Posts Tagged ‘SMRT’

SMRT or CMRT

February 19, 2013

Stand SMRT for Singapore Mass Rapid Transport or is it CMRT, Chinese Mass Rapid Transport?

Photo: I'm sure many have already noticed. Why the sudden need for chinese translations of SMRT stations in the trains? How does that cater to a nation with the believe, "Regardless of race or religion"? If it is really necessary, then should they not cater to everyone else too? Your thoughts on this please. Share if you feel this is unfair.

Recently, Singapore MRT started making English and Chinese announcements on the trains. Before every station, English and Chinese (Mandarin) announcements are made. Other announcements like no eating on the trains, security alert, etc are still made randomly in the four official languages. Until recently, the station announcements used to be made in English only. Recently, Chinese (Mandarin) was added. For more than 25 years since SMRT started operations, only English announcement was made for stations. Why the sudden addition of Mandarin?

There is also a huge different between the operators, SBS and SMRT. SBS operates the purple line (Harbourfront – Punggol) and their announcements are spoken in all four languages. I do take that MRT line very regularly and I noticed that I do hear much more announcements in various languages instead of the other MRT lines.

This latest policy of making Chinese announcement has caused lots of controversy. It is creating lots of robust and emotional discussion in the cyberworld especially on Facebook and public forums. There are already so many foreigners in Singapore especially taking our public transport. Some feel that this policy of making Chinese (Mandarin) announcement is to cater to those PRCs working here. Except for those older folks, nearly all Chinese Singaporeans can understand English. And these old folks, they live here more then 40 years, they should be able to learn to understand some basic English.

Most of our places have either English or Malay names. In fact, the local Chinese are more familiar with the English or Malay names of places. Most local Chinese can understand Bugis or Kembagan better than if they were to be pronounced in English. To translate into Chinese (Mandarin) sounds odd and alien. It’s jarring to the local Chinese ears. Of course those English or Malay place names do not ring a bell with those PRCs since they are not natives.

Some of my Malay and Indian friends are clearly unhappy over this matter. In fact, most of them feel that Malay and Indian languages are sidelined. Mandarin has suddenly come into prominence. They are wondering if they are trying to promote Mandarin? What’s the agenda? If it is only English, then there is no issue as English is a neutral language. But if Chinese (Mandarin) is included in station announcements, then they feel that Malay and Indian (Tamil) should also be added.

The Singapore constitution clearly accords equal weight to all our four official languages. By highlighting only two of the four i.e. English and Chinese (Mandarin), the Malays and Indians feel sidelined and threatened. It is not a healthy sign. It is very divisive and unpopular with the non-Chinese of course. Like I say, most local Chinese even in the 55-60 years age group can understand English since it is only names of places which all local Chinese are familiar with, why then the station announcement in Chinese? Only those local Chinese above 65 years may not understand English. But I’m sure if it is only names of places, they should have no problem understanding.

I get so sick of all these bi-lingual announcements in the trains. English is the common bridge language in Singapore and please make all signs and announcements in English only! Residents from other countries are then forced to learn to speak English and to use it on daily base.

If such a thing were to happen in other countries, there will be mass protests and demonstrations or even riots, citing constitutional rights and language discrimination, etc. Here, you can’t or you will be arrested for voicing your concerns as a non-Chinese citizen of this country! Those non-Chinese citizens can only rant among themselves. Singapore becoming more and more like a part of china. It is a Malaysian version of Hong Kong before 1997. A humiliation. A catastrophe.

In the Netherlands (Europe), the government forces immigrants to speak their language and have to do a test before they enter the country. If you can’t speak Dutch, you do not get a visa. Why we can not do this with Singapore? That will force all Banglah and Chinese PRC to force to learn the national language of Singapore, ENGLISH!!!

(copied from The Malasian Insider but added and removed some lines as I didn’t agree with the entire text)

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