NDP organisers say sorry for wrong Tamil translation of NDP theme on its pamphlets

The National Day Parade 2017 logo. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

SINGAPORE - The organisers of the National Day Parade (NDP) this year have apologised for errors in the Tamil translation of its theme #OneNationTogether in some of its pamphlets.

Publicity brochures with the mistakes were distributed to Primary 5 students from 162 primary schools ahead of National Education (NE) shows this month.

The Tamil phrase was supposed to read as "let's come together as one nation". But some letters were in the wrong places while others were missing, making the words unintelligible.

Said the NDP 2017 executive committee chairman, Colonel Ong Yoke Lam Melvin, in a response to The Straits Times: "Such typographical errors are avoidable and should not have happened. We apologise to all Singaporeans for our oversight, in particular to our Tamil community, for the unhappiness this error has caused."

He said that souvenir booklets with the correct translation were given to students at the NE shows on July 2 and 8, and will be done so for the show on Saturday (July 15) as well.

The mistake prompted MP for Bukit Batok Murali Pillai to file a parliamentary question on Tuesday.

He told The Straits Times he first heard of the pamphlets from his constituency's Tamil-speaking residents, before later confirming this with the chairman of the Tamil Language Council.

He is asking Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim whether there were mistakes in the Tamil translation for NDP material, as well as the steps that will be taken to ensure such errors do not happen again.

One resident who had noticed the mistakes is industrial relations officer Jagathishwaran Rajo. He first came across the errors around a week and a half ago, and raised the matter to his MP, Mr Liang Eng Hwa, during a meet-the-people session on July 3.

He said that he was not surprised by the errors, as he had encountered many Tamil mistranslations in both the public and private sector before.

However, the 30-year-old believes it to be a genuine mistake. "I just want people to be more careful in the future about translation."

The NDP executive committee's apology comes on the heels of one by the Speak Mandarin campaign organisers for using the wrong Chinese character in a rostrum sign. In a gaffe at Monday's launch of thecampaign, instead of the Chinese character for "read", the character for "to show disrespect" was printed on a sign that featured prominently.

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