Spartan Race 2022

Exhilarating. Refreshing. Fulfilling. 

These are the words used to describe this year’s Spartan Race. And indeed, it was all these words and more! After all, the Spartan Race was created to test our physical limits, strengthen our bonds, and allow us to have lots of fun in the process. Akin to the spirit of ancient Spartans from 2500 years ago, our Eunoians were pitted against each other as well as themselves, as each student strove  to do their best to make their house proud. 

An annual tradition, this year’s Spartan Race was no different from the ones organised in previous years. Our J2s were pushed to their maximum capacities as they sprinted, jumped, threw, lifted, and even shimmied to the finish line. What was different, however, was the intensity of the stations from last year. The 17 stations from Spartan’21 were reduced to 15; however, Eunoians were provided with a greater variety of challenges to take part in!

But how did all of this start? Surely the operation of these stations and the organisation process wasn’t a well-oiled machine from the beginning? Well, let’s take a trip down memory lane to catch  a behind-the-scenes picture of one of this year’s most exciting events.

Behind-the-Scenes

The preparation for this level-wide event started way back in August 2021, when the three OICs (Overall-In-Charge) of the Exco Team were elected. Endless planning and dry runs ensued all through November and December, as the Spartan Team strived to create an enjoyable event for all. 

As with any major project, the Spartan Team faced countless challenges along the way. The team constituted ODAC (Outdoor Adventure Club) members as well as Sports Representatives.

Photo credit: Boo Qian Ning 

This was an initial challenge for one of the OICs, Yeo Yi Xuan. “With so many unfamiliar faces taking up the majority of the EXCO team, it definitely took a long time trying to understand the different working styles and personalities of every team member,” the ODAC member and Spartan OIC explained. It was a daunting start, but after some time, the EXCOo were able to work well with one another, and the team found itself conquering setbacks after setbacks.

Photo Credit: Ananya Gupta

Ella Zhang, one of the OICs, recalled their final dry run. Several problems had surfaced only a few days from the actual event, sending her into a panic. “Thinking back at [the challenges that suddenly surfaced], they were definitely a blessing in disguise, as [this] made me work even harder to prepare for the actual event,” she reflected.

D-day

When the long-anticipated day finally came, it did not disappoint. The J2s geared up and donned their house T-shirts, proudly filling the school with their bright colours. Everyone was a bundle of nerves as they prepared to conquer the 12 stations that awaited them. These stations tested a range of skills such as strength, agility, balance and teamwork. 

A notable station was the ‘Featured Obstacle’. Participants had to climb up a wooden block before crawling through and descending from a supporting net. This posed a challenge to many who struggled to face their fear of heights. With the support and encouragement from their peers however, they managed to overcome the daunting obstacle. 

Photo Credit: Long Wen Xi

The ‘Red Light Green Light’ station was also another memorable obstacle. “It was the station where all my group mates had to work together to complete the challenge and it was quite challenging as we were required  to coordinate our movements while having our ankles tied together”, Ishika Suresh, a Spartan participant reflects. Despite the arduous task, her group managed to pass the station as they forged forward together in step. 

The day ended with a livestream of the finale where 2 participants from each class competed in a relay on behalf of their respective houses. These teams even included teachers who bravely volunteered themselves to represent their houses. It was a close call, but it was none other than the house of Uzuri that eventually emerged victorious, with Ora and Isami treading not far behind. These houses not only dominated in the finale, but also emerged as the overall champions of Spartan 2022!

Photo Credit: Vineeta Kundala

Aftermath

In the face of the endless challenges of Spartan’22, many passed the majority of the stations, and are now able to call themselves Spartans. The spirit of Spartan truly shone through on the day itself, as everyone cheered everyone else on, all the while putting their physical stamina and endurance to the test. 

The takeaways from Spartan were especially heart-warming to hear, too. Ong Enyee, who emerged first after clocking the fastest timing for KOH (Girls), reveals that she had not expected to win first place due to her muscle aches from training the previous day. She adds that “I really do have to thank my friends for their continual support and encouragement; they helped me believe that I could do it, and then, along with my own drive, I actually did it!” When interviewed, many participants also revealed that despite their initial wariness and reluctance to put in their absolute best effort for Spartan, they found themselves motivating each other and pushing themselves to do even better during the event itself. 

Even in the face of failure, Eunoians learnt to take things in their stride, and try harder next time. “Despite being disappointed at failing at some stations, I think everyone learnt to let go of their mistakes, and instead focus on picking themselves up and moving forward”, notes Benjamin Lai, one of the finale participants for Ora. 

As this school tradition carries on for future batches of J2s, we hope that it will continue to be as “exhilarating, refreshing and fulfilling” as this year’s, and give everyone the chance to see just how much they are capable of!

Photo Credit: Long Wen Xi

Singapore’s Hawker Gems

Written by: Lian Zhi Qi (21-I1), Tricia Loh Qiuxuan (21-U1), Katelyn Joshy (21-U1), Carissa Aletha Liem (21-I1), Eliora Tan Yuxuan (21-E6), Liew Yi Xuan (21-E1)

Designed by: Katelyn Joshy (21-U1)


Hawker centres are a core part of Singapore’s culture as it contributes greatly to our local food scene with the wide array of dishes offered. If you find yourself always buying the same few dishes, this is the article for you! In this article, we introduce hawkers preparing dishes both traditionally and with a modern twist. Read on to see how you can spice up your next visit to a hawker centre! 

MIN CHIANG KUEH 

What’s better than pancakes for breakfast? No, not the ones from McDonald’s Big Breakfast but the Eastern version, better known as min chiang kueh. These traditional Chinese pancakes are thick and chewy, usually filled with a combination of crushed peanuts and sugar. Most hawker centres sell them and it is definitely a comfort food for all Singaporeans. 

Located in Tanglin Halt Market is the famous Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake run by an elderly couple. This stall has been around since 1965 and for good reason. Every ingredient used is handmade by the owner who even used to roast his own peanuts, hence ensuring all aspects of the pancake are made with care. Such efforts definitely reap great rewards, evident in how their pancakes are sold out by 10AM and how customers are willing to wait before 3.30AM to buy them! Besides the traditional peanut flavour, there are other unique tastes available like black sesame and yam which are both highly raved about within the food community. 

Photo Credits: Team Tam Chiak

All their pancakes are affordably priced with nothing above $1.20, enticing many customers to buy them in batches. With Tanglin Halt Market’s imminent closure, why not head down and try it out? Fastest person first!

The stall providing a modern twist to min chiang kueh and a familiar name on Instagram – Munchi Delights. With a wide array of choices of pancake skin, fillings, shape and size, this stall definitely has something for everybody! 

Photo credits: Munchi Delights

Besides traditional flavours like peanut and red bean, they also provide modern flavours popular among the younger generations like Matcha, Thai Milk Tea and Belgian Chocolate. The different colours of the pancake skin (brown, black, green) coupled with the vivid, bursting colours of the fillings (e.g. orange, green, white) create an Instagram-worthy shot. 

Photo credits: Lian Zhi Qi

For the small eaters, consider getting the Mini Munchi which is just as tasty and looks even cuter. 

Even though it is located in Singapore’s north at Yishun Hawker Centre, it is so raved about that people from across the country travel just to try some of their pancakes.

Having tried them before, we can confidently say that the fillings are generous and pleasantly overflowing! Some flavours are a hit or miss but definitely worth a try. Overall, Munchi Delights is a unique place selling one-of-a-kind pancakes that are affordable and mouth-watering! 

CHINESE ZI CHAR 

Zi char is an important part of our local cuisine and this warm and hearty meal never fails to bring back good memories of sitting around the dinner table, feasting together with our families. The best part? It is highly affordable, making it ideal for all groups of people from all walks of life to have a taste. With family and friends enjoying quality time over delicious cuisine, zi char adds vitality to the humdrum of hawker fare. 

Keng Eng Kee Seafood first started in the 1960s, along Old Havelock Road. Upon the demolition of the former Havelock Road Hawker Centre, the stall moved its operations to Bukit Merah and is now located at Alexandra Village Food Centre. This stall has become a household name for a reason; its mouthwatering dishes have kept the same recipe for decades and their signature dish, the aromatic Coffee Pork Ribs, even landed itself in the 2016 MICHELIN Guide Singapore! It offers a range of dishes at different portions, with prices starting from as low as $5 per plate. One of their must-try dishes is definitely the fried hor fun, which has been part of their menu since the 1960s. 

The hor fun is charred to perfection, with many people raving about the unique and smoky flavour, paired with the umami-ness from the raw egg-yolks the finished dish is topped with. Most of their dishes are delicious, filling and full of strong flavours! 

Is your mouth watering yet? Head down to Alexandra Village Food Centre and call ahead to reserve as it can be tough to get a table during peak dining hours, even with its relatively huge location! 

A stall that has given zi char a modern, yet welcomed twist is Tang Kay Kee Fish Head Bee Hoon, which first opened in 1946 but has been recently rejuvenated in 2018 to give it a modern concept. Fourth-generation hawkers, Debbie, 27; and Kamen, 21, are the brains behind this new concept, serving up modern wok-hei dishes inspired by poke bowls. 

Some of their unique creations include spicy braised pork belly rice and hor fun with sous vide egg, with prices starting from $5. Unsurprisingly, their Asian poke bowls concept has hit it off with the younger crowd, filling a lunch vacuum the business had for decades. 

With their unusual yet classic take on zi char, this stall is surely worthy of multiple visits. Head down to Hong Lim Food Centre to give it a try and with their extensive menu, you will definitely find something to suit your taste buds! 

FOOD ANATOMY @TIMBRE+

As the name suggests, ‘Food Anatomy’ is a hawker stall that’s obsessed with food’s layout! It’s here that design meets culinary, every dish is intricately made, with aesthetics developed more as a graphic design project. It specialises in selling layered blocks of food where customers will choose 3 types of dishes, salads and desserts to mix-and-match and form the ultimate food block combination. Choices range from Cold Soba all the way to Organic Lasagna. 

Photo credits: Team Tam Chiak

This peculiar stall is the brainchild of former employees of the Deli and Daint at Maxwell Food Centre, who believe that; ‘our customers should feast with both their eyes and mouth!’ They sell salads, grains and pastas all day from Monday to Friday and their food block specialty after 5 P.M. The signature dish is also available all day Saturday, priced $16 each.

This one-of-a-kind stall is just one of many in the sprawling Timbre+, a hipster-style urban food park nestled in Ayer Rajah Crescent. 

Photo credits: Seah Kwang Peng

BRAISED DUCK 

All Eunoians seem to know that when strolling into the canteen at 12 P.M, you are bound to be greeted by the trail of students eagerly queuing at our Duck Rice store. We just can’t seem to pinpoint what exactly it is in Braised Duck Rice that makes it so irresistible, but have you ever considered the amount of work that goes into serving the perfect plate of Duck Rice? 

While the world rouses sleepily from slumber at 7 a.m, rows of glistening braised ducks are lined up at Yu Kee’s stalls, awaiting hungry customers (like me and you). As soon as the lights in the stall come on, a queue forms, and by 2pm, the first batch of braised ducks are sold out. The intriguing secret behind their 33 year old recipe lies in their hand-picked herbs, braising liquid and catch this: a mysterious soft drink used to wash the duck’s innards. The Yukee Group takes special care to braise each duck uniquely  according to their weight and size, to achieve the perfect bouncy skin texture. 

But nothing good comes easy, and the story behind this popular store dates back to 1954, where the Yu Kee Group started as a hawker pushcart stall in Nee Soon selling braised duck rice. Third generation owner Eunice Seah recalls the many milestones they have reached, from the shift to air-conditioned food courts in the 90s to surviving the outbreak of the bird flu scare. Perhaps, knowing the Yu Kee Group’s history and the thought that goes behind every bite of the tender duck meat makes Yu Kee’s Duck Rice taste just a tiny bit richer.

Photo Credit: Crisp of Life

Now think Braised Duck Rice, but with a japanese twist. Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap has always been serving classic teochew braised duck for over 30 years. It was only till Melvin, the second-generation hawker, came along, that the brand decided to put a fresh look on classics by coming up with Duck Rice Bento in an attempt to attract youths. 

Photo Credit: Time Out Singapore

I mean, don’t the Duck Rice balls completely change things? The recipe remains the same, and for just $8 a platter, you’re in for a generous portion of yam rice balls, tender braised duck, beancurd, pickled vegetables and the ultimate selling point: Japanese-style runny yolk lava eggs. That’s really worth the price if you ask us.

Whether you prefer having your braised duck the classic way, or are completely sold by Jin Ji Teochew’s Braised Duck Bento, you are bound to find something that suits your taste buds!

WANTON MEE

Wanton Mee [Mandarin: Yun-tun mian, 云吞面] is a Singaporean favourite. To break it down, “wanton” is a Cantonese word for dumpling while noodles in Hokkien is “mee” or in Cantonese, “min”, so “wanton mee” literally means dumpling noodles. Noodles are either served in hot broth, or tossed in delectable savoury sauce, flavourful garlic oil, and served with succulent wantons and slices of pan-cooked Chinese BBQ pork. The dish is found in almost every hawker centre around the island. One such stall is Cho Kee Noodle, which has been serving traditional wanton noodles at Old Airport Road since 1965. It boasts of noodles cooked with premium ingredients, cooked al dente with a nice QQ bite. 

Photo credits: Cho Kee Noodle
Photo credits: Medium

Another mind-blowing modern take on the traditional noodle dish is created by A Noodle Story serving this Singapore-style ramen that incorporates both local ingredients (prawn mee and wanton mee) and Japanese influences using modern European techniques, innovating this wonderful fusion of local and foreign flavours.

Located a walking distance away from Telok Ayer MRT at Amoy Street Food Centre, the stall is nestled in the corner of the hawker centre. 

Photo credits: Liew Yi Xuan

Chinese efforts to regulate its tech giants

Written by: Zuo Yuning (21-A1)

Designed by: Katelyn Joshy (21-U1)

China is known for its regulations on the Internet, especially with the ‘Great Firewall of China’ enforcing strict prohibition of foreign Internet service providers such as Google, Twitter and Facebook.

Relatively, it is much more lenient with its domestic counterparts, allowing them relative freedom in operation.

Recently, however, the Chinese government has hosted a meeting with heads of Chinese tech giants, including Alibaba, Tencent and Bytedance, the owner of Tik-tok.

This came after a speech by Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, in which he criticised China’s strict financial regulations for creating a counterproductive business environment.

Coincidentally, Chinese moves mirror those carried out by the European Union and the United States, in their efforts to regulate tech giants. 

The governments do seem to share the same motive: to curtail monopolistic behaviours by dominant corporations to ensure fair competition in the market.

Nevertheless, the purity of the Chinese government’s intention should and have been questioned. Some are worried that it is a continuation of a worrying trend in China where all private firms are facing increasing government scrutiny and regulations, while others see this event as an effort to ensure that it has firm control over its citizens’ online activities and data.

China’s Tech Companies: How Have They Become?

Before we get into the debate, though, let us understand the brief but turbulent history of China’s tech industry and the Chinese internet.

China was behind the world in terms of information technology, since its borders were sealed to foreign ideas and foreign products. Most Chinese didn’t know about computers until the mid-1990s, and most did not own them until the mid-2000s. Mobile phones came even later, which means the giant technological companies that everybody knows about nowadays have really only flourished roughly for a decade.

Much like in Western countries, the rise of the gigantic digital industry has been drastic. In China, the journey of Jack Ma’s Alibaba is very similar to many other companies in the industry – in terms of their rise, but also in terms of their troubles with the central government.

Mr Ma started small. On 28 June 1999, he founded Alibaba.com with 17 friends in his Hangzhou apartment (Alibaba Group, 2020). His business didn’t take off immediately, for it was three years later that Alibaba.com finally made a profit (Business Insider, 2017). He was lucky, as the founding of his company coincided with the Internet boom in China in early 2000s (Yang, 2018).

At that time, it seemed like the Internet would integrate China into the global flow of information, but China soon decided that ‘enough is enough’. Regulations on digital firms started with control over data flow (Qiu, 2000), and then the project called ‘the Great Firewall of China’ was initiated in 1998 (Shen, 2020). By 2012, most major foreign digital services have been banned on China’s internet (Xu & Albert, 2017).

Censorship has certainly been horrible for Western firms and for free speech in China, but it proved to be a tremendous fortune for China’s domestic digital corporations such as Alibaba. With their foreign rivals banned or restricted they faced much less competition, they gained a very large market share and hence their profits rose (Desjardins, 2019). 

Nevertheless, the digital industry, just like other private firms, has always faced strict regulations from entry barriers to financial regulations (Livingston, 2020), and some of them are getting even stricter in recent years (Wei, 2020).

That is part of what Mr Ma talked about in his speech, and apparently the government was somewhat upset with that.

But that antagonism between the state and technology firms is actually very new and unexpected.

In October last year, columnists were making predictions like ‘just as the US starts looking to rein in, or even break up, big technology firms’, referring to the Congress hearings on that issue in July that year (Romm, 2020), ‘China is going in the opposite direction [as] we should expect to see more money, more policy favouritism, and more attention from party cadres aimed at ensuring the establishment of big successful chip and software firms’ (Culpan, 2020).

Well, the truth is the government has indeed been very favourable towards its tech firms, for the latter are often providers of key technologies, services, innovation and lots of jobs in China as much as in other parts of the world (Cavallo, 2016).

However, that attitude seems to have changed, as China has begun tightening regulations on those exact companies (Wei, 2021).

There are many views on why this happened, and on whether it is justified. Let’s go through them.

Regulations and Monopoly: The Economic Analysis

One argument coincides with the official narrative: China cannot let its tech companies become too-big-to-fail.

This understanding chiefly comes from the past experiences of Western nations, when they suffered the impact of having an entire industry dominated by a few big firms.

Monopoly isn’t a modern problem; the problem has plagued nations since the birth of capitalism.

In the history of the United States, famous examples of monopoly firms include Andrew Carnegie’s Steel Company, John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company and the American Tobacco Company (The Investopedia Team, 2021).

There’s a less extreme case, though. A market may not be dominated by one firm, but by a few firms. Nonetheless, the economic problems they cause are very similar: over-pricing and underproduction of goods and services (Thoma, 2014), and disincentive to innovate (Marcos, 2018).

As a case study, let us look at the US healthcare market. Undoubtedly that system has delivered too little for too much, for even though it spends the most portion of its GDP on healthcare among all Western industrialised nations (Kamal et al., 2021), it has one of the worst health outcomes, shown especially by how it has the lowest life expectancy in that same group of countries (The Commonwealth Fund, 2020).

The reason is probably market dominance. You see, more and more profit hospitals are applying tactics such as horizontal consolidation, where hospitals choose to merge up, and vertical consolidation, where they hire more physicians than before, to increase their market share (Kocher, 2021).

The insurance industry also suffers a similar problem. In 2019, the top five US health insurance companies own a whopping 45.6% of total market share (Statista Research Department, 2020). In some states and local areas, firms can enjoy monopoly or near-monopoly, and this situation is getting worse in recent years (Dafny et al., 2012).

Market dominance is prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry as well. With government regulations on drug prices virtually non-existent, big drug firms have tremendous power to fix prices to maximise their profits (Hawley, 2021).

All those factors combined, and you have a country where citizens pay the most amounts for a healthcare system that doesn’t exactly work out the best.

Allowing too few firms to dominate the market is to blame. No government should ever trust the firms so much that it allows them to stifle competition and reap profits for themselves.

Some may say that healthcare and the Internet are two systems that cannot be compared to one another, that while the healthcare market may need to be regulated because it is a service crucial to public well-being, the digital, high-tech industry should not be disturbed by the government’s heavy hand.

I disagree with them. I think market dominance is an issue common to many markets, and since it frequently produces undesirable results for the people and for the government, it should be avoided as much as possible. 

Besides, to say that government intervention is necessary in some instances is not to deny all the good work the market has done. We just need to look around us to understand the fortunes of capitalism. 

However, we must not forget that competition is the most important principle that keeps the free market working. If actions by the government can encourage competition, they should be welcomed.

Some may also argue that the so-called ‘undesirable market outcome’ that market dominance can produce may not be significant enough in every instance. The Chinese high-tech industry, for instance, has provided fairly efficient and affordable services (China Academy of Information and Communication Technology, 2020).

To that point, I may need to concede that currently market dominance does not seem to have affected the market outcome, although I think that adverse effects are still very possible in the future. 

However, there is another factor we have yet to consider. When a few firms become too powerful, whatever that happens to them can have tremendous influence over government behaviour because the economic fortunes of individual big firms simply matter too much to the economic performance of a modern nation (Cooch, 2012). That is, dominant firms can become too big to fail. 

Again, let us take a look at the United States. The 2008 financial crisis is the perfect example. After the dot.com bubble burst caused a recession in the late 1990s, the Federal Reserve decreased the federal funds rate in an attempt to boost the economy by encouraging spending and investment (Seabury, 2021).

This prompted many Americans to take huge loans to purchase houses, and many of them even borrow way beyond their ability to repay, in what is termed ‘subprime lending’ (McArthur & Edelman, 2017). Wall Street hedge funds engaged in lots of that, disregarding the significant risk of low-credit loans (Denning, 2011).

In early 2000s, however, the fed interest rates began to rise, hitting many with payments they cannot repay (Amadeo, 2020). What’s worse, as supply started to keep up with demand, housing prices began to fall in 2006 (Barker, 2009). This wiped the wealth of many and forced them into debts, as they struggled to pay back the mortgages.

That prompted a banking crisis in 2007, and then, when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in 2008, the entire global economy was sent down the spiral of recession.

Seeing that the financial system was on the brink of collapse, the newly elected President Obama offered a massive bailout of 700 billion dollars to Wall Street firms (Congressional Research Service, 2020). 

Initially that act was credited with ‘stablising the economy’ and ‘preventing another Great Depression’ (Clark, 2010), referring to the catastrophic global recession from 1929 to early 1930s. Retrospectively, though, more commentators start to say that the bailout was a ‘flawed design’ (National Public Radio, 2008), ‘unnecessary for economic recovery’ (Baker, 2018), and ‘benefited the rich’ (Eisinger, 2020).

The problem doesn’t end there. Wall Street firms are responsible for causing the crisis with their reckless lending behaviour, yet they are the first ones to get massive help from the government. There seems to be a mismatch, right?

Then, why did that even happen, given that bailouts might not have worked and are morally unsound? Answer: law-makers were scared. They were scared that the failure of the few Wall Street firms would bring down the entire economy, since they are simply too powerful and too entrenched in the working of the financial system (Mukunda, 2019). 

Therefore, even when bailouts are not the best economically and morally, law-makers will rush to the aid of firms that are too big to fail.

Market dominance is to blame. If there were more companies in the financial market and the leading companies had a smaller market share, bailouts that the economy didn’t need might not have been issued because in that case, the failure of a few firms would not have been such a horror to law-makers (Barr, 2017).

If a government doesn’t want its economy to be too dependent on the fortunes of a few companies, it needs to prevent market dominance.

China’s digital industry has typically been led by a few big firms (Belton, 2019). Looks familiar?

Thus, the Chinese government should go ahead and rein in on its tech giants, if the purpose is to curb the rise of dominating firms.

At least, as long as it is indeed doing what it says.

Privacy and Transparency: The Social and Political Consideration

The trouble with this move by the Chinese government, however, is precisely that people don’t know whether its aim is really just to curb dominating firms.

Many like to compare this to the US congress hearing – and indeed I have also made that comparison at the start of this article, just so that you will see the relevance of this issue – but the two are actually slightly different. While the US hearings are aired publicly and held by elected officials, the Chinese meetings were secretive and done by government officials whom we know little about.

That slight difference matters a lot to how the message should be perceived. It is much easier to trust a hearing that can be seen by everybody than to believe what a government spokesperson says it’s about.

Well, this issue about trust is a question few residents of mainland China will ask, for the overwhelming majority of those I know are loyal and very trustful of the government.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t doubt and question China’s intent; we can never trust a government with a record of human rights violation and abuses (Edwards, 2020).

The possession of data has been a contentious issue in the Western world especially since the Snowden incident in 2013, and similarly it should be a concern for the Chinese people.

The Chinese government already has extensive access to the data owned by many private firms (Wang, 2017), and the fear is that by imposing even more regulations on tech giants, infringement on data and privacy rights will go from bad to worse.

This isn’t an empty fear, The Chinese government did take several actions to gain tighter control over tech giants’ databases (Leise, 2021).

Also, for a country that famously bans numerous foreign websites, it seems plausible that China is regulating the providers of digital services only because it has grown wary of allowing private firms to run the Internet. After all, it can get a lot harder to censor information regarding the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989 or the mass internment of Xinjiang Uyghers if private firms, rather than the government, power the search engines. 

Although the government already controls all the internet access routes (Herold, 2012), it has recently targeted Virtual Private Network (VPN) tools to circumvent the ‘Great Firewall’ and access foreign websites (Reuters, 2018). That indeed reveals deep anxiety about losing its control over the Internet.

If it cannot tolerate individuals surfing Google and Youtube, it certainly cannot tolerate a powerful industry whose service provision it isn’t fully confident that it can control.

Nevertheless, some may say to me that ‘hey Yuning, don’t be so pessimistic. Although there is a lot we don’t know about the Chinese government, we do know it has lots of laws that protect its citizens’ data and privacy, right?’

Well, you know what, they are right. The country does have laws and even clauses of the Constitution that protect those rights, with some of them coming out very recently (National Law Review, 2021). 

However, that works out better on paper than in reality. I just wish to point out that with such an opaque government that China has, nobody can truly be sure that the laws have been followed by law enforcement and state organs. If a liberal democracy like the United States, with all its watchdog organisations and institutional checks and balances, can have problem handling citizens’ private data like Mr. Snowden revealed, we should put even less trust in a one-party dictatorship.

I’m not making random assertions that China isn’t trustworthy; some of its actions in recent years seem to suggest that it really doesn’t want the public to know too much about what’s happening within its borders.

In February this year, for instance, the BBC reported that when the WHO went to China to investigate the origins of the coronavirus, it ‘requested raw patient data from early data’, which was ‘standard practice’, but only ‘received a summary’ from the Chinese government (BBC, 2021). 

If someone lies to you, will you trust him any longer?

Further back in time, the imposition of the National Security law is strong evidence of the unreliability of the Chinese government. When the United Kingdom handed Hong Kong back to China, the Chinese government promised to govern the land under a ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle, which says that China will allow Hong Kong to remain a democracy with all its rights and rights unaffected, for another fifty years (Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, 2007).

However, in June last year, after a whole year of protests, China imposed a new National Security Law which targets a wide range of vaguely defined crimes, such as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign entities (Tsoi & Lam, 2020). To most observers in the West, this has broken the ‘One Country, Two Systems’, for now China is directly interfering with Hong Kong’s judicial system (Rogers, 2020).

If someone breaks a promise he made with you, will you take what he says as truth anymore?

Although those incidents are different from the event we are discussing here, they do show that as we evaluate the action of the Chinese government now, we must not forget its horrible record at telling us what really is happening.

Conclusion: A Mess

As much as I hope to provide a definitive judgement on whether China is justified in doing what it’s doing, I cannot, unfortunately. Curbing the rise of dominating firms is a need, but as long as we have a government that lacks all the transparency needed for credibility, we can never take what it says as the truth.

China is shooting itself in its own foot by being so opaque about everything. It’s not just the regulations on tech giants that has caused global concern. Hong Kong, the origins of Covid-19 and the events in Xinjiang are just some of the things that have made relations between Beijing and the outside world tense, to say the least.

If China really wishes to earn the trust of the world on all those issues, it must reform its political structure. Democratisation is not necessary – though it will likely not wish to lose its grip on the state – but at least it should make its governance more accessible to outside scrutiny. That won’t solve all the problems, but at least that will help.

References:

Alibaba Group. (2020). History and Milestones. Alibaba Group. https://www.alibabagroup.com/en/about/history.

Amadeo, K. (2020, May 29). Causes of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. The Balance. https://www.thebalance.com/what-caused-2008-global-financial-crisis-3306176#:~:text=The%20financial%20crisis%20was%20primarily,profitable%20sale%20of%20these%20derivatives

Baker, D. (2018, September 14). Op-Ed: The bank bailout of 2008 was unnecessary. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke scared Congress into it. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-baker-bailout-20180914-story.html

Barker, D. (2009, April 26). Why Did House Prices Drop So Quickly. citeseerx.ist.psu.edu. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.519.8817&rep=rep1&type=pdf.

Barr, M. (2017, May 10). Ending “Too Big To Fail”. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/testimonies/ending-too-big-to-fail/

Belton, P. (2019, May 6). Why is the white hot Chinese tech sector cooling down? BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-48146915

BBC. (2021, February 14). Covid-19 pandemic: China ‘refused to give data’ to WHO team. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-56054468

Business Insider. (2017, March 2). The Rags-to-Riches Life Story of Alibaba Founder Jack Ma. Inc.com. https://www.inc.com

/business-insider/alibaba-jack-ma-life-story.html.

Cavallo, M. A. (2016, December 21). The growing importance of the technology economy. CIO. https://www.cio.com/article/3152568/the-growing-importance-of-the-technology-economy.html

China Academy of Information and Communication Technology. (2020, July). Digital Economy Development in China. CAICT. http://www.caict.ac.cn/english/research/whitepapers/202007/P020200728343679920779.pdf

Clark, A. (2010, July 28). US bailouts prevented 1930s-style Great Depression says new study. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2010/jul/28/us-bailouts-prevented-1930s-style-great-depression

Congressional Research Service. (2020, March 19). Federal Assistance to Troubled Industries: Selected Examples. crsreport. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R46277

Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau. (2007, July 1). The Joint Declaration. https://www.cmab.gov.hk/en/issues/joint2.htm#2

Cooch, E. (2012, May). Why competition breeds monopolies. Socialist Review. http://socialistreview.org.uk/369/why-competition-breeds-monopolies

Culpan, T. (2020, October 31). In China, Big Tech isn’t the enemy. It’s the strategy. Businesstimes.com.sg. https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/opinion/in-china-big-tech-isnt-the-enemy-its-the-strategy

Dafny, L., Duggan, M., & Ramanarayanan, S. (2012). Paying a Premium on Your Premium? Consolidation in the US Health Insurance Industry. American Economics Review. https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/aer.102.2.1161

Denning, S. (2011, December 5). Lest We Forget: Why We Had A Financial Crisis. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/11/22/5086/?sh=36d8457af92f

Desjardins, J. (2019, March 13). The Tech Giants Growing Behind China’s Great Firewall. Visual Capitalist. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/chinese-tech-giants-great-firewall/.

Edwards, L. (2020, November 2). A Reminder that China Is One of the World’s Worst Human Rights Offenders. The Heritage Foundation. https://www.heritage.org/asia/commentary/reminder-china-one-the-worlds-worst-human-rights-offenders.  

Eisinger, J. (2020, May 10). The Bailout Is Working – for the Rich. ProPublica. https://www.propublica.org/article/the-bailout-is-working-for-the-rich

Hawley, J. (2021, May 19). How Pharmaceutical Companies Price Their Drugs. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/020316/how-pharmaceutical-companies-price-their-drugs.asp

Herold, D. (2012). Escaping the World: A Chinese Perspective on Virtual Worlds. Journal For Virtual Worlds Research, 5(2). doi:https://doi.org/10.4101/jvwr.v5i2.6206.  

Kamal, R., Ramirez, G., & Cox, C. (2021, January 4). How does health spending in the U.S. compare to other countries? Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker. https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/chart-collection/health-spending-u-s-compare-countries/#item-start

Kocher, R. P. (2021, March 9). Overcoming the Market Dominance of Hospitals. JAMA. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2776858

Leise, E. (2021, June 15). China Takes Additional Step to Control Big Tech’s Data: Data & Data Analytics. Technology. https://technologymagazine.com/data-and-data-analytics/china-takes-additional-step-control-big-techs-data

Livingston, S. (2020, October 8). The Chinese Communist Party Targets the Private Sector. The Chinese Communist Party Targets the Private Sector | Center for Strategic and International Studies. https://www.csis.org/analysis/chinese-communist-party-targets-private-sector.

Marcos, F. (2018, September 28). Innovation by Dominant Firms in the Market: Damned If You Don’t… But Damned If You Do? ssrn.com. https://ssrn.com/abstract=3244405

McAuthur, C., & Edelman, S. (2017, April 13). The 2008 Housing Crisis. Center for American Progress. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/reports/2017/04/13/430424/2008-housing-crisis/

Mukunda, G. (2019, March 27). The Price of Wall Street’s Power. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2014/06/the-price-of-wall-streets-power

National Law Review. (2021, June 16). China Issues Data Security Law. The National Law Review. https://www.natlawreview.com/article/china-issues-data-security-law

National Public Radio. (2008, October 4). Was The Bailout Bill A Good Idea? NPR. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95395712

Qiu, L. (2000). Virtual Censorship in China: Keeping the Gate Between the Cyberspaces. International Journal of Communications Law and Policy. https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.106.532&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Reuters. (2018, March 30). Businesses, consumers uncertain ahead of China VPN ban. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-vpns-idUSKBN1H612F

Rogers, M. (2020, July 28). Hong Kong spotlights why China cannot be trusted on technology. The Hill. https://thehill.com/opinion/technology/509341-hong-kong-spotlights-why-china-cannot-be-trusted-on-technology?rl=1

Romm, T. (2020, July 30). Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google grilled on Capitol Hill over their market power. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/07/29/apple-google-facebook-amazon-congress-hearing/

Seabury, C. (2021, May 28). How Interest Rates Affect the U.S. Markets. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/stocks/09/how-interest-rates-affect-markets.asp

Shen, X. (2020, July 3). The story of China’s Great Firewall, the world’s most sophisticated censorship system. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/abacus/who-what/what/article/3089836/story-chinas-great-firewall-worlds-most-sophisticated

Statista Research Department. (2020, August). Market share of leading health insurance companies in the United States in 2019, by direct premiums written. statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/216518/leading-us-health-insurance-groups-in-the-us/

The Investopedia Team. (2021, June 9). What Are the Most Famous Monopolies? Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/032315/what-are-most-famous-monopolies.asp.

The Commonwealth Fund. (2020, January 30). U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019: Higher Spending, Worse Outcomes? U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019 | Commonwealth Fund. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2020/jan/us-health-care-global-perspective-2019

Thoma, M. (2014, September 18). What’s so bad about monopoly power? CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/whats-so-bad-about-monopoly-power/

Tsoi, G., & Lam, C. W. (2020, June 30). Hong Kong security law: What is it and is it worrying? BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-52765838

Wang, Z. (2017, October). Systematic Government Access to Private-Sector Data in China. Oxford University Press Scholarship. https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/oso/9780190685515.001.0001/oso-9780190685515-chapter-11

Wei, L. (2020, December 10). China’s Xi Ramps Up Control of Private Sector. ‘We Have No Choice but to Follow the Party.’. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-xi-clampdown-private-sector-communist-party-11607612531.

Wei, L. (2021, June 12). China’s New Power Play: More Control of Tech Companies’ Troves of Data. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-new-power-play-more-control-of-tech-companies-troves-of-data-11623470478

Xu, B., & Albert, E. (2017, February 17). Media Censorship in China. Council on Foreign Relations. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/media-censorship-china

Yang, Y. (2018, August 21). The Chinese internet boom in charts. Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/ef80e27c-a500-11e8-8ecf-a7ae1beff35b

Why Racial Caricaturing in Singaporean Broadcast Media is Problematic

Written by: Eliora Tan Yu Xuan (21-E5), Elizabeth Khoo Yuk Min (21-U1), Leanne Soh Li En (21-E6)

Designed by: Jervis Ch’ng Yun Ping (21-U5)

Introduction

It is commonly agreed upon that to have a normative Singaporean childhood is to have watched at least one Mediacorp series growing up. There are four different language channels that target the multiracial community in Singapore. Channel 8, the Mandarin-streaming channel, is the most popular, given our country’s predominantly Chinese majority. This draws in the splice of the debate: while our state-funded TV is meant to disperse moralistic plotlines and encourage value-strengthening in society, one has to question the very vetting process that media in Channel 8 undergoes for approval to broadcast nationwide. It is widely known that Channel 8 has trenched through its fair share of controversies, mostly regarding caricaturing of a minority – be it LGBTQ+ or a race. In this article, we will be delving deep into the root causes of racial caricaturing and then explore the problems it poses to Singaporean society and our citizens. 

The Causes for Racial Caricaturing

    Much of racial caricaturing present in today’s media stems from the majority bias. Singapore is made up of a variety of races, with the Chinese being the overwhelming majority. This has resulted in the Chinese majority displaying insensitive behaviour towards the other ethnic minorities, which has led to many instances of racism. Some of these instances occur through racial caricaturing, where minorities have been portrayed inaccurately or stereotypically in the media.  To name a few, Mediacorp actors have smeared paint on their faces to darken their skin tone in an attempt to act as a different race. There has also been a recent e-payment advertisement where a Singaporean Chinese actor with visibly darkened skin took on the roles of a Malay woman and an Indian man.

Brownface

Brownface, a term used to describe the practice of wearing make-up to imitate the looks of a non-white person, usually Malay or Indian when placed in Singapore’s context. While many express their distaste towards media containing brownface, there are some who claim it to be comedic. This explains why, regardless of the repercussions, the media has time and time again used brownface in their shows and advertisements. 

Photo credit: E-payment advertisement containing brownface

Racial stereotypes in media

“I was told to portray a caricature of my race. I was reduced to my accent.” Mr Bhargava wrote in a Facebook post, visibly enraged, after his audition as a soldier for the fourth edition of the local Singaporean favourite, Ah Boys to Men. He was told to take on the role of a “full-grown Indian man”, “put on a thick Indian accent” and “make it funny”, evidently being subjected to a racial stereotype of the media. 

Photo credit: Stomp

Yet, this was only one of the many incidents of racial stereotyping. The problem with racial stereotyping in the media is that it shapes and strengthens the views towards people of different races and ethnicities, which is extremely problematic in a multi-racial society like ours. This leads us to have a flawed understanding of the diversity and ability of “the other”. The subtle message in stereotypical portrayals of people from minority races is that making fun of “a particular mannerism, accent or look” is normal and is “socially acceptable”. We may criticise Hollywood for portraying people of colour in stereotypical manners through their blockbuster movies, but how can we ever call that out if we have been doing the same?

The Problems with It

           Not to mention, the very fact that such insensitive content is allowed to stream nationwide echoes the blatant tone-deafness in our society, or at least that of the Mediacorp scene. It shows that perhaps the umbrage voiced out by minorities or enraged audiences has fallen on deaf ears. This disregard for our base equilibrium needs is shameful, especially considering that Mediacorp is state-funded with the official purpose to foster harmony and uphold core values in society. 

    We must emphasise the fact that Singapore is a multiracial and multicultural society, where views of minorities must be respected, and instances of racial caricaturing are just simply unacceptable, more than ever. Tensions raised along racial lines undermine our social cohesion, so it is paramount that we keep the media in check. 

Conclusion

       Therefore, to keep in check majority bias within the ethnic-Chinese community in Singapore, the PAC/ACCESS should impose a racial quota to ensure that no racial lambasting – in the form of racist stereotypes on TV or brownface – is allowed to fly in the local broadcast media.

Bibliography:

  1. K. (2017, June 2). Police close case after questioning actor who alleged racism in audition for Ah Boys To Men 4. Stomp. https://stomp.straitstimes.com/singapore-seen/police-close-case-after-questioning-actor-who-alleged-racism-in-audition-for-ah-boys 
  2. Racial stereotypes in media: Not just a bit of harmless fun, Opinion. (2017, June 23). The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/racial-stereotypes-in-media-not-just-a-bit-of-harmless-fun 
  3. Racism saga: Are S’poreans prepared to grow from Ah Boys to Men?,. (2017, June 3). The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/racism-saga-are-sporeans-prepared-to-grow-from-ah-boys-to-men?close=true 

Autism in Girls

Written by: Eliora Tan Yuxuan (21-E5), Jolina Prisha Nair (21-E5), Lim Zi Loong, Zexel (21-E2)

Designed by: Katelyn Joshy (21-U1)


What is Autism? 

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships and self-regulation. The word autism originates from ‘autos’, the Greek word for ‘self’. People with autism are often referred to as someone who lives in a world of their own. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviours and is a spectrum condition that affects people differently to various degrees.

How is Autism different in Girls? 

Autism is more common in boys than in girls. Healthcare professionals, caregivers and parents tend to overlook the symptoms of autism in girls. Stereotypes about typical male and female behaviours can cause some people to miss some symptoms. For instance, many people think of girls as naturally quieter or more content to play alone than boys. However, speaking less and preferring to spend time alone can both be symptoms of autism.

Girls are more likely to react to stress in ways that people may not notice immediately, such as self-harm. Boys may be more likely to react to stress outwardly — for example, by becoming angry or misbehaving. This behaviour is more visible and may flag up autism sooner.

Girls may have more self-awareness and be more conscious of “fitting in” socially. This can mean that they are able to hide the symptoms of autism in childhood or put more time and energy into learning social norms.

As girls get older and social norms and friendships become more complex, they may find it more difficult to relate to others. This can mean that they may not receive a diagnosis of autism until their teenage years.

What are the safety risks of Autistic Girls? 

Autism hinders a girl’s ability to read social cues making them more vulnerable. They become susceptible to bullying for the sheer reason of being “different” and are easily taken advantage of. In more severe cases, they fall victim to sexual predators.

A recent study by Autism Speaks found that children with autism wander away from home, stores and school often. More than half of these children go missing long enough to cause worry. 65% of the incidents involve a close call with traffic and 32% involve near drowning accidents. According to their parents, the main reason for such wandering is their love for running and exploring. However, sometimes these children run away to escape stressful situations or an uncomfortable sensory stimulus.

Hence, it is of utmost importance for parents to develop safety plans with their families, teachers, police, and other community members to protect children with autism who wander and to be able to locate them. Continued community support is the best way to ensure their safety.

What are the current measures in place in Singapore? 

Allied educators are the main form of aid for autistic students in mainstream schools. They conduct weekly sessions with these students to bridge gaps in areas of difficulty. As of 2019, MOE states that there are more than 25,000 students with special needs in mainstream schools, and about 500 allied educators here. This ratio is alarming compared to British Columbia’s ratio of 73,000 special needs students to 12,000 education assistants. A former allied educator, who worked in a mainstream school in Singapore, said that her biggest challenge was the heavy workload. She even had to “juggle up to 50 cases” concurrently. Teachers would often demand “instant fixes” for children with special needs, or requested her to take them “out of the class”.  At times, “it’s not just one student with special needs, some classes have up to 10 with varying needs,” she claimed.

There are also a total of 20 Special Education (SPED) schools in Singapore and they offer different programmes that cater to distinct disability groups of children. However, SPED schools face numerous difficulties. Firstly, fees and funding vary from mainstream to SPED schools. The cost of school fees for special needs students can amount to as much as $350 while government-aided students only pay around $6.50 to $13 for miscellaneous fees. Though no child is denied an education, the vast difference in fees is still unfair to families of children in SPED schools.

Secondly, the pay and qualifications of SPED school teachers vary enormously. The qualifications of such teachers are usually less stringent than those of mainstream teachers. As Sped teachers do not come under MOE’s purview, they also do not have access to the same salary scales and opportunities as their peers in mainstream schools. Hence, there is a general perception that Sped school teachers have less recognition, and their pay packages are less attractive, even though their jobs are usually tougher.

We see that though efforts have been made to aid children with special needs, they are insufficient to meet the demand. Allied educators and teachers in SPED schools are forced to handle tough situations with little in return and not enough is being done to educate the student population on their classmates’ learning disabilities. Thus, more attention and resources needs to be given to these children to allow them to truly thrive. 

How can we help raise awareness of autism? 

It is paramount that we take action to alter society’s perception of patients with autism and help to reduce (or even eliminate) the stigma they face everyday through actively initiating conversations about autism, especially in girls. Society has failed to acknowledge the fact that autism does not only affect males, but both genders. What they previously ignored, they must now acknowledge. Here are some suggestions on how we can help. 

Firstly, we should equip ourselves with knowledge on how to identify symptoms of autism specifically in girls. These are easily missed, and examples of these symptoms include controlling one’s behavior in public by mimicking other neurotypical students in order to blend in (Arky, 2021). Identification of these symptoms encourages early detection of autism in girls so that parents can be informed about any anomalies in their child’s behaviour and seek professional help immediately.

Secondly, we can support social change initiatives which focus on combating gender bias in autism. Even simple actions like attending talks, rallies and other publicity events to educate oneself and speaking up about the issue with our circle of friends are meaningful contributions to increase awareness of autism in girls. For example, in some elementary schools in Vancouver, “demystification” sessions are conducted in mainstream primary schools (Choo, 2019). With the permission and participation of parents, and allied educators, autistic girls are given the opportunity to explain their disability, how it affects them and how we can help them, from their very own perspective. Hearing these stories will broaden the perspective of neurotypical students and cultivate a sense of understanding and inclusion from a young age. This is essential to supporting females suffering from autism.

Lastly, we must practice greater empathy and compassion in how we treat patients with autism. Instead of labelling them as “peculiar” or “slow” (Stevenson, 2005), we must learn to see things from their perspective, as the world around them is completely different from their point of view. Practice patience and understanding, because autistic people are still human beings with feelings and thoughts (Stevenson, 2005), just like any other neurotypical person. This surely takes time and effort, given that societal expectations procure otherwise, but it is important in moving toward a more inclusive and caring society. 

Conclusion 

In conclusion, the lack of awareness and understanding about autism in girls have caused autistic girls to further struggle both academically and socially. The difficulty in diagnosing autism in girls is especially detrimental and emphasises the need for all to be properly educated on autistic symptoms in order to increase early intervention. By organising talks, rallies, and other publicity events, and conducting “demystification” sessions, people from all walks of life will have a better understanding of the challenges faced by patients with autism, especially girls, and how to help them.

Bibliography

  1. Arky, B. (2021). Sensory Processing Issues Explained. Child Mind Institute. Retrieved June 17, 2021, from https://childmind.org/article/sensory-processing-issues-explained/ 
  2. Arky, B. (2021). Why Many Autistic Girls Are Overlooked. Child Mind Institute. Retrieved June 17, 2021, from https://childmind.org/article/autistic-girls-overlooked-undiagnosed-autism/ 
  3. Choo, C. (2019, September 30). The Big Read: Where kids with and without special needs learn together – and it’s not in Singapore. Channel News Asia. Retrieved March 14, 2021, from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/big-read-kids-with-and-without-special-needs-learn-together-11952714 
  4. Stevenson, N. (2005, July 16). Autism doesn’t have to be viewed as a disability or disorder. Autism Doesn’t Have to Be Viewed as a Disability or Disorder. https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2015/jul/16/autism-doesnt-have-to-be-viewed-as-a-disability-or-disorder 
  5. What is Autism? (2019, August 22). Autism Resource Centre (Singapore). Retrieved June 18, 2021, from https://www.autism.org.sg/living-with-autism/what-is-autism
  6. Sissons, C. (2019, June 26). What to know about autism in girls. Medical News Today. Retrieved June 18, 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325574#why-doctors-might-miss-it
  7. Szalavitz, M. (2016, March 1). Autism—It’s Different in Girls. Scientific Amercian. Retrieved June 18, 2021, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/autism-it-s-different-in-girls/
  8. Safety Team. (2021, February 12). Keeping Your Child With Autism Safe. Retrieved June 18, 2021, from https://www.safety.com/autism-safety/ 
  9. Goy, P. (2016, December 1). Special needs gaps in ‘every child matters’. https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/special-needs-gaps-in-every-child-matters

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)?

Written by: Jachin Khoo (21-U5),  Jacynthe Liew (21-O3), Leanne Soh (21-E6), Tan Le Kai (21-I4), Carissa Aletha Liem (21-I1) 

Designed By: Katelyn Joshy (21-U1)

Introduction: What is Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a severe form of dissociation, a mental process where one disconnects their feelings, thoughts and sense of identity. It is usually a result of a traumatic event, and people develop it as a coping mechanism to detach themselves from the trauma. Previously known as split personality disorder, DID is a mental health condition where one person has multiple identities. The “core” identity refers to the person’s usual identity, while “alters” refer to their alternate identities. Each alter has its own personality, behaviour, traits and even personal history. Some common signs and symptoms of DID include anxiety, depression and delusions. 

How do people with DID cope?

So, how do people cope with and manage DID? The most common treatment for dissociation is to go to therapy. An inpatient psychiatric program can be especially effective if symptoms of dissociation are particularly intense. Residential treatment, in particular, allows an individual to be immersed in healing practices and perspectives. It will allow people suffering from DID to develop therapeutic alliances, healthier coping skills, and a productive relationship with their stored trauma. Talk therapy can help DID patients work through the challenges they face when dealing with the condition, while stress management can help them identify and learn to deal with triggers that send them into a dissociative state. 

Practising relaxation techniques can also be particularly helpful when internal monologue gets too overwhelming and some strategies include a form of physical activity like yoga or doing hands-on projects like knitting and crafting. Grounding techniques are also essential in coping with DID and distractions such as television, time with pets and hobbies would also make DID patients feel more present in their bodies.

Creating a daily schedule to structure their day is an especially important part of coping with DID. Developing a schedule can help them stay grounded and present, removing unexpected situations that create stress or lead to impulsive behaviours. This will also help them to stay focused and prevent potential gaps in their memory. 

What should we not do around them/to them? 

The actions of the people around those suffering from DID can have a large impact on their condition, which is why you should avoid:

  • ‘Taking sides’ with any of component of their identities
  • Socially ostracizing them
  • Branding them as ‘dangerous’
  • Reminding them of the traumatic experiences which caused DID in the first place
  • Getting angry at them when they have an outburst

How can we help those who suffer from DID?

People with DID likely already feel isolated and alone in their suffering. When this person is living through the lens of an alternate personality that is unfamiliar to you, remember that this is still your loved one, and help them to feel accepted and supported regardless.

Firstly, stay calm during switches. Switching between alters can happen very subtly, and can also be more dramatic and disorienting. While this situation may be stressful and surprising, remaining level headed and meeting your friend where they are mentally can be enormously helpful. 

Secondly, try to learn and avoid triggers, which are external stimuli that cause them to switch between alters. Individuals with this condition may be triggered by anything that elicits a strong emotional response, including certain places, smells, sounds, senses of touch, times of the year or large groups of people. By asking them directly or observing their behavior, try to help your loved one avoid those triggers when possible. 

Thirdly, remember to take care of yourself. It can be difficult to stay vigilant of triggers and different alters. Often, people with this condition have been through intensely traumatic experiences, and hearing about these experiences can also be difficult. The best way you can serve your friend is to ensure your own physical and mental well-being. 

While your ongoing support is indispensable, you will not be able to help them through recovery on your own. This is a disorder that requires knowledgeable clinical attention and proven treatment options for lasting recovery. Thus, professional care can be enormously beneficial to someone with a DID. Unfortunately, because DID is so heavily stigmatized, many people who have it never seek treatment. 

If you know your friend lives with DID, let them know you care about them, and try to encourage them to seek treatment, if they are not yet already. Offer to help look for providers; lending a hand in finding a therapist or treatment center can make the idea of seeking help less daunting. You can even offer to accompany them to their first appointment, to give them support. If they are reluctant, you could also suggest getting started with teletherapy, where people can receive therapy services over the internet or phone, making it easier for them to ease into the idea of seeking treatment. 

Conclusion

Although rare, dissociative identity disorder is a very real issue and we should all do our best to practice some empathy to those around us. We should avoid seeing it as a case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but to see them as humans like us. 

Bibliography

  1. Cleveland Clinic. (2016, April 20). Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder) | Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9792-dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder 
  2. Dissociation and dissociative disorders. (2012). Vic.gov.au. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/dissociation-and-dissociative-disorders 
  3. WebMD. (2008, April 17). Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). WebMD; WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder 
  4. Hospital, B. R. B. (2021, August 13). 5 Tips to Handle a Dissociative Disorder. Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital. https://batonrougebehavioral.com/5-tips-to-handle-a-dissociative-disorder/
  5. How to Overcome Dissociative Identity Disorder. (2021, April 13). The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab. https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder/related/how-to-overcome-did/
  6. BrightQuest Treatment Centers. (2019, June 19). How Dissociative Identity Disorder Affects Daily Life and How You Can Help. https://www.brightquest.com/blog/how-dissociative-identity-disorder-affects-daily-life-and-how-you-can-help

¿?sick beats?¿ November 2021 Edition

Written by: Ashley Koh (21-A1), Lian Zhiqi (21-I1) and Tricia Loh (21-U1)

Designed by: Ashley Lay (21-O1)

Colourful costumes, plots clichély familiar or refreshingly new, dashing male leads and gorgeous heroines: these are some of the things that we think of when we mention “Bollywood”. After all, these are staples of Hollywood movies, from which Bollywood draws much of its influence and inspirations. Even the genre’s namesake is a combination of “Bombay” (or the old-timey name for Mumbai), and “Hollywood”! 

However, Bollywood and Hollywood differ in one big area: the music. Most Hollywood films, save musicals, usually don’t pay much attention to the music. Admittedly, soundtracks from famous Hollywood movies can become huge hits, but they are rarely the stars of the movies themselves. 

In Bollywood, this is completely not the case. Bombastic group numbers, tentatively gentle romantic ballads and many other types can be seen in every Bollywood movie. Without fail and regardless of the genre of movie, actors can be found bursting into song. They may even break into impromptu yet expertly choreographed dances. The biggest Bollywood stars of today are also excellent singers. 

However, Bollywood hasn’t always been as developed as the industry currently is. So how did it all begin? 

Ever since Hindi cinema started in 1931, its films have heavily incorporated various musical genres. They are a characteristic element of Indian films which makes it timelessly popular and enjoyable for its generations of audience. 

India is a culturally diverse country with different groups of people speaking in different tongues and dialects. Bollywood music breaks through these language barriers by effectively intriguing their audience with lively and vibrant beats combined with dances performed by an energetic mob of people. Thus, by connecting citizens from all over the country and even attracting audiences outside, Bollywood music has gained a great reputation for itself. 

Shreya Goshal is one of the most famous singers in Bollywood, with her net worth being a whopping US $25 million! Her most famous songs include Jaadu Hain Nasha Hai and Saans among many other hits. Jaadu Hain Nasha Hai was composed for the 2003 movie Jism and adopts a soft and dreamy tone with the acoustics being emphasised the greatest. The song communicates a girl’s increasing vulnerability toward her love interest, slowly opening up to him as she becomes more connected with him. Jaadu Hain Nasha Hai literally translates to ‘it’s magic’. How romantic!

Goshal charges 20 lakh rupees per song, which converts to about SG $36,500! Making it big in Bollywood is definitely challenging, but it undoubtedly earns the artists good money. Having their name known by over 1 billion of India’s citizens as well as striking it rich while doing what they love (singing) is probably the major pulling factor drawing hoards of young, aspiring musicians into the Bollywood scene. 

Many foreign artists have even taken inspiration from Bollywood music for their own pieces! Did you know that the famous violin riff from “Toxic” by Britney Spears was taken from a hugely popular Bollywood song? Another example is “Paint the Town” by KPOP group LOONA which is a Bollywood-inspired dance and hip hop track with strong fast-paced percussion and sampled exotic vocals.

But this international love for Bollywood doesn’t just stop at pop music sampling. The Bollywood craze has become global, with at least 9 different countries including Germany, Japan, Peru and even Russia going gaga over these colourful and vibrant Indian films with their music telling tales of adventure and love. The films and songs also serve as a reminder of home for many Indians living abroad and out of their native country. The music can even be a stepping stone for Indian children living abroad to get in touch with a part of their culture, their mother tongues. 

After examining all the factors and the reasons behind Bollywood’s rise to dominance in the global film industry, it is clear that it’s become a force to reckon with. With the Indian film industry continuing to improve and catch up to Hollywood in terms of quality and prominence, it is also clear that Bollywood is here to stay. 

So before you go, why not get in on the craze? Sick Beats recommends a few Bollywood songs to get you started: 

  1. Chaiyya Chaiyya: Sung by Academy Award winning artist Sukhwinder Singh and Sapna Awasthi, this evergreen and massively popular classic from 1998 captivated the hearts of millions of Indians with its hypnotically catchy melody and mesmerising vocals from both Singh and Awasthi. If you want to get into Bollywood music, look no further.
  1. Nazm Nazm: Another romantic yet modern song that captures the sweetness of love, this will have you swaying along to the gentle voice of the singer Arko. 
  1. Dil Dhadakne Do: On the more lighthearted and foot-tapping side, there is this song which shares its name with the film it’s composed for. Fun, catchy and sung by international superstar Priyanka Chopra Jonas, this one will get your head bopping. 
  1. Kabhi Khushi Khabie Gham: The last entry of these recommendations is definitely not the least. Sung by the greatest playback singer in the world Lata Mangeshkar, this song’s distinctive and emotive melody accompanied by Lata’s iconic vocals tell a beautiful and heart-wrenching story that truly encompasses the meaning of the song’s title: “in happiness and sadness”

Now that you know a little bit about the tour de force named Bollywood, we hope you will dive into the colourful costumes, plots clichély familiar or refreshingly new, dashing male leads and gorgeous heroines and most importantly, the must-listen soundtracks of any Bollywood film. 

Bibliography

Maurya, S. (2021, June 14). Top 10 singers in India – 2021. Business Connect | Best Business magazine In India. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from https://businessconnectindia.in/top-10-singers-in-india/. 

Nicolaou, E. (2021, November 2). What makes Bollywood movies so special. Oprah Daily. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://www.oprahdaily.com/entertainment/a33396048/what-is-bollywood/. 

Satija, G. (2017, October 15). 9 countries where Bollywood is Badshah. IndiaTimes. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from https://www.indiatimes.com/entertainment/bollywood/9-countries-where-bollywood-is-badshah-331482.html. 

Thomas, C. (2020, November 20). Why Bollywood is so popular across the world. Viral Panda. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from https://viralpanda.net/why-bollywood-is-so-popular-across-the-world/. 

Vaidyanathan, R. (2012, June 7). The rise and rise of new bollywood. BBC News. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-18327901. 

Verma, R., & Kheraj, A. (2018, August 20). Best bollywood songs: 11 incredible Bollywood songs in Hindi Movies. Time Out London. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from https://www.timeout.com/london/film/best-bollywood-songs.