Software issues, lack of proofreading caused Tamil translation errors on door hangers: PAP representative

The door hanger brochures were intended to inform residents that a house visit had been made when they were not at home. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SARAVANAN NATUROPATH
The door hanger brochures were intended to inform residents that a house visit had been made when they were not at home. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SARAVANAN NATUROPATH

SINGAPORE - PAP's Kaki Bukit branch chairman Shamsul Kamar apologised on Facebook on Sunday (Jan 13) after door hanger brochures containing translation errors in Tamil were distributed to residents.

In his Facebook post, Mr Shamsul apologised for the "oversight and for any unintentional offence caused" to Indian residents who had received the brochure.

Mr Shamsul, who was one of the People's Action Party candidates who contested Aljunied GRC in the 2015 General Election, told The Straits Times over e-mail that the door hangers were used for his house visits.

Volunteers were asked to stop distribution of the door hangers immediately after the errors were discovered, Mr Shamsul said.

The brochures are believed to have been distributed during block visits last Thursday, last Saturday and on Sunday.

ST understands that the characters printed on the door hangers were scrambled and the message was unintelligible in Tamil.

The brochures were intended to inform residents that a house visit had been made when they were not at home.

On Monday, Mr Shamsul told ST that according to initial investigations, the translation errors had occurred "due to a software auto change issue" that caused the printing company to jumble up the words.

The printing company had sent the artwork with the jumbled text back to the non-Tamil speaking volunteer in charge of the door hangers for confirmation. However, the volunteer did not ask the Tamil speaker who had prepared the text for the door hangers to proofread the final artwork before it was endorsed for printing, Mr Shamsul said.

"I should have ensured that my volunteer proofread the final artwork and text before confirming," he added.

"This was an oversight on our part and we will make good on this matter."

Mr Shamsul said that he and his team have asked the printing company to look into resolving its software issues to prevent similar printing problems in the future.

"Due to this error, we may consider exploring other printing companies in the future and make sure that such lapses do not occur again," he added.

He told ST that his team will ensure that future publications in Tamil, Malay and Chinese are proofread before they are confirmed for printing, as part of a more rigorous vetting process.

In addition, he and his team will be revisiting the Indian residents who received the mistranslated door hangers. The residents will also receive flyers with accurate information about their Meet-the-People session details.

Facebook user Saravanan Naturopath posted a picture of the door hanger online, expressing his displeasure about the translation errors on the door hanger.

Many netizens have also voiced their unhappiness about the translation errors on social media.

There have been similar mistakes made with Tamil translations in the past.

In 2015, the Land Transport Authority apologised for the inaccurate Tamil translation of Downtown Line station Tan Kah Kee. Netizens had pointed out that the station's name was translated as "paan kah kee".