Just a one-off case of no proof reading? Or…

… is this in any way a sign that we are worse off in the English department than we are willing to admit?

This is an excerpt taken from the NRD website, English version, FAQ section:

1. I’m 17 year old, when should I change my identity card replacement?
A person whose had got first-time identity card namely during old 12 year, are required change again his identity card when have reached the age 18 year. If this change made within life time 18 – 25 year, no any penalty imposed.

5. How many payment am being imposed if I loss identity card?
Lost identity card would be charged follow loss number. Please see payment schedule.

8. Is it NRD receive payment other than cash ?
Yes, NRD comply accept payment electronically namely via credit card, card debit and MEPS.
However, there were limit minimum sum accept to payment via credit card there is as many as RM 50.00.

I don’t know who is responsible for this website. Maybe they did a direct translation from Malay on an online translator. But this is atrocious english, and to be found on a government website? Absolutely unbearable and inexcusable. What kind of example is the government setting for the people, if it can’t even apply proper english on its websites?

I’m sure there must be some people who can look into this and turn all of it into proper english. Otherwise, don’t even bother to have an english version of the website.

*Hat-tip: Patrick Teoh


8 Comments on “Just a one-off case of no proof reading? Or…”

  1. Antares says:

    Michelle, verbal skills are a two-edged sword. Those of us who, for better or worse, arrived on earth via educated, urban, middle-class mothers & fathers – and who were treated royally as precious little tykes – naturally acquired greater proficiency in the mastery of alphanumeric symbols. As we grow up we tend to assume that this is exactly how all humans ought to evolve – exactly like us – so they can apply for top-paying jobs & end up being part of the executive class, if not achieve celebrity status or become aristocrats through marriage.

    Well, I read somewhere that around 80% of the human population is illiterate. I’m married to an Orang Asli girl who flunked Primary One – TWICE! She can’t write her own name, even though she can recite the alphabet with almost 95% accuracy. And she still can’t figure out numbers (which is good, because she can’t call me on my mobile when I’m away & interrogate me!)

    A good proportion of those who end up in the lower rungs of the civil service are perhaps only a couple of notches above my wife in their educational status.
    They were recruited to fill the ethnic quota & to ensure a massive voter base for the incumbent government. The fact that after 1998, more than 50% of these civil servants secretly sympathized with Anwar Ibrahim & voted Opposition in 2008 is what warms my heart. Not being “properly educated” or proficient in a “foreign language” (which is what English represents to most of these government clerks from the rural areas) doesn’t mean one is “stupid.” It simply means one has not had the dubious benefit of being formatted according to some imported notion of social success & upward mobility.

    For 17 years I have lived amongst people whose English would be close to what you have held up as an example – but more likely 100% worse! Yet they are in other ways far “superior” to the urbanites I know, including my own relatives. They are less subject to being trapped in a semantic cocoon, to being enslaved by concepts & predigested worldviews (though they are not free from being psychically bound by their own ancestral imprints either). For them the angst-inducing, stress-increasing prattle generated by the parietal lobes (the bits of your brain that produces a constant background commentary on reality, e.g., “Oh dear, traffic looks bad up ahead, will be late for work… hope the boss is late too… maybe I should wait till another day to discuss a pay rise?”) is not so intense & therefore they naturally spend a greater part of their day in semi-meditative states.
    This means they are far closer to becoming Buddhas than most urbanized & corporatized professionals – who would have to spend thousands on weekend seminars & meditation retreats just to quiet their verbally-overdriven monkey brains 🙂
    Of course with the ‘privilege’ of language efficiency, comes the barriers that language presents in its own. So for the most part, I would agree with you that those who are not ‘educated and programmed’ the way us urbanites are, are probably more free in that sense.

    But for the government to put up a webpage with english at this standard, while at the same time professing to produce an english-proficient people, it does not bode well, does it?

  2. huichek says:

    and the government is still LOOKING AT THE USE OF ENGLISH IN SCIENCE AND MATHS in school…It’s not like I am against the use of bahasa, but face it, to be competent in the global level, we should be proficient in the language which is internationally accepted, used and spoken, and in this case it’s english…it’s not like bahasa will be lost forever if english is used as a teaching medium.look at singaporean, they can still speak bahasa pretty well(ok maybe not as good as some of us but they can), but hey they are way ahead of us due to their mastery in the english language.not tat I m saying this is their sole reason for success, but this is definitely what makes them globally competent and much sought after by employer worldwide..So cut the crap and just implement the use of english in education seriously will ya??the people deserve some quality education and the government has to give us what we need!

  3. Pat says:

    Hey Michelle,

    Two things: One, is that, I agree with you – the website should be in BM. It is our national language and why in heck do they need to put it in English, when the majority of us struggle with it every minute of our lives? (aiyah, not me lah, but I teach the Engrand as P.Teoh says 😉

    Second, and this is for Antares: You have hit the nail on the head, my sweet! English is a foreign language here now. And only until those idiots in control admit this, our kids are going to keep on suffering.

    English is taught as a Second Language. Man, that is TOTALLY different. If you look at a primary one or pre-school text, you’d see sentences and paragraphs!

    Oye! Wrong lah! Just grab a French or Spanish text for beginners and see the crap you have to struggle with before you graduate to sentences even!!!

    So how do our kids even stand a chance here? I feel so sorry for the way things are, but nobody listens to the actual teachers on the ground. We’re just whinging lah, we don’t want to work hard lah…. So that’s why were in the crap we’re in with English 😦

    Kan? *sigh*

  4. Antares says:

    Michelle, I was merely pointing out the sort of “blind spots” we all acquire owing to the ethnocultural programs running our operating systems. Too often I’ve seen Singaporeans come visit “the jungle” with 3D hallucinations of snakes, scorpions, leeches & mosquitoes floating through their mental screens. Very few of us actually see what’s around us – except through a series of semantic & conceptual filters. This is not intended as a criticism – just a gentle reminder to reassess our own hardwired prejudices every so often.

    The fact that someone has to struggle expressing himself or herself in English (or any other language)
    does not necessarily justify our being condescending towards them. It’s enough that we ourselves aspire to use language consciously, compassionately & with elegant precision.

    Nothing about the Umno/BN regime “bodes well” – and bad English is the least of our worries! 😉
    We all need reminders every once in a while. 😉

  5. cendana287 says:

    EXCELLENT, Michelle!
    I’m gonna save it for future use – of government departments and private sector companies that are too “tak kisah” to get professionals to write or at least to check and edit things.

  6. Drachen says:

    If we write in English, write GOOD English. If we write in Bahasa, write GOOD Bahasa. That’s all. No half standards, please!

  7. Gadfly says:

    When a bad translation, possibly copied from inferior language tools,is posted by a government department, it reflects not just the level of English proficiency,but also the sense of accountability to what they say and mean. Someone who does not bother about what he says to the public leads people to deduce that he is not dedicated to his work.

    I think the official-in-charge does not bother to look up the dictionary what ‘life time’ means. How can we figure out the meaning of ‘life time 18-25 year’?

    If we are not bothered about the meaning of words, we are not bothered about the logical structure of arguments. If we are not bothered about logical structure of arguments, we are not bothered about truth and social responsibility.If we are not bothered about truth and social responsibility, why bother to work in government?

    The issue is not the decline of language, but the decline of commitment to work that is the most worrying.
    I agree.

  8. Gadfly says:

    After reading Antares’s comments, I start to reflect on what is this language called English. I am trilingual theoretically, though more at ease with Chinese and English since young. I am like a fish swimming in this bilingual ocean and suddenly someone asks me,’Do you know what is water?’

    Does studying English make one feel superior? That the journey in life is skewed in certain trajectory, possibly middle-class and above? If it is, at least I should know its source.

    The advantages of learning English as an instrument for learning the sciences are obvious as so much scientific knowledge are published in English. Its superiority can be seen in its vocabulary : Besides the approximately 500,000 scientific, medical and other technical terms, there are another half-a million words. This is 2 or 3 times that of any other western languages.(Robert M. Knlght,1999). English language has the great capacity to absorb and stablise new words and ideas.

    There may be certain reservations about the use of English as it was once the language of British imperialism, and now possibly of neo-colonialism. Will the non-Anglo Saxon minds be colonised once again?

    English language is part of the Germanic branch of the family of Indo-European languages. There are great similarities among the the classical Sanskrit, Greek and Latin and all three share a common source. This means that the modern languages of almost all the European languages,the Hindi, Urdu, and Iranian languages all have the same parent stock. Hence,the superiority of any languages has to be tempered with a tinge of historical consciousness.( BBC last night showed some schools in UK are teaching Sanskrit to school children. It is not an out-moded language.)

    It is difficult not to feel some sense of power and ‘superiority’ in the mastery of this language as a window to a wide wide world.

    This leads to the issue of whether language corrupts thoughts and bad political writing leads to justification of political persecution and suppression. George Orwell wrote in ‘Politics and English Language’ that ‘…People who are imprisoned for years without trial , or shot in the back of the neck or sent to to die of scurvy in Arctic lumper camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements.’ This shows language, whichever it is, can be used to prevent thought and to conceal the truth. This is a two-edge sword as Antares would say.
    Language can corrupt or condition thoughts subtly and unconsciously.

    The problem is it is really difficult for a fish to know water, and for an eye to see itself.

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