Scholarships

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My Brilliant MAS Scholarship Essay

 

Please note sarcasm in ‘Brilliant’ Otherwise, thank you very much and enjoy reading this crap of an essay. It was done in a 1 hour session over at the MAS Building, after the psychometric tests which were hellish.

Short reflection: Next time, look at what MAS is doing. Then look at your essay. Do you think they want a joker? Or possibly a superior who is a workaholic?

If you could pass 1 law, what would it be and why?

“Procrastination.

This tongue twister of a word is simple to comprehend and we like to frown upon it. We tell ourselves we are not one who subscribes to it and yet time and again, it has proven itself to be the root cause of all abject failures in today’s world. A sample from the local The Straits Times:

The Delhi Commonwealth Games.

The political apathy of the people of Myanmar and North Korea.

The establishment of an international cyber-security police.

The commuter, who squeezes in with his brethren on the rush hour South-bound MRT train, then writes to the forum papers on how packed the train is.”

The whole auditorium went silent. “But not today.”

The inaugural Conference for the Prevention Against Procrastination (C-PAP) convened today at Suntec City Hall 3 at 9.00am sharp, true to its name. Many of its detractors attacked its name, arguing that its ranks were made up of the incumbent party of Singapore.

A few months ago, the United Nations threw the gauntlet down to world governments and non-govermental organizations, promising to pass the first Universal Amendment since its birth as the League of Nations. Everybody from think tanks to rogue regimes could discuss and hand in their ideas for consideration to the UN, whereupon an Executive Committee will review the submissions, shortlist them and pass it on to an even more Executive Committee, and so forth. Barring the unspeakable notion that the aforementioned process would take decades to complete, it was really, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a mark on humanity.

Bryan thought so too.

Bryan continued. “The Universal Amendment we are proposing is making procrastination and its various forms illegal. How many times have we told a colleague “Do this.” And it gets submitted four minutes late? Time is of the essence. Time is money. We need to reinforce this!” Nods and murmurs of approval from the crowd followed.

“The question on the critics’ minds will be undoubtedly WHY?” his eyes veered to the small crowd to his right. “There are many reasons actually and I am sure you too can back up with personal experience. I’ll just touch on two of them.”

“Firstly, to save the environment. We had too many people and too many years to say just one thing “We need to save the environment.” Passing this law forces all nations and all people to stand together to save the environment, with actions and not talk only. If you are not using both sides of a paper, you will be fined. The only passenger in the car? We would have that Ferrari of yours, Mr. Rich Guy.”

“Next, it makes political sense. Politicians today are being paid to do one thing: quibble in Parliament. This law will make it illegal to bicker. Got an idea? It will be passed immediately. If you do not agree, then you can hand in your resignation.”

An opposing hand rose “But won’t it lead to devastation as politicians pander to the masses and, and… HEY!” The poor guy was grabbed forcefully by the arm and thrown out of the auditorium.

“I wouldn’t let someone like him interrupt the proceedings. Continuing on, it will also raise productivity levels in firms. Much of time spent in offices and factories are idle time. The phrase ‘water cooler talk’ exists for a reason. We want to see more efficiency as the world grows more scarce of excellent human resources. We want to make sure that we get back what we pay to these people. To that effect, this anti-procrastination law will make it illegal for people to… slack.“

The HR managers were seen grinning from ear to ear. They tried telling workers that they would get a pay raise if this Amendment was passed. Now, even the workers were happy at being overworked.

“As you can see, this Amendment, if passed, will definitely raise productivity and have positive economic, social, political and environmental benefits. I urge you to consider my aforementioned points and vote for my Amendment. Remember. Do not procrastinate. SMS your vote now to 74868. You will not regret it. Remember. SMS ‘NOSLACKING’ to 74868! That is 74686 with the voteword ‘NOSLACKING!’”

2 decades later, Bryan succeeded. In a phone call, he chided the UN Chief about the length of time the UN needed to pass the Universal Amendment. The UN Chief could not argue and passed the Universal Amendment Number One immediately.

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DSTA JC Scholarship

I didn’t get it in the end, so prolly some failing somewhere.

Technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace today. What could be the most advanced supercomputer today might just be so ubiquitous that within the next decade, it could be found in everyday life, such as intelligent ‘robo-maids’, washing machines or refrigerators. With the breathtaking pace that technology is evolving, what does this entail for the future of defence in Singapore and how important is it for her to embrace it?

Technology plays a crucial role in defending a small nation state like Singapore, due to her scarce resources and equally limited manpower. Although the government has put into law making it compulsory for males above 18 years old to serve National Service, the numbers still pale in comparison to our immediate neighbours. Since hiring mercenaries are too expensive and other options are not feasible, technology remains as Singapore’s sole force multiplier on the battlefield. Of course, we have to harness the Next Big Thing to our advantage.

In the next 10 years, I believe that the battleground will shift from the physical world to the online world. As globalization and the Internet converge into one entity, many governments will migrate many services online, affording their citizens the convenience of completing tasks such as tax filing in the comfort of their own home. However, what many do not know that a double-edged sword emerges because there remain many security loopholes that can be easily exploited. Indeed, this is already happening in the world today, between China, Russia and the United States, with each accusing each other of hacking into databases containing classified information or even disrupting nuclear power plants or other infrastructure. It is inevitable that countries will try to jump on the cyber-warfare bandwagon to gain leverage over other countries, crippling their missile defence systems or rendering their infrastructure useless, to pressure them into caving in to their demands. With cyber warfare set to erupt within the next decade or so, Singapore should take pre-emptive measures such that her defence systems will not be compromised.

Cyber-warfare is so attractive to countries, thus it is of utmost priority to improve our cyber-warfare or cyber-defence technology, way ahead of other countries. Firstly, it is its low cost. Hackers can be hired for a fraction of the price of research and development in advanced weaponry, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which cost several billion dollars to develop and build, with the cooperation of several countries. Secondly, accessibility is king when it comes to anything online. While advanced weapon technology can be embargoed from countries which have a poor track record of using more diplomatic ways to resolve disputes, the same cannot be said for the Internet. Put a few nationalist hackers in front of an Internet-linked computer, their employer will in no time possess sensitive military statistics and technology from their rivals, at a fraction of the cost and time. Of course, it is fast and the results are fantastic, a far cry from the tedious negotiations made with suppliers to procure the latest military technology.
In conclusion, I believe that Singapore should lean towards the online world, namely cyber-warfare and cyber-defence, in preparing their next defence masterplan as it will be inevitable that World War 3 will take place, invisible, in the online realms.

 

DSTA Scholarship Essay

 

“I am telling you. The perfume smells really, really nice! It smells good. It has a fragrant kick to it!” enthused Amber, my other half. She wants to get me a perfume. How creative.

“Okay, don’t all perfumes smell good. That’s why it’s called perfume in the first place,”I was not the least convinced. “Wait. Why don’t you send the smell file over? You did record it right? Then I can smell it for myself.”

Most of my MRT journeys are spent conjuring up such seemingly far-fetched scenarios (and I do not mean the wife!) Sometimes, I take my ideas further. Recently, I dissolved my train card in ethanol to stick it in my phone. Before this, I ripped out DVD drives for the laser diode to outshine the neighbourhood kids’ laser pointers. Amidst all the exhilarating science projects, I find one particular field piques my interest to no end.

Cyber-security.

The science and art of defending heartware has become more important. If the world’s most advanced defence agencies have been infiltrated in cyberspace, then it would be difficult to see how Singapore’s data can be safe with present cyber-security strategies and technologies. The next few years will undoubtedly see battlelines drawn in cyberspace. An October 2010 article in Scientific American highlights the potential risks of Obama’s proposed ‘smart energy grid’. Indeed, the cyber-security divisions of many countries are still in a nascent stage, Singapore included.

Locally, the problem is widespread too. My school for example, leaves the personal information database of staff and students publicly. The installation report of a learning management system was also put up for download on that system itself. On a more serious level, the National Library website is vulnerable to active code injection attacks which churns out NRIC numbers for certain queries passed. Such experiences reinforce my belief that something needs to be done on a national level to consolidate the scattered IT security departments of statutory boards and government bodies. Information security definitely deserves more emphasis than what it has now.

As much as cyber-security interests me, it is of the government’s interests too. I believe that working with the Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies will most certainly serve as an excellent platform for me to showcase my talents and passion for IT security. It is through CSIT that I hope to bolster Singapore’s cyber-security defences.

 

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Just an ordinary guy, living in an extraordinary world