Sunday, March 08, 2009

Foolish to advocate the learning of dialects

We have achieved progress with our bilingual education in the past few decades. Many Singaporeans are now fluent in both English and Mandarin. It would be stupid for any Singapore agency or NTU to advocate the learning of dialects, which must be at the expense of English and Mandarin.

That was the reason the Government stopped all dialect programmes on radio and television after 1979. Not to give conflicting signals, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew also stopped making speeches in Hokkien, which he had become fluent in after frequent use since 1961.

Chee Hong Tat
Principal Private Secretary
to the Minister Mentor

I don't know if the past can necessarily point the way to our future?

I definitely felt that the above was a strongly worded response.

I enjoy speaking teochew with my friends and especially my family. Enjoy. Because there is a certain closeness in the speaking the language which I was brought up with. There is an immediate connection. It's just different (and challenging) trying to explain what a slightly raw banana tastes like or how fantastic the fishball in my meepok dry is at the first bite.

I am sure PPS to PM had statistical evidence to prove that [our] bilingual education had achieved progress. Just as I am sure he will have statistical evidence to prove that the government had overwhelming success with the family planning campaign (Stop At Two and then replaced by Have Three Or More. If You Can Afford It). Government used to think F1 is a waste of time too. And that MRT stations do not need to be wheelchair-friendly. Lifts in HDB apartments do not need to stop at every floor.

Do I sense a little hubris in celebrating our present successes?

Foolish to advocate the learning from only the past?

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