A Singaporean scolding “Cao ni ma!” enriching “diversity of our society”?

It was reported yesterday (30 Nov) that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) is currently investigating the Trans-Cab driver who was captured in two videos that went viral on Friday (29 Nov).

In the first video, the cab driver, wearing a surgical mask with a sling bag, can be seen engaging in an aggressive manner towards a motorist. He was seen using his hand and elbow banging on the window of the motorist’s vehicle. In the second video, the same cab driver was seen berating a couple. He can be heard scolding them, “Cao ni ma!”

In any case, SPF has issued a statement saying that they have “established the identity of the 42-year-old male taxi driver involved in a case of road rage along Paterson Hill on 22 November 2019, and a case of criminal intimidation and voluntarily causing hurt at 14 Scotts Road on 24 November 2019, as revealed in two videos circulating online.”

“Police investigations are ongoing.”, said the Police.

“Cao ni ma!”

In the video, it can be seen that the cab driver was quite angry when he scolded “Cao ni ma!” publicly.

According to Transparent Language, an American-based language school teaching foreign languages to U.S. Government personnel, the military, public libraries, universities, and business executives, “Cao ni ma” is a swear phrase often heard in China.

In one of its blogs explaining about swear words used in China (‘Swear Words in Chinese‘), it wrote, “Normally, we try to keep it pretty PG around here on the Chinese blog, but the readers have spoken, and people want to learn how to say bad words (坏语 – huài yǔ) in Chinese. That should come as no surprise, since I’m sure most of us would admit that we always seek out the profanity when studying a language.”

“Especially here in China, when your standing as a 老外 (foreigner) always leaves you prone to being ripped off and taken advantage of, it’s nice to be equipped with a few insults to throw back to show that you’re not fresh off the boat, and you’re not messing around!” It added.

It then explained a number of swear words and phrases used in China, including the infamous one uttered by the Trans-Cab driver:

肏你妈 (cào nǐ mā) – Now we’re getting really serious. This means “f*** your mother,” and will only be used when people are really, really angry with someone else. This is the kind of talk that can get a bottle of Yanjing beer thrown at you.

Indeed, in Singapore, most native Singaporeans would not have used such a phrase to scold when they got really angry. They would curse with the usual Hokkien expletives commonly used here. Those Singaporeans who have gone through National Service (NS) can attest to this. During NS trainings, it is common to get scoldings from sergeants and officers, laced with “colorful” Hokkien expletives. But you would never hear them say, “Cao ni ma!”

Only Singaporeans can apply for taxi licence

Meanwhile, a check on LTA website shows that only Singaporeans can apply for a taxi licence:

In other words, we can be sure that the Trans-Cab driver in the 2 videos is indeed a Singapore citizen.

So, how could a Singaporean be scolding “Cao ni ma!” instead of in his native Hokkien expletives? Unless of course, the Trans-Cab driver is a new citizen. Given that he felt more at home using the phrase “Cao ni ma!”, one can surmise that he is probably a former PRC who was later given the Singapore citizenship by the government.

Last year at a ceremony to welcome new citizens in Ang Mo Kio and Sengkang West, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave a speech saying, “Your fellow Singaporeans welcome you formally into the family today, and you will bring with you your experiences, your skills, your talents, your warmth, to enrich the diversity of our society.”

It then begs the question how is driving taxi a skill or talent that warrants Singapore giving its coveted red passport to the foreign applicant? For that matter, does scolding “Cao ni ma!” count towards “enriching” the diversity of our society?

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