Members of the National Translation Committee (NTC) and the Language Resource Panels (RP),
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good afternoon to everyone. I am happy and honoured to once again be part of our vibrant translation community. This vibrancy would not have been possible without the continued support and contribution from the NTC and RP members to the various initiatives aimed at raising the translation standards in Singapore. I look forward to working with old and new friends in the committee.
2. I am delighted to see that the initiatives started during my first tenure as the NTC Chairman have been implemented. These include the Community-in-Translation (CiT) programme, and the Whole-of-Government Translation Period Contract and Framework Agreement, or PCFA. The annual CiT workshops were well received by our teachers and students and more than 700 of them have benefited, gaining new knowledge and perspectives on translation over the last three years. The PCFA helps to simplify the procurement process for the government agencies and enable them to identify the vendors who know the local context and cultural nuances.
3. I would also like to thank SMS Chee Hong Tat for continuing this work from October 2015 onwards and his many contributions during his tenure as the NTC Chairman. Under Hong Tat’s guidance and leadership, the Translation Talent Development Scheme (TTDS) co-sponsorship grant was conceived. We will be witnessing the awarding of the grant for the first time later today.
Developing Talent: The Translation Talent Development Scheme
4. TTDS is the latest initiative of the NTC to support the industry practitioners to continually upgrade their translation skills and widen their knowledge. This is in line with the national SkillsFuture movement to provide Singaporeans with the opportunities to develop their fullest potential throughout their lives.
5. After a stringent selection process, I am pleased to announce that seven individuals have been chosen as the first batch to receive the TTDS co-sponsorship grant. They can get up to $10,000 to offset 90% of the costs of their professional courses, seminars and conferences, conducted locally or overseas. I would like to thank our two NTC and RP members, Mr R. Rajaram and Mr Bashir Basalamah who had assisted the Secretariat with the selection despite their busy schedule.
6. One of the selected recipients is Ms Lim Wen Xin. Her childhood dream was to become a translator. She has achieved this by not only becoming a full-time freelance translator, but also a translation lecturer, instructor, and course developer. Ms Lim plans to use the grant to offset the cost of her Master of Interpreting and Translation Studies programme at Monash University which started in July.
7. Another recipient is Mr J Karunanithi. The deputy accounts director with the local Tamil newspaper, Tamil Murasu, has translated several books on Indian culture. He hopes to help the younger generation better appreciate the cultures of their fellow Singaporeans through translation. With the grant, Mr Karunanithi will be taking up modular courses and subsequently a degree in Tamil Language and Literature offered by SUSS. All the best to both of them and the other recipients.
Continued effort to improve the local translation landscape
8. The NTC will continue its efforts in developing our translation talents through various programmes and we hope they will produce good translation for the government as well as the industry.
9. This is especially important in our multi-racial society. Good translation will provide an open window to the language and culture of Singapore’s multi-racial communities. More importantly, translation serves as a bridge to strengthen mutual understanding among the different races and protect the harmonious relationship that exist between communities. It also helps the Government to explain our policies better to those Singaporeans especially the elderly who are more comfortable receiving the information in their mother tongue languages.
10. In the public service, we are constantly looking for ways to serve the public better with the same resources. MCI will be leveraging on technology to handle higher volumes of translation within a shorter turnaround time. This will allow our officers to focus more time and energy on editing and fine-tuning the machine-generated translations, instead of doing the translations from scratch. I am glad that the research and development work by MCI and A*STAR I2R (pronounced I squared R) has produced significant breakthroughs. Our machine translation engine achieved better accuracy in our local context than many commercially available translation tools for the English-Chinese language pair. Building on this success, we have started work on the English-Malay engine and hope to continue with the English-Tamil engine soon too. This project is funded under the Translational R&D Initiative (TransGrant) in support of Singapore’s Smart Nation and Digital Government drive. The fund is jointly managed by the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) and the National Research Foundation (NRF).
11. The use of Machine Translation technology is to augment human translators. It cannot replace the need for skilled translators and interpreters, as communication is ultimately a connection between people and we still need the human touch to deal with subtle expressions of emotions and meaning.
12. Please allow me to say a few words in Mandarin now:
13. As I was sharing in Mandarin, translation practitioners must continue to pursue excellence to achieve higher level of mastery. I strongly encourage more practitioners to apply for the TTDS grant to enhance your skills and knowledge.
14. Lastly, this Sunday, 30th of September marks the annual International Translation Day. Like many of us here, I am also proud to be a member of the translation community. Let us celebrate by reaffirming our love for translation, and its role in Singapore.
15. Thank you.