I read with much interest the article “Must you speak English to qualify as a Singapore PR or new citizen?” (March 4).
I am French and became a permanent resident 20 years ago, a few years after my company sent me here.
Before I arrived in Singapore, I made it a point to improve my English, even though I did not know how long I would stay here. To me, it was important to be competent in the lingua franca of the country where I was going to work and live.
Asking candidates for Singapore citizenship or PR status to speak English seems rather logical. Incidentally, having the level B1 (European standard) in French is a prerequisite to acquire French nationality.
I believe that a minimum level in English should concern not only the Singaporeans and PRs, but also all foreigners living in Singapore.
These past few years, I have faced more and more situations where I could not communicate with the staff in a shop. Last Sunday, I was at a pharmacy in a mall downtown and had written down a list of three possible hand creams I wanted to get. When I showed it to the saleswoman and asked her if the shop had any of the brands, she replied with a few words in Mandarin and was unable to help. I had to find someone else to help me.
Companies must ensure that their staff are able to understand basic questions related to the business and able to interact with all customers.
Jean Michel Francois Bardin