When a preacher encourages his congregants to separate themselves, physically or mentally, from people of other religions because they are not from the true religion, that is disruptive to social harmony and not beneficial to Singapore.
It may not be outright hatred, but it is a worldview that is poisonous.
If there ever was a grossly misused word in this country, it is ‘debate’ in the context of our leaders in parliament.
Our leaders discuss and share notes; they never debate. They say ‘amen’ to one another and make speeches to the choir but they never ever debate.
The occasions when they do engage in animated verbal jousting were disagreements between the ruling party and the opposing groups.
There was a time when the teacher was God and pupils respect him out of neither popularity nor affection; there was only fear and fear was what maintained decorum in the classroom. Fear was what compelled every pupil to complete his homework and sit upright in class.
Abuse? What abuse? Spankings and slaps and ear-pullings were common occurrences and physical pain was expected by anyone who misbehave.
Is it any wonder we have brought up a generation of young people who take offence at almost every ‘political incorrectness’?
Is it also any wonder we have brought up a generation of cissy soldiers whose duffel bags have wheels and trolley handles?
Speaking English well is not about having a native anglophone accent, e.g. Received Pronunciation and General American; but everything to do with clarity, diction and pronunciation. Think of stage actor Brendon Fernandez, television comic actor Chua En Lai, PM Lee Hsien Loong and his late father, newsreader Jill Neubronner, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and opposition politician Dr Chee Soon Juan, among others. All of them speak English well and with a Singaporean accent.
When my son performed in the showcase by the Singapore Symphony Children’s Choir that featured local conductor Darius Lim, the emcee for that event apparently tried to speak in a rhotic pseudo-American accent but committed several pronunciation errors that I could not help but wince. I am certain that there were English language teachers among the audience who thought the same way.
The problem with the word ‘eunoia’ as a name of a public institution, apart from its having nothing to do with our sociocultural heritage, is that it is a word of jargon and is relatively unknown to the populace unless one has read western philosophy, the classics or medicine in the university.
The Head-of-Department for English language on this first day of school spoke in the morning to the parents in the school hall.
She was introducing us to the Ministry of Education’s cutting-edge, no-textbook-no-workbook English syllabus for primary one and two pupils, called S.T.E.L.L.A.R; mispronouncing several words along the way.
We may be the most proficient in the English language among Asian countries but compared with Scandinavian Europe, we are ranked outside the creme de la creme.
The TOP 12 non-native anglophone countries with the highest English proficiency for the year 2015 are as follows:
2. The Netherlands