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Debate trains one to be able to listen and write at the same time. At the most basic level you can do dictation. Then it becomes harder when you divide your focus between listening, writing down what you hear and writing down your own thoughts. Then it becomes even harder when person A and B on your left and right try to tell you things.
I have developed this awesome skill (or so I’d like to think) of being able to handle dual input quite well — I can listen and read at the same time, on completely different subject matters on top of that. While listening to a law lecture, I was happily reading a history book. My retention does not seem to have diminished. Likewise I could be listening to bbc while reading my book. The chinese will call this xin you er yong (heart has two uses). Multitasking supposed to be easy for women but quite hard for the male brain, but maybe thats just a generalisation.
And you know where I think I slowly developed this from? Probably from reading while someone is talking to me. But it’s useful if I can somehow tap upon two sources of input at once. imagine the time i’d save.
The ultimate skill would be able to read, listen, write and talk at the same time. Even a real woman brain would go haywire.
Unfortunately, I have no energy for either today after some heavy work.I blame the weather, mostly. I didn’t get my typical three hour nap at work today =( no mood to do much except, nothing really.
I’ve things to read, listen to and simply do, but no mood means no mood.
one of my workplace people received a random email today with a simple math sum involving a ln, a lg and a 3…i think there was an unknown as well
i was slightly honoured to have been invited to come take a look at the sum, but had the full knowledge that they were all mistaken — i had to point out that if i couldn’t do that while in school, you can’t expect me to in this current period of brain rot. Actually, i might have been able to do it…it looks like the second question that appears on page one of an IB paper that i used to always get wrong till a lot later. But it could also look like huge five-mark question which they give you an entire A4 page to solve.
I really don’t know, I hardly looked at the question. Sometimes I think I almost intentionally reinforce this negative belief that math is my bane. That i try to stay away from any test or subject that has elements of numerics even — like if admission tests have math, i conclude that it would be completely futile. More significantly, an entire course of study was shut off because of its mathematical element.
But I can’t be that bad — I did get a 7 for sl math…after rushing two years of worksheets and homework in the last two months. But there is nothing more annoying than knowing the concept but somehow having some funny answer as you go along. Something along the way just messes up by sheer carelessness.
Carelessness would be what makes me normally lose up to ten marks on a math paper. From copying the question wrongly to the cardinal sin of copying your own (slightly illegible) writing of the continuing answer wrongly. Carelessness would also be what makes me mediocre at othello horrid at chess and unmentionable at IQ tests. “oh whoops, didn’t see that your X was there. ohwell, what was i thinking!” Probably a lot to do with a lack of patience though.
on a bright side, i am happy to note that my brain hasn’t really rotted much even though I tend to tell people it has. In terms of reading and writing without time constrains (like doing an IA), i think i didn’t slip by much. I have no idea whether I have the capacity to write pages in one and a half hours though.
When people do ask me how my brain can still be alive…I tell them its because its fresh, unused and almost brand new. There’s this bad joke about how those long-serving ones don’t have white hair. (i.e. my dad only started having white hair after transferring) There’s this even worse joke about who have the most expensive brain in the world — but I shan’t go into that (:
“oh god, we’re gonna have kids that suck at math.” (now some people are never satisfied, aren’t they? Like i bring home a close perfect report card and all my dad says is “you need to work on your math” ><)
But no worries, what is the importance of mathematics in this day and age? Perhaps it is a good training of analytical skills and logic…which through my personal statement experience has taught me — all subjects train some form of analytical skills, even archaeology and the classics.
But we hire construction workers and use cranes to build our houses, we hire cleaners and use vacuum cleaners to keep our surroundings clean…likewise mathematics is something that can be done by other people and by machines.
Above all, mathematics can go and bloody do itself.
“If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
It’s particularly dangerous that i can be indecisive — not in the practical and useful problem-solving “what is to be done” way, but in a fundamental “what do i want” way. I have no problems making an impersonal decision to solve something, that’s not really a ‘decision’ per se, its merely an evaluation of what works the best. But to decide what you want — reason is really the servant of emotion. Most of the time people have an emotional inclination to begin with then they pluck out and select reasons to support their emotion-based decision.
It’s a lot harder for me. I almost never really do know what I want — from minor things like what to buy, what to eat to more major things. I insist that there’s too much information asymmetry to make a so-called “informed decision”. I tend to take a very very long while.
There is the glittering which is so sought after by many, but an instinct within me reminds me that what many men desire…might not be gold.
There are methods that are supposed to tap upon your subconscious to make a decision — but it turns out that even my subconscious doesnt know some things.
But not a thing to worry — my mind shan’t dwell on these trivial deliberations, it needs to move to a higherplan e
Time for this to go into the open having made up my mind after some oscillation. Seeing that my sources of inspiration are far from me (at the most crucial moment), I’m in this on my own. While I have an aversion to publishing bits of my personal past/plans in public, I guess a bit on uni apps would serve no harm.
People really can’t put a finger on what subject I’m applying for — my humanities background makes me so malleable, I could be doing politics, economics, history and even law. Indeed indeed, my water elemental character is able to take the shape of any container. I value my flexibility –physically, spiritually, mentally, morally even, being able to fit into multiple positions on the debate table and under it.
The truth is — it could be all four of them. with two of them for sure.
For certain, I’m currently studying a year of Law — entirely out of interest since I can’t practise or use it at all, meaning i’m not another one of those in it for the MUNNEH.I can finish the entire thing in a year when I return.
But that doesn’t really count as ‘real uni’ (inasmuch as it might to some people).
For certain, I’ll be reading History as the main course. (i make it sound like a restaurant meal). The official story is that I developed an interest through all my history readings in army. And my experience doing EE contributed to my decision also. Both are true, but they over simplify things. The entire story is more complex, I will attempt to trace the development of my thought based on memory…
- For a start, I’ve started off wanting to do law. All young debaters want to do law…unless they decide to work for the tsungli-yamen. Some not very young ones still want to do law. Some do both.
- BUT THEN I realised it was long hours and too much work so screw it. I mean, its preferable not to work from 9 to midnight daily, or 9 to 9 even.
- I wanted to study History and Politics instead. It was the next best thing for a debater, but I would have no rice to eat unless I was with….The Ministerial-authority of Flying Abroad
- BUT THEN after some brief experience with those events, I thought that it was an over-glamourised paper runner job. Yeah, very over glamourised. Actually I didn’t have the privilege of interning, but I have three close friends who did and shared with me their experience. It didn’t sound too bad actually. Two of them still insist that I’m quite suited, but whatever la.
- I was doing well in Economics (very well in fact). So i was thinking why not those econs related boards like the Intermediary Exporters, the Engineerial Diversification Bureau and the Money Auditing Supervisors. Quite interesting what, serving my nation FOR REAL somemore. At this point in time, I already had my aversion to the Overseas Money for Schooling (I wrote a blogpost anti- that)
- BUT THEN I realised I couldn’t count very well, so studying econometrics and financial economics might be quite troublesome. I might hate myself.
- Digression: Up to this point, I think I occasionally thought about law. I recall 1. lucasli being very happy at me setting sights on econs instead. 2. A stairway conversation where I was told that “law is the med school of humanities” and 3. telling someone who is now in london about legal service, which she said had no money (munnyface -_-)
- So I decided to PLAY CHEAT through Economic History — which was quite brilliant, it was enough for the Money Auditors to consider me for long enough even. Very unexpected.
- THEN for some reason, I realised I didn’t want to go London. (It was at this point the EH syllabus actually started to look even more attractive.)
- It didn’t jump from Economic History to History straight. Under a fair bit of push from a naggy old girl, I looked at PPE for a bit (which gremlin…nevermind). The main appeal was not how I have very broad and general interests, but the fact that there was an eight-week term. I could come home often to see my…mother!
- It’s quite startling. I actually wrote this post that was in a completely contradictory direction. Either I’m really fickle or the nagging was really persuasive.
- BUT THEN I saw the test. There was a freaking math section. I reached the conclusion that it was what the very brilliant chinese philosopher said about “using an egg to smash a rock”. I might as well apply for Engineering or Medicine -_- Call it defeatism, but I’m practical and a Way Of The Yin Practitioner — I slide through the way of least resistance!
- With the eight-week term in mind, History and Politics works also.
- Ah screw it, the less subjects I study together, the less work there is. My coho rightly predicted that eventually I’ll drop the politics bit also. It is better to focus!
- Then again, the recent word from penn is that reading too much history can drive one crazy and want to do math even. Unbelievable. But my master tactic would then be to go in as straight history and come out joint, at most.
Hence I will boldly declare that I will be applying for Oxford history. For reasons such as It is Not London and it has a short term and only nine papers over three years.
My second choices will be York and Warwick. Funny thing is that I might enjoy their syllabus more, especially if I might study it with econs or politics. The workload is probably a lot lighter than compressing that much in an eight week term.
Between the two major choices, I’m not sure which might suit me better. But am praying about it– after all, as my dad says, you don’t choose your destiny, your destiny choose you. I’ll probably be fine either way — as always.
Then comes LSE. Then another random filler that will make me re-apply the following year if I have to resort to that one. I’ll probably re-apply if I have to resort to LSE also. Funny how my choices (and what I rank lowest) tends to bewilder people — like my three women’s dilemma. Hmm, might be a slap in the face to some people, heh.
On the fripside, my dad says that the people i meet and the connections i make at that point of time are more important than what i actually study. It is precisely this very thing which draws a certain breed of CV-hos that i wish to stay away from such a place. (He also adds that it is more probable to meet a wealthy man’s daughter and more convenient for visiting)
Now to wait for those on top to let me know about my approval.
The title is quite an obvious rip-off from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney who is able to win almost all his cases in the Nintendo DS game. But that’s not the highlight of the game — in original Japanese, the title gyakuten saiban would have been Turnabout Trial. This is the key feature which makes this random rambling relevant to one of Marshall’s most outstanding case: The Nonis Case.
Unlike the previous biographical post which depended entirely on Kevin Tan’s book, I looked into Alex Josey’s (whose books I used quite extensively for my EE two years ago) David Marshall Trials which has a lot more colourful detail of the kind that can be found in Chao Tzee Cheng’s Murder Is My Business.
The Turnabout Trial
The case in the simplest terms involved Nonis being accused with the rape and murder of a young eurasian girl on a beach. The facts that point to him include: 4 witnesses who saw him leave school with the girl, a damp and soiled white shirt of his and his own confession to the police. Most would conclude that he did it. It’s quite hard to see otherwise.
Counter #1: The confession was forced therefore false. The turn-about element comes when Marshall tries to make the confession inadmissible by launching this attack on the character on the police inspector by fishing out victims who were formerly threatened by him during the Japanese Occupation. (ad hominem imho, even if the inspector had a track record of coercing confessions, it doesnt make it impossible that the confession is true. ) The interesting detail that Josey shows but Tan leaves out is in how Nonis actually thought that he was under some form of ‘mind control’ or hypnosis such that he would even eat his own excreta if told to by him. One then has to decide how plausible this is in life?
Counter #1.5: The confession was false therefore forced. A psychiatrist is also brought to court to show that the confession was written by a psychopath which Nonis was not. At first I thought that it was circular reasoning and probably another one of those bought psychiatrists who make their appearances in Boston Legal. (Normally both the defence and the prosecution have their OWN psychiatrists, who both disagree with each other’s medical opinion) but upon looking at Josey’s reproduction of the confession — it did sound psychopathic. According to that confession, the girl supposedly consented but was hit on the head with a rock anyway. And chillingly so, Nonis supposedly prayed that she was unharmed as he went home after the deed. Personally, I’m inclined to believe that the details of the confession are faked and forced — though it is still possible for someone guilty to write a forced false confession. [The Phoenix Wright game would say STAGE ONE CLEARED]
Counter #2: But how could he have done it if he was at home? Marshall’s magic bullet then materialises when he produces witnesses to show that Nonis actually had an alibi and was at home during the time of the crime — including witnesses like his own mother. Josey’s narrative will further add a tailor-shop man whom he haggled with over the price of the cloth. The question then arises: why on earth did his mother not voice out earlier when her son was arrested? A question which neither book arises. In fact, Josey goes on to show an excerpt where Marshall supposedly leads her on in questioning — earlier she mentions that she doesnt know if she’s told anybody, but agrees when Marshall asks if she has told the inspector. As for the tailor,the prosecution point out quite sharply that Nonis could have left the girl outside while he went into the shop.
The court (or rather the jury) came to a Not Guilty verdict and Nonis went free. It seems like the case actually remains unresolved — we don’t know who the murderer was.
Is it possible that there had been a miscarriage of justice? We can’t say for sure. Personally I’m still not entirely convinced by even the great detail that Josey presents — the Silent Mother point is just too perplexing. But could it be that in his strong opposition to the death penalty that Marshall placed protecting the lives of his clients above all else?
His mantra after all was that “if you dont want the courts to know, dont let me know”. His job was not to show the truth, but to show his client’s story. It was to the extent that his pupil, Tommy Koh, abandoned practice because he was not convinced that sometimes the acquitted client was innocent.
But not so. Tan’s book shows several instances of his moral integrity and even his lack of greed for money. On one instance, he jokingly remarks to an Englishwoman trying to seduce him to take her case that he shares his payments with his partners, Amarjeet Singh and Rubin Mohideen (which made her storm off). And when a client actually does confess to him, he urges them to plead guilty.
I leave it to the reader to decide. I dare not make any judgments myself especially on legal figures — they might sue me ><
No doubt there are many reasons which make David Marshall a legal legend such as his meticulous research (brought over from his diligent habits as a student), cutting cross-examination and persuasive arguments but I would focus on his legal ideals, which is what truly makes him a légende juridiques.
Marshall could be said to be a strong defender of justice and held certain ideals in mind, such as ‘equality’ and ‘human dignity’ (perhaps brought over by the French literature he read in Switzerland) . Law took precedence over political power. He opposed arbitrary detention noy only because of how it was unconstitutional in depriving a person’s right to counsel but because of the insufficient evidence to charge a person.
Marshall and the Jury System
He opposed the removal of the jury for several strong reasons — the book lists six reasons, one of which is somewhat obsolete (including women and younger people into administrating justice. To sum up, the jury system enables justice is executed by the people rather than the government. In practice, this safeguards the citizen from the government, by preventing convictions to be made by political motivations. In principle, this protects the judge from the sole blame of the decision.
On one level, it is a question of whose right is it to make a verdict? One or two extremely experienced and intelligent judges or a panel of citizens? On top of that, who is better able to make a just decision based on the facts? There is a high likelihood for the ordinary juror to be affected by public media or even boston legal-esque speeches, yet judges who are appointed by the president with the advice of the parliament could have political inclinations. For more details, check the example which LKY mentions KM Nanavati v State of Maharashtra.
On another level, there was a question of political interests. For Marshall, the jury system was one which he thrived under. No doubt Josey and Tan would remind us that he did extremely well for cases with no juries as well, but it does not change that the jury system was extremely advantageous to a persuasive orator as he.
For the ruling party however, it was precisely that judges could have political inclinations which probably influenced their decision. It is beneficial to have the power of the judiciary at hand.
One final question arises in weighing the merits of the jury system – are the two systems of judge and jury mutually exclusive? Is it possible to have both present in a decision making process? If I’m not wrong France (which has a civil law system) practises this. (though I’m not sure how)
My take is simple. Marshall’s assumption was that the jury will be formed by reasonable men. I beg to differ. Being swayed by emotional rhetoric is one thing — There is a high chance that these ‘randomly selected (arrowed) members’ are disgruntled, restless, bored people who want to hurry up and get on with their lives. In R v. Young recently, the jury freaking consulted a OUIJA BOARD.
Marshall and the Death Penalty
Above all, he opposed the death penalty, which he displayed very strong emotional and even physiological reactions towards. Some say that it is ‘despite’ not being a religious man, I would say that it was ‘BECAUSE’ he was not a religious man — that his conception of justice did not include the death penalty. Marshall denounces the death penalty as “the vestiges of primordial animal blood-lust and the animal instinct for vengeance.” This I agree with. Though if Marshall was a religious Jew, he would not have called the BOOK OF LEVITICUS such. I speculate (with little evidence) that perhaps many a times he tried to reduce the charge to Manslaughter, a harsh punishment was still dealt out to serve justice, just not the death penalty.
And two key quotes will speak for themselves, for what better way is there to put across his legal thought:
How does it help that they, the innocent family of the murderer, should suffer?
A logic almost similar to Portia reminding Shylock that only Antonio’s flesh can be removed but not his blood.
The protection of society has never benefitted by barbaric or sadistic sentences…there is but one direct road to the prevention of crime, whether murder or anything else, and this is the strengthening of the ability of the police force.
(More here regarding drug trafficking and the death penalty at a legal forum)
Yet in these areas, as we look at the newspapers over the past few months, we realise that his efforts from years ago were futile, all too futile. Much of his ideals did not materialise.
In last Friday’s forum section of the paper, there was the issue of the Minimum Wage being discussed. It’s now the ‘in’ issue after Prof Tommy Koh’s view on the issue (which I missed out on reading..)
Previously I evaluated two articles by NUS economists who disagreed over the issues of whether the minimum wage helped or hurt employment and productivity. Now I’ll evaluate four views put forth by four different citizens in their comments “Why it is wrong”, “Benchmark”, “Why it is right” and “Suggestion”
In the first piece “Why it is wrong”, I’ll show why the writer is wrong. His argument is a very simple one — meritocracy and incentives. In the name of Singapore’s key value, he claims that he wants his workers who work harder to be paid more and not be overly complacent about their received wages. As for care for workers, he asserts that social assistance already exists.
First of all, let’s discount the separate debate of whether social assistance is really all that effective — it’s a polite way of him saying “it’s not my problem to pay them but the government’s”
It is untrue that a minimum wage is unmeritocratic and causes complacency. To begin with, worker’s already receive a form of ‘minimum’ level that their pay cannot go below, which is called their BASIC PAY, which is decided by the employer. What a ‘minimum wage’ does is to shift this decision-making of the basic pay from the employer to what the government considers equitable. Incentives and ‘paying by performance’ still exists with a minimum wage — if they perform better, they get paid even higher on top of the minimum basic pay. Even with a minimum wage, worker’s can’t get complacent because they need to keep their job! (I would argue that ALL THE MORE SO jobs become more important) There’s really not much clash with meritocratic ideals.
Argument about fuzzy principles always go back to practical self-interests at the end of the day. It is highly likely that this writer is simply unwilling to pay more to his workers. One thing he ought to consider: it’s not as if the minimum wage is going to be THAT high (i have faith that our government values low-cost competition at the end of the day, this minimum wage will be tokenistic at most)
The second comment”Benchmark” is from another guy who writes that “the true gauge of society’s wellbeing is how well the poor is faring and not the income they are getting”. It sounds true and quite noble actually, but this can really be used both ways. It turns out that his argument is against the minimum wage, because he fears that it will replace other social safety nets.
Okay, “how well the poor is faring and not the income they are getting” sounds quite nice but it leaves one glaring question unanswered — how then do you gauge “faring”? Wouldn’t income play a large part in “how they fare” and their well-being? It’s like how national income in the form of GDP is not the be all and end all of a nation’s welfare but it is nonetheless a crucial part.
The writer assumes that the minimum wage and social safety nets are mutually exclusive. In principle, I think there is no need to remove one when the other is present. But in reality, he does have a point in foreseeing how it MIGHT be an excuse to remove what little social safety nets there are. HOWEVER, I would argue that the removal of social safety nets in place of a minimum wage is not necessarily a bad thing because it relieves the state of a burden and instead pushes individuals towards economic independence. (with exception of the disabled of course)
The third comment “Why It’s Right” rebutts a ministerial view that “market forces” should decide wages. Previously I mentioned that we’re hardly even doing that given how we have a foreign worker levy. This writer takes it one step further by saying that the government’s manpower policies ARE the market forces. After all, what’s the point of defending an economics ideal if it is at the expense of benefits? I still believe that one should do whatever is handiest. As for how his argument might be limited… I might need a while either because I am biased or because he isn’t actually ‘forwarding any constructive point’ but is instead pointing out the flaws in one specific minor argument.
The fourth view is the most simple but one which impresses me the most because it is paradoxically also the most complex. His view is that different jobs need different minimum wages since there are different degrees of supply and demand for different jobs. Simple because it sounds so straightforward and almost duh. Yet complex because it begs the question if that is STILL counted as a ‘minimum wage’ since some argue that a minimum wage is supposed to be based on the minimum required for an equitable standard of living. Impressive because it is seldom heard and simply so grounded in reality and specificity.
Personally, I think its unnecessary, if there are really other supply-demand considerations for other jobs, let the employers offer higher wages on their own. The purpose of the minimum wage is for the standard of living of a worker and not for the demands of the industry and market.
Since journalism of today is the history of tomorrow, I decided to look at four articles from Malaysian newspapers responding to the NYT interview ,which the ST picked out and placed side by side..
The interesting part is that there are two articles from chinese newspapers and two articles from malay newspapers, with both very different views about LKY’s interview with the NYT. Normally I refrain from mentioning race AT ALL, but since ST can do it….it should be a safe (legal) benchmark
ARTICLE ONE: “Of wise men and strongmen”
The chinese articles “Of wise men and strongmen” and “Glory of the Great Harmony” (such a blatantly cheena title) are quite straightforward to an almost boring extent. The article “Of wise men and strongmen” criticises Dr Mahathir for racism in contrast to The Lee Interview.
ARTICLE TWO: “Glory of the Great Harmony”
The article “Glory of the Great Harmony” praises the lack of racist policies in Singapore so much that it probably is an indirect attack on their local policies (or going one circle to scold someone) The writer is somewhat scary when he has this confucian ideal of the people being of “one mind with the government and would cherish the peace”. In short, both chinese newspapers sing praises of Singapore’s lack of ”majority race from oppressing the minorities”
ARTICLE THREE: “What are his motives”
The interesting articles come from the Malay newspaper which are seemingly more critical of Singapore. In “What are his motives?”, the writer points out that the picture is not all that rosy, in fact he deliberately pushes the focus on how malays are actually marginalised. Foreign talent is interpreted as a way of increasing the Chinese and Indian interpretation (practically, they ARE the two rising powers with cheap and skilled engineerial labourers?)
The writer then displays this poorly drawn logic which puzzled me to the extent I would have thought a part of it was cut out (maybe by ST heh). He writes “The Singapore Government always cites meritocracy. The argument is that if the Malays are not qualified, they are not fit to hold certain offices, and therefore they are not being marginalised.” (It sounds like the writer is against meritocracy? PLUS, the above logic applies to all races? What then is his alternative?) Then in the next line, he says “The truth is that in Malaysia, the Chinese dominate everything” — which is plain confusing. Putting the two together, we really don’t know what he’s getting at.
The writer then concludes with wild speculation and fear mongering of how Singapore might want a reunion with Malaysia to form SINGAPORE RAYA. ….right. Again, a logic leap, its hard to find anything in the interview that even suggests this. There is however a political purpose to this — the writer links this possibility to what happens if the opposition DAP comes to power. Right, then it makes sense why he talked about it.
ARTICLE FOUR: “Singapore should emulate Malaysia”
The last article has a bold title “Singapore should emulate Malaysia”. The article starts of with brief mention on Lee’s criticism of marginalisation policies…but it ends there. It does not go on to defend this policy at all. Instead, the article shifts to attacking the political atmosphere in Singapore to draw a contrast that Singapore is oppressed but Malaysia is free. It’s a separate issue altogether. He cites examples of how incense burning is not allowed in HDB estates (that I didn’t know, I thought it took place anyway — maybe he means within the block, which is UNDERSTANDABLE ><) and how the mosque prayers cannot be loud (probably because Singapore is a very small place. Even the national anthem or CAT ONE SIREN isn’t that loud..><)
So essentially this writer shifts the focus from race politics to politics itself. (Even then his argumentation is not very convincing, TOC and Temasek Review do a better job). He concludes, “at least in this case, Singapore should emulate Malaysia”. I would say that his article is very one-sided. He might have a point, but he does not do a proper job in defending the race politics part. The most balanced view is probably that both countries have a lot to learn from each other in different aspects.
But here’s the most striking thing if you took a step back and looked at the four articles from a broader view — they are allowed to talk as they please. They are allowed to disagree and oppose each other. THEY ACTUALLY HAVE DIFFERENT NEWSPAPERS. They are allowed to voice their dissatisfaction. Interesting — yet as usual, I’m skeptical, the picture can’t possibly be all too rosy based on a mere four samples. There are definitely some boundaries.
I would think that nationalism can be kept going as long as the press managed to mould one view: your own country might not be all that a good a place, but its still better than the people next door. It’s okay to have a shitty car, as long as its nicer than your neighbour’s by a bit.
Its good to be home. The end of the working week a good time to stop and reflect about the entire week before the start of an enjoyable weekend. Its a bit like my practice of about more than a year of being thankful for whatever I have and whatever that have happened in the day before I go off to sleep.
Especially so when it has been a hectic, busy, jampacked week with little sleep BOTH in the day and in the night. Especially so when in contrast with the previous week which was the opposite in every aspect.
On one hand, the presence of night class has started serving its purpose as L’accélérateur de temps (French words intended to cause confusion over what classes I’m taking. I still suck at reading the new phonetics) — the week has disappeared so quickly. On the other hand, it has made my time spent awake at home even less and at times have made my day longer.
I ended the day as a happy person with the knowledge that my precious saturday was mine, as was my sunday, and my evenings for the week to come. And I was thankful.
Some times I wonder if I intentionally take the night off from home to know what the deprivation feels like and to quintuple my degree of satisfaction when I return. But I’m actually left in a slight loss, with not much idea of what to do — there’s too much to do, yet not much.
To balance my coming commitments between the studies of Law and History, I’ve picked up a book which looks at bits of Singapore Legal History, “Marshall of Singapore – A Biography” by Kevin YL Tan, who is a Law Professor while being the President of the Singapore Heritage Society.
I have decided to look at three key aspects of Marshall’s biography. First, his ‘early years’ (if it may sound cheekily familiar) which will examine his life prior to the highlights of his political and legal career. According to the preface, this book is supposedly more detailed than other earlier works in the other aspects of his life. I will be focusing mainly on his experiences as a student.
This will be the first in three posts where I will hopefully get down to “Marshall of Singapore: Ace Attorney” and “Marshall of Singapore: Singapore’s Conscience”. The two posts will look at his illustrious legal and political career respectively. All of which will be commentary based on parts of the book which are particularly striking — and written in less than 1500 words.
Marshall of Singapore: The Early Years. His life as a student and youth.
There are many things which Singaporeans today do not know about David Marshall. One of which is probably that he is in fact not a white man, but a Separdic Jew from Baghdad. Even less will know that his original surname was “Mashal”, which is Arabic for torch. Funnily, this is because his first known ancestor had a torch of red hair.
As a student, Marshall was quite an overachiever. One could consider him to be a genius. On top of being known for being a “clever talker”, the rate which he is able to skip years of study is quite astronomic! Starting off in CHIJ kindergarten at the age of nine, two years behind everyone and illiterate in English, he changed school to SJI the next year for some unknown reason. What is striking is how he was put straight into the fourth year of formal education on his second year of study.
However, he would be expelled the following year over his absence on Yom Kippur. His dad very memorably told him “Are you a jew or aren’t you a Jew?” when he said he needed to go to school — a reflection of strong jewish identity. Marshall added that it was a sort of logic he can’t answer. (The author then evaluates that it was probably some other holiday since Yom Kippur fell on a saturday. He has a very keen eye for detail in a chronology)
Marshall then moved on to St. Andrews, followed by Raffles Institution since they were the only school that had laboratories and science classes. (In the meantime, he stayed at Oldham Hall if you know what I mean) Marshall did not always want to be a lawyer, he spent most of his youth wanting to be a doctor. Law happened to be a second option. Funny how, his areas of excellence were in English, History, Literature and Religious studies but his ambition was to be a medical doctor.
(The author very amusingly adds that he is bad at drawing and worse in singing. God is fair)
It was at Raffles Institution where he was truly outstanding, being the top three boys sent for the Queens Scholarship. The Queens Scholarship was a prestigious scholarship specific to Oxbridge but was discontinued later for more than ten years as the “government thought it led to unhealthy competition and elitism among the winners” (the author added). In preparing for the Queen’s Scholarship selection, Marshall’s study schedule has the mark of a true Rafflesian — working from 8 to 1, 1 to 5, 5 to 8 and 8 to 11, with showers and snacks in between.
Marshall was also extremely sickly. It is obvious by now that his habits hardly look healthy at all. Illnesses such as tuberculosis became part and parcel of punctuating his studies and work in the Early Years as a salesman and later for a shipping firm. But even while very ill, he spent his time in bed studying. When inflicted with Malaria as a child, he attempted to master Malay. While needing to be in Switzerland to recover (how envious), he persisted with his studies of German and French. He later goes on to become a certified teacher in French, on top of Cambrdige certificates in Latin, bookkeeping and typewriting.
While psychiatry fascinated Marshall the most, he lacked the finances for studying medicine. It was just too many years and for some reason, he had a strong insistence on studying in England. Studying as an external University of London student, some of the traits exhibited in childhood resurfaced (or rather they never actually went away). He managed to clear the Bar Finals in half the time.
This is probably due to his study discipline of spending 9 to 6 in the library, where he started off in London only studying two hours a day, before adding two hours every fortnight. It is interesting to note that Marshall spent most of his time reading sources, not much time on textbooks and even less time in lectures. However, he was held back to complete his ‘dinners’ at the Middle Temple since he finished his Bars to quickly.
(The author very amusingly adds that Tunku Abdul Rahman spent ten years trying to clear his bar. “Trying — though not very hard” I cannot help but to wonder if it was intentional to take spend so many years studying or not)
While his academic curriculum vitae is remarkable, what interested me more was his rebellious streak towards the indoctrinations of Judaism. His mother was a very religious and ritualistic woman, having carried a shohket all the way from Baghdad for kosher meat. Her other insistences include no bathing during fasting period. I must say that Jews are quite cunning — since they can’t handle money on the Sabbath, they could somehow pass money to their Chinese servants to pay for tickets. Marshall’s questioning nature made him renounce religion, although I think that a large part of it was due to the tedium of reading Hebrew texts without recognising.
Having read the relevant parts in half an hour and written this in another half an hour under a thousand words…I’ve no idea how to do a proper conclusion. The early years of growth before a legend becomes who he is is always interesting but sometimes a bit superficial, like a teacher’s testimonial. Next I’ll be looking less at the random details of his life but the legal arguments and thought processes.
Visited Nanyang Uni of Technology today. Managed to recall a way there due to my previous route to the home of armor. Had a somewhat dampened mood that I had to pass by my work route on a day where I received an Off.
Its a place I remember mainly for the three times I came each year to debate people fairly older than me. Normally got PWNed by fiery Indians (normally because I can’t catch half of what their saying — normally the judge is an Indian also, so HE CAN)
Actually spent a week staying in there two years ago in place of an overseas trip to ulu islands with the class. Truth be told, even with bonding and fun and what not, I still rather not go for such Outfieldesque activities. Heck, I normally dislike class activities. But I dislike the meeting of temporal and fleeting acquaintances about just as much (especially when I have no facebook) The highlight of each day was actually AFTER all the stupid orientation-ish activities and pretentious pseudo-seminars, where I go over to a different hall to visit my main friend from school and then LC. They lived beside each other — it was very convenient. I was very amused by who I kept running into by coincidence after coincidence there. (no prizes for guessing who)
Leaving memory lane — I wanted to visit just to take a look at the old places I slept at and ate at, with some hope that I could actually navigate my way around. That and to catch up of course!
Spent five minutes going HUH where the hell is the macs. Spent another five minutes being at all that the small Macs corner has now expanded to thrice the size with an uber seating area and a subway and canadian pizza beside it.
Ate at the Canadian pizza place — simply because Macs is gross, Subway was crowded being the combination of making people healthy and wealthy (or rather relatively less poor). Canadian pizza on campus had M-sian prices, with M-sian quality and a tinge of M-sian atmosphere from the server to the sights of the dingy kitchen at the back to the service standard (of forgetting my order and making me wait ANOTHER ten minutes after one set of ten minutes already). The quality of the food also, which isn’t that bad, except that beef could somehow taste like mutton. It gives fusion food a new meaning. Perhaps even the signboard and packaging, just that I can’t quite put my finger on it. …And it was supposed to be my day off work from these…
Had a good time of lunch conversation while trying to tokenistically defend the sovereignty of my lunch. Was actually not too concerned about it being eaten away since I was hoping to have a heavy tea. (which I did, and an expensive one).
Amused myself by the congregation of uni girls. Couldn’t help but to wonder how people wear short shorts to lectures held in a freaking cold place. You could wear a jacket to cover the
skanky top but surely people don’t bring blankets right? (I would if I could). Many girls, many china girls and many guys who quite clearly have passed the transition from boys to men — something not accorded to intelligent injured people.
As a whole I think nanyang is a nice place. The long bus ride in shows a nice scenery of trees and greenery across a wide open space. Perhaps it is my bias (THAT I STAY SO NEAR) that I prefer it to a city campus or bukit timah one. Might just be my city-aversion. Didn’t have very good memories of the kent ridge one. I associate it more with my hospital. — I did like where the OLD law campus was though.
Will probably study something there part time while serving bond to transmutate a useless subject into a more useful subject.
Ended my visit by buying a severely underpriced book for five dollars and rushing off to meet gremlin. All in vain, I was left waiting for another half an hour. People tend to over estimate how far out nanyang is…
Nanyang isn’t in the south at all.It’d be cool to call it the Peiyang which would be reminiscent of this Qing fleet. But its in the West, and Xiyang would sound like a vegetable in one of my preferred soups.
Hmm, it seems like it has been quite a while since I last updated — mainly because I haven’t been home early enough. By the time I actually am home, I normally just head straight to bed or simply lack the energy to get anything started (instead deciding to rot in front of the computer REwatching cartoons). This is inspite of having many many thoughts over the past few days, several of which can be published openly (while not others)
Since Friday I’ve barely been at home in the evenings, or at least (or even) home enough to see my dad. Even for saturday where I spent the day at home or Sunday which is normally eat lunch with family day, I went out at night.
Friday: back after midnight
Saturday: Took a long bus ride from bukit batok since the mrt between jurong east and clementi was down
Sunday: Took an additional hour changing to a bus from clementi since the mrt was STILL down. Had the strategic thinking enough to beat the giant crowd at the bus stop by walking to one earlier bus stop — its an AC practice, especially on those crazy go-straight-to-macritchie/rugby stadium days.
Monday: more or less a farewell dinner that was surprisingly not expensive
Tuesday: Last minute decided to stay in camp — I didn’t even have my book. But I had internet and ebuddy, so who cares
And indeed I’ve been very much in pursuit of sleep. In a week where I had not much to do, with not even the requirement to wear uniform (shorts all the way), sleep was the most important thing during the day after the past few late nights out. It is terribly messed up how your body clock still awakes you at 6 or 7 in the morning when u sleep at 1am. And when I slept at ten, I wake up at 2 for no apparent reason for a shortwhile.
I forgot to mention that before that long schedule above, THURSDAY was the day of little sleep. Insomnia is the word — and its what happens when you take four cups of coffee in the afternoon. I spent the night tossing and turning with my eyes closed and upon some frustration decided to check my clock (or rather my phone, the clock is too far for my myopic eyes to see) that its been four hours. Perhaps it was one hour per cup. Its not my fault — the coffee was nice and free, and it was my only reward for carrying two tanks of coffee up three flights of stairs. As I brought up each tank, I took a cup. As I brought down each tank, I took another.
Long story short, I have developed this new habit of taking long two to three hour naps at work — normally until some STUPID IDIOT calls me to ask when we can go home (even though its only 2pm).
My habits have changed quite a fair bit. Apart from sleeping later, I now almost always wear glasses to work — for practical purposes. In addition, I now brush my teeth three times a day, once before I sleep at night, once when I wake up in the morning and once when I wake up in the afternoon.
So around three in the afternoon:
“Ah…FINALLY you’re out of bed.”
“Oh, I’m staying in tonight”
“Stay in still sleep so much!”
“Oh, that’s why I got up!”
*plonks against the wall* “fuckew mann, fuckew… ><”
Ah but whatever, three day week — with somewhat a fourday weekend if not for sunday…
This is for those people who always complain that my blog is so impersonal and doesn’t say much about myself.
Okay cool, I didn’t know that every Thursday, ST publishes two articles on a specific economic issue. What’s interesting is that they get two NUS economists to present conflicting views.
The issue presented this week is on the Minimum Wage — whether Singapore should move towards implementing it after Hong Kong did so recently.
The average economics student would have been taught with some graph that a minimum wage (price floor above equilibrium) causes an excess supply of labour, resulting in a shortage of jobs. More workers want to work because of the higher pay, but companies want less workers because they are individually more expensive — so the textbook says.
This view is echoed by the professor from the business school who says in his article “Workfare does a better job”, that while wages would be guaranteed, jobs could not be. He argued that
1) the minimum wage is unable resolve the conflicting goals of increasing employment and higher wages, instead causing unemployment.
2) That the minimum wage reduces the flexibility of employers to cater to the special requirements certain workers have. A very textbook-esque example is raised about how Jane who is physically less able and produces less won’t be able to be paid according to her “marginal productivity” which will be less also. She will simply lose her job.
3) That the workfare is a sufficient and superior alternative to meeting the needs of workers without compromising on employers. Even though there is some cost to the government, it outweighs the social costs of layoffs and the loss of competitiveness by employers. A minimum wage actually leaves less for employers to spend on upgrading their workers.
Contrast this with the view of the professor from LKYSPP who argues in “Minimum wage works” that the minimum wage in fact removes the need for workfare, which is an economic burden. His article is set in the context of foreign labour and how its increased labour supply depresses wages. While alluding to it slightly, his argument focuses less on how there needs to be a minimum wage to support a minimally acceptable standard of living. Instead it is portrayed in the interest of the economy by actually encouraging 1) people to get a job, which actually decreases underemployment and 2) encourages productivity to justify higher wages. (possibly becoming more capital intensive to reduce the labour requirement)
Looking at the two articles side-by-side (quite literally), the two key clashes are 1) Employment — which is the more likely and impactful effect: encouraging workers to work or employers to layoff? 2) Productivity — which is more likely and impactful effect: having less money to spend on upgrading or becoming more productive to save money on workers?
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to the questions above -_- an actual statistical study needs to be carried out to determine which way it swings.
However, argument-wise, we could consider how productivity might be affected. I think that it is extremely idealistic to expect companies to shift to machines or skills-upgrading. There are jobs which require no skill and cannot be replaced by machines — and it is often these jobs which minimum wage applies. Yet, at the same time, where skills training is required, a minimum wage wouldn’t make employers forsake essential skills — its simply not in their interest to have clueless workers. Inasmuch as there has been a lot of media hype about productivity, it is a tangential issue and at most, a moot point.
Hence, employment and how workers are affected is the main issue. “Minimum Wage Works” establishes that the bulk of the low pay workers are foreign labourers and that the demand for labour in Singapore is extremely high, far outweighing the supply of labour. Meaning to say, even if there were a dip in demand for labour, 1) it affects foreign labourers mainly and actually shifts jobs from foreign workers to local workers who no longer have to compete for such low wages. 2) even if employers want to hire less workers, there are enough jobs to go around (or so it is asserted)
On the premise that demand for low-wage workers exist either way, that article strongly implies that unemployment is because people are unwilling to work in the face of CPF and transport costs which make it less worth it. It’s not that there aren’t jobs, the low-wage workers just don’t think its worth it to work. Especially by nullifying the greatest strength of foreign labourers to compete for low wages, more locals will have jobs.
I find the article “Minimum Wages Work” more convincing as it seems grounded in reality — making reference to statistical studies, real-life considerations behind the decision to work (such as transport costs) and the very specific context of foreign workers. It is well-crafted in how it deals with the potential counterarguments and alternatives (that so happen to appear in the opposing article).
BUT in practice, while I am more convinced by the case that “minimum wages shift jobs from foreigners to locals”, I highly highly doubt that this will be implemented. For a simple reason: it is possible that Singapore values economic growth and competitiveness more than welfare. (…unless of course you follow that strange argument that a rich group can pull the lower income together with them.) Second-hand experience with an industry that I’m acquainted with tells me that international companies are very concerned about increased wages. And the government is CONCERNED about them being concerned — after all, with reputations and competitiveness to uphold, we cannot afford to lose important big businesses to other countries that can offer lower wages and costs of operations.
The article on “Workfares do a better job” should have perhaps focused more on the loss of competitiveness as its strongest argument and spent more explaining the efficacy of the workfare. I finished the two articles with little more insight of how the workfare works and only had the instinctive thoughts — “is it really enough? if it worked so well, we wouldn’t be having any complaints right?”
On an unrelated note, funny how “Minimum Wages Work” mentions “negative externalities” from too much foreign labour without actually explaining — its assumed! lol.
Let’s see if i do get disproven eventually. Not that I’m particularly affected. And heh, I wrote all these in my store while reading the papers waiting for some people to arrive.
Need to keep brain alive, need to keep brain alive — what the hell, this unrelated subject is distracting me from my important readings.
Ah, what the hell — ST and their damn puns in titles.