Speak bad English? No prob lah!

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Masing advises politicians to use interpreters

KUCHING: Malaysian politicians whose English is questionable are urged to bring an interpreter when addressing an English-speaking audience.

This was suggested by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing who pointed out that inability to speak fluent English is nothing to be embarrassed about.

“Fluency in English is not a benchmark of intelligence. The sooner Malaysian politicians understand this the better it is for them. The atrocious delivery of their speeches in English, if they were not edited first, made me cringe in my chair,” he said.

He recalled an incident a few years ago when a Malaysian delegation which he was a part of was on the way to Lake Como in Italy. They were there to meet an Italian Minister in Milan regarding waste disposal methods.

“He briefed us in Italian but was interpreted in perfect English. I was surprised because prior to meeting with this minister, I read his resume and found that he obtained his engineering degree in London. Hence, he can speak in perfect English.

“Why had he spoken in Italian to brief us who understood English? It was deliberately done for certain purposes.

“First, he was telling us that he was proud of his mother tongue — thus nationalism was at play and, secondly, by using an interpreter, it gave him time to think of answers to our questions, should we ask.

“It was a smart ploy to give him time,” explained the Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development.

Masing noted that Malaysian politicians must use this ploy too when addressing an English-speaking audience.

“Heads of state like Macron of France, Putin of Russia and President Xi of China always deliver their speeches in their mother tongues. I am sure that they speak and read English well,” he said.

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