were all satisfied with the content in our minute by minute breakdown and having a clear direction of what to produce, we proceeded with production. Production of the documentary was tough because of technical issues, copyright issues and more etc. Fortunately, we never gave up as we were passionate about our topic and finished it after putting in our best effort.

 Overall, it was an enjoyable and manageable process of creating and  developing our documentary as we had divided our work evenly by playing to each team member’s strengths, proper time management and our passion sustained us throughout the journey as we believe in shedding light on classism and promote these films as a bonus.

How it relates to annual theme: Identity and Diversity

To understand how it relates to identity and diversity, it is important to know and understand the definition of classism which is the prejudice and discrimination towards a certain class usually due to social attitudes and government polices that are set up to disadvantage lower classes. Classism is one of the most problematic ideologies prevalent in today’s society as the lower and middle class are the majority of the world’s population while the higher, wealthier class are the minority, and they benefit from the disadvantage of the majority. One’s social class reflects not only the material conditions of people’s lives, but also helps to shape cultural practices and behaviours. This then creates cultural identities among the respective social classes, and these identities are then rooted in subjective perception of the social class ranking. Therefore, it is evident that classism has shaped the identities of many in the world across time. Hence, symbolism is effective as it showcases and reinforces this overarching idea and theme of classism in shaping our identities in one way or another. Diversity comes in when classism is viewed through different lenses, hence different perspectives are shown in the three different films illustrating the different types of classism happening in different parts of the world, and their impact on presenting classism as a whole. 

Overall, it is through exploring and understanding the different perspectives portrayed by different films that we are able to cross refer and better crystallise our understanding of this complex problem of classism and how it shapes our identities and way of life. Hence, our project also illustrates the importance of identity and diversity in helping us understand ourselves and the world we live in.



Classism in America: Definition & Examples – Study.comhttps://study.com › Courses › Social Science Courses

Athena Kronenburg (21-O1)

Bryan Lim (21-O1)

Hew Juin Yu (21-O1)

Elton Lim (21-O1)

Ng Wen Hui (21-O1)

Shannon Sim (21-O1)

முடங்கி கிடக்கும் உலகம்

ஒற்றை ரயில் பயணத்தில்

இருக்கை விழும்பில் நிரம்பியிருந்தும்

சுற்றிலும் தனிமை தனிமை

முற்றிலும் சூழ் மூடர் கூட்டம்

முயன்றும் இறங்க முடியாது 

முடங்கி கிடக்கும் நிர்பந்தம்

இடையில் கண்ணயர்ந்தால்

நிரந்தரமாகுமோ எம் மன நிசப்தம்?

தூரத்தில் தொடரும் துக்கம் 

தூக்கத்திலும் வரா துர்சொப்பனம் 

தேவர் செலுத்தும் வாகனம்

தவழும் அழுகுரல் பாராது

தொடர்வது தானோ எம் கர்ம பலன்?

முற்பாதை கடந்தாலும்

முட்பாதை களையுமா?

முகத்திரை அகற்றினாலும் 

அகத்திரை விலகுமா?

மனிதா அறிவாயா 

யாத்திரை நிறைவிடம்

எம்குல மயானம் என்று

Indhu d/o Ramesh (22-E3)

Using hydrographs to illustrate your answer, explain how changes in land use within a catchment area can affect discharge.

As changes in land use such as urbanisation, reforestation and deforestation occurs, the receival of precipitation by the catchment area is affected to varied extents. Due to the change in land use, the characteristics of the land and drainage basin changes and has a large influence over the speed and time in which water arrives and leaves the gauging station. The influence on speed is reflected in the lag time of the hydrograph and the amount of water within the catchment area is indicated by the peak discharge, thereby determining the shape of the hydrograph and the river discharge. 

Influence of urbanisation on flood hydrographs 

Flood hydrographs of forested area and urbanized area

As seen from the hydrographs above, the urbanised area has a shorter lag time, steeper rising limb, as well as higher peak discharge than that of the forested area. In urbanised areas, impervious surfaces such as tarmac and concrete are more commonly used, thus water cannot infiltrate through these surfaces. Therefore, during a rainfall event, the reduced infiltration rate results in the great increase in overland flow and increased runoff generation. Due to the increased surface runoff, precipitation reaches the gauging station at a faster speed, thus the steep rising limb and shorter lag time as lesser time is taken for precipitation to reach the gauging station. Additionally, in some urbanised areas, gutters and drains are constructed, helping to carry water more quickly due to less friction with the banks to the nearest river. This could also be a reason as to why urbanised areas experience shorter lag time and higher peak discharge. 

Furthermore, urbanised areas end with lower baseflows than that of forested areas due to lower levels of infiltration and groundwater storage. Soil water storage is contributed by infiltration, percolation, throughflow and baseflow, forming an unsaturated zone that acts as a storage reservoir, providing pathways for water to move downwards to contribute to groundwater storage. As forested areas have a higher soil water storage capacity, more precipitation is infiltrated and percolated into the ground thus resulting in more baseflow. On the other hand, due to urbanisation, the amount of soil present is greatly less than that of forested areas, thus the precipitation received will be lost due to the reduced ability to store precipitation as groundwater storage. Forested areas are able to store the precipitation received due to the prominence of soil which are porous and permeable, thus the higher baseflow levels at the end of a rainfall event as compared to urbanized areas. 

Influence of deforestation on flood hydrographs 

 Flood hydrographs of deforested areas and not deforested areas

As seen from the hydrographs above, the deforested area has a shorter lag time, steeper rising limb, as well as high peak discharge than that of the area that did not undergo deforestation. In deforested areas, the lack of vegetation results in direct precipitation to hit the soil, which will lead to compaction due to the raindrop effect, reducing infiltration and hence more surface flows (infiltration excess flows), which are faster than the sub-surface flows which are dominant in forested areas. This explains the shorter lag time and steeper rising limb contributed by the high speed at which the precipitation reaches the gauging station during a rainfall event.

The peak discharge is higher in deforested areas than that of in areas that do not experience deforestation due to the lack of interception from trees, increased precipitation compacts the soil, decreasing the porosity of the soil. This reduces the rate of infiltration of water into the soil, resulting in more surface runoff (infiltration excess flows), thus more precipitation recorded by the gauging station. Tropical rainforests intercept up to 80% of rainfall whereas arable land may only intercept 10%. As seen the presence of trees is essential to the discharge of an area as they reduce direct infiltration and intercept precipitation, reducing infiltration rates, leading to a decrease in peak discharge in areas that are not deforested. Therefore, the lack of vegetation would result in higher peak discharge due to exposed soil contributed by the absence of trees, increasing peak discharge. 

Influence of reforestation on flood hydrographs

Flood hydrographs of reforested area and deforested area

Reforestation is the restoration of a forest via replanting the area with trees and vegetation, re-establishing a forest on the land which once had a forest. As seen from the hydrographs above, the reforested area has a longer lag time, gentler rising limb, as well as lower peak discharge than that of the deforested area. This is because where vegetation such as trees and plants is dense, interception by the canopy would be more substantial, leading to higher interception and biological water storage and some of it will be lost to evapotranspiration. Due to the greater amounts of infiltration and more sub-surface flows in reforested areas, the rate in which precipitation reaches the gauging station is slowed, thus the longer lag time and gentler rising limb than that of the deforested area. 

Moreover, the reforested area has higher baseflows than that of deforested areas due to higher levels of infiltration, soil water storage and groundwater storage. Plant roots, especially those of trees, reduce throughflow by taking up water from the soil, increasing the infiltration capacity of the soil, resulting in lesser discharge accumulated by the end of rainfall events as reflected in the hydrograph above. Additionally, due to the increased infiltration, water of precipitation is lost to soil water storage and groundwater storage as water is stored for soil water due to the porosity and permeability of the soil. Therefore there are higher baseflow levels in reforested areas.

In conclusion, urbanisation and deforestation have similar effects on flood hydrographs as they both result in higher peak discharge, steeper rising limb and shorter lag time. On the other hand, reforestation causes the opposite, where it causes lower peak discharge, gentler rising limb and longer lag time. These observations as seen in the hydrographs illustrated above can be extended to whether an area is more prone to flooding. For example, urbanised areas and deforested areas are more prone to flooding due to the absence of vegetation and the area characteristics such as permeability of the ground, while reforested areas are not as prone to flood risks. Therefore, changes in land use can affect the discharge levels of drainage basins, leading to changes in flood hydrographs as well.

Chua Yee Suan (22-I1)



This paper aims to examine the level of political awareness of Singaporean youths through a survey testing their knowledge on the US-China tensions with random sampling. Results show that most Singaporean youths have confidence in their knowledge of the issue, indicating a high level of political awareness that has assured them in indicating as such. They have also shown better understanding of the social aspect of the conflict than the economic aspect, possibly attributed to the use of social media. Moreover, they show a keen sense of awareness of Singapore’s position.


We would like to acknowledge Mr Mahmood, our mentor, as well as the Eunoia Humanities Programme for the opportunity to write this paper. 


Political consciousness is the “personal awareness of politics” (Rulska-Kuthy, 2014). We have defined youths as aged 18 to 23. 

With the ongoing debate regarding youth political participation as part of the overall inclination to lower the voting age in Singapore to 18*, it has become increasingly pertinent to actually determine whether youths are actually politically conscious. 

However, there is a current lack of research regarding this issue and evaluation of youths in Singapore and their political awareness. Thus, this paper aims to make explicit the levels of youth political awareness in assessing their suitability for formal political participation. 



Youths are highly regarded for their participation given their ability to create systemic change. Youth political participation is highly significant. In Malaysia, such participation can contribute to levels of democracy even when the country is known for restrictions on political dissidence (Mohd Hed, 2017). Youth political participation is also noted for their “intellectual capacity” where their sustained participation in politics can engender large changes in their political systems (Marsuki et al., 2022). 

However, academics overseas disagree on whether youths are indeed becoming politically apathetic. In the United States, early academics claimed that American youths were becoming increasingly ignorant of current affairs (Bennett, 1998) and in Nigeria, youths participation in formal politics is also on a decline (Mohamad et al., 2018) and it has begun to stagnate in Harare in Zimbabwe (Chiweshe, 2017). Yet, in many other countries, academics have seen a rise in youth political advocacy. For example, in Malaysia, youths have increased efforts in informal politics, such as on social media and through popular culture, even increasing political discussions amongst themselves (Mohd Hed, 2017). Youths in Europe are also highly politically active (Weiss, 2020). 

Recent research has also shown that the rise of social media platforms has also encouraged more youths to become more politically concerned. Because of the ability to freely express themselves on the internet through social media, youths are increasingly using it as a platform to express their political opinions, fostering “participatory culture” which even translates into higher youth voter turnout (Kann et al., 2007). Youth political participation is also encouraged by direct interaction with politicians since many politicians also use Facebook in particular to communicate with their voters (Abdu, 2017).  

However, there is a gap in current research with regards to youth political apathy in Singapore specifically. In the recent World Values Survey, only 37.2% of respondents indicated that they were somewhat interested in politics, making Singapore one of only three countries to have less than 40% of respondents indicating so (Institute of Policy Studies, 2020). Though, there is no survey or research which focuses on youths in Singapore, which could reveal a different proportion. 

The particular case study was chosen because of its significance to Singapore. It has the capacity to greatly change our diplomatic relations with both Superpowers, and threaten our economic growth (Lee, 2021) due to imposition of tariffs and other restrictions on free trade (ASEAN business, 2021). This means that it is an essential and foundational issue in current affairs, of which asking respondents on will be fair as they have received information on the issue before. This will allow us to accurately gather data about their level of interest in politics instead of their level of knowledge on it as respondents will likely indicate a lack of interest in an issue if they are unaware of it.  


This paper will employ a survey to gauge the political awareness levels of youths aged 18 to 23. This will involve an online survey that selected youths fill in which will prompt them to indicate their evaluations of the United States (US) and China in aspects such as the economy and citizens’ freedom. Then, they will be asked on how sure they were of their answers to reveal their confidence in political affairs and thus their political awareness. 

We used probability sampling, specifically random sampling. This is because, for studies that look at political opinions, probability sampling is the most advocated method of collecting a sample size for research. According to How Might Opinion Polls be Improved?: the Case for Probability Sampling (Lynn, Jowell, 1996) and Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error (Heckman, 1979), probability sampling circumvents selection bias and unit non-response bias in research in the political field. Regarding survey techniques, according to The Effect of Survey Mode and Sampling on Inferences about Political Attitudes and Behavior: Comparing the 2000 and 2004 ANES to Internet Surveys with Nonprobability Samples (Malhotra, Krosnick, 2007), probability sampling are more accurate than internet samples especially in politics.


The youths surveyed were highly aware of issues relating to freedoms in both countries, while seeming less sure in those relating to the economy. Furthermore, they seemed aware of the approaches Singapore should take in relation to the US-China tensions, which was heartening. 


Certainty in the Aspect of Citizen Freedom

Surveyees reflected confidence in their knowledge when comparing the two countries in terms of the levels of freedom offered to their citizens (in Figure 1 below). 

Forms response chart. Question title: How sure are you of your answer to the last 3 questions?. Number of responses: 111 responses.

Figure 1. Surveyees’ confidence in their response to questions regarding the levels of freedom citizens in the US and China are accorded, ranked on a scale of one to five

Most responses concentrated in the 4 to 5 range, with an average of 3.87, showing that most survey respondents had a high level of confidence in tackling this question, thus revealing that they had a good understanding of the issue, thus revealing a keen sense of political awareness. 

Uncertainty in the Aspect of the Two Economies

When asked about their knowledge of the two economies, in regards to their sustainability and projected success in comparison to each other, surveyees seemed to lack confidence in the matter at hand (in Figure 2 below). 

Forms response chart. Question title: How sure are you of your answer to the last 2 questions?. Number of responses: 111 responses.

Figure 2. Surveyees’ confidence in their response to questions regarding the sustainability of US and Chinese economies, ranked on a scale of one to five

As compared to the high levels of confidence shown by respondents in the questions regarding freedom levels, students were less sure in the economic sector, with an average of 3.09 and majority responses concentrating below 4, and significantly less indicated a 5 (24 compared to 8). 

Forms response chart. Question title: How sure are you of your answer to the last 2 questions?. Number of responses: 111 responses.

Figure 3. Surveyees’ confidence in their response to questions regarding the projected level of success of US and Chinese economies, ranked on a scale of one to five

In facing the tougher questions of the projected level of success of each economy, the level of confidence shown by respondents was more varied, with an average of 3.32, thus showing again that the surveyees were less certain regarding the economic issues of the two Superpowers. 

Awareness of Singapore’s position 

Majority of the respondents had an acute awareness of Singapore’s position in the dispute, however (see Figure 4 below). 

Forms response chart. Question title: Do you think Singapore should side with either country?. Number of responses: 111 responses.

Figure 4. Surveyee responses to whether Singapore should take a position in the dispute to side with any of the Superpowers 

Thus, they were aware of the precarious position that Singapore is in and the necessity to remain neutral. This is further backed by elaborations provided by some surveyees, including an emphasis on our weakness as a “small country” and importance of our “neutrality”. Hence, the majority of youths are aware of Singapore’s position in the conflict. 


Singaporean youths have proved to be confident in their political knowledge, revealing that they have political awareness to some extent. It is critical to note that for none of the questions the students are totally unsure (seeing that the average confidence levels for all questions are more than 3 for all the questions). Thus, even with the characterisation of Singaporean youths being politically unaware, this is not the case. Singaporean youths are actually highly certain of their political opinions, indicating a high level of political awareness. 

However, it is also important to note that respondents were more certain in the social than economic aspect. This can be attributed to the fact that economic issues are seen as more elusive to youths who are unfamiliar with economic issues while social issues are highly debated, especially on social media (as seen in the use of social media advocacy). Thus, social issues in the US and China are more accessible, making it easier for youths to have clarity and confidence in this aspect. 

Yet, the overwhelming confidence of youths in the US-China dispute marks success in local education, creating a mostly politically-conscious population.


  1. Abdu, S. D., Mohamad, B., & Muda, S. (2017). Youth Online Political Participation: The Role of Facebook Use, Interactivity, Quality Information and Political Interest. SHS Web of Conferences, 33, 00080. https://doi.org/10.1051/shsconf/20173300080
  2. Auto, H. (2020a, July 13). Voices of Youth: Voting age, environment | The Straits Times.https://www.straitstimes.com/forum/voices-of-youth-voting-age-environment
  3. Commentary: The impact of growing US-China tensions on Singapore. (2019, August 19). CNA. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/commentary/us-china-singapore-trade-war-impact-businesses-growth-866571
  4. Chiweshe, M. K. (2017). Social Networks as anti-revolutionary forces: Facebook and political apathy among youth in Urban Harare, Zimbabwe. Africa Development. Retrieved April 8, 2022, from https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ad/article/view/167085
  5. Dahl et al.,2018. Apathy or alienation? Political passivity among youths across eight European Union countries https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17405629.2017.1404985
  6. Ekwenchi, O., & Udenze, S. (1970, January 1). Youth and political apathy: Lessons from a social media platform: Semantic scholar. undefined. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/YOUTH-AND-POLITICAL-APATHY%3A-LESSONS-FROM-A-SOCIAL-Ekwenchi-Udenze/512da26771db56344b0c4354066d2355e2627be6 
  7. Erubami et al., 2021. Newspaper Exposure, Efficacy Feeling and Political Apathy among Youths in South-East Nigeria http://www.pertanika2.upm.edu.my/resources/files/Pertanika%20PAPERS/JSSH%20Vol.%2029%20(3)%20Sep.%202021/08%20JSSH-8004-2021.pdf
  8. Huang, J. (2006, November 21). Positioning the student political activism of Singapore: Articulation, contestation and omission. Taylor & Francis.  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14649370600849280 
  9. Kann, M. E., Berry, J., Grant, C., & Zager, P. (2017). The internet and youth political participation. First Monday. Retrieved April 8, 2022, from https://www.firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1977
  10. Mohamad, B., Dauda, S. A. B. D. U., & Halim, H. (2018). Youth offline political participation: Trends and role of … Retrieved April 8, 2022, from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bahtiar-Mohamad/publication/327970440_Youth_Offline_Political_Participation_Trends_and_Role_of_Social_Media/links/5bbeaafa299bf1010178b8fc/Youth-Offline-Political-Participation-Trends-and-Role-of-Social-Media.pdf
  11. Mohd Hed, N. (1970, January 1). The dynamics of youth political participation in Southeast Asia: The case of malaysia. White Rose eTheses Online. Retrieved April 8, 2022, from https://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/18997
  12. Medha Basu. (2019, July 31). How Singapore can thrive in the US-China trade war | GovInsider. GovInsider. https://govinsider.asia/digital-gov/singapore-us-china-trade-war-bruno-macaes-foreign-policy/
  13. Oruh, S., & Agustang, A. (2022, January). Youth apathy in political contest: A case study in the 2020 gowa regency head election. JED (Jurnal Etika Demokrasi). Retrieved April 8, 2022, from https://journal.unismuh.ac.id/index.php/jed/article/view/6296
  14. Today. (2021, March). Most S’poreans aren’t interested in politics, but feel strongly about some policy issues: IPS Study. TODAY. Retrieved April 8, 2022, from https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/most-sporeans-arent-interested-politics-feel-strongly-about-policy-issues-ips-study
  15. Kann, M. E., Berry, J., Grant, C., & Zager, P. (2007). The Internet and youth political participation. First Monday. https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v12i8.1977
  16. Weiss, J. (2020). What Is Youth Political Participation? Literature Review on Youth Political Participation and Political Attitudes. Frontiers in Political Science, 2. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpos.2020.00001
  17. Vaswani, K. (2018, July 11). Singapore, Malaysia could be most exposed to US-China trade war: OCBC. The Business Times; The Business Times. https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/asean-business/singapore-malaysia-could-be-most-exposed-to-us-china-trade-war-ocbc-0
  18. Vaswani, K. (2021, March 11). Singapore PM: “Considerable risk” of severe US-China tensions. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-56318576

Desiree Soh Shi Huei 21-O1

Emylia Audreyna Binte 21-O1

Gideon Chee Yu-En 21-O1

Lay Kai En Ashley 21-O1

Yap Zoe Ern 21-O1






“我… ”












奇姆微微低下头:“不… 我想去看极光”




















“你的同事把你送了过来,你猝死在办公室了。我有个坏消息,奇姆。”医生拿出一份 X 光片,“你得了严重的肝硬化,但情况还相对乐观,只要你愿意赶紧开始治疗,否则… ”






















结语:感谢你读到这里。文章改编于 bilibili up主清竹莫叶的视频,点子来源于 meme “ Fries on the pier ”。文章本质上是对虚无主义与存在主义的一点思考,当我们把希望都寄托在未来的一个不定的目标时,我们有时会变得过于物质化,忽视身旁的美好。在追梦的过程中,大胆去做一些事吧!荒诞也好,天真也好,不要被自己剥夺了享受当下的权利!

陈卓轩  (21-I1)

Secularism in Singapore

PPCL Phase 3 Inquiry: Is Singaporean secularism anti-theistic or anti-theocratic?  

1.0 Introduction 

The Singaporean government, in all its iterations, has an established history of attempting to pursue secularism. At its core, secularism is most commonly utilised as a political concept, a manner of organising a state and society in relation to religion and belief that emphasises state neutrality to these issues. Practically, this often manifests as the separation of state authorities from religious institutions.1 

There are multiple ways that secularism as a political ideology can be implemented by governments. In ‘A Religious Age’, political commentator Charles Taylor argues that there is both ‘open’ and ‘closed’ secularism. He advocates in favour of ‘open’ secularism, which he states is “even-handed […] religion and non-religion are treated the same”.2In essence, he argues that it affirms the principles of state neutrality, and is distinctly not anti-religion. In contrast, ‘closed’ secularism to Taylor means “a secularism wary of religion, and always ready to set limits to it. Non-religion becomes the common principle, although you tolerate religion if it stays in its place […] you privatize it”.3 

In applying Taylor’s work to the Singaporean context, professor Thio Li-Ann positions ‘anti-theocratic’ and ‘anti-theistic’ secularism as the equivalent of ‘open’ and ‘closed’ secularism respectively. While Thio argues that “the government is committed to an anti-theocratic rather than anti-theistic model of secularism”4. In this essay I will explore the factors that affect the implementation of this model, and examine case studies on the matter. 

1.1 Freedom of Religion in the Constitution 

Firstly, it is important to account for this ‘anti-theocratic model of secularism’ as discussed by Thio, and examine the legal and constitutional basis for the implementation of this model. This is largely supported by legal precedence in Singapore. In Nappali Peter Williams v. Institute of Technical Education5, the Court of Appeal stated that Singapore adopts “accommodative secularism” which considers that “the protection of freedom of religion under our Constitution is premised on removing restrictions to one’s choice of religious belief.” This baseline seems to support Thio’s argument that Singapore has practiced anti-theocratic secularism, simply on the basis that there are supposed to be little to no restrictions on religious freedom and choice. This model seems to be further supported by Article 15(1) of the Constitution, which states that “Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and to propagate it”6. While at first glance, this appears a very clear marker of anti-theocratic secularism, there exist caveats to this freedom of religion.

These are best expressed in Article 15(4): “This Article does not authorise any act contrary to any general law relating to public order, public health or morality”7. Within this article, it can be noted that there exists an ambiguity in the wording of the clause, with the phrase ‘public order, public health, or morality’ being deliberately vague terms. Since these ideas are not absolute or quantifiable concepts, they are up to interpretation, which can lead to subjectivity in the way these clauses are enacted. This particular clause may in fact allude to possible anti-theistic underpinnings of Singapore’s supposedly anti-theocratic model. By only permitting freedom to religions that fall within the Court’s perception of ‘public order, public health or morality’, it limits the liberty accorded to religious pursuits and freedom based on overarching, governmental objectives and motives. For example, Thio suggests that the ‘public order’ addressed within this clause can refer to communitarian or collectivist goals like social harmony, which can be defined expansively.8I would argue that this, along with the nebulous nature of these statements, effectively allow for the diminishment of religious liberties, which gives room for anti-theistic secularism to take root. 

1.2 Constitutional ‘soft law’ 

Beyond formal legislation, it is crucial to understand how these written ideas interact with the sociopolitical context of Singapore. ‘Soft’ constitutional law is one of the ways in which we can observe these interactions. It can be defined as “a written set of non-binding precepts which exert some degree of legal influence in the realm of constitutional law”9. This works in tandem with binding precepts of the law, such as the constitution, and has a hand in shaping how the government approaches religious matters. 

Soft law approaches tend to be unique to the societal contexts they operate in. In Singapore, it is suggested that soft law is used to forward the government’s “preferred communitarian values and Neo-Confucianist ideology”10, and hence can influence community standards or even constitutional interpretations11. Hence, acknowledging elements of ‘soft’ law in Singapore can also help us understand the government’s rationale when intervening in religious matters. One such example of an instrument of ‘soft’ law used to help constitutional interpretation is the Declaration on Religious Harmony (2003), which was proposed after the arrest of members of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network in Singapore following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the USA, which heightened religious tensions.12 This short declaration’s key idea can be encompassed in the line “We shall always […] Respect each other’s freedom of religion”. This particular declaration is key in understanding the projected image of secularism in Singapore, given the emphasis on “each other’s freedom” instead of on the right to religion itself. It makes the right to religion as expressed in the Constitution Article 15(1) not an inalienable right that can be used as a ‘trump card’13in political discourse. Rather, this seems to recognise that there are communitarian interests at stake that should also be considered, by considering the need to “balance liberty and harmony”14

Upon considering constitutional ‘soft law’, it does appear that we are straddling the line between anti-theistic and anti-theocratic secularism. On one hand, we appear anti-theocratic in our commitment to remaining neutral, in the sense that individuals are allowed to practice and profess religion. On the other, it seems anti-theistic that this right to religion is quickly curbed at the point that it infringes upon communitarian ideals and social harmony. 

2.0 The hijab ban: legal considerations 

The first case study we can examine is an issue that has been hotly discussed in Singapore, the ‘hijab ban’. In 2002, two Malaysian Muslim girls in Singapore were suspended from their primary schools for wearing their hijabs15, which for many Muslim women is a significant part of their religious expression. Moreover, the prevailing norm in civil service is that women who work in public sector offices which require a uniform cannot wear the hijab.16 Many Muslim women also reported feeling that they had been forced to make a decision between their faith and their careers.17 This is one of the foremost examples of anti-theistic secularism being exercised in Singapore, where the freedom to religion is curbed in public spaces and jobs. Moreover, it places religion as a right that can be retracted at the point that it enters into the public sphere, again positioning this ‘hijab ban’ as a step away from the anti-theocratic secularism that Singapore proclaims it practices. 

In fact, much of this anti-theistic rhetoric arises from governmental spokespersons. Following backlash in 2013 to this ‘hijab ban’, then Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that “Every community when it presses for its own concerns must bear in mind how that affects other communities and how others might see it,”. In essence, DPM Teo Chee Hean was making use of several elements of constitutional ‘soft law’ to support these statements. By arguing that communal interests have to be considered over the right to religion he justifies the curbing of these particular civil liberties by invoking the ‘communitarian’ defence. This is the very basis of what allows for anti-theism to take root in Singapore – the ambiguous nature of Article 15(4) of the constitution, thus justifying the removal of civil liberties in the name of ‘public order, public health or morality’. In confining the wearing of hijabs to an expression of religion that cannot be carried out in the public sphere, we resort to anti-theistic secularism that pushes the right to religion as one that can only be accessed in private, and not in the public eye, one of the cornerstones of ‘closed’ secularism. However, it must also be noted that this ruling has recently been modified, with nurses in the public sector now allowed to wear their hijabs while in the workplace. This is a marked shift away from anti-theistic secularism, as it shows the beginnings of anti-theocratic secularism. Religion, here, is being mainstreamed, and considered an important underpinning and extension of the individual, allowing them to express their freedom to religion even when serving in the public sector. This definitely shows a step towards anti-theocratic values that the government espouses, but it is worth noting that this form of secularism does not extend to other public sector jobs, such as the police and the armed forces. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stated that this is because these groups are impartial and secular arms of the state who are armed and enforce laws. As such, these considerations of freedom to religion being weighed against the collective, communal good displays a uniquely Singaporean brand of secularism. This secularism seems to hold itself up with both constitutional and ‘soft’ constitutional laws, and seems to embrace an illiberal form of anti-theocratic secularism that is always dealt certain caveats in the name of ‘public health, public safety and morality’. 

3.0 Chan Hiang Leng Colin v Public Prosecutor: legal considerations 

Other interesting case studies, however, centre around a rather crucial form of governmental intervention in religious matters – the registration and location of religious societies. The case of Chan Hiang Leng Colin v Public Prosecutor is thus an interesting one to explore, as it questions the government’s definitions of Article 15(4) of the constitution, and presents an intriguing dilemma in terms of assessing whether Singapore practices anti-theistic or anti-theocratic secularism. 

Chan Hiang Leng Colin v Public Prosecutor was a case assessing the constitutionality of deregistering the Singapore Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses under the Societies Act that was heard in the High Court in the 1990s.18 The society was deregistered on the grounds that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not permitted to engage in any political or national practices, such as saluting the flag or performing national service, which was considered a threat to public safety. 

In this hearing, the appellants argued that there was no clear or immediate danger or threat to public order, health or morality, meaning that their freedom to religion could not be curbed by the Constitution, since their religion did not pose an immediate danger to public order or safety. Intuitively, this argument seems to put forth the idea that the ruling to deregister the Singapore Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not aligned with the ideals of state neutrality. The appellants argued that since their society did not contravene the caveats of ‘public order, public health and morality’, any action by the government would be anti-religion and anti religious freedom. However, the Courts argued that this decision was constitutional. It was argued that the mere “possibility of trouble over religious beliefs” was sufficient cause for the Minister to take action. Hence, the danger did not have to be clear and immediate as the Court did not have the ability to actually rule on whether Jehovah’s Witnesses were a threat to public order.19Instead, it was enough for the Court that the Minister for Home Affairs had taken the view that Jehovah’s Witness as a religion that forbade national service, was contrary to public peace, welfare and good order. This case is extremely eye-opening in this regard, as it demonstrates how the Court considers the subjective viewpoint of the Minister themself to be fact on whether Jehovah’s

Witnesses are in fact a threat to public order, which can then be used to justify the dissolution of the religious society.20 Thus, since a detailed argument was never required to explain how denial of national service meant a threat to public order, it means that the opinions presented by the Minister were simply taken by the Court and used to judge the constitutionality of the issue. Hence, we see the ambiguity of the constitution, as well as the ‘soft’ law, being used to remove certain religious liberties. Thus, in this way the government appears not to be acting as a neutral state party, but rather one that seeks to curb and limit religion in the public sphere, something made possible by these nebulous elements of the Constitution. 

4.0 Conclusion 

As with all freedoms, the freedom to religion has to be curbed by the state at a certain point in order for the state to be functioning effectively. When an individual is jailed, their freedom to movement is curtailed somewhat; when an individual makes hateful commentary, their freedom to speech is limited. When it comes to religion in Singapore however, the distinction between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ secularism becomes relatively murky. The state embraces state neutrality up to the point of religion’s supposed intervention with public interest, upon which they see fit to readily remove these freedoms to religion based on sometimes arbitrary and undefined criteria. The ambiguity of this criteria has enough scope to allow for Singapore’s government to essentially make unilateral decisions about the validity of any given religion or religious practice, giving way for these anti-theistic elements to arise in what ultimately attempts to be an anti-theocratic model of secularism. This blend between different forms of secularism, however, has worked for Singapore thus far. Even so, in our religiously heterogeneous society, it is important that the right to religious freedom be defended to ensure individual liberties are not excessively curbed in the name of communitarian values. Ultimately, the purpose of the state and of governance is to serve the people, and thus it is crucial that this state respects individual rights and extends the access of these rights and liberties to every individual, as far as is possible.

Sanjana Rajan (21-O1)





4https://law.nus.edu.sg/publications/ambivalence-accommodation-antipathy-and-anxiety-religion-and-singapores secular-democratic-order/ 

5[1999] 2 S.L.R. 569 at para. 28G (C.A.) [Nappalli] 



8 https://www.jstor.org/stable/24869488?read-now=1&seq=13#metadata_info_tab_contents

9 https://www.jstor.org/stable/24869488?read-now=1&seq=3#page_scan_tab_contents

10 Eugene K.B. Tan, “Law and Values in Governance: The Singapore Way” (2000) 30 H.K.L.J. 91.

11 https://www.jstor.org/stable/24869488?read-now=1&seq=24#metadata_info_tab_content

12https://www.mfa.gov.sg/Newsroom/Press-Statements-Transcripts-and-Photos/2002/10/MFA-Press-Statement-o n-the-Request-for-Addition-of-Jemaah-Islamiyah-to-the-List-of-Terrorists-Mainta 

13 Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously (1977) 

14 https://www.jstor.org/stable/24869488?read-now=1&seq=14#metadata_info_tab_contents

15 http://edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/southeast/02/04/singapore.headscarf/

16 https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-24932400 

17 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-singapore-women-rights-idUSKCN26C030 

18 Chan Hiang Leng Colin v. Public Prosecutor [1994] ICHRL 26, [1994] SGHC 207, [1994] 3 S.L.R.(R.) [Singapore Law Reports (Reissue)] 209 at 214–215, paras. 1 and 3, archived from the original on 26 October 2012, High Court (Singapore).

19 Chan Hiang Leng Colin v. Public Prosecutor [1994] ICHRL 26, [1994] SGHC 207, [1994] 3 S.L.R.(R.) [Singapore Law Reports (Reissue)] 209 at 214–215, paras. 1 and 3, archived from the original on 26 October 2012, High Court (Singapore).

20 Thio Li-ann (1995), “The Secular Trumps the Sacred: Constitutional Issues Arising from Colin Chan vPublic Prosecutor“, Singapore Law Review, 16: 26–103


1. Baharudin, H. (2021, October 26). Muslims can adjust attire where appropriate, says Muis in new guidance on tudung. The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/muslims-can-adjust-attire-where-appropriate-says-muis-in-new-guidance-on-tudung 

2. Baharudin, H., & Shafeeq, S. (2021, August 30). Muslim community applauds move to let nurses wear tudung; guidelines being drawn on what can be worn. The Straits Times

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/muslim-community-applauds-news-to-allow nurses-to-wear-tudung-some-seek-more-clarity 

3. Beswick, E. (2020, November 5). What is secularism and why is it causing such divisions in France? Euronews. https://www.euronews.com/2020/11/05/what-is-secularism-and-why-is-it-causing-suc h-divisions-in-france 

4. CNN.com – Muslim girls suspended for headscarves – February 5, 2002. (2002). Edition.cnn.com. 


5. Constitution of the Republic of Singapore – Singapore Statutes Online. (n.d.). Sso.agc.gov.sg. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/CONS1963?ProvIds=P1IV-#pr14- 

6. Gaskin, J. C. A. (1978). The obligation of secular morality. Hermathena, 125, 22–33. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23040587 

7. Government’s secular stand on issue of wearing tudungs with public service uniforms has been “consistently clear”: Masagos. (n.d.). CNA. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from 

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/wearing-tudungs-with-uniforms-nurses secular-approach-masagos-313416 

8. Imagining an “Open” Secularism. (2014, September 1). Comment Magazine. https://comment.org/imagining-an-open-secularism/ 

9. Job or hijab? Singapore debates ban on Islamic veil at work. (2020, September 21). Reuters


10. Li, T. (2009). COURTING RELIGION: THE JUDGE BETWEEN CAESAR AND GOD IN ASIAN COURTS. In Singapore Journal of Legal Studies (pp. 52–79). https://law1.nus.edu.sg/sjls/articles/SJLS-Jul09-52.pd 


12. Neo, J. L. (2020). Regulating Pluralism: Laws on Religious Harmony and Possibilities for Robust Pluralism in Singapore. The Review of Faith & International Affairs, 18(3), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/15570274.2020.1795414

13. Secularism | social movement. (2019). In Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/secularism 

14. Shanmugam, K. (2021, April 24). Ethos Conversation 2021 – Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law. Ministry of Home Affairs. 

https://www.mha.gov.sg/mediaroom/speeches/ethos-conversation-2021-speech-by-mr -k-shanmugam-minister-for-home-affairs-and-minister-for-law/ 

15. Singapore: Campaigners bid to overturn hijab ban. (2013, November 13). BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-24932400 

16. Thio, L. (2004). CONSTITUTIONAL “SOFT” LAW AND THE MANAGEMENT OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AND ORDER: THE 2003 DECLARATION ON RELIGIOUS HARMONY. Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, 414–443. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24869488?read-now=1&seq=3#page_scan_tab_contents 

17. Thio, L.-A. (2021). Ambivalence, Accommodation, Antipathy and Anxiety: Religion and Singapore’s Secular Democratic Order. Nus.edu.sg. https://law.nus.edu.sg/publications/ambivalence-accommodation-antipathy-and-anxiet y-religion-and-singapores-secular-democratic-order/ 

18. What do secularists mean by “secularism”? (2019, January 9). Religion and Global Society. 


Eunoia GO

Eunoia GO – A documentation of the 2018 BSP Chongqing-Chengdu immersion trip

Led by 4 teachers, 35 Eunoians in the Bicultural Studies Programme (BSP) embarked on a 12-day immersion programme to Chongqing, China on 24th November 2018. This immersion programme is an enriching one, comprising enterprise visits, interactions with locals in schools and communities, city explorations and many learning opportunities. By having first-hand experiences of local life, we had a more comprehensive understanding of the local customs in China. 

Day 1: Beginning of a wonderful journey 

After a 5 hour flight, we finally arrived at Chongqing. Filled with anticipation and curiosity, everyone was excited as we headed to our first attraction – Chongqing Hongya Cave. As we departed from the airport, we saw the bustling nightlife and beautiful city lights of Chongqing from the windows of the bus. I was mesmerised by the numerous high-rise buildings and bridges that were well-lit by neon lights. The traditional Ba-yu architecture of the Hongya Cave caught our attention too. It is said that this is one of the places that the anime Spirited Away took inspiration from. I immersed myself in the lively atmosphere, surrounded by people everywhere; we could also see a whole variety of stalls on the streets, stall owners selling local specialties and mala skewers, “spicing up” our first impressions of Chongqing as we concluded our first day.

Day 2: Dazu Rock Carvings

We visited Dazu Rock Carvings– which is categorised as an AAAAA-level tourist attraction– and admired the spectacular Buddhist culture of the Song Dynasty. As we listened to the guide’s explanation, we realised that this attraction was truly fascinating: every Buddha sculpture was extremely detailed. We were impressed by the effort put in by those who managed to carefully carve these sculptures 800 years ago. What shocked us more was that when placed together in a gallery style, the sculptures of Dazu Rock Carvings told a full story, which displayed the faith people had towards their religion. From the story, we also learnt the importance of filial piety, and to always be thankful for what we have.

Day 3: The charm of Chongqing

After breakfast, we got to experience the transport system in Chongqing by taking the Chongqing Rail Transit to the well-known Liziba Station where the trains travel right through a housing block. Although we have seen such videos online before, being able to witness it in real life was a totally different experience. Chongqing is located in an area with many mountain ranges, making it a challenge to construct a developed rail transit system. Liziba Station is proof of the great planning and wisdom behind Chongqing’s rail transit system– one that is worth learning from!

In the afternoon, we paid a visit to Raffles City Chongqing in Chaotianmen (built and run by CapitaLand), where the person-in-charge introduced the features and meaning behind this project to us. Chaotianmen square was once a port used to welcome imperial edicts, hence carried great historical importance, and it is now located in a prime area in today’s Chongqing. The fact that this location is being used for the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative, a priority demonstration project between China and Singapore, demonstrates the close ties between the two countries. We then proceeded to Changan Automobile Factory (one of China’s state-owned enterprises), and observed how the factory manufactured cars, as well as learnt more about state-owned enterprises. As dusk fell, we visited BreadTalk at Chongqing’s Shin Kong Place, and immediately felt closer to home at the sight of a familiar Singapore brand. The wide variety of bread and pastries had us uncontrollably buying a few to taste –and they were delicious, even though many of the bread sold in Chongqing were different from the ones in Singapore. The bakery had found ingenious ways to integrate Chongqing’s food cultures into the bread, creating interesting and unique local flavors.

Day 4

Chongqing No.8 Middle School has a history of 80 years, and is a very well-known school in Chongqing. We were given a guided tour of the school’s newest campus, the Yubei campus, by enthusiastic teachers and students. One could really tell China’s emphasis on education and their efforts towards grooming the students. During our tour in Chongqing No.8 Middle School’s archives,  the teacher placed great emphasis on the school motto “Nurturing talents”. This showed how much the school valued the students’ conduct and behaviour, and I believe that their achievements today must be closely related to the way they firmly enforce their founder’s ideals. 

Chongqing No.8 Middle School arranged enriching lessons for us, ranging from a fun Wushu lesson to a tie-dye workshop where we handmade our own tie-dye products. We also participated in the community service activities, where we visited a nearby old-folks home with the students of Chongqing No.8 Middle School. Each of our groups prepared a performance item for this visit to show our spirit of giving back to society. The elderlys there were really friendly, and were  excited to know  that we were students from overseas. They were more than willing to share their experiences with us. This was the first time we did volunteer work overseas, and even though our interaction with them lasted for only a few short hours, it was really an unforgettable experience.

Day 5: Goodbye Chongqing

The visit to the Three Gorges Museum allowed me to understand the historical landscape of the Three Gorges and the importance of Yangtze toward Chongqing’s development. Chongqing was the temporary capital of China during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and it became an important anti-fascist city. Chongqing’s geographical location also brought about development in the city during post-war times, causing it to be one of the major cities in China today.  

Thereafter, we visited Zhou Jun Ji, a private enterprise in China famous for its steamboat seasoning. We learnt more about their manufacturing process and bought some of their products afterwards. Through this visit, we also learnt about the challenges these private enterprises face and their respective development in China.

In the evening, we concluded our time in Chongqing and boarded the high-speed rail to Chengdu. The rapid advancement of the high-speed rail and its well-developed system has brought great convenience to the people and allowed China’s economy to flourish as it links up the various major cities in China. We spent the first night in Chengdu in a communist-themed hotel, which was designed based on the Mao Zedong era. As the hotel was located on the outskirts of Chengdu, the lack of facilities affected our quality of rest, but I guess this was a rare opportunity for us to experience a different kind of lodging.

Day 6: Travelling across China

Early in the morning, we first visited Liu’s Manor and Anren Town. Through these historical buildings, we learnt about life back in the olden days and the cultural history behind them. Afterwards, we visited the Jianchuan Museum Cluster where we visited museums with different themes. For example, we learnt about the days when the Nationalist Party and Communist Party battled against Japan together, the hardships they went through as they worked together and the times when they fought against each other. Each museum allowed us to gain new insights of the history of different periods in China’s modern times.

Day 7: Singaporeans in Chengdu

We were very fortunate to have a chance to visit the Consulate General of the Republic of Singapore in Chengdu and learn from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officers. They shared about the future development and opportunities in China’s West region and also the collaboration between Singapore and China. The experiences they shared about their work as MFA officers greatly benefited everyone.

Following up, we also visited Raffles’ City under Chengdu’s CapitaLand. We received a very warm welcome from the project manager as he brought us around and introduced to us the way of management and their ideals. He also shared about the knowledge he has gained in China. Afterwards, we had dinner with fellow Singaporeans who were either working or starting a business in Chengdu. They shared about their life in China and work experiences, giving us lots of advice and allowing us to understand the development of China from different points of views.

Day 8: Exploring the city map

We finally had the long-awaited city exploration activity! We needed to explore the local way of living in groups in the form of group competition. I found this learning experience especially interesting as it allowed us to thoroughly explore the city and understand how life there was really like. We had many opportunities to interact with the locals to learn more about Chengdu culture from their perspectives as we moved through the city to complete our tasks. During the exploration, each group tried their best in order to win and the competitiveness made the entire process exciting and fun. It was definitely a memorable learning experience.

Day 9: Crossing mountains and rivers

Our stamina was really put to test on this day of climbing and trekking, but everyone still had a blast! We first visited the majestic looking Dujiangyan Irrigation System, understanding its importance to the entire Chengdu’s irrigation system. The knowledge and wisdom of people from thousands of years ago was truly remarkable.

We also went to Mount Qingcheng to learn about its history and religious cultural value. Mount Qingcheng is one of Chinese Taoism’s places of origin and this famous Taoism mountain is said to be highly valued by all dynasties. It was a pity that it drizzled that day. Even though everyone persevered through and climbed to the top of the mountain, it left some regrets in us as we were unable to fully admire the scenery and pay tribute to Taoist deities. But this was made up by the Sichuan Opera show later that night, which was simply incredible! Enjoying and appreciating all the talented performances with the locals allowed us to experience how life is like living in Sichuan.

Day 10: National Treasure

We definitely cannot miss visiting pandas when we visit Chengdu, which is the home of this “national treasure” of China! Our anticipation grew as we approached this day listed on our itinerary, and we were bursting with excitement when we finally saw those cute pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Pandas. After watching the way the cute pandas laze around, everyone could not help but fall in love with them. All of us had a blast there!

Moving on, we paid a visit to ByteDance, the company that founded TopBuzz and TikTok. We learnt about the strategies they use to develop different applications and also the development of digital media in China. I found out that many China corporates are now focusing on their development in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and that innovation and continuous research in the age of digital media will be the new main driving force for China’s future development. This is definitely worth our attention and we can learn more about it.

Day 11: School Exchange

On our second last day of the trip, we went to Chengdu’s LongQuan No. 2 Middle School and interacted with their teachers and students. Once we stepped into the campus ground, we immediately felt the warm welcome extended by the school members. Afterwards, we joined the students in paper cutting class and martial arts class. We joined the school’s international class students, who were studying one foreign language (Korean, Russian, Italian and French), along with the two languages they are already learning in school – Chinese and English. They were all trilingual, and we were extremely impressed! LongQuan No. 2 Middle School is an arts and sports school, hence students were given many opportunities to develop in their co-curricular activities. The students were all talented, passionate and proactive, and we befriended one another in no time at all!

In the afternoon, we went to Chengdu’s University of Electronic Science and Technology and visited their museum, innovation centre and library, where there was a virtual reality (VR) gaming area. The library used a face identification system that was used in China’s skynet programme to grant entry to visitors. After learning more about it, we realised that China is already very developed in the technology of scientific face identification. This allowed us to have a much better understanding about China’s development in areas of electronic science and AI.

Day 12: Farewell

On the last day of our trip, we visited Wuhou Temple and Jinli Street to learn about the historical importance of Chengdu in the Capital of Shu Kingdom during the Three Kingdoms period. Wuhou Temple was built to commemorate the bright and intelligent Zhu Ge Liang. We also went to the Thatched Cottage of Du Fu, immersing ourselves in the local cultural atmosphere and also its local flavour. Ms Lan, our tour guide, explained about spring festival couplets to let us understand more in-depth about the ancient purpose from those Chinese words.

It seemed only befitting that it started to drizzle on our final day in China; gusts of wind blew past and autumn leaves scattered on the ground. Everyone was busy taking pictures and doing some last minute shopping. Even though we were filled with reluctance to leave, we still felt immensely blessed to have had this rare opportunity of participating in our last bicultural overseas trip. Over the past 12 days, we gained much more knowledge about China’s development in different areas, as well as formed new perspectives on the Singaporean culture and what it means to be Singaporean. Thank you to the 4 teachers for taking care of us, helping us to plan our schedule, preparing information and leading our daily reflection activity. I am grateful for everyone’s participation and forming wonderful memories together!

Translated by Lee Hui En 李卉蒽 (20-I4)
and Quek Zhi Jun 郭芷君 (20-A6)


诺雅行天下 ——记2018双文化重庆成都学习浸濡之旅


第一天 启程

经过五个小时的飞行之后,我们的飞机终于到达重庆,带着期待与好奇,大家兴奋地踏上了旅程的第一个景点 —— 洪崖洞。从机场到洪崖洞,我们在巴士上看到了重庆市繁华、绚丽的夜景:随处可见的高楼大厦和跨越两江的一座座大桥被霓虹灯装饰得梦幻无比,令我感到十分震撼。而洪崖洞独特的巴渝传统建筑特色外观也十分迷人,这里据说也是日本动漫千与千寻的取景地之一。而置身其中,你会发现四周人山人海,热闹极了,而且到处都能见到不同的摊位正在摆卖重庆土产和道地的麻辣串,就这样我们在扑面而来的重庆味道中,度过了我们这次旅行的第一个夜晚。

第二天 大足石刻

我们到了中国 5A级的旅游景点——大足石刻,欣赏了宋代时期壮观的佛教文化。通过讲解员的解说,我们了解了大足石刻的魅力所在:这里每一尊佛像的雕刻十分精致,让我们惊叹800年前人们的伟大,竟能在高山在如此细心的雕刻。而更令人叹服的是大足石刻通过回廊式的雕刻群构成了一个完整的故事体系,显示了人们对他们宗教的信仰。我们也从雕刻的故事中意识到了孝顺父母的重要性,也懂得要继续积德感恩现在所拥有的一切。

第三天  重庆城市魅力






第五天 再见重庆




第六天 穿越民国


第七天  新加坡人在成都



第八天 城市地图探索


第九天  跋山涉水

今天的整个行程非常考验我们的体力,全程又爬山又走路, 但大家还是玩得很高兴。我们首先见证了壮观的都江堰工程,了解了都江堰对整个成都市的水系统的重要意义,古人千年之前的智慧实在令人佩服。


第十天  国宝



第十一天  学校参访



第十二天  惜别




作者:姚文轩 (18-A1)



祖哈克 祖齐弗里:恻隐之心 人皆有之(如何与贫困人士交流)

“The common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul, finding there capacities which the outside didn’t indicate or promise, and which the other kind of eye couldn’t detect.” Mark Twain

一般人只看得见事物的表面,并且会以此判断一个人或一件事。但是,拥有恻隐之心的人却能看透一个人的心灵,可以看见外表以外的东西,而这是一般人做不到的。—— 马克吐温

In recent times, the invisible, marginalised poor have been revealed to Singapore. Their realities are removed from idealised visions of a first-world utopia some of us hold to. Mark Twain talks about the “seeing eyes”, a sight that is able to read “the heart and the soul.” In this essay, I want to focus on how we can manifest compassion by adopting Twain’s formulation of sight-as-interaction. In particular, I wish to discuss a subtle variety of compassion in interactions with those who are not well-off. Through this act of “seeing”, I hope that we can cultivate an understanding of the underprivileged “other”. To me, this is integral to not just the cultivation of a more compassionate home, but to the notion of seeing things with clarity. 


Sometimes, we may find ourselves in a group with others who

may not share the same level of privilege. You might unintentionally slide into a discussion about a luxury which others do not have the chance to enjoy. Perhaps it’s the trip you had over the vacation, or some really delicious food at that new cafe in town. It could also be complaints — how your salary is not enough for you to get that handbag, or how your parents should be increasing your allowance. 

有时候,我们可能会和与我们相比之下较为贫困的人来往。你可能会不经意分享自己的假期旅行,或者分享自己去城市里新开张的咖啡厅时品尝到的美食—— 而这些对有些人来说可能是遥不可及的奢侈。你可能也会不经意发牢骚,如自己的薪水不够买自己想要的包包,或者是父母应该多给你一些零用钱之类的。

Be aware of the silent one, or the one who smiles awkwardly, or the one who brushes it off by saying “oh it is alright!” or “I am fine, please don’t worry about it.” It is not simply about everyone sharing the same experience. Instead, the lack of access to these experiences due to their unaffordability can exclude someone from the experience itself. These things are not necessarily limited to material pleasures. It could be having parents who are still married to one another, or having family members who care for you, or having a place to return to at the end of a long and difficult day.


We should always be mindful that others may not come from the same background as ourselves. This may seem like common sense, but common sense may not be so common when we fall into the habits of the everyday cultures in which we find ourselves. This cannot be an excuse to be complacent or to dismiss it. Rather, we can cultivate this awareness, which will only grow in strength. If you can do simple mental sums, then you can surely do this. 


So you’ve realised you’ve entered a conversation that is not inclusive. What do you do? Change the topic. Change it to something which everyone can participate in. It is not so difficult. But don’t make the situation awkward, especially for the individual. This might happen if you give others looks or abruptly stop the conversation. Instead, opt to turn the conversation away and enter a new realm of discussion as naturally as possible — sometimes, the kindest acts of conversations simply begin with “Can we talk about something else?”. 


Don’t apologise to the individual. Apologising just makes things worse because you indirectly single them out as a “problem.” Ironically, it contributes to a sense of alienation for those individuals. There is a place for apologies but this immediate situation is not one of them. Rather, a more gracious thing to do is to apologise personally after the whole thing. 


You might also know a person who is not well-off, to whom you would love to give a treat. This is a nice thing to do. But even in such interactions, there has to be a degree of grace, subtlety, and consideration. Here’s a useful rule I call the “Rule of Self-inclusion”. Whenever you want to treat someone to something, be it having a nice meal or going out to do an activity, include yourself in every aspect of it. 


What do I mean by this? I think it be useful to illustrate this by way of treating someone to food (yes, that Singaporean passion). Instead of buying specific portions of food, you can order a variety of different food items and share it with everyone. In this way, you “include” yourself into the treat, and shift the attention away from the individual you are treating. You not only avert any feelings of discomfort or indebtedness (“make people feel paiseh”), you also enrich the experience by sharing and partaking in a meal with them because the social lines are blurred at the dinner table. 


As far as possible, do not deny the opportunity for the other party to treat you in return. You may feel that they need the money more, but accepting the treat can actually be the kinder gesture. It is in your receiving that a bit of self-dignity is restored for them.


When we engage with discussions on poverty, we should not assume to know better than the underprivileged about their condition. We do not presume to tell doctors how to do their jobs. In that vein, we should not prescribe solutions or pass value judgements on those not as fortunate as ourselves, especially if we have not undergone such experiences. 


And even if we have, we should be aware that not all poverties are the same, with different complexities and considerations. Do not cite statistics, figures, number, citations, studies, surveys, and technical jargon; nobody cares. A better approach is to listen to each individual story. Ultimately, human experiences cannot be quantified. Instead of trying to justify our notions of the nature of poverty, we should instead learn to talk less, and listen more to the poor with a beautiful patience. 


Only by listening, can we cultivate “seeing eyes.”


Teacher’s Comments:  It is interesting that you choose to use “domestication”(归化法) and translate “seeing eyes” as “恻隐之心”. I think that this translation fits the context of the story quite well, but if you want to keep the word “eye” in your translation, you can also consider using “慧眼“.

Empathy by Zulhaqem Zulkifli
Translated by Denise Melody Goh (21-U6)

POFMA – A Commentary


With the seismic shift to the use of online means as a primary mode of communication, education and data, such merits brought about by the rise in digitalisation and the internet has been accompanied by their own perils – fake news. Fake news is more than merely the spread of false information online. In many cases, content portrayed in articles classified to be fake news do not have a heavy emphasis placed on its relevance to actual facts, but rather, commentary that “expresses a particular point of view or an incomplete report of an event by a citizen journalist” which leaves room for different interpretations by readers. 

Locally, a survey conducted by BBC on 310 Singaporeans found that 59% of Singaporeans found it difficult to distinguish between real and fake digital news (Chua, 2017), and this has been further exacerbated by new media, with Singaporeans also enjoying high social media penetration rates. Echo chambers and complex algorithms tailor social media feeds to users’ likes and preferences, resulting in their own beliefs and opinions consistently reinforced and barely challenged. Together, these have complicated the necessary approaches required to tackle the spread of fake news digitally. 

In Singapore, the government has implemented various measures, ranging from educational campaigns to laws criminalising the spread and purveying of fake news. In 2019, the Protection From Online Falsehoods and Misinformation Act (POFMA) was passed. Its aims include allowing authorities to tackle the spread of fake news and ensuring sustained trust in major key public institutions for society to function and live harmoniously. Corrective actions put in place include a Correction Direction, which requests for users who initially posted the false piece of information to correct it with a factually accurate one as well as fines and/or imprisonment. 

However, the bill was not the most well-received by multiple stakeholders, including mixed responses from members of the public, local independent organisations and

international organisations. POFMA was criticised for granting governments too much power over the decision of whether something should be fact or fiction and its heavy grasp on citizens’ freedom of speech and expression especially on online platforms. However, it cannot be forgotten that POFMA has indeed brought about various merits, ranging from correcting false claims and serving as a highly effective deterrent for the intentional spread of fake news, ensuring public order and preserving harmony amidst Singapore’s highly fragile social fabric. Through this essay, I seek to explore, as well as weigh the various merits and drawbacks of POFMA to assess the extent to which POFMA is justified, and subsequently propose possible improvements to the bill. 


While considering whether the punishment, in the form of Correction Orders, fines and imprisonment, is comparable with the act of intentionally spreading fake news, it would also be vital to pay heed to the extents to which various aspects of POFMA has been in line with various widespread moral theories and universal human rights principles. 

The intention of POFMA is to clamp down on the rapid spread of misinformation online, protecting national security and public safety. Tied with its hefty punishments, it serves as an effective deterrent from the deliberate spread of misinformation, in turn safekeeping society’s peace and harmony. 

Richard. A. Wasserstrom’s book encompassing law and philosophy, The Judicial Decision, suggests the use of “restricted utilitarianism”, which emphasises “the evaluation of a particular action by appeal to a moral rule, which in turn is to be justified in terms of a principle of utility for producing maximum happiness with minimum conflict.” (Allen, 1962) Hence, similar to rule utilitarianism, the most morally desirable action would be obtained likely by following a set of rules likely to result in the greatest good for the greatest number. As opposed to act utilitarianism, one can refrain from acts that might maximise utility in the short run but instead, act in which one will maximise utility for the majority of the time (CrashCourse, 2016) 

From the above, an analysis of the relative importance of utility derived by different stakeholders and in both short and long terms is required. Fake news, no longer in theory, has had profound impacts on many countries, including Singapore. In 2018, a false rumour and misleading picture of Punggol Waterway Terraces’ roof having collapsed triggered the false activation of emergency services and unnecessarily heightened anxieties of many

Singaporeans (Channel NewsAsia, 2019). In other countries, such as India, a rumour circulating on WhatsApp regarding the identities of alleged (later, proven false) child traffickers resulted in mob lynching and deaths of a few innocent people (Bali et al., 2019), and fake news, coupled with social media virality and an insatiable appetite for sensationalised news, could be wielded as a potential political tool or even one detrimental to national security and safety. POFMA has also been employed during the COVID-19 pandemic against a false claim on HardwareZone.com that a man had died from COVID-19. HardwareZone was then required to carry the Correction Notice to all end-users in Singapore of HardwareZone.com. There were also many other COVID-19 related fake news, but such strict enforcement of POFMA would effectively help minimise further spread of such misinformation and better vigilance against such websites, reducing the unnecessary anxiety and distress such fake news could have brought. Though Singapore has yet to see fake news with such far-reaching impacts, it remains unsafe to assume that Singapore will be exempt from them, that Singapore would merely suffer from fake news that affects a small minority with no long-lasting harm involved. This is utility derived in terms of order, peace and safety of the population in the long run, and also where members of the public are likely to feel more at ease knowing that such a deterrent is present to threaten purveyors of fake news. 

Moreover, whether or not restrictions on freedom of speech, coupled with other concerns, will be a mere short term “conflict” is debatable. While indeed, POFMA has seen cold responses from both local and international stakeholders. Despite being concentrated during the time period where POFMA was first introduced, it is unlikely that these issues resolve themselves and may very well last for the entirety of POFMA until changes are made to it. Moreover, there have also been concerns over whether POFMA would suppress dissent and free expression. Whether or not it does, however, it is also possible that citizens, especially journalists and academics, would have to be extremely careful when “investigative pieces are fraught with hazards given that the full picture takes time to be borne out, and newly revealed facts could change a narrative completely.” (Chng, 2019) 

In the long run, it is unlikely that POFMA can outrace the virality of fake news, catalysed by social media algorithms and swayed readers. While POFMA may serve as an effective deterrent, once a piece of information starts to circulate, its impact remains irreversible. However, a sense of security shared by the government and members of the public, where public order and harmony is better safeguarded, is more than likely a significant merit of POFMA. Hence, this allows POFMA to align largely with restricted utilitarianism.


Imposing such a heavy restriction on online speech would undoubtedly lead to a substantial risk of government overreach and power. The final decision of whether something is true or false is placed in the government’s and the court’s hands, especially where facts and opinions cannot be compartmentalised in a dichotomous manner today. Raised by SCL, journalists often would have to be extremely careful when “investigative pieces are wrought with hazards given that the full picture takes time to be borne out, and newly revealed facts could change a narrative completely” (Chng, 2019) 

In addition to the above, the Asia Internet Coalition also said “Determining whether the information is true or false is a highly subjective, nuanced and difficult task” and suggested that “prescriptive legislation should not be the first solution in addressing what is a highly nuanced and complex issue.” (Asia Internet Coalition, 2019). As such, the Asia Internet Coalition thinks that legislation would be not only too far-reaching but also less effective and less necessary as compared to promoting and inculcating “digital, media and information literacy at every level” in the long run, and should not be the mere duties of governments, but also that of media platforms and other relevant industries. 

Moreover, transparency of decision-making processes and considerations is limited. Members of the public are neither unable to effectively question the result, nor cross-check with a variety of resources to ensure accountability and accuracy of the corrected information given to them, should it be a mere denial of legitimacy. There has also been a lack of transparency as to how a Correction Direction is justified in itself that the fake news at hand might affect public interest or diminish public confidence in institutions (Asia Internet Coalition, 2019). 

For example, in April 2020, false statements were made with regard to Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek Holdings, a company wholly owned by the state. Claims surrounded Ho Ching’s salary. The Minister of Finance issued Correction Directions on the online posts. The Workers’ Party also brought up the “lack of clarity and transparency of the purpose of these Correction Directions.” (Asia Internet Coalition, 2019) 

This arises majorly due to information on policies and decision-making processes likely being classified and not publically available. It is unfeasible for governments to be fully transparent with such documents and information, especially if it might concern national

security. Members of the public are largely limited to accepting the information presented as factually accurate without much means of challenging the outcome with tangible data. This could result in doubt and varying levels of mistrust as to whether information provided by governments and authorities is really factually accurate. Hence, despite the existence of appealing one’s issued Correction Direction, since the outcome cannot be effectively contested nor verified by members of the public who are on the receiving end of the stick, the final verdict on whether a piece of information is true or false will eventually only lie in the government’s and relative authorities’ hands. 

Moreover, the first line of authority to issue a Correction Direction is mostly Ministers themselves. It is highly unlikely that Ministers issue a Correction DIrection on themselves. Hence, there lies an assumption that the government will always be an arbiter of truth at a specific time period for which a piece of information is up to date and valid. In Section 4(f) of POFMA, public interest is involved when false statements of fact are put out “to prevent a diminution of public confidence in the performance of any duty or function of, or in the exercise of any power by, the Government, an Organ of State, a statutory board, or a part of the Government, an Organ of State or a statutory board.” (Singapore Statutes Online, 2021) It would be likely ironic that the government issued Correction Directions against themselves, since that would indirectly affect the reliability and accuracy of the government, in turn reducing trust people may have on them. 

Coupled with insufficient resources and limited ability of members of the public to counter claims with tangible evidence, this further strengthens the inevitability of having to accept governments’ claims as factual, accurate and valid. 

However, the government is not the sole nor the final decider of what is true or false, since the final decision on whether something is true or false, upon appeal, is made by the Courts. This ensures accountability and reduces bias, aided by the separation of powers in Singapore’s legal system which will be elaborated on in a subsequent section. 


Concerns over freedom of speech and expression also arose. On an article that is deemed to contain fake news, a correction notice will be issued – with no punishments just yet. Then, the purveyor of the alleged piece of fake news will have to upload a corrected version of the article according to instructions denoted by the Correction Direction.

Then, both initial and corrected versions will not be taken down. This means that they will be available to the public. Otherwise, an appeal can be made to the Minister who issued the correction direction, and upon his refusal, the appeal can be brought to the High Court. 

According to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” (United Nations, 2021) 

In Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, the Parliament is allowed to impose laws on Section 1(a) “restrictions as it considers necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of Singapore or any part thereof, friendly relations with other countries, public order or morality and restrictions designed to protect the privileges of Parliament or to provide against contempt of court, defamation or incitement to any offence” (Singapore Statutes Online, 2021) 

Various local and international organisations have centralised their arguments against POFMA in the extent to which freedom of speech and expression might be affected. On the other hand, local authorities have also responded accordingly to these arguments and assertions, citing the infringement of citizens’ right to freedom of speech and expression. 

In response to initial concerns over POFMA’s grasp on citizens’ right to free speech and expression, Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam mentioned that POFMA can, and will only apply to false statements of fact. In the bill, a fact is defined to be “a statement which a reasonable person seeing, hearing or otherwise perceiving it would consider to be a representation of fact”. (Singapore Statutes Online, 2021) 

Hence, POFMA is unable to be used on non-statements of fact, such as opinions and commentaries. As long as it does not threaten national security, nor diminish public trust and confidence in public authorities which in turn threatens national security, one could post whatever opinions they would like to. 

The above can be supported by Section 26 of the Internal Security Act, where “Any person who, by word of mouth or in writing or in any newspaper, periodical, book, circular or other printed publication or by any other means spreads false reports or makes false statements likely to cause public alarm, shall be guilty of an offence under this Part.” (Singapore Statutes Online, 2021). When false assertions and accusations have the

potential to mislead members of the public, inciting distrust, fear, panic and doubt, it is only natural that such statements are criminalised and restrictions are put in place to deter the dissemination of such statements. Shanmugam also suggested that “Not all forms of speech are worthy of equal protection. For example, if you falsely cry “fire” in a crowded theatre, that’s not protected as valuable speech.” (Ministry of Law, 2019). These enable POFMA to produce the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run, rendering it morally acceptable and favoured in aligning to restricted utilitarianism philosophies. 

In October 2021, the Court of Appeal also mentioned that a Correction Direction did not restrict the right to freedom of speech, “because the communicator of the statement could continue to publish the alleged falsehood” and was only required to “put up a notice highlighting the alleged falsehood.” (Lum, 2021). Hence, until determined to be false, the statement remains protected under Article 14(1)(a) of the Constitution where the freedom of speech and expression is not infringed upon. 

Moreover, Shanmugam, in an interview, also suggested that POFMA could “encourage greater democracy” due to POFMA “encouraging more information” (Channel NewsAsia, 2020). This is due to the fact that citizens can be “as hard as you (they) like on the Government policies, on the Government in your (their) viewpoints. You (They) can offer counter policies. POFMA cannot apply to any of that.” He also suggested that placing up warnings to inform others that what oneself has said was untrue did not disadvantage oneself, since ‘people read what you have written. People read what the Government says. And they decide for themselves.” 

Hence, debate over local affairs will not be stifled, but rather, further enhanced and made more accurate with POFMA chiming in to correct blatant mistruths and false allegations, giving rise to more meaningful and factually accurate discussions. As such, people retain the same freedom to freely express themselves, as long as they stick to evaluating and giving opinions based on truths and not false premises. 

On the other hand, arguments circling how POFMA might indirectly affect freedom of speech were raised. In a 2021 report by the International Commission of Jurists, the presence of such heavy penalties, though mentioned criminal sanctions have yet to be enforced in reality, is “likely to pose a chilling effect on the free communication of ideas, opinions or information”, where users may engage in self-censorship “to pre-empt and protect themselves from incurring severe penalties.” (International Commission of Jurists, 2021)

With human nature, such heavy penalties often cause one to rethink their actions, where they hence relook at the content they decide to post. Since there is a fine line to tread between fact, fiction and opinion, or a mixture of both, it is difficult for members of the public to be completely certain on the actual nature of the information they put out due to the complex nature of language in differentiating between fact and fiction. This might lead to self-censorship in fears of inadvertently treading into the danger zone of a fact that may eventually turn out to be false. Similar to this, a local independent journalism institution, New Naratif, suggested that POFMA also “created mental stress and paranoia” not only for their reporters, but also their sources, because of the fear of running afoul of the law. (International Commission of Jurists, 2021) 

However, POFMA does indirectly have a rather hefty grasp over the freedom of speech and expression of individuals in Singapore. POFMA contradicts Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see above), which states that freedom to hold opinions is to be granted “without interference”. While defamation claims that are passed off as truths are held accountable under POFMA, POFMA still imposes a fear and burden on citizens on what they decide to post online. Since there is no dichotomy between fact and opinion, but rather a grey area of both intertwined with one another, POFMA would indirectly have exuded interference on opinions and commentaries by various individuals, in fear of what one would consider an opinion to be considered an assertion of fact to the government, resulting in issuance of a Correction Direction. This would also cause detriment to not only one’s, but also one’s organisation’s reputation. 

In turn, this would cause a reduction in public opinion and debate over matters concerning the government and her policies, contradicting Shanmugam’s claim that POFMA could in fact promote greater democracy. 


Singapore’s legal system operates by splitting the power of governing the country into 3 branches: the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary. This enables checks and balances to be done on each branch, ensuring accountability to prevent abuse of power or corruption. Each branch has limited power to interfere in the doings of the other branch. 

However, the separation of powers may pose a double-edged sword when it comes to POFMA.

Courts cannot exercise legislative power nor refine existing legislation. This is because legislation is typically widely scoped and affects a large range of people and actions. Hence, the Courts are unlikely to be well-equipped to carry out reforms of laws and legislations. (Tan et al., 2015). 

Hence, this reduces the likelihood of the Courts being biased towards the government or a certain stakeholder, since the Courts will mainly focus on interpreting the laws given to them, and will hence likely interpret it in a fairer manner as compared to if legislative branches were to be involved in the final say of whether a piece of information is true or false. As such, having the final stage of appeal and hence the final decision to be determined by the Courts is fair and reliable to a large extent. 

For example, in October 2021, the Court of Appeal disagreed with the Attorney-General’s argument stating that a statement is false based solely on a minister having identified it to be false. The court said, “We regard this as untenable. The minister may, after all, be mistaken” and concluded that truths and falsehoods “are ultimately matters to be determined by a court based on the evidence.” (Lum, 2021) 

However, since Courts are unable to stray from what laws mention, should a law be unconstitutional or in need of reform, the Courts are unable to do so, since they only have the power to resolve the conflict they are tasked with in accordance with what the laws mention. Likewise, in the context of POFMA, they can only interpret POFMA based on what is written in POFMA. This poses an issue should concerns arise regarding certain features of POFMA, such as Section 4(f) of POFMA that states that a false statement of fact can negatively affect public interest should it serve “to prevent a diminution of public confidence in the performance of any duty or function of, or in the exercise of any power by, the Government, an Organ of State, a statutory board, or a part of the Government, an Organ of State or a statutory board.” (Singapore Statutes Online, 2021) 


Modifications can be made to improve POFMA, while retaining its power over maintaining public peace, to improve accountability and enhance transparency of processes. 

Taking a closer look at the Act, “public interest”, in Section 4 of the Act, could be defined more specifically by including aspects to which public interest entails, such as

reputations of which stakeholders, national security, morals. This better aligns the definition of “public interest” with permissible purposes in the United Nations Human Rights Council (ICCPR), where Article 19(2) can be “subject to certain restrictions”, namely: “(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.” (United Nations, 2021) 

A more specific definition of “public interest” reduces room for interpretation and misinterpretation, also promoting transparency between members of the public and the government, allowing the public to have a better understanding of how a statement issued a Correction Direction could have infringed upon public interest. 

The removal of Section 7-(1)(b)(vi), which states that statements that are both false and whose communication is likely to “diminish public confidence in the performance of any duty or function of, or in the exercise of any power by, the Government, an Organ of State, a statutory board, or a part of the Government, an Organ of State or a statutory board” (Singapore Statutes Online, 2021), for it assumes that ruling parties in Singapore would not communicate any falsehood and that any ideas communicated are wholly true, since it would be contradictory to issue a POFMA order against oneself. 

Lastly, transparency of processes regarding POFMA and the issuance of Correction Directions can be improved upon by publicly justifying requirements and demands of Correction Directions. In addition, clear explanations of why a statement had been issued a Correction Direction, especially how an alleged false statement of fact would have had an effect on public interest could be provided as well, for better understanding and accountability of government decisions with regard to issuance of Correction Directions. 


The heated debate between freedom of speech and expression and POFMA, whose primary aims include preserving public order and harmony, is one that will complicate over time, with heightened awareness of Singapore’s media censorship which has already begun to gain traction in other countries, in addition to on local platforms. There will exist a very thin line to tread when topics discuss free speech and simultaneously restricting it under certain circumstances, and this line is already one that is hard to draw. The concerns of oppositions towards POFMA are not unfounded as well, since multiple stakeholders ranging from academics to journalists are involved, and due to Singapore being led by a majority single political party, opposition voices can easily seem to be silenced, whether inadvertently or intentionally.

by Belinda Lian (21-A2)
under Programme LATITUDE


In a series of essays, Eunoians reflect on life, love, and loss. The essays were written in Mandarin, and translated into English.


As the saying goes, “Life isn’t a bed of roses.” Despite having heard this quote many times over, I still cannot help but grumble about my misfortunes in times of adversity. When I’d first started learning English, for instance, I struggled to learn all 26 letters of the alphabet. I often had to burn the midnight oil, writing till I was physically and mentally exhausted to finish writing a full essay. I had to constantly refer to the dictionary when writing, lamenting about my exasperating and difficult circumstances as I went. But in spite of the pain and suffering, I also realised that these were necessary challenges I had to endure on the road to success; if I couldn’t tackle them head-on, I would never be able to overcome those challenges. Smooth-sailing events will only stagnate me in my progress; rough times are the moments that keep me trudging forward.

     Mankind has faced all sorts of trials and tribulations since the dawn of time. Some choose not to face these challenges head-on, hence failing to learn and improve in the process. Others choose to be tested by these hardships in order to become a formidable power. Mengzi once said: “Thou who is plagued with worry and hesitation is blessed with prosperity and growth; thou who is blissful in content will inevitably perish.Thou who is blessed with Heaven’s mandate is first made to suffer, tested by enduring hardships to strengthen thy resolve, and gifting upon thee unforeseen gifts.” A person who wishes to accomplish a huge task would first have to encounter obstacles, strengthen their resolve and renew their passion in order to reinforce their abilities. Conversely, a smooth-sailing life without ever facing challenges would lead one to grow content and fail to make progress.

     Helen Keller’s incredible life story seems to prove such an understanding. She was born with numerous sensory defects but never gave up on life. Through her own hard work and some help from her tutor Ms Sullivan, she managed to overcome numerous odds to attain a Diploma in Literature. Despite being both visually impaired and hearing impaired, she held on tight to her strong sense of determination, allowing her to accomplish feats that others said were ‘impossible’; in doing so, she left a legacy behind her. After reading about her awe-inspiring story, I could not help but think: If Helen had been born without any disabilities, encountering none of the challenges she’d faced, perhaps her story would not have gone down in the books as it had. It is precisely the challenges and obstacles in her life and her determined character that made Helen Keller as inspiring she is.

     However, the hardships we face in life aren’t only determined by our fate; a dysfunctional society can also manifest huge problems in one’s life. The Harry Potter series may be widely renowned now, but its author J.K. Rowling had been poverty stricken prior to becoming a famous author. She was also unable to find a job and had to raise her children independently. Rowling could only afford to write on tiny pieces of scrap paper, but never once did she bow down to her misfortunes. Instead, she persisted through writing and publishing her work, and was finally able to present the fascinating world of her imagination to millions of readers. This allowed her to not only become a famous writer, but also break out of the poverty cycle. 

     Similarly, Benjamin Franklin was also born into a poor family and had to drop out of school at the tender age of 10. However, that did not stop him from continuing to learn; the self-accomplished Franklin then went on to become an inventor, a politician, as well as one of America’s ‘3 Founding Fathers’. As Franklin once said, “Obstacles create opportunity.” The hardships that we endure don’t merely serve as a low point in our lives; they can also be a turning point for success.

     Adversities aren’t something that only humans face; animals, too, have to fight for their own territory, escape from predators and hunt for food. They often have to face obstacles that their natural environment provides. This is explained in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution as the widely-known concept of ‘Survival of the Fittest’. In the ever-changing world of nature, competition abound; if animals are unable to overcome their evolutionary challenges and adapt to their surroundings, their species would be decimated. The species that survive are those who evolve in the face of hardships, and grow stronger. If these evolutionary challenges never presented themselves, these species would have never experienced the test of survival and evolved; apes would have never walked erect as Man. Evidently, adversities are the factor that inspires change.

     Hardships are an inevitable part of life; everyone is bound to experience them on some level. However, what truly separates the victors from those who are defeated by their hardships is the crucial choice between submitting to your hardships, or achieving spiritual growth in the process.

Translated by Celest So Yee Suan 苏倚萱 (20-I4)









作者:徐宝鎏 (19-A2)

我为何选择翻译本作品:这篇文章所描述的逆境,不禁让我想起好不容易才渡过的2020年。每个人在生活中难免都会面临逆境,而每个人在这种情况下都会有不同的处理方法。文章利用不少的名言和名人的生活经验,让读者了解任何人都会在人生中面临难关。我非常喜欢文章的最后一句:“人人都会在某种程度上面对[逆境],只是要被它打败还是从中精进自我,是区分失败与成功的重要选择。” 这句话告诉读者,逆境多的是,但是我们选择拥有的态度将会影响我们在人生中的胜败。

Those Unforgettable Days   

In secondary one, I lived far from my school, so I had a full hour to immerse in my thoughts while travelling back.The afternoon after my first mid-year assessment, I counted in my head the number of semesters I had in secondary school. Watching the blossoming flowers through the bus window on the way home, my heart bloomed at the thought that I had just completed one-eighths of my secondary journey. 

I had forgotten whatever happened before or after this, but this was the only moment that I remember as clearly as if it was yesterday. In those four years, those eight portions of time, how much had been forgotten and how much remembered? Just like the first time stepping into the secret darkroom at the back of  the art room and soaking the film in the developer solution, what emerges from my memories is not the entire picture, but rather, fragments of it.

Towards the end of secondary school days, we were all very busy. I moved, and my new house was only 10 minutes away from the school.  My travelling time to and fro school was almost 2 hours less; however,  it also meant that I lost the time spent pondering in the bus like I previously did. I was so busy that I didn’t even realise that that had been the last of the eighths of blue pinafore days I had spent in my ‘second home, St. Nicholas’.

As I gathered the memories captured in the films, I realised that my bittersweet struggle with art had taken a huge part of the last eighth. Nonetheless, the days where art forcefully stayed by my side turned out to be my most unforgettable ones.

Thinking back about the art room, you could say that it was untouched by light under the spectator stand;  it would be in complete darkness before we switch the lights on. The windows that line the two walls are always open, but the air in the room always had a trace of paint, clay and some kind of chemicals. The art classroom is stubborn – it doesn’t let light in but doesn’t let smells out either. In that very classroom locked the days of my youth, and the only gift I had gotten out of the generosity of the art room were the memories which I could bring along with me.

My memories relating to art seemed to be gleaming with a tinge of  gold.  It’s not that those memories were precious, but that for every art class, we would have to stay back in school for additional three hours closer to the “golden hour”. So, as we neared the end of the lessons in the evenings, the last rays of the sun always crept past the door of the art room.

That golden light was just like the lamp in the corner of the room that illuminated still life. I am still baffled about why the sunlight  only illuminates a few tiles before the door,  just like I’m equally baffled about why the lamp only brightens the still life under it, leaving the rest of the room in darkness.

Back then, we often scrambled to keep our laptop and art brushes after our teacher urged us out and switched off the lights in the room. Just before walking out, I would glance up and observe the reflection of the indistinct orange rays on the ceiling. We rushed out of the classroom under the rays of the setting sun, which made us squint and rushed us home. Those orange rays gilded the days of our youthfulness,  imprinting the silhouette of our youth onto the ground  whilst we unknowingly hurried home with the falling rays in our eyes.

The days nearing the end of my secondary school days  might have been the longest time I had spent with my oil paintings, spreading the pungent and unwelcoming oil paints and turpentine onto the equally unwelcoming canvas.  As I  rushed the final project, time slowly crept on to the days of our last examination of secondary school. In the day, I would be  attempting what seemed like never-ending practice questions. After school, I would rush to paint in the art classroom. I visited the art classroom twice a day, up from once a week. Overwhelmed with art and my other schoolwork, I felt like I was drowning.

The smell of oil paint and turpentine can be dizzying after a while, so I moved my easel from indoors to the space outside the back door,  hoping that the fragrance of the plants in the backyard would overpower the pungence. Under my brush, the paint felt soft and slippery on the raw canvas. The blend of the paint, brush and the canvas seemed to make my stress from school briefly disappear.When the sky started to dim, I knew that the sunset would be waiting for me on the other end of the art classroom.

I finally submitted my final oil painting after months of struggling with it. At that time, my mind was preoccupied with starting my revisions as soon as possible, in order not to lag behind the rest. So, just like that, I bid farewell to the final eighth of my secondary school journey, not realising that this was my farewell to art as a subject, too.

To a photographer, dusk was a magical moment.  After my final exams had eventually concluded, I flew back home to my homeland, China.  I was strolling with my cousin under the golden rays of the setting sun one evening when I suddenly turned to her and said, “The lighting is nice. Let me take a picture of  you”. 

She squinted against the sun, looking at me in confusion. Through the camera, her face was gilded with a layer of gold, reminding me of the days when my artmates and I rushed to leave the art room. In that instant, the setting sun seemed to freeze in what seemed like an eternal moment.

Those were the unforgettable days.

Translated by Lim Ying Xin 林映馨 (20-O2)












我转头对表妹说:“我给你拍张照吧,现在的光线很好。” 她被太阳照得眯起眼睛,有些不解地看着我。镜头里她的脸庞被镀上了一层金色,就像那时候美术室外脚步匆匆的我们。夕阳仿佛凝结在一瞬间,又仿佛是生命里的永恒。


作者:门甜甜 (20-A1)

我为何选择翻译本作品:我之所以选择这篇文章是因为它打动了我。第一次读这篇文章后不禁回忆起中学时的那些点点滴滴,也让我想起那时的美 好时光。作者通过细节描写使自己的回忆更加的生动细致,能让读者想象当时的环境和气氛。再加上,我能够彻底理解作者写这篇文章时的心情,因此,我想翻译这篇文章,通过译文让更多人也能够欣赏作者想要表达的苦涩,希望从中也能打动更多人。

You are my Youth 

Just like the splendour of rainbows and the beauty of shooting stars, my youth was fleeting yet so beautiful. It was marked by your amazing hands, unwavering care, constant encouragement and so much more. Grandma, did you know? You are my Youth. 

Grandma, your hands were neither extraordinary nor exceptional. As they aged with time, they gradually got rougher too. But these hands were always filled with warmth. In kindergarten, the innocent me always wanted to hold your hand. I wanted you to accompany me to school, and only agreed to go home if you fetched me. And this was because I liked how you held my hands so tightly while you told me the story of the Big Grey Wolf and the Small White Rabbit as you walked me to and fro school. Even though it was always the same animals, always the same story 365 days a year, I never, ever got tired of it; it remained my favorite story for a long time despite the many more stories I heard later on in my kindergarten days.  “My grandma’s stories are way more interesting than our teacher’s!” was something that I often proclaimed to other kids at school. Grandma, did you know? Your stories and the touch of your hands became such precious memories of my childhood. I also came to understand that good begets good and evil begets evil. (And I know that the evil big grey wolf would definitely get his just desserts). 

Grandma, your hands were neither extraordinary nor exceptional. As they aged with time, they gradually got rougher too. But these hands were extremely skillful. Since young, I loved changing outfits for my Barbie dolls, and you were their exclusive fashion designer. You always sewed dresses for my dolls, one prettier than the previous. To this day, I still vividly remember that white princess dress that you sewed ever so beautifully. The rim of the skirt was edged with purple cloth, the shoulders decorated with a handmade ribbon and the dress flourished with purple flowers that had gold rims. Somehow, the doll dresses that you made always turned out to be exactly what  I wanted. No matter how complicated the design was, it never seemed like a big deal to you. 

After the 2008 WenChuan Earthquake, I donated all my dolls and their beautiful dresses to the kids who were hit by the disaster. I can still clearly remember what you told me, “Many kids lost their fathers and mothers because of the earthquake. They don’t have a home of their own and need the company of these dolls way more than you do.” Grandma, did you know? I really loved every single doll dress that you made. However, I still chose to give them away because of your words. Thank you for teaching me what kindness and empathy was when I was still an ignorant young child. 

Grandma, your hands were neither extraordinary nor exceptional. As they aged with time, they gradually got rougher too. But these hands were magical. To me, you were basically a magician,making sumptuous dishes appear on the dining table ever so quickly. Whenever you cooked, the aroma of the dishes never failed to waft up my nose, making me drool. Whenever it was meal time, my younger brother and I always fought to hurry to the kitchen. And when we got there, we would be greeted by the vast variety of dishes, leaving us completely clueless about where to begin. My favourite dish was your braised ribs, poached pork slices, hot and sour potatoes, salted vegetable fish and many, many more… Whenever you cooked, I would always have a huge appetite and a huge smile. You would always remind me, “Don’t hurry! There’s still half a pot of rice left for you.” Grandma, did you know? Your dishes were the best in this world,peppering my youth with mouth-watering aroma; my baby fats stayed on me way past childhood.

When I was 10, because of my parents’ jobs, our entire family had to migrate to Singapore, a beautiful country. I had to say goodbye to my hometown, my friends and you — the one who loved me the most. At the airport, I couldn’t bear to part with everything I had here, especially you. But with a big smile, you told me, “Singapore has everything. Study hard when you get there and remember to call me often.”  Whatever you said afterwards was completely a blur, but I nodded non-stop, all the while struggling hard to hold back my tears;  Grandma, did you know? Singapore has everything except you, whom I loved the most. 

I could not have felt more alienated when I started schooling in Singapore. Every student and teacher spoke in a language I did not understand. Communicating with them was impossible. I was completely lost during lessons, and had no idea how to do any homework. I felt like giving up. Whenever I called you to complain about my plight, you always encouraged me with your gentle voice. “A tree can only thrive  after it has experienced harsh weathers; one can only achieve success after they have gone through tumultuous times.” Your words left a deep impression on me. Whenever I was on the verge of giving up, these words never failed to dry my tears, giving me the strength to carry on. 

Over time, I started to adapt to life in Singapore. I made a bunch of interesting friends, started to answer questions in class enthusiastically and actively participated in various school activities. Gradually, my life in Singapore was getting better, but you were not …… Your health started deteriorating and you started to sound weaker,  slurring over the phone. Over time, we called less frequently. I started to look forward to and treasure the holidays when I could return home. I’d treasure being reunited with you, holding your hand and walking through the mall with you, lying next to you at night as you told me your story slowly but steadily. 

“Grandma, I’ll surely be back next year! Please look after yourself!” 

“Of course, I’ll be waiting.” 

Grandma, did you know? I loved every bit about you, except that promise that you never kept. 

When I was sixteen, you taught me one last lesson: we would never be able to avoid getting old and passing away… This time, however, you did not teach me this through your words, but through your actions. When I found out about your departure, my whole world shattered. I came to realise that no one can be by my side to protect me forever, not even you, the one who loved me the most and whom I loved the most. This realisation ushered me away from my youth and into adulthood. Grandma, your hands accompanied me throughout my childhood, bringing me so much joy; your words wiped away my tears, teaching me perseverance, kindness and how to treat this world gently. Finally, your actions led me to recognise that I have grown up. Although my youth was fleeting,  it was never boring or uninteresting because of you. Grandma, did you know? You are my youth and I really miss you!

Translated by Andrea Yap 叶惠宣 (20-O2)



奶奶,你的手既不特殊,也不出众。随着岁月的消逝,还略显粗糙,但这双手温暖。上幼儿园时,那时单纯天真的我总是要拉着你的那双手,祈求你陪我一起上幼儿园,放学也非你来接我才肯回家。因为我喜欢你在上下学路上一边紧紧牵着我,一边生动地跟我说大灰狼和小白兔的故事。即使一年三百六十五天都是同样的动物,同样的故事情节,我还是百听不厌。后来,我在幼儿园里又听到许许多多其他故事,但是我的最爱还是你的大灰狼和小白兔,甚至经常在幼儿园里骄傲地向其他小朋友炫耀:“我奶奶说的故事比老师更有趣呢!” 奶奶,你知道吗?那时候你的双手与你的一成不变的故事为幼小的我带来了多少美好的回忆,还让我明白了善有善报。恶有恶报,恶毒的大灰狼是不会有好下场的。

奶奶,你的手既不特殊,也不出众。随着岁月的消逝,还略显粗糙,但这双手灵巧。你还记得吗?我从小就喜欢收集芭比娃娃,我喜欢给芭比娃娃换上不同的裙子,而你便是这些娃娃的专属服装设计师。你总是能在短时间内缝制出一条比一条漂亮的裙子。令我至今都记忆犹新的还是那条白色公主裙。它的裙边镶着紫色的纱,吊带上还有你亲手绑了再缝的蝴蝶结,裙子上还有许多她一朵朵缝上去镶着金片的紫色花朵。你对我想要的裙子总是有求必应,即时多复杂的设计对你来说都是小菜一碟。08年汶川大地震时,在你的鼓励与劝说下,我将我所有娃娃和那些漂漂亮亮的裙子都捐给了灾区的小朋友们。你的话我至今都记得清清楚楚,她告诉我:“好多小朋友因为地震而失去了爸爸和妈妈,没有了自己的家,他们比你更需要这些娃娃的陪伴。” 奶奶,你知道吗?你所做的每条裙子我都好喜欢,也谢谢你在我懵懂的年纪里让我学会了善良与同情。

奶奶的手既不特殊,也不出众。随着岁月的消逝,还略显粗糙,但这双手神奇。你就犹如一个魔术师,总是能在短时间内“变”出色香味俱全的美食。每当你做菜时,香喷喷的气味能从厨房飘到客厅,进入我的五脏六腑,令我“口水直流三千尺”。每到吃饭时间,我和弟弟便会争先恐后冲到厨房,看着眼前五色俱全的菜肴,不知从哪下手。我最喜欢的菜肴便是你做的红烧排骨、水煮肉片、酸辣土豆丝、酸菜鱼还有好多好多…..只要你一做饭,我的胃口便会比平时打了不知多少倍,而你总是会在一旁一边开心得合不拢嘴,一边提醒我:“慢慢吃,饭还有半锅呢!” 奶奶,你知道吗?你所烧的饭菜是世界上最好吃的,是它们令我的青春回味无穷,让童年的我又白又胖。










我为何选择翻译本作品:我非常喜欢这篇文章。这篇文章的内容并不复杂,重点就是奶奶在作者成长过程扮演着多么重要的角色。一开始,作者描述奶奶在她生命中有多么的重要,我就被这又真诚,又单纯的描述给吸引住了。读到后面,我真的有被感动到。虽然故事的结局并没有出乎意料,但那详细的描写深深地打动了我。因此,我选择翻译这篇文章。再加上,这篇文章有许多细节描写,和我一般所翻译的文体不太一样。 我想挑战自己,翻译一篇我不熟悉的文体。