NTU says sorry for confusion over foodcourt signs

A noodle stall displaying a bilingual menu at a foodcourt in Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
A noodle stall displaying a bilingual menu at a foodcourt in Nanyang Technological University (NTU). ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is offering no excuses for a recent incident concerning the use of Chinese on foodcourt signs that "has resulted in anguish and anxieties among members of the Chinese community".

"We are sorry for the confusion and our lack of clarity on the issue," said NTU president Bertil Andersson, promising that a thorough investigation would be carried out.

He clarified that there is no university policy prohibiting the use of the Chinese language on food stall or retail space signboards.

The remarks came after an outcry from some members of the public, following Lianhe Wanbao's report on June 21 that bilingual signs in Chinese and English at an NTU foodcourt needed to be replaced with English-only ones.

A notice received by stall operators at North Spine Food Court - one of 13 at the university - told them to do this before renewing their contracts in August.

In a statement released yesterday, Professor Andersson said that Chinese, Malay or Tamil - which, along with English, are Singapore's four official languages - can be used on signs so long as the same information is shown in English.

NTU has told Select Group, which manages North Spine Food Court, and all its stallholders, of this policy.

NTU's Associate Provost (Student Life) Kwok Kian Woon also met stall operators last Saturday to clarify the university's position.

Initial findings by the university show that the instructions given to the foodcourt operators did not follow any NTU official policy.

When The Straits Times visited the foodcourt last Thursday, none of its 12 stores had Chinese-only signs or menus. Three of them carried English-only signage.

Prof Andersson said that should the investigation find that any staff did not act in line with NTU's values and policies, they would "be held accountable". "We accept responsibility for this incident and for the initial responses to the media which, with the benefit of hindsight, did not address the lapse clearly."

Correction note: A previous version of this story said that there are 12 foodcourts at NTU. The university has clarified that there are 13.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'NTU says sorry for confusion over foodcourt signs'. Print Edition | Subscribe