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Let's have some empathy with that good English

As long as Singapore exists, the debate over correct English usage and Singlish will never abate ("Those fluent in English can set an example for others" by the Speak Good English Movement, Feb 13; "Draw line between mistakes and language evolution" by Madam Ng Poh Leng and "Balance correct pronunciation and being understood" by Miss Adelene Soh Li Theng , both published on Feb 9).

It is good that the Speak Good English Movement does not seek to eradicate Singlish, but to encourage those who speak ungrammatical English to learn and adopt the grammar rules of standard English.

However, we must not forget that language is only part of what a country and a people are. It is equally important, if not more so, to develop the whole person.

I have seen far too many educated people, even those with advanced post-graduate degrees, who are completely lacking in social skills, and exhibit zero EQ, or emotional quotient, in their interactions with people.

Some sit in ivory towers and make decisions and execute orders with utter disregard for how their decisions affect ordinary people.

They may speak English better than the average Englishman, but they are out of touch with reality and lack sensitivity and compassion.

What's the use of being able to speak perfect English when no one understands them? What's the use of being a great communicator without empathy?

Language is only one aspect of who and what we are as a nation. Our education system should focus on developing the whole person.

Michael Loh Toon Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 19, 2017, with the headline 'Let's have some empathy with that good English'. Print Edition | Subscribe