GP Extra Credit: Ten years after their construction, have the Integrated Resorts had a significant impact on Singapore society?

Written by: Jessica Kosasih (19-A5)

Designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)


Singapore is well-known for many of its structural developments and the Integrated Resorts are one of them. Including the breath-taking Resorts World Sentosa, Adventure Cove, Expo Convention Centers and world-class Casinos, the Integrated Resorts are a sight to behold. Lately, together with plans for building a 4th tower in addition to the current Marina Bay Sands and other expansions, the government has also agreed to extend the exclusivity period for them. This transaction, supported by the government, proves that there are notable benefits to be reaped from the Integrated Resorts. Indeed, the Integrated Resorts have clearly left their significant mark in many aspects of Singaporean life and Singaporean society but this impact they have may be less pronounced in some fields.


Firstly, on a national level, the construction of the Integrated Resorts has been significant to Singaporean society as they have attracted both local and foreign interest by providing recreation and entertainment, enriching the local economy. Singaporeans are able to benefit from the overall growth of the local economy such as better public services and reduced government debt. Economic analysis suggests that the Integrated Resorts have led to significant Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in a slowing economic outlook. Not only do attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore and Adventure Cove bring in valuable tourism dollars, locals have also been attracted to this area for entertainment or business purposes. This encourages domestic and international tourism. For instance, convention centers available in Marina Bay Sands are key attractions for Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) visitors — one of Singapore’s key tourist demographics. The Integrated Resorts have increased Singapore’s appeal as a tourism hub and have effectively managed to adapt to the ever-changing tourism and economic landscape. Hence, they have provided a large variety of goods and services while remaining functional to the needs of consumers. As such, the Singapore Tourism Board reported that tourism receipts increase to S$27.1 billion in 2018. On the other hand, critics argue that tourism is merely a segment of the economy which shows that it has a limited scope of impact on Singapore’s society. However, to underestimate the importance of tourism to Singapore’s economy is neglecting the fact that it is one of the fastest growing sectors in Singapore. In a backdrop of a mature economy and slowing growth rates, tourism is one of the main economic pillars of the service industry in Singapore. Therefore, the Integrated Resorts has caused a significant impact on the Singaporean society by providing a multi-faceted appeal for Singapore as a leisure and business destination.


In addition to significant economic growth generated from tourism, the Integrated Resorts also provide economic opportunities for Singaporeans to leverage on such as the provision of jobs for locals. While some may argue tourism generated from the Integrated Resorts is limited in its scope of impact as they employ foreign workers, data suggests that more locals benefit from this than foreigners. The Integrated Resorts directly employ about 20,000 people of which more than 65 percent are locals, according to figures from Channel News Asia in 2019. Despite the fact that there would be some foreign workers in a globalised economy like Singapore’s, considering the majority of employees are local, creation of jobs for Singaporeans through the construction of the Integrated Resorts is evident. A lowered unemployment rate also increases the morale of a country’s citizens and lowers crime rates, ensuring that Singapore remains a safe environment for its inhabitants. Therefore, by being a major tourist attraction in Singapore, the Integrated Resorts have revamped the current tourism landscape and contributed to the local economy. This has significantly impacted Singaporeans as many are able to reap the benefits from an increased number of jobs available in the local economy.


Unfortunately, the Integrated Resorts have also led to significant social consequences on Singaporean life. The availability and legalisation of gambling in casinos have resulted in certain individuals getting addicted to gambling as well as allowed unscrupulous acts to take place. With the legalisation of a casino, locals are able to access gambling on a large scale in Singapore. The casino is also a lucrative opportunity for illegal activities like money laundering, illegal money lending and organised crime as large amounts of cash are often exchanged in the casino without much supervision. Easy access to casinos could soil Singapore’s reputation as a fair and corrupt-free state. This is also a crucial area of concern for Singapore as gambling addiction commonly increases financial burden on households, or even result in increased levels of violence and crime. As such, the Singaporean society may cease to condemn those who spend large amounts of money on gambling may be eroded. Instead of gamblers hiding in the fringes of society, gambling is now legalised and sometimes glamourised through the gilded decorations in casinos. This has led to an increasing number of people declaring bankruptcy, reaching a four-year peak in 2014 which was four years after the opening of Integrated Resort casinos. Singaporeans have also paid a total of 1.3 billion dollars in entrance fees since 2010 according to the Straits Times figures. The entrance fees signify the large number of local patrons which suggests the scale of gambling in casinos. Furthermore, the growing trend of people being stretched to their financial limits proves that the Integrated Resorts have left a significant negative impact on Singaporean society through the availability of vices like gambling. Thus, the facilities in the Integrated Resorts have left serious repercussions on Singaporeans which are far-reaching since it affects both the Singaporean social culture as well as impacts an individual’s personal finances.



Following the social impacts of the Integrated Resorts, they have also significantly changed the daily lives of Singaporeans by being a tangible representation of Singapore. In this case, the drastic changes to the natural environment due to the Integrated Resorts construction have also shaped the physical environment. These physical structures would be an image associated with Singapore. For example, the iconic towers of Marina Bay Sands have become a representation of the Singaporean skyline. They were even featured in the Hollywood blockbuster, Crazy Rich Asians, which evoked pride amongst locals by showcasing the Marina Bay Sands area to an international audience. In a constantly changing world, the skyline of Singapore would have continuously transformed. Hence, construction of the Integrated Resorts has impacted their surroundings by remodelling the appearances of the physical landscape. However, some critics argue that constructions and man-made structures are non-permanent, so they should not be of much value to Singaporeans. This is supported by plans of various new infrastructure projects such as Gardens By the Bay and the upcoming expansion of Marina Bay Sands including building an addition of a 4th tower has shown that there is continuous change. However, despite the fact that the Integrated Resorts might be replaced in the future, the mark they leave on Singaporean society will remain significant. This is because, through physical changes, the Integrated Resorts have left a noteworthy mark in a figurative sense. The construction of the Integrated Resorts presents Singapore as a futuristic cosmopolitan city with luxurious infrastructure able to cater to an increasingly capitalist world. The scope of intangible associations with national identity and pride for such impressive structures largely outweighs the impact that they have physically. Therefore, the construction of the Integrated Resorts has significantly impacted Singapore’s society by being a positive representation of Singapore and have literally transformed the Singapore skyline.


In essence, the Integrated Resorts have garnered attention locally and on an international level. The recognition they have attained comes from their significant economic and social impacts. While they are arguably just a part of a diverse Singapore, the Integrated Resorts have greatly affected Singaporeans in key aspects of their lives, namely their identity, social values and finance. They have also resulted in significant benefits to Singapore as a nation. To remain relevant in the future, the Integrated Resorts have to continue improving and to make use of up to date technology to retain their appeal. Furthermore, expansions of facilities should also take into account sustainability to ensure long term success and to remain relevant such that their influence can continue to be an important unique piece of Singapore in people’s hearts.


This article was written in the author’s personal capacity. Views, opinions, and thoughts expressed in all articles published on The Origin* belong solely to the author(s), and do not represent the values or ethos of The Origin* or the College.

GP Extra Credit: Pursuing one’s passion is a luxury many youth cannot afford

Pursuing one’s passion is a luxury many youth cannot afford

By Nethania Che (19-O4)

Designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)

This piece was written in response to a commentary entitled “Gen Y speaks: When pursuing your passion burns you out”, posted on Today on 21 July 2019. 

Today, there is an increasing acceptance towards youths following their passion and an increasing number of opportunities are available for them to explore various unconventional career paths according to their interests. However, this does not necessarily mean a better life for the youth of today. 


The ability to pursue one’s passion to the extent where they are able to align their passions with their careers is a luxury that many youth, unfortunately, cannot afford. 


While there may be a larger acceptance towards unconventional career choices and fewer expectations for the youth to conform to their parent’s wishes, many are still subjected to several unspoken and often overlooked constraints of life. 


Unfortunately, pursuing one’s passion as a career is dependent on many more factors than the mere extent of one’s passion and grit. Many unpredictable factors are often associated with coincidence and luck, like the power of one’s connections or the timeliness of available opportunities, play a significant part in influencing the success of one’s pursuit. 


I disagree that the threatening of a youth’s identity and self-worth due to their blinded expectation to thrive is the main concern when youths eventually decide to abandon their pursuits when faced with failure. 


Rather, I believe many youths feel an increased pressure to achieve success quickly when they are pursuing an unconventional job of their choice, in order to prove to the nay-sayers around them wrong.


With the lack of abundant financial support, many youths cannot afford to endure uncountable failures or setbacks without a guarantee of success. They are pressured and expected to fetch a stable income to support themselves and lighten the financial burden on their parents. Many of them also harbour the personal goal of being able to support their parents, as an act of gratitude and to fulfil their duty as filial children. 


Thus, many of them do not have the luxury of time or monetary resources to completely devote themselves to pursue and develop their passions as careers. To prevent further wastage of time or resources, many are forced to throw in the towel as soon as they realize their passions may not be viable career options. 


Their eventual choice to forgo their passions and take on a more stable and conventional career route would be a result of them coming to terms with reality, rather than the unrealistic worldview that pursuing their passion would make their lives easier. 

Their decision to give up the pursuit of their passion and to settle with a more stable and mundane career choice may instead be a clear demonstration of their sensibility and maturity that these youth have grown into as a result of their upbringing and development, which deserves to be commended. 


Even the most passionate and determined individuals who are more than willing to bite the bullet and have a fierce determination to fulfil their dreams initially may be forced to throw in the towel after receiving a reality check from next month’s rental and utility bill. 


This article was written in the author’s personal capacity. Views, opinions, and thoughts expressed in all articles published on The Origin* belong solely to the author(s) and do not represent the values or ethos of The Origin* or the College.

Periscope: Deep Dive Day Special – Friends to All and Enemy to None

Written by: Wong Sean Yew (19-U4)

Designed by: Lee En Tong (19-U2)

In conjunction with Deep Dive Day #3, this Special Edition aims to summarise Mr. V.P. Hirubalan’s speech on Singapore’s Foreign Policy in Practice. We were honoured to have Mr. Hirubalan, an illustrious diplomat, to provide insight into Singapore’s diplomacy, an issue which is especially relevant in this Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) era. Here are some key points that were highlighted during the session.

Mr. Hirubalan detailed several challenges for Singapore. He highlighted that Singapore, despite being multiracial, still has a Chinese majority. As a result, some may perceive that Singapore is heavily influenced by China. It is therefore imperative for Singapore to cement its status as a non-Chinese state, and as a state which is not a supplicant to China, for it to establish a strong Singaporean identity on the world stage. 

He further emphasised that the international rules-based order is currently threatened, possibly disrupting the multilateral trade regime. Singapore is especially threatened by this, given how trade constitutes a whopping 322% of Singapore’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and given the fact that it is at the crossroads of major trade routes. He also further discussed Singapore’s vulnerability to great power rivalry, with a prominent example being the ongoing US-China Trade War.

He then further explained several key principles in Singapore’s foreign policy. 

It is critical to assert Singapore’s rights to sovereignty. He mentioned that by their nature, small states are susceptible to pressure from major powers to concede, even when the national interests of small states are compromised. To do this, diplomacy with other countries and the continued effectiveness of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) are key. 

Singapore must also maintain its hard-earned position as a leader in the region. This ensures our relevance so that other countries have an interest to us as small states have no irreplaceable role in the global ecosystem.

Singapore must then be reliable, credible and consistent in its stance on the need for constructive discussion on various issues. For instance, Singapore’s role as a host of the Trump-Kim Summit, and other important events encapsulates and entrenches its reputation as a reliable, credible and consistent nation, which will benefit us in the long run.

It is vital for Singapore’s survival that we promote the global, rules-based order. He mentioned the importance of the survival of small states in a rules-based order due to the power and influence exerted by larger countries. Hence, Singapore requires the power of intergovernmental organisations such as the United Nations to ensure its survival in a world where might is a strength. For instance, airspace management has often been a point of contention between Singapore and various other larger countries. He brought up the airspace dispute between Singapore and Indonesia, which was brought up to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a UN agency for arbitration. The ICAO subsequently judged that Singapore should remain in control of the airspace, demonstrating the importance of such organisations to small states. 

Lastly, Singapore’s foreign policy is premised on the adage that she should be ‘a friend to all, and enemy to none’, in his opinion, a realistic approach for small states. Singapore even seeks to reach out to those who do not actively seek to establish relations to ensure bilateral ties can be established between all countries. To prove this, Mr. Hirubalan shared what he experienced in his stint as the first ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 2006, where Mr. Lee Kuan Yew visited Saudi Arabia three times to demonstrate the emphasis Singapore places on bilateral ties. Furthermore, to become a country that is actively sought out by other countries, Singapore needs to be successful. Saudi Arabia saw Singapore as a model to develop a megacity and wanted to collaborate with Singapore on it. Saudi Arabia also sought advice to establish a new university, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

In addition, Mr. Hirubalan felt that the lack of awareness of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s partnerships with Singapore among Singaporean youths was worrying, due to ASEAN’s importance to Singapore. 

So far, ASEAN has been successful in the promotion of peace, stability, and cooperation for five decades, allowing countries to focus on national development. According to him, it has fostered economic cooperation, as shown by how Singapore has invested heavily in many countries in ASEAN and how a common market has been created. As a result, it enhances the voice of the region, as a united voice from ASEAN can result in more effective results. ASEAN also allows the region to play a leading role, as seen by how ASEAN are partners with the Permanent 5 (P5) countries in the United Nations.

Mr. Hirubalan also commented on ASEAN’s relevance to Singaporean youths today. Firstly, ASEAN has engendered peace in the region, creating a liveable home for all. Secondly, it has expedited travel between ASEAN nations and now, Singaporeans will be able to seek help from ASEAN embassies if a Singapore embassy is unavailable.

He concluded by suggesting how youths in Singapore can contribute to the effectiveness of our foreign policy. As youths, we can contribute to the creation of a united and cohesive country. This is crucial as other states have already tried to impede national cohesion through tools such as fake news, which has proliferated through avenues like social media. He also reminded Eunoians to be alert and understand our vulnerabilities so that other countries cannot take advantage of our diversity.

Mr V.P. Hirubalan’s speech, though easy to understand, is certainly a tall order to carry into the future. Yet, for Singapore’s continued safety and position in this precarious sphere that is the world, it appears that the safest strategy is to stick to our principles.

Weathered Wars: Iran and Iraq

This is another collaborative piece with the Eunoia Strategic Affairs Society (E-SAS) Interest Group! This time, we look at a historical conflict – the Iran-Iraq War.

Written by: Bae Soo Youn (19-I5, ESAS)

Edited by: Sit Jie Ren (19-I4, EJC Press and ESAS) and Wong Sean Yew (19-U4, EJC Press and ESAS)

Designed by: Lee En Tong (19-U2)

Image Credit:


In 1980, Saddam Hussein launched an attack on the newly constituted Islamic Republic of Iran. What was initially expected to be a quick and easy war for the Iraqis soon devolved into an 8-year long protracted conflict (Black, 2010), triggering rising religious sectarianism in the Middle East.

Hussein, in his miscalculations, predicted that Iran would be heavily disorganised following its 1979 revolution which would grant the Iraqis a significant military advantage, and greatly hamper Iranian retaliation. The commencement of the war saw the Iraqis seizing the initiative, and obtained significant military gains in Iran (, 2009). Yet, Iranian revolutionary fervour enabled it to mobilise its vast population and began to repel the invasion, and gain the initiative, mounting operations to take Iraqi cities and territory (Hardy, 2005). However, the severely weakened Iranian National Guard, following leadership purges and equipment maintenance issues, hampered efforts to mount effective operations (, 2009).

With either side unable to gain any initiative, the war situation deteriorated into a stalemate as the Iraqis were not in a position to end the war, while the Iranians refused to do so (, 2009). This stalemate would ensue for close to a decade, with trench warfare inflicting huge losses of life (Doucet, 2015). Chemical weapons and ballistic missiles were utilised, and by the end of the war, the casualty count was estimated at 1 million (Black, 2010).

Points of Contention

Religious, Sectarian Factors (Beliefs and Values)

Due to Iraq’s demographics, with around 60% of its population being Shi’i Muslims, the dominant Sunni Muslims practices a secular ideology known as Arab Nationalism, which emphasises the importance of Arab solidarity and collectivism. This diametrically opposed the ideology practised by Iran, that of Islamic Fundamentalism, which promotes obedience to ancient Islamic beliefs, while condemning Western or modern views. By their nature, these two ideologies are mutually exclusive in their implementation, hence this war can be seen as a reflection of the rift between these two values (Swearingen, 1988).

Foreign Intervention in the War (Power and influence)

Many foreign powers hold vested interests in the region and exert their power and influence in accordance with this. The Arab states aim to ensure that neither state achieve total victory and become too powerful. As Iran went on the offensive, the international community intervened in the war. The West funded and supported Iraq with weapons and raw materials for gas and chemical weapons (Black, 2010), while Saudi Arabia, fearing increasing Shi’i influence in the region, subsidized the Iraqi war effort. This foreign intervention effectively rendered Iraq as a proxy of Saudi Arabia, and prolonged the war for another 7 years. 

Discussion: ‘Countries experiencing conflict should be left to sort out their own problems.’ How far do you agree? (2016 A Level Question)


  1. Hardy, R. (2005, September 22). The Iran-Iraq War: 25 years on. British Broadcasting Corporation, Retrieved from
  2. Black, I. (2010, September 23). Iran-Iraq remember war that cost more than a million lives. The Guardian, Retrieved from
  3. Doucet, L. (2015, October 6). Legacy of Iran-Iraq war lives on. British Broadcasting
    Corporation, Retrieved from
  5. (2009, November 9). Iran-Iraq War. Retrieved from
  6. Swearingen, W. (1988). Geopolitical Origins of the Iran-Iraq War. Geographical Review, 78(4), 405-416. doi:10.2307/215091
  7. Faily, L. (2018, August 21). Reflecting on the Iran-Iraq War, Thirty Years Later. Atlantic Council, Retrieved from


Periscope: Summary of the Qatar Diplomatic Crisis

This Periscope article is a collaborative piece jointly completed by members of Eunoia Junior College Press and the Eunoia Strategic Affairs Society (ESAS) Student-Initiated Interest Group. As part of EJC Press and ESAS’ efforts to contribute to the student community, we intend to continually bring you high-quality Current Affairs Summaries through Periscope. 

Written by Wong Sean Yew (EJC Press and ESAS) and Clarence Sim (EJC Press and ESAS) 

Designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)


The Qatar Diplomatic Crisis is an issue that involves multiple nations largely in the Middle East. Singapore and Qatar have often been compared, due to their similar geopolitical attributes as small states. This unresolved crisis is still ongoing and its effects plague Qatar even to this day. In this article, we documented a short summary on the key details of this issue. Do use the Universal Concepts (UC) to guide you.


The Qatar Diplomatic Crisis was sparked by statements that were allegedly made by Qatar News Agency, a state-run Qatari news agency. It portrayed the Qatar Emir making disparaging comments about Trump’s presidency, suggesting good relations with Iran and Israel, while commending Hamas militants. Although the Qatar News Agency has claimed that this was a result of cyberattacks, the surrounding countries, namely Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen, has alleged that this is Qatar’s official position in the region; that it supported terrorist organisations (Kirkpatrick & Frenkel, 2017). As a result, many severed relations with Qatar, erasing all border links with her, causing a diplomatic crisis. Furthermore, most of them closed their airspace to Qatar, causing the national carrier to divert and cancel flights across the region, inconveniencing hundreds of travellers. Heavily reliant on imports across its border with Saudi Arabia, Qatari citizens initially rushed to buy up foodstuffs, but this has been greatly relieved with external help. Qatar’s enemies have issued a list of demands to Qatar for relief from their restrictions, but Qatar refused, as it claims that it is a contravention of their sovereignty (British Broadcasting Corporation, 2017). Qatar claims to be able to withstand the crisis, with its vast reserves and imports from other countries (The Straits Times, 2017).

Points of Contention
While the crisis has multiple points of contention, we will focus on two of the main points.

Rising Nationalism (UC: Identity)

The Qatar Diplomatic Crisis has resulted in a sharp increase in nationalism among many Qataris, many who rally around the Qatari Emir in support of his resistance against the issued demands. Along with an increase in the number of displays of national imagery, such as the Qatari royal family and the national flag, many eligible Qataris have also voluntarily enlisted themselves into the military out of patriotism. The Qatar Diplomatic Crisis seems to have become a defining event in the rise and augmentation of the Qatari national identity, which has already been strengthening due to Qatar’s progress over the past few decades (Cafiero, 2017).

Nationalism: Political ideology. A sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). 

The Issue of Small States (UC: Power and Influence)

Eminent diplomat Kishore Mahbubani has stated that the situation in Qatar should serve as a valuable lesson for small states such as Singapore. He claimed that due to their wealth and the close relationship with the United States of America, Qatar frequently intervened in various regional situations such as those in Syria and Yemen. Their attempted projections of power and influence resulted in a response from the prominent powers in the Middle East, causing a diplomatic crisis. This could be applied to Singapore, a similar small state. Hence, he believes Singapore should be restrained in its statements if it involves larger powers (Mahbubani, 2017).

Some have also postulated that the cause of this crisis could be Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was claimed that the surrounding countries were afraid of the potential power and influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, as demonstrated in the Brotherhood’s rise in politics in the wake of the Arab Spring, and hence decided to ignite this diplomatic crisis in order to stop Qatari support for the group (Trager, 2017).

Discussion: Should small states actively advocate for their own interests or ‘act their size’?

For an opposing view, do look at Bilahari Kausikan’s piece on The Straits Times, “Singapore cannot be cowed by size”.

For further reading, feel free to access the following links

Kirkpatrick, D. M., & Frenkel, S. (2017, June 09). Hacking in Qatar Highlights a Shift Toward Espionage-for-Hire. Retrieved from 

British Broadcasting Corporation. (2017, July 19). Qatar crisis: What you need to know.  Retrieved from 

The Straits Times (2017, July 17) Qatar Crisis: How the Gulf nation is responding to blockade by bigger neighbours. Retrieved from

Cafiero, G. (2017, July 7) A rising wave of Qatari nationalism. Retrieved from

Mahbubani, K. (2017, July 02). Qatar: Big lessons from a small country. Retrieved from

Trager, E. (2017, July 02). The Muslim Brotherhood Is the Root of the Qatar Crisis. Retrieved from

Merriam-Webster (n.d.). Nationalism. Retrieved from


POFMA II: An Interview with Prabu Devaraj

A followup to our previous POFMA article, the Origin* interviewed Prabu Devaraj, a member of Community for Advocacy and Political Education (CAPE).

Written by: Sit Jie Ren (19-I4)

Interviewer: Sit Jie Ren (19-I4)

Designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2) and Athena Lim (19-A4)

Prabu Devaraj is a member of the Community for Advocacy and Political Education (CAPE), a student organisation based in Yale-NUS College, which was founded in 2017 by students from Yale-NUS College and the Law Faculty of the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Q: We have recently heard of the bill tabled, The POFMB, and given that we live in such a highly globalised world where anyone can be a content creator and do you think that this bill is justified and necessary?

A: I definitely feel that the bill is quite necessary, because I think recent events must have informed all of us that is a scourge online when it comes to fake news, and I think disinformation is one of mankind’s biggest enemies. Hence, it’s very important for us to battle disinformation on the realm and on the online realm.

Q; However, there are many contentions over certain clauses in the wording. Perhaps could you explain exactly what could be classified as a falsehood under this bill?

A: With regard to my understanding of the bill, it’s effectively a deliberate false statement of fact. This means that if you had communicated a fact online, knowing or having relevant knowledge that it is false, this would come under the category of falsehood. I understand that this definition is slightly tautological in some senses. But, all laws have two functions, two threads to it. One is the AR, the other is the MR – actus reus * and mens rea**. Actus reus is the action – which is communicating online. The mens rea is the intention. In this particular law, the action is to have knowledge of the false fact, and the point is that I think it’s quite difficult to prove that someone had knowledge that they have a false fact. So I think there are a lot of concerns with regard to this bill, understandably, with regards to killing free speech, making the internet a more policed environment and all that. But I do think that these concerns are slightly blown out of proportion. This is because the bill directly attacks people who deliberately wish to push forward disinformation. The language is predominantly phrased in a way that catches these people. So if you went on to say that: “EJC is on fire”, online, and it goes viral, and EJC is not in fact on fire, that is a false statement of fact and you can be subjected to a “Correction Direction”, which is a part 3 order according to the bill. So a “Correction Direction” effectively is a minister saying that this information is untrue, and you are then issued with an order to write that this information is untrue and it shall be corrected, or you have to post the correct information beside the false information. That is a “Correction Direction Order”. There are many other Part 3 correction orders such as the “Stop Communication Order” and takedown orders etc., but those are not of particular concern. Because you must understand when it comes to the bill, the Ministry always has to produce a large repository of weapons. Whether they will use it is a different story. And we have a pattern in Singapore where laws are passed but not necessarily enforced or used. Because when you pass a law, you can form new boundaries for consciousness and action and that’s what laws are meant to do sometimes, not particularly be enforced. So the concerns although understandable, are blown out of proportion.


Q: You mentioned a “Correction Direction”. How does the mechanism behind our correction directive differ from that of other countries?

A: So the “Correction Direction” here deals with any minister being able to determine whether certain things are false or true. But here is where a lot of people are sticklers for the matter because you are saying that the minister then becomes the arbiter of truth. But this is manifestly untrue because according to the bill, you actually have a right of action to the court. So not only are you allowed to appeal to the minister directly, if the minister rejects your appeal, you then have the right of access to the courts, and then the court gets to determine if a certain matter is true or false. And you must understand that when it goes to court, it is actually the prosecution’s job, which is, in this case, the government, to prove that something is false. It is not your job to prove something is true. The burden of proof is on them, not you. So it’s actually quite a comfortable measure to make sure that the truth is actually properly decided on in institutions that are made to decide these things. How we differ from other countries is that in other countries there are direct orders that can be made through the court system. So it cuts out the ministerial function. So in Singapore, you’ve got the minister, and only when you wish to challenge the minister do you go to court. But then in other countries, you normally go straight to court. So the government has to file the injunction, the injunction is passed, and then you can fight the injunction in court. So it’s a purely judicial procedure in many other countries. There are benefits to both ways, but one can argue that the Singaporean way is a bit more efficient because by allowing the minister to decide something is true or false, you actually cut down the amount of time that it takes to stop false information. Whereas if you go to the court, court processes can take some time which might then allow for the disinformation to be propagated in great numbers, making the stop order or the correction order completely pointless.

Q: There have been many concerns that the government could misuse this to suppress voices of dissent in a political sense. The UN Special Rapporteur For Freedom Of Opinion And Expression, David Kaye, has even issued a statement on this issue. Do you think these concerns are valid?

A: I think the concerns are valid of course. But whether these nuances will eventuate is another matter. Because honestly, I think for them to abuse it, the propensity is there. The capacity for them to use it, there. But are they going to abuse it? That’s another question. Because honestly, at this point, people are making a lot of noise for this thing. My stance is: Just wait. If they do it, then I tell you, society won’t stay quiet. I don’t think the government, or the PAP particularly is stupid. I think for them to wield such a blunt tool to explicitly go against political enemies, is only a very bad image for them. The fear is real, but I don’t think they will do it.


Q: Several NMPs have issued a list of proposed amendments to this bill, due to some “broadly defined clauses”. Do you think what they proposed is sufficient or even necessary to rectify these issues?

A: I actually personally have not looked at the proper notice for the amendment because it was released 2 days ago, but I know the general content direction that they were going for. It really depends, because if certain terms are defined more narrowly, this might constrict the ability and reduce the overall efficacy of the bill. Because sometimes you need broad-based discretion to do something immediately so that you are able to stop the harm. Because you must first understand what’s the point of the bill? What’s the point of most bills? Its to prevent harm. And if your ability to prevent harm is constrained, then the point of the bill becomes very needless. So we want to have the opportunity to practice the discretion, strongly, quickly, but at the same time have proper mechanisms that check the abuse, if any, of the power. So the amendments although welcomed, I don’t think will be adopted.

Q: So apart from the concerns which have been discussed, do you or CAPE have any other concerns?

A: I think CAPE is generally very discursive, and we’ve had many many people falling on both sides of the bill. We have people in the camp who are very very against the bill, and then we have people like me who are slightly a bit more centre and in support of the bill. We have worked with the Ministry of Law, and we have actually introduced and suggested some illustrations to help clarify the bill. We will be working with the Ministry to help demystify the bill in some ways because I think, as we have discussed, the Bill has some massive PR problems, and people are misunderstanding, especially academics, which is slightly concerning. And I think the primary issue that remains an extra grind for me is the line between opinion and fact. I think that is so very difficult, but I don’t think that’s going to be figured out until we have a judge who says this is a fact or opinion, there is no other way we can decide it. Because it’s a very philosophical question and I don’t think anyone in parliament or lawmakers can do that.

Q: Do you have anything to add?

A: I think we just have to be careful in general when we speak about this bill or any bills in the future. I think it’s very hazy to say: “Oh this bill is terrible, I don’t agree with it or this!” But I think we should just be very careful about being informed. So if you want to talk about it, know what you’re talking about. Don’t just run the talk, it’s better to know more than to know less.

Editor’s Note

One should always raise their concerns with the government if they are concerned about issues. This can include emailing the Ministers or REACH, speaking with your Member of Parliament or petitioning Parliament. It is through active political involvement that one can improve civic discourse and society’s political literacy.

* actus rea — action or conduct which is a constituent element of a crime, as opposed to the mental state of the accused.

** mens rea — A criminal intent

NOTE: The original wording of the interview has been amended for brevity and clarity.


Why do Brexit deals keep getting rejected? What does it mean for Britain, me, you and your GP grades? Find out more in this week’s issue of Periscope.

Written by: Sit Jie Ren (19-I4)

Designed by: Athena Lim (19-A4)



Brexit has become a media circus this year, and a recurrent topic of public debate. However, not many fully understand the situation and reasons behind the House of Commons’ repeated rejections of the various Brexit deals which have been proposed. This article will examine 2 of them in depth so that Eunoians can become informed citizens of the world. Do use the Universal Concepts (UCs) to guide you.


Following Britain’s monumental decision to leave the European Union, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, negotiated a deal with European leaders over the course of several years, which culminated in a 600 page ‘Brexit Deal’. However, when this deal was put before the House of Commons, it was rejected a total of 3 times, with the votes returning a resounding no. (202-432, 242-391, 286-344) (BBC, 2019a) 2 rounds of voting on multiple alternative options proposed by various MPs also failed to gain any traction in the British Parliament, with the closest vote, Option C, short of a mere 3 votes (BBC, 2019c). The repeated inability of the British Parliament to pass a Brexit deal or option has led some to believe that Britain has lost control over Brexit proceedings. As a result of the failure for a deal to be produced, the Brexit date has been repeatedly revised and postponed, and it now stands at 31 October 2019 (BBC, 2019a).

Points of Contention

The Meaningful Vote: Theresa May’s Deal – Irish Backstop (UC: Conflict and Consensus)

One of the key points of contention surrounding Theresa May’s Brexit Deal is the Irish backstop agreement.

When Irish rebels fought against the Royal Army and declared Irish independence in 1918, the British managed to hold on to the region of Ulster, which is now commonly known as Northern Ireland. The resulting “hard” border led to a long conflict between the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and Britain, spanning from 1968 to 1989. The conflict culminated in the “Good Friday Agreement” which created a ceasefire and the removal of border controls. There have been fears that a reinstated “hard” border could result in a resurgence of violence (please refer to our article, HAW History Special: Troubling Troubles in North Ireland for more details).

To avoid the return of the Irish “hard” border, Theresa May’s deal proposes the implementation of a backstop agreement. Under the backstop, Britain would remain under the EU single market under a transitional period until December 2020. Should no solution be found by then, Britain would exit the single market, but Northern Ireland would remain in the single market, albeit with some rules exempted. This brought huge backlash as it essentially meant that goods travelling from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland would have to pass through customs checks, and imposing what amounts to effectual customs arrangements within the United Kingdom (Campbell, 2019). House of Commons MPs have lambasted the deal for “threatening the union (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)” and the Democratic Unionist Party (a political party based in Ireland) has repeatedly called for the backstop to be removed.

Motion C: Customs Union – Ken Clarke (UC: Systems, Structures & Freedoms)

In the indicative votes, various Members of Parliament proposed various alternative Brexit options. The Customs Union proposal, proposed by Conservative MP Ken Clarke, was the closest to achieving a majority in the House of Commons, being rejected by a vote of 273-276, short of 3 votes (BBC, 2019c).

Under the proposed Brexit Option, Britain would leave the EU but remain in Customs Union, which means that there would be minimal to no checks along British borders. Goods will be allowed to trade between Britain and other EU countries customs free and duty-free. One of the key reasons Britons voted ‘Leave’ in the referendum was to regain control of their own rules and regulations instead of the EU’s. This option was quickly accused of betraying the results of the referendum by the ‘Leave’ camp as it continued to retain ties with the EU, and that this deal binds Britain to EU trade regulations, as goods imported from outside the EU will be subject to a common tariff, set by the EU (European Commission, n.d.).

Recent Developments

Theresa May has since announced her resignation following mounting pressure from her party, and the public over her failure to deliver a Brexit deal on time. The Conservatives are now in the midst of a leadership race, with several notable competitors such as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. Her successor will be elected on 22 July 2019 (BBC, 2019e).



For more in-depth reading about this issue, feel free to access the following links.


Serhan, Y. (2019, March 28). In a Bid to ‘Take Back Control,’ Britain Lost It. The Atlantic, Retrieved from


Campbell, J. (2019, April 5). Brexit: What is the Irish border backstop? BBC, Retrieved from


European Commission (n.d.). EU Customs Union. Retrieved from


BBC (2019, March 30a). Brexit: MPs reject May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement. Retrieved from


BBC (2019, April 1b). Brexit: What alternative plans did MPs vote on? Retrieved from


BBC (2019, April 1c). How did my MP vote on Brexit indicative votes? Retrieved from


BBC (2019, April 11d). Brexit: UK and EU agree delay to 31 October. Retrieved from


BBC (2019, June 7e). Theresa May officially steps down as Tory leader. Retrieved from