Wrong character at Speak Mandarin Campaign launch a serious mistake: Grace Fu

Instead of using the Chinese character for "read", the character for "to show disrespect" was used on a rostrum sign that featured prominently. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - Using the wrong character at the Speak Mandarin Campaign launch was a "serious mistake", said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

In a statement on Wednesday (July 12), Ms Fu said this was especially so for "an advocate for the proper use of Mandarin".

She was the event's guest of honour and co-launched the campaign from the rostrum that prominently displayed the wrong character. The sign was meant to show four characters for the fundamentals of learning languages - listening, speaking, reading and writing.

However, the Chinese character for "read" was wrong. It was replaced by one that means "to show disrespect", an error the campaign said happened during the production process.

Ms Fu said the Speak Mandarin Campaign team assured her that processes will be improved to prevent such incidents from occurring again.

"The Chinese language is wonderfully intricate, and the slightest variation in strokes can result in distinct characters with completely different meanings.

"These distinctions, which may seem subtle at first glance, represent the rich heritage behind the language."

She thanked the public for raising their concerns about the matter, adding that properly using words in any language in Singapore's multicultural society is very important.

Ms Fu said she hopes the public will continue supporting the Speak Mandarin Campaign which has done good work for almost 40 years.

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