Parliament: Dialect restrictions not for all communication platforms, says Sim Ann

-- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM VIDEO
-- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM VIDEO

SINGAPORE - Dialect is not prohibited on all communication channels, said Minister of State for Education and Communications and Information Sim Ann on Wednesday.

Ms Sim, speaking in Parliament, stressed that while restrictions on dialect were put in place on free-to-air broadcast channels and TV programming to encourage the speaking of Mandarin, the Government has been "relatively free in controlling" its use on other channels.

These include on DVDs, Pay-TV and public entertainment platforms.

She was responding to a question from Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) in Parliament on whether the Government will consider using free-to-air TV as one of the communication platforms for the Pioneer Generation Package, and what the difference is for dialect use on TV and in social media.

In March, the Government released a Hokkien video explaining the Pioneer Generation Package. It was broadcast on YouTube and during existing dialect programming time belts on both free-to-air TV and radio channels.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) wanted to know why priority had appeared to be given to dialects over the national languages of Malay and Tamil in producing explanatory videos. The Malay and Tamil versions have yet to be broadcast.

To this, Ms Ann said that in fact other materials and videos on the package had already been produced in all four official languages, before the dialect videos.

The dialect videos were made later in "recognition of the need to communicate with dialect-speaking Singaporeans," who might not have easy access to these material, she said, and a novel approach of a comedy skit was used.

Because it proved to be popular, it has created the impression that the dialect videos were produced first, she added.

Mr Baey also asked if there was a need for the Ministry of Communications and Information to better advise policymakers in creating policies that are easier to communicate and less complex.

In reply, Ms Sim said the Government understands that public communication should be as simple as possible, but policies often have to be complex in order to cater to very diverse needs and different situations.

"So simplicity and clarity must not come at the expense of accuracy in conveying important details," she said.

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