"The high weighting given to mother tongue languages in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) is now under review and could be reduced," said Minister of Education Ng Eng Hen in an interview with The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao on 21 April.
Then on 11 May, Ng claimed, "In my interview, I said MOE was looking at options to address the over-emphasis on exams, where “MTL counts for so much in the PSLE.” The MTL Review Committee has not proposed any change to the PSLE scoring system. But I should have chosen my words more carefully and apologise for creating that wrong impression."
For a while English speakers in Singapore were left wondering what and where was the unambiquity in the original statement. Could there be that much difference between their competency of the English language, and the linguistic ability of the Minister?
Bu Ng is now insisting that government statements on the issue has been "clear and direct", with "no need for Mr Low to interpret them further." Mr Low Thia Khiang had earlier made a press statement that the reassurances made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Ng at a media conference last Tuesday were tantamount to the Government making several commitments on the teaching and standing of the mother tongue in schools, key of which were:
1) the Government would never again review the subjects's weighting in the PSLE;
2) that it would give the mother tongue "the same weighting in terms of teaching hours" as other primary school subjects.
Reverting again to his manipulation of the English language, Ng (who can't speak Mandarin to save his own life) responded that it was not desirable for the Ministry of Education to prescribe how many hours on the teaching on the mother tongue (and whose responsibility is it then, pray tell?), and in the same breathe, stressed that the MOE was putting more resources into the teaching of the mother tongue in schools, resources which apparently will not be directed to maintaining the same hours of teaching the Chinese language. And in an obvious attempt to waive off accountability for which he is handsomely paid, Ng made it crystal clear that the final proposals will be made by a committee chaired by Director-General of Education Ho Peng. And it will take 10 to 15 years to implement. That's 10 to 15 more (good) years of $2 million annual renumeration, before the taxpayers get to see the product they will be paying for, and he can't even be held responsible for the ultimate mess.