Posted in Science and Technology, The State / The Government

General Paper Essay Outline : Should governments regulate scientific research / medical science ?

Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only, or the final answer, to this question.

warning handle with care

Some really good and succinct articles :

http://www.fasebj.org/content/22/3/654.full

http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2013/01/regulate-medical-research-patients.html

Read this piece only if you have a whole lot of time : http://www.ehealthstrategies.com/files/fukuyama02.pdf

Interpretations :

What are the roles of the government ? – progress (economic growth, social stability); security

How can a government regulate ? – laws, incentives, rules / guidelines, checks & monitoring

What parts of scientific research can be regulated ?

– the product (What to research : harmful or beneficial)

– the process (How the research is carried out ; the extent of the research : any harm ? exploitation ? violation of moral boundaries ?)

Stand : Governments should regulate scientific research so that the research is beneficial to the masses, but governments should not control to the extent of hindering the progress of the research.

Yes:

  1. Utilitarian principle – greatest good for the majority + prevent harm to the public, end-users
  2. Set moral standards for society >>> Social stability – regulate what could be controversial and divisive
  3. Critical, sensitive research (e.g. defence) needs to be regulated, (groups of) scientists unauthorised by the state should be prohibited
  4. Economic growth  –  determine which research is potentially lucrative
  5. Prevent exploitation of end-users, test subjects, the environment etc

But do not regulate to the point of retarding scientific development. Here are some arguments against regulation :

  1. If other parties do better, then reduce regulation – Other may have better resources than the government + To increase competition amongst them
  2. Regulation prevents innovation and restricts the scientists from potential discoveries
  3. Government could implement regulatory policies based on simplistic or even alarmist views
Posted in Politics, The State / The Government

General Paper Essay Outline : How interconnected are the problems that countries face today ?

Extremely. On many fronts, the fate of one country is inextricably intertwined to that of other countries, especially its neighbours.

1) A country can face problems because its economic partner faces problems.

2) Environmental concerns are never localised. The region, or the whole world, is affected.

3) Technology has exacerbated the potential for global crime syndicates or terrorist networks.

4) However, good government can also prevent a country from being (severely) affected by the problems that other countries face. (plan B ? diversification & spreading risk ? planning ahead ?)

5)It could also be a case of one country’s bad luck becoming another country’s good fortune

Posted in Politics, The State / The Government

General Paper Essay : The only form of governance that should exist in today’s world is a democratic one. How far do you agree?

Note : This essay was written by a JC2 student under timed conditions. Little editing has been done. This essay is open for discussion, and is not meant to be taken as the best answer to this question.

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Based on history, men have witnessed how governments around the world have been shaped over time. In particular, the fall of political regimes such as Mubarak’s regime in Egypt that came as a result of the Arab Spring in 2011 has sparked questions whether democracy is the ideal form of governance. The outlook of today’s world is one that is engaged with globalisation, and its accompanying issues. On one hand, critics have claimed that the government in today’s world should exist solely as a democratic one as it creates an inclusive society which will benefit the nation as a whole. On the other hand, pragmatists have argued that democratic governments should not simply be the way out, as every system has its flaws and may not fit the contexts of different societies. Thus, it is my stand to disagree that the only form of government that should exist is a democratic one, as I believe that no system is impeccable.

To begin with, those who firmly believe in democracy do so due to the high prospects that the system would give. In today’s context, most autocratic regimes are largely the less developed countries where many are living in less than satisfactory conditions with stagnated economies and are fraught with many societal issues. Compare this to the more developed countries that are largely democratic, where prospects are deemed to be brighter for the people and conditions are markedly better. Thus, there is good reason to support a democratic form of government. A quintessential example was the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, an event that was sparked by the people who believed that the democratisation of the government was necessary. The primary driving force for the fall of the communist regime was due to the extreme unhappiness of the people who were largely poor and the ineffectiveness of the communist government to solve the chronic problems. As compared to the outer parts of Europe, the Soviet Union at that point in time was considered underdeveloped and had fallen largely behind. This example shows such high hopes that the democratic models gave. There was an expectation that a democratic government was the only form of government that should exist.

In addition, optimists believe that the only form of government that should exist in today’s world ought to be a democratic one as they believe that the system would give the freedom and the rights that the people truly needed. In non-democratic countries, freedom is a luxury to the people as many people have been oppressed by the government, leaving them with little personal rights. Fear and pressure are the tools that are primarily used in those governments to subjugate the people. An example that shows the usage of such tools is Syria, where the leader Bashir Assad undertook brutal acts to suppress and to manipulate his people so as to conceal his serious war crimes and the acts of corruption. This left the people to be manipulated be higher authority and left them helpless. Thus from here, we can see the brutal conditions and the lack of the access to the basic necessities of men made optimists believe that democratic government is the ideal way of governance.

Lastly, critics have claimed that democratic governments should be the only form of government to exist in today’s world as it serves the needs and demands of their respective countries. Having a more democratic government gives people a better say that serves as an alternative voice to the government. This is the panacea that ineffective governments would need, which helps them to review the current policies that serve the needs better. In addition, a democratic government helps to build an inclusive society, making the government less vulnerable to breakdowns and tensions with the people. An example was the speech given by Low Thia Kiang during the general elections last year. In his rallying speech, he said that a more democratic country would allow the opposition and the people to act as the supervisor to “slap” the driver, which was the government, when the policies are not on the right track. From these points of view, it seems that a fully democratic government is the only government that should exist in today’s world.

Be that as it may, one should understand that no governmental system is ideal. All systems have its flaws and have its set of problems to be dealt with. In a democratic system, giving too much power to the people may be detrimental and may cause backlash against current policies. Today, developed countries were encumbered by economic woes. People who were given the might of freedom may impede the action of the government policies and the pace of development, as some may not acknowledge the situation and the problems and are unwilling to change. This means democratic governments may face stumbling blocks when the government needs to undertake publicly unpopular but yet vital actions, making the situation worse. An apt illustration would be the countries of the Euro zone, such as Spain and Greece, where many workers went on with prolonged strikes and riots when the governments conceded to the requests of the IMF to adopt austerity measures. The situation resulted in political instability and worsened their already fragile domestic economies, to the extent that they were almost kicked out of the Euro zone. Such illustrations show that there has to be a limit to democracy, and hint to us that it does not work in all countries.

Furthermore, one will argue that a democratic government does bring in new problems. One has to acknowledge that the behaviour of people is not uniform and thus not everyone should be given the same amount of power that they presumably deserve, as they have to be controlled to a certain extent. The new problems that take roots on the society could be hard to eradicate. An example is the USA. Being a nation where the beliefs of self-determination and freedom are deeply entrenched, the right to bear arms has led to widespread gun ownership, and poor gun control. The recent case of the cinema shooting tragedy in Aurora was a reminder that this freedom needs some restraint. From here, we can see that democratic government is definitely not the way out of all situations, and an even exacerbate problems instead.

In conclusion, one has to know that democratic system is definitely not a flawless jewel that should be used in all governments. While democracy advocates freedom, this has to be taken with caution and has to consider the socio-economic factors that could possibly influence the society, or the world. That said, while the triumph against political regimes of the likes of Mubarak undoubtedly heralds a new beginning, it does not spell the end of the problems of governance.