The Satirist Says: Speak Good English Movement incites violence with guerilla campaign

Singapore, 14 September 2010 – In an apparent disregard for those who champion Singlish (local colloquialism that mixes English with the various dialects and languages used by Singaporeans) and the blatant persecution of those who are too busy trying to survive in Singapore to bother about proper language use in communication, the Speak Good English Movement (SGEM) launched last week its campaign to post sticky notes on signs that display incorrect use of English (‘Correct’ sticky notes to be pasted on bad signs, TODAY – 8 September 2010).

As TOC Lite was not invited, it is unknown how many of the ’80 people who had gathered at Xin Food Court at the HarbourFront Centre for the launch of the campaign’ were unsuspecting diners who happened to be at the food court to eat. Nevertheless, our analyst who reads the Straits Times avidly pointed out that if an opposition political party had gathered in this fashion, it would have been considered an offence of unlawful assembly under Section 141 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224.


141. An assembly of 5 or more persons is designated an “unlawful assembly”, if the common object of the persons composing that assembly is — (e) by means of criminal force, or show of criminal force, to compel any person to do what he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do what he is legally entitled to do.

Describing the campaign as ‘guerilla’ and admitting that ‘activists’ have been recruited and armed with kits that include ‘notebooks, posters and stickers that express common phrases in Standard English’, the SGEM has gone on the offensive to push its position. Not unlike opposition political parties that often run afoul of the law in their quest to further their agenda, the SGEM has clearly embarked on an equally destructive initiative to incite violence.

Since there is a significant majority of residents here who do not speak a word of English (illustrated by the number of sales lost by waiters and service staff who remain intent on speaking Mandarin to Malay and Indian Singaporeans), it can be reasonably expected that someone may be incited by this initiative to paste sticky notes on the foreheads of such residents, thereby provoking violence and committing an offence under Section 13C of Chapter 184.


13C. Any person who in a public place or in a private place — (b) distributes or displays to another person any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, with intent to cause that person to believe that immediate unlawful violence will be used against him or another person by any person, or to provoke the immediate use of unlawful violence by that person or another person, or whereby that person is likely to believe that such violence will be used or it is likely that such violence will be provoked shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000.

Also, since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had specifically acknowledged the Singapore Shiok handbook as a good initiative in paragraph 33 of his speech, the move by the SGEM may even be considered a clear act of defiance against the state and thereby even be guilty of an act of terrorism. The handbook created by the Singapore Management University (SMU) for its international students (Singapore Shiok for foreigners, Straits Times, 7 September 2010), includes common Singlish terms that can be used by the reader.

It is therefore widely anticipated that the SGEM activists will now target SMU for their flagrant championing of improper English and it might likely launch a guerilla attack to cover the SMU campus with sticky notes. Our sources understand that SMU is now considering taking a leaf out of NTU’s recent draconian approach to decree students to register their blog activities (NTU’s blogging rule raises eyebrows, Channel NewsAsia, 9 September, 2010) – by requiring students to declare their involvement or affiliation with the SGEM, its members, or its ‘activists’.

TOC Lite understands that the Internal Security Department (ISD) and the waiting to retire so relaxing at a barely-necessary unit master teachers at the Ministry of Education (MOE) are also currently on high alert for the expected fallout of this national threat. It is unclear if the SGEM will choose to desist from its intended clandestine operation.


Headline photo courtesy of Speak Good Singlish Movement facebook group


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