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Accusation of devaluation of Yuan to stimulate exports

Lim Guohao

The accusation of China’s devaluation of Yuan to stimulate exports and the depreciation of US dollars have caused severe trade imbalance across the world (Abbugao, 2010).

On one hand, the priority concern of the US is that the persistent Chinese currency devaluation and cheap goods market will directly obstruct US and the world’s economic growth by lowering the cost of all primary factors of production. Thus, a further US$600-billion injection into the US economy has been proposed to further strengthen the US economy.

However, Abbugao (2010) argued that such movement could cause a repeat of the 1997-98 recession crises. As active shareholders of the US Treasury Bills, Asian countries feared that they would be expecting to face an unprecedented wave of hyperinflation as they fight to tackle currency surplus if US dollars continues to depreciate sharply (Wheatley, 2010).

Not only that, global stagflation will then be eventuated, resulting in high unemployment rates. Millions of people will then find the cost of food, shelter and healthcare unaffordable. Much more, according to the data released by the Global Times, if the Chinese Yuan were to reduce by 1 percent, more than 800,000 people in China will find themselves unemployed and unsheltered, which will then ignite severe social problems.

Thus, given the direct correlation between unemployment and mortality as raised by Schoeni (2010), it was predicted that countries would find it harder to feed its people, stoking starvation, eviction and the spread of fatal illnesses, ultimately leading to an increase of death rates.

Narcissistic approaches to economic reforms will escalate tension amongst countries, as each vies to achieve greatest benefits from the global economy. While top concerns are placed on economy upturns, I feel that countries should also pay close attention to domestic and foreign inflations, as any incendiary policies implemented would mean detriments to our global economy.

For instance, the devaluation of Chinese Yuan and depreciation of US dollar could set off trade imbalances and competitive global devaluation trends, leading to massive deficits in global currency exchange rates, thus discouraging investments and creating sluggish markets.

When such situations occur, costs of production will rise and firms are forced to retrench workers to prevent losses. With rising unemployment, basic necessities become unaffordable and it may lead to greater crime rates, causing social disorder.

More importantly, developing countries will be forced to lower exports prices in order to maintain price competitiveness. Lesser returns will be yielded, thus hindering economic growth, and harder to catch up with the global financial pace.

For tertiary students like us, massive inflationary rates will also cause impending impacts; steep rises in tuition fees and living costs leading to greater financial burden.

Hence, there is seemingly little of what developing nations can do, the decision all now lies with the superpowers, America and China, to decide the future of our global integrated economies.

However, as future leaders, we can make use of social media to reach out to the masses, by setting up “Superpowers, spare a dollar for the World” fan-pages on Facebook to gather at least 100,000 supporters so that it will be newsworthy for the traditional media, thus allowing the US and China government to gain greater awareness about this pressing situation.

Ultimately, money is nothing but paper. It is the right human mindset that is most critical for survival, not economy.

Written as part of the assignment for Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Global Issues: Singapore Perspectives module.

News 新闻报道

New Media is the future to mass communication?

Lim Guohao

The new media communications revolution is changing every facet of our lives. Unlike traditional mediums such as newspapers, TV and the radio, new media allows a two-way flow of communication whereby users can comment, judge, discuss and share contents uploaded on the Internet effortlessly and instantaneously, using both named and anonymous identities.

Media practitioner Moussly (2011) has also pointed out that readers of the present news generation are not just purely active producers of the repurposed contents, they are also “capable of physically capturing events the corporate media might or choose to miss, in times of crisis” (¶ 8).

Furthermore, given the features of anonymity, timeliness, and high interactivity, new media is able to grant us greater freedom of speech and power to influence, which will allow it play a crucial role in the dissemination of contents in future.

A prime example to illustrate how new media was used as a vital communication tool, would be the recent Tunisia incident.

It was reported by Al Jazeera, the most influential Arabic news network, that the Tunisians were making use of social media networks like Youtube and blogs to hold protests over the dramatic death of a university student, whose actions were believed to be driven by the chaotic political situation in Tunisia.

Not only that, live coverage of protests and speeches, were made possible with the aid of such social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter groups were also created to keep the thousands of participants updated about the developments and mobility for subsequent actions (Miladi, 2011).

Such efforts then attracted international media attention, and followed by strong international public opinions, which propelled the local government to swiftly kick-start development projects to improve the country’s devastating situation.

Hence, from the case of Tunisia, we can see that new media has been an effective tool in raising global awareness of a dire situation, which ultimately led to a solution.

Similarly, in the context of Singapore, new media can be used as a communication tool between the government and its people, especially for the implementation of new regulations and policies. The set-up of the Facebook group “Reach Singapore” represents the government’s significant efforts to gather public opinions.

Some examples are the discussions on the recent property cooling measures and the Bill on re-employment of Older Workers. People are able to comment or provide constructive feedback about these issues through web texts and video discussions with the Parliament members in the mentioned social media sites.

In addition, the government is also allowing political videos and campaign materials for the coming General Elections to be published online. The Facebook group “Vote for change, Vote the PAP out” which attracted near to 7,000 members within a short time, has once again proved the strong influential powers new media has on the general public (Tan, 2010).

The effectiveness of New Media is better enhanced through a recent research by Nielsen (2011) that more than half of the Singapore population is actively participating in at least one social media platform in their daily lives (Shafawi, 2011).

Thus, with such high penetration rates, it is believed that the new media could create a “network effect”, fostering bonding and trust among the authorities and the people through intensive web interactions (Lievrouw & Livingstone, 2002).

However, sociologists argued that the abundance of digital data might cause the problem of information overload. A study conducted over Yahoo have presented that 70% of the respondents admit to spending valuable hours sifting through less-credible or irrelevant contents (Miller, 2009).

As a frequent web user, I do encounter such situations. However, such problems can be resolved by questioning ourselves whether the sources we use have any underlying motives, or if the organization has any affiliations with the government or the opposing party.

More importantly, as responsible new media users, we should selectively draw out information from these websites to counter-check with other available sources to ensure the reliability of the news.

With these steps in place, it will further strengthen the credibility of the Internet, allowing it to become a better source of information and research.

In sum, the prospects of new media are clear. As we enter an era that places great emphasis on freedom of speech, I do believe that new media, given its unique characteristics, will overpower the traditional media, and eventually become the biggest factor of communication in time to come.

Written as part of the assignment for Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Global Issues: Singapore Perspectives module.

News 新闻报道

Should R21 movies be allowed in neighbourhood cinemas?

Lim Guohao

Film classification in Singapore first began in 1991, where films are being rated into three categories (G, PG, and R18) under a single-tier censorship system, based on the film’s sexual, political, racial and religious contents. As times improve, there is a higher demand for more choices to the movies shown in Singapore, thus more classification categories, such as PG13, NC16, M18 and R21 are introduced to provide a varied and informed choice for the consumers, as well as to uphold the social values and national interests.

However, as technology and globalization permits, young consumers can now obtain restricted contents from the Internet easily, which leads many to argue that censorship in Singapore should be relaxed since it has become less effective in controlling contents young consumers are exposed to nowadays. One of the suggestions is to allow R21 movies to be shown in neighbourhood cinemas. However, I feel that R21 should continue to be disallowed in these neighbourhood cinemas as these places are highly populated with young consumers, and that easy accessibility to these places may seem to encourage them to view these contents. More importantly, neighbourhood cinemas are supposed to be family-orientated, where contents shown are of suitable for all ages.

Currently, Singapore is encouraging a media environment that is of a co-regulation approach, in which more social responsibilities is passed down to the media players, parents and individual consumers. However, I feel that the public is not ready to welcome a media environment that is of great freedom given the followings:

Firstly, when responsibilities are passed on to the media players, many do not practice high frequency checks at cinema entrances or at ticketing box offices. Not only that, there are also no mitigating measures to prevent any underage consumers from buying tickets via the online or phone booking system. Besides, because of the non-standardized procedures for checks, young consumers who are mature in looking may be able to go by the loopholes and find ways to sneak into the cinemas to watch these restricted contents.

Moreover, from 1995, the then Board of Film Censors had delivered a severe verbal warning to several cinemas after they found that ushers at some places did not check the ages of some patrons, who could have been minors, before admitting them to restricted movies. From then, movie operators are required to foot a $20,000 security deposit for an annual licence in order to exhibit R21, M18 and NC16 films, and should they breach the terms, their licence and deposit will be forfeited. Such implementations are still valid till now, and this shows that cinemas have yet to come out with a complete solution into dealing such cases.

Thus, by disallowing R21 movies in neighbourhood cinemas, it will prevent more cases of unwanted access of young consumers to restricted movie contents.

Secondly, for the public’s responses, given the CRC report 2010 survey results, 57% of the respondents are in support to retain the ban for R21 movies in neighbourhood cinemas. Focus groups, consisting of industry representatives and the public majorly are also in favour of retaining the R21 ban in neighbourhood cinemas. Moreover, in Singapore, we observe that there are growing households which having both parents to work in the day, this in turn restricts the ability of them to control their kids from monitoring what movies they are watching in the cinemas during after-school hours, especially those which are near schools. Thus, we see that parental controls are still limited and that the R21 ban policy is able to act as a “media gatekeeper” in which it limits the contents young consumers can get within their easy reach.

As for individual consumers, especially the young, curiosity may be an encouraging factor for them to challenge the policy since these channels are made readily available to them. More importantly, as we know that the media is able to educate and influence, learning from the magic bullet theory and cultivation theory, the audience will absorb the information given passively and may cultivate the ideas shown through repeated emphasis. Thus, when young audience get exposed to movies that portray sexual, racial, religious or even non-mainstream messages like “Sita sings the blue” and “Lust Caution” and “Brokeback Mountain”, they may not be able to decipher between reality and the story plots, which will cultivate in their minds that these acts are acceptable by the public, which is otherwise in reality. Thus, to upload national social values such as “Family as the basic unit of society” and “Racial and religious harmony”, R21 movies should be kept far from young consumers’ daily reach.

Though many may argue that modern technology may enable young consumers to retrieve contents that are restricted by the government easily, however, retaining the policies, especially R21 movies to be disallowed in neighbourhood cinemas, continues to act as a powerful message to the consumers, informing them of what are the behaviours or beliefs that are inappropriate in Singapore. Unless the media players and parents are able to work hand in hand to protect the interests of young, policies such as retaining the R21 ban in neighbourhood cinemas should stay.

Written as part of the assignment for Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Media Ethics, Law and Policy module.