Process Notes by Poh Yang Rong Matthew

Back in semester 1 of AY14-15, I had the opportunity to take both Technologies of Home in USP and Principles of Property Law in my home faculty. Both these modules explored the seemingly simple concept of ‘home’ in very different, yet profound ways. For my final WCT paper, I wanted to marry what I have learnt in my WCT and Law modules. I realized that what I have learnt in Technologies of Home could be used as a theoretical framework to understand Singapore’s property law in a different light. The process of writing the paper was extremely satisfying, as I could apply relevant skillsets I have learnt in both USP and Law.

As a starting point, I had to come up with a focal point for my essay. In this regard, I decided on the controversial en-bloc legislation, which I found highly fascinating as it was a legislation unique to Singapore and one which has received equal amounts of praise and criticism. To further understand how this legislation works in practice, I referred to case law (as what most law students would probably do) and one particularly case stood out: Madam Chow’s case.

For me, a critical stage in the drafting process was deciding the motive and thesis of my paper. The thesis and motive must be relevant to the wider audience who are going to read the paper. Given that most of the legal sources I referred to (such as case law) address questions that were primarily legal in nature, coming up with a ‘non-legal’ motive and thesis proved tricky. In response I considered the social implications of the en bloc legislation, the governmental policy considerations behind the legislation and other relevant governmental initiatives, such as the Home Ownership Scheme. These were aspects that I have failed to notice when first learning about the legislation in my Law module.

Through the course of drafting the paper, I was able to draw on what I learnt in my WCT lessons to add depth and clarity to my paper. A tool I relied on heavily in my paper is ‘lensing’. ‘Lensing’ with Maria Kaika’s claims allowed me to reflect more deeply on the en bloc legislation, in a manner that differentiated my paper from the other legal academic papers out there (i.e. looking at the concept of ‘home’ as a ‘porous membrane’ and the en bloc legislation as a ‘domestic uncanny’). As I juggled with quite a few ideas in my paper, some of which are technical and abstract, it was important that I laid down a roadmap of my paper and defined key terms (such as ‘Technologies of Home’) before proceeding with my argument.

Looking back at the writing process, another key takeaway for me is to always be receptive to feedback. In this regard, I am grateful for Prof Ryan’s comments on my drafts and the feedback from my peers when I first presented my ideas to the class.


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