REINTRODUCTION OF DIALECTS ON TVs AND RADIOs

1. A friend alerted me to some kind of a campaign going around to call for the reintroduction of dialects on local TVs and radios. I heard that there is even a petition going around for sometime. I do not know the level of receptivity to both the campaign and petition.

2. I think it is simple to call for the reintroduction of dialects on TVs and radios. We have to realize also that by dialects, we are probably talking about Singaporean Chinese. And I was told that it likely to be the case because Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese are being highlighted.

3. Interestingly, the idea of “Inclusive Singapore” is being vaguely highlighted as a point by the campaign. And if we are talking abt “inclusivity”, then perhaps more thoughts can be directed to how the campaign will benefit other groups and community in Singapore. Will other groups or community be left out in the campaign? It could well be seen by some as strengthening the Chinese community. How about others? And we are talking about inclusivity as a whole, or just for a community group, or even just for a group within a community?

4. And as much as I understand from my personal life, dialects users (by this I mean that dialects are their sole language) are mostly senior citizens. Others may also understand it, but not fully. Some are definitely better than others. While the push may gain support from some people such as the elderly, I am sure it needs to be complemented somehow with changes in other areas, such as the setting up of dialect education. Like it or not, currently, dialect speakers do not form a huge group in Singapore, and the younger generation are brought up using English as their working language and their own mother tongue.

5. Or is the campaign just to cater for the elderly dialect speakers? If so, what are the other possible ways to bring important information to them, other than just by including dialects in news bulletins, when most people do not understand the dialects fully. Media companies also have to recruit quality dialect speakers should such reintroduction of dialects be implemented. Could this create challenges and issues for these companies. Can it even be implemented as and when people want it to?

6. For any matter, whether or not dialect users form a significant part of society is as important as to whether dialects are used in many fields of our daily activities to warrant or necessitate such a campaign. Election rallies speeches given in dialects do not really concur with the arguments that dialect speakers form up a significant proportion on the number of voters. And for any matter, having rally speeches in dialects does not really necessitate or prove the argument that dialects should be reintroduced in TVs and radios.

7. WP’s Low speaks Teochew in Hougang because of a substantial number of Teochews in that constituency. And I believe that most rally speeches in Singapore are still being delivered in English, Malay, Chinese or Tamil. That being said, a Teochew today may not have Teochew as his sole language. Instead, English and Chinese could have priority.

8. So a campaign is just a campaign, and people have to understand and see that there are a lot more than just calling or advocating for something. And as much as we believe that starting with a niche area may be an interesting and good way for any advocacy or campaign, we also must be careful and acknowledge that there are a lot more other issues along the way to be addressed. Certainly, this is not simply an issue whereby just because somebody misses the dialects and therefore he/she puts his/hers name down on the petition.

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