You knew Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng was in serious deficit of thinking matter when he said, in response to queries about Mas Selamat 's whereabouts, latter was either in Singapore, or not in Singapore. Demonstrating similar dereliction of duty in disseminating useful public information, Acting Minister for Information and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew was quoted as saying. "And if you ask if not now, then when, or if ever - I don't know." What the fish do you know, Mr Minister?
Lui was presenting his stand that the country is not ready to lift the restriction on dialects, and his dubious claim that allowing full content in dialects could "hypothetically impact the standard of Mandarin by 20 percent". His other hypothesis is that "It is already difficult enough to learn English and Mandarin, I think it would be quite challenging to learn a third language."
We don't know when Lui last had a conversation with his parents. If he did, he would have been enlightened that dialects are as natural to the young as fish is to water. For generations, grandma have been teaching kids to finish the food in their bowl, and to be respectful to their elders through culturally rich anecdotes like not pointing your finger at the moon. Mandarin not required. And grandma does a better job at holistic education than those MOE bucreaucrats who coerce school kids to attend YOG events. Or fly in native English speakers, complete with wife, kids and the family dog, because they have no confidence in our own language teachers.
Dialect programming on free-to-air-television is meant for the enjoyment of the silver haired generation who are now unable to engage in conversation with their grandchildren, thanks to the alienation brought about by the Mandarin language. It's supposed to be a small token of appreciation for our senior citizens who dutifully procreated and worked hard to make the present generation possible. So are we to wait till they are gone before the Hong Kong Cantonese and Taiwan Hokkien programming get to be aired? The only appropriate response to Lui for this disrespect is, boh tua boh suay.