Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hidden Meanings

In his swan song address to some 500 social workers at the annual Social Workers’ Day Symposium convened at the fancy Concorde Hotel, Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing didn't exactly check off his solid accomplishments after 4 years at the helm.

Instead, he threw up some nebulous recommendations like "piloting 'self-organising' models that are somewhere in between relying on domestic helpers and on institutionalised homes". Even Daiso has better suggestions when it comes to DIY solutions, most of which are priced at $2. This million dollar minister had nothing, zilch, nada, no concrete plan to offer.

Chan also said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has tried to “bootstrap” standards and protocols so that people beyond the sector will listen to the views of social workers. Suffice it to say, those standards and protocols must be written in Greek, since none of us, MSF members included, can possibly decipher his highfalutin terminology. For all we know, distributing flyers surreptitiously in the middle of the night is included in the methodologies.

SR Nathan has this story to tell about Goh Keng Swee being upset by jargon - accountancy jargon, engineering jargon, whatever. Goh had instructed him to call a chap up: "Look, tell the bloody fool to write so that another fool will understand him." Knowing that Goh wanted very simple language, Nathan tried to express same to said officer, and was rebutted with: "Oh, I've got a PhD." As Nathan tells it, Goh called the officer direct and gave him a shelling he probably never forgot all his life. ("SR Nathan in Conversation", Timothy Auger, page 116). Too bad Goh is no longer around to effect any shellacking.


  1. Yea, somehow ah chan's speeches came off like those written for the A-Levels GP paper, more to be marked a good grade by his superior, less about conviction.

  2. Yes, if you can't write an executive summary in one page and in plain English, your memo will be thrown out by GKS.

  3. confusion is also a strategy lor ..

  4. This clown tries very hard to sound intellectual. The Ah Beng in him is too obvious. Really sad. They will try to foist him on the suffering citizens as the next PM.

  5. Theorists and book-worms are just that. They have no practical experiences whatsoever, only jump starts which must be kicked in the butt in order to start;. What can we expect of them? Other than pay them the ransom they have demanded for their self sacrifices for not being able to find a job outside anywhere in a civilised segment of industry, and to help them not to get corrupted in the real world of money and power.

  6. No idea what those gibberish means. Bootstrap is a term frequently used in the tech start up world where people are lacking financial funds would bootstrap its way. I hardly think MSF have such a problem? Trying hard to sound hip and cool.

    In any case, have we seen any valuable social studies churned out by MSF ? So far a lot of the crap are coming out from REACH that keep telling us 7 out 10 people are very pleased with budget or transportation kind of credibility at all. Who are these group of morons who keep dishing out bad surveys?

  7. When you have nuthin' concrete, high-falutin' sounding words help obfuscate and carry the day... for another day till That DAY...

  8. Yes, his sound bites appear deep and thoughtful, but on closer scrutiny are nothing but bombastic baloney that can only impress bamboo soldiers, the idiots of the Republic of Lanfang or the Emperor with new clothes. Keep it simple stupid. Tattler can put him under the table with his wit, humour and command of the language.

  9. The gathering of the clan begins, I hear.
    The plug will be pulled as per instruction... therefore an auspicious time will be chosen.

    Amazing. even in death there is command & control.

  10. Light travels faster than sound. Some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

  11. I remembered Dr Goh recommending that book " The Complete Plain Words " or was it just " The Plain Words" by Sir Ernest Growers in my secondary school days.
    Understand it was a required reading for Civil Servants of certain grades .
    Unfortunately, his standard of plain English died along with him. In its place , we have syntax and grammar and logic that will have HM Queen Elizebeth II in despair if ever say , one LSS ever have an audience with her .

    1. Example of paPIG English:
      - Integrated Resort
      - methinks Integrated Casino makes for better English

  12. For your reactions box can you please add in one more ? "Utterly Disgusted" Or "Shameful" rather than "Sad" ? Thanks