On Facebook

Is it a good idea to stagger any GST hike? Would this help the lower-income group?

You don't have to tax all the items, maybe essential items like rice, infant milk, basic medical items shouldn't be taxed.

Nick Teo

Yes, a one-time increase of GST with sufficient lead time for the market to absorb the shock and prepare customers and vendors for the increase is the better measure. One big pain is better than many small pains in economics. The hard feeling is felt once rather than spread out a few times.

Loh Wai Poon

Solve unequal wealth by aggressive redistribution first. Cut non-performing excesses; old model of paying top money to non-performing top management must be scrapped first. GST increase will burden the poor most.

Henry Yeoh

Do you agree that potential leaders must be blooded in crisis? Is this the only way to test their mettle?

My ex-MP Ong Teng Cheong spent countless hours in the wet markets, void decks, carparks and kopitiams. He walked the ground, mingled with the people he served and the people loved him. Sure, he bore the brunt of some unhappiness. But we knew where his heart was.

Cassidy Andrew Goh

I would like to challenge them to solve our current problems first. Recent SkillsFuture abuse, flooding and our now world famous MRT breakdown. I'm sure they will win the support if these concerns can be resolved as they affect mostly the man in the street. These are just some of the challenges locals are facing.

Tim Huang

This is misconceived. How do you expect leaders to be compared with leaders of yesteryear when the age, politics and context of things are vastly different? If we cannot let go of the past, there's no way we'll give newbies a chance to solve problems on their watch without all that needless comparison to the past. People need to let go and let upcoming leadership act and be judged on how they govern going forward.

Terrie Tan

What does it mean to be truly bilingual? How can students become more proficient in their mother tongue?

Language proficiency is first step towards understanding a culture. Ability to code switch does not equate ability to understand Chinese culture. China has diverse usage of Mandarin. The way a particular phrase is used in Guangzhou need not mean it is the same in Beijing or Harbin.

David Tan

People believe that just because they speak fluent Mandarin, they can take on China. Unfortunately, it's not the case.

In China, many Caucasians speak fluent Mandarin too. What is important is how well you read, write and understand Chinese.

Can you read the contracts in Chinese? Can you reply in Chinese? Lowering standards of mother tongue to match the efforts children can expect to put is a false solution.

In recent years, an increasing number of students from China have joined our schools, often dropping a level or two to facilitate the switch to English. Many of these Chinese students go on to perform well at A levels in English. They are the bilingual talents who will go places.

Andrew Singh

As long as you are able to hold decent conversations, write and read in both languages, that is good enough. You don't have to be a grand master in two languages.

I think the environment matters. I'm effectively bilingual because I converse with my family in Mandarin and code switch to English when chatting with friends. It was helpful for me to be in a Chinese-cultured school too, where my classmates conversed in Mandarin significantly.

The key is to have the determination and courage to take baby steps in learning your own mother tongue. Start by reading newspapers, watching more TV dramas and talking more with people (that was how I improved my Hokkien). It is ridiculous to see how the same people can learn third languages such as French and German in school but are unable to even secure their own mother tongue.

Sean Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2018, with the headline 'On Facebook'. Print Edition | Subscribe