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Speak Mandarin Campaign, NDP organisers sorry for language gaffes

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One mistake was in the use of the wrong Chinese character in a rostrum sign, the other in the mistranslation of Tamil in pamphlets.

Yesterday, the organisers of the Speak Mandarin Campaign and National Day Parade 2017 apologised for the errors.

At Monday's launch of the Speak Mandarin Campaign, instead of using the Chinese character for "read", the character for "to show disrespect" was used on a prominent sign.

The organisers, in a statement posted on Facebook yesterday, said it regretted the "erroneous rendering" of the characters, and that it will take steps to address this.

Both characters sound the same when spoken. In written Chinese, the two look similar but have a unique element that changes their meanings.

Only the rostrum display used the wrong character, The Straits Times understands.

Guest of honour, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, had helped launch the event. In her speech, she said a good grasp of Mandarin is key to understanding and appreciating the Singapore Chinese culture.

"You cannot excuse it," the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore president Tan Siah Kwee, 69, told ST.

In the NDP case, there were errors in the Tamil translation of the theme #OneNationTogether, printed on publicity pamphlets given to Primary 5 students from 162 schools ahead of its National Education (NE) shows.

Some letters were in the wrong places while others were missing, making the words unintelligible.

In a statement, the NDP 2017 executive committee apologised. It added that souvenir booklets with the correct translation were later handed out during the NE shows on July 2 and 8, and will be done so on this Saturday's NE show.

This prompted Bukit Batok Murali Pillai to file a parliamentary question yesterday about the errors and steps taken to ensure that such mistakes do not happen again.


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