Unnecessary polemics over Mandarin press statements

By TK Chua

I think it pains most Malaysians to see useless polemics perpetuated in the country. The latest is Lim Guan Eng’s press statement issued in three different languages and his subsequent explanation only in Mandarin.

I think there is nothing wrong with issuing press statements in three or more languages. However, there is something terribly wrong when subsequent explanations to justify the action are only written in Mandarin. More than that, even the explanations to me have been more “political” than rational.

Seriously, why are we trying to be so difficult with each other? There is no need for confrontation or abrasiveness.

If certain quarters are not happy with press statements issued by the finance ministry in languages other than Malay and English, the ministry could easily resolve this by issuing another statement explaining the rationale behind it.

In this regard, I think it is unnecessary to invoke articles in the constitution on why it is justifiable to use Mandarin in press statements. It is also unnecessary to brag about the “new Malaysia”, etc. Sometimes it is really unnecessary to rub it in.

I think it would be more soothing to explain the use of Mandarin by pointing out its “facilitating” role. An additional language in press statements helps prevent misunderstanding due to the meaning being lost in translation. The purpose is to achieve clarity in whatever information is dished out by the ministry, especially for listeners and readers who may not be well-versed in Malay or English.

The explanation should be simultaneously issued in all three major languages, ie. in Malay, English and Mandarin, so that all parties are kept informed.

Issuing the explanation in Mandarin only appears very obstinate and defiant to me. It is as if to defiantly and arrogantly prove a point. As expected, more criticism is now being heaped on the ministry and Lim.

I think the people have spoken on who they want, at least for the next four to five years. The victors do not have to feel unduly arrogant while the vanquished do not have to feel bitter. Let time do the talking.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.