National Translation Committee members,
Participants of the 1st Singapore-Malaysia Translation Exchange Programme,

Teachers, students and 

Friends from the media,

Good afternoon. வணக்கம்! 


It gives me great pleasure to join you all here today for the inaugural Tamil Translation Workshop. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to our friends from Malaysia, who have come from afar to join us for the first Singapore-Malaysia Tamil Translation Exchange Programme. Welcome to Singapore, சிங்கப்பூருக்கு உங்களை வரவேற்கிறோம்! (We welcome you to Singapore) 

To our students, I am very happy to know that young people like yourselves are keen to learn more about translation, and the useful role it plays in our daily lives.  

The National Translation Committee, or NTC, has partnered Tamil Murasu and the Ministry of Education to organize this workshop. It is part of the NTC’s Community-in-Translation initiative to bring together like-minded partners from various sectors, to work together to raise awareness and interest in translation amongst Singaporeans, including our students, so that one day you too can contribute to enhancing translation capabilities and standards in Singapore.

Translation in government communications

Translation is important in a multi-racial society like Singapore, to communicate with and reach out to the different communities. 
This includes some of our seniors who are more familiar with their respective mother-tongue languages.  For those of us who are conversant in both English and our mother tongue, hearing someone speak our mother tongue language brings us closer together and helps to build connections between people.  

Translation has an important role in our lives. We see translations everywhere, bus stops, MRT stations, road signs. On this note, can anyone tell me what the Tamil name for Botanic Gardens MRT station is? 

I understand that “Poo Malai” literally means “flower mount”, which is not quite the same as “Botanic Gardens”, but it is the name known to the Tamil community all these years. Thus, we have decided to respect this tradition and retain “Poo Malai” as the Tamil name for the Botanic Gardens MRT station. 

The importance of bilingualism

On a personal level, being bilingual helps us in more ways than we may realise – how many of you here speak mostly English at home? And how many regularly speak Tamil at home?
Knowing both English and your mother tongue will help you. For me, when I interact with friends from the Chinese-speaking communities or explain certain government policies to them, it is very helpful for me to speak in a language they are familiar with. Similarly, when I interact with friends from overseas such as China, it is easier to communicate and strike an understanding when I am able to speak a language they are familiar with. Being bilingual is a strength at both a personal and societal level. So, for those of us who are able to learn languages well, I encourage you to go as far as possible. This, I believe, will be helpful for your future career. 

The National Translation Committee has rolled out the Information Service (Translation) Scholarship for undergraduates, to groom more translation talents for the future. It may be a little early for you to decide now, but if you are keen to pursue a career in translation and public communications or you know of anyone who would be interested – this is the website to apply for the MCI Information Service (Translation) Scholarship. 

After this workshop, please also feel free to leave your contact details with my MCI colleagues so they can stay in touch with you. 

Review of government communication materials in Tamil

The Government is committed to improving translation standards, so that we can strengthen Government communications in Chinese, Malay and Tamil. During the Committee of Supply Debate earlier this year, I said in Parliament that “சரியான மொழிபெயர்ப்பே நமது கடப்பாடு”.  The NTC has begun a systemic review of how we can improve Tamil translation standards and minimize translation errors in Government communications materials.  The review is led by Mr Palaniappan, who is a very experienced translator from our Parliament and Head of the NTC’s Tamil Resource Panel.  The committee aims to finalise its review and submit its recommendations to MCI later this year.  

You too can play a part in helping to uphold Tamil translation standards in Singapore, by keeping an eye out for translations that can be improved, and sharing your knowledge learnt today with your friends and family.  Together, we can achieve this important objective. 

மாணவர்களுக்கு இப்படிப்பட்ட பயன்மிக்க நிகழ்ச்சிகளை மேலும் நடத்த, உங்கள் கருத்துகளை வரவேற்கிறோம். 
(We also welcome your feedback to organize more of such useful programmes for our students.)

To conclude, I hope everyone had a fruitful session today and have gained a better appreciation of the importance of translation.  I wish our Malaysian friends a pleasant stay in Singapore and look forward to seeing everyone again at our next event.  

I also wish to extend my sincere appreciation to Tamil Murasu and MOE for their support to organize this competition, you are our valued partners in this journey to raise translation standards and build stronger translation capabilities in Singapore.  

Thank you very much everyone.
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