Malaysiakini Opinion

Storm in a teacup over Chinese translation

R Nadeswaran  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Many, many years ago, I accompanied the director of enforcement in the Trade and Industry Ministry, (the late) Nik Salleh Nik Mat (of Nik’s Raiders fame), for a meeting with the Chinese Shoemakers Association. The enforcement unit had seized several hundred pair of shoes for application of false trade descriptions. It was chaired by the ministry’s parliamentary secretary (the late) Lew Sip Hon.

Ten minutes into the meeting, Nik Salleh interjected and told Lew who was chairing the meeting something to this effect: “YB, if this meeting continues like this, I am going to go back. I don’t understand a word that’s being spoken.”

The meeting started in Bahasa Malaysia and then English. But the participants began speaking in Chinese and it veered off course.

Lew apologised and order was restored. A few minutes later, someone spoke in Chinese. Nik Salleh picked up his files and walked out. Lew trotted out behind him and apologised profusely. Nik Salleh stood his ground and left. (He later told me that he would have understood if they spoke in Urdu. This was because he was one of the first Malaysians to be sent by the government to the world-renowned Lucknow University in India to further his studies).

These days, we don’t find many civil servants who are willing to stand up to their political masters. Well, that’s another issue, but at hand is the commotion and brouhaha over Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng issuing a trilingual press release on the bailout of the TRX (Tun Razak Exchange) project on June 21.

Let’s get the facts right....

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