Members of the National Translation Committee and the Language Resource Panels,
Translation Talent Development Scheme Recipients,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

1. A very good evening to everyone. I am delighted to be here with fellow members of our vibrant translation community and to show our appreciation to our industry and community partners.

2. This evening, we celebrate the second batch of our Translation Talent Development Scheme (TTDS) co-sponsorship grant recipients. Congratulations to all recipients on your achievements! I look forward to working with you on improving Singapore’s translation landscape. 

3. Tonight, we also commemorate the fifth year since the formation of the National Translation Committee (NTC). The past year has been an exciting and fruitful year for the NTC. I greatly appreciate the support that my Secretariat colleagues and I have received from our fellow NTC and Language Resource Panel (RP) members to raise translation standards. Our progress today would not be possible without your advice and dedication. We would also like to thank the translation community and industry partners for your valued contributions.

4. At this milestone year, allow me to highlight some of the work that MCI and the NTC are doing to forge partnerships and build capabilities. These efforts have not only helped to raise the bar in translation standards, but also bring about greater understanding of our different cultures and languages in Singapore.

Building Up Translation Networks and Partners

5. In October this year, we collaborated with the Translation Automation User Society (TAUS) to host the TAUS Asia Conference for the first time in Singapore. Some of you here contributed to the success of the event, which brought together over 200 translation professionals and practitioners from around the world and Singapore. Participants gave positive feedback that they gained deep insights on translation technology, broadened their professional horizons and made new friends from around the world. Moving forward, MCI and the NTC will continue to explore ways to bring more of such conferences to help industry practitioners and public officers deepen their knowledge of the latest developments in translation. Through these conferences, we hope to share thought leadership in translation within Southeast Asia and position Singapore as a strategic player in this area.

6. We are also strengthening collaborations with our closest neighbours. The Singapore-Brunei Translators Immersion Programme is in its fourth year, and have helped public officers from both countries to gain a better understanding of each other’s translation best practices, as well as a deeper appreciation of each country’s cultural context. We hope to start a similar programme with Malaysia next year.

7. We will continue to deliver initiatives that have wide reach and strong impact for the community. Our Community-in-Translation (CiT) programme remains popular with teachers and students. More than 10,000 students have benefitted from these workshops in the past five years. This year, we initiated Calls-for-Proposals to encourage more community-driven events in translation. I am happy that the response thus far has been positive. Both the National Chinese Challenge (全国华文大比拼), co-organised by Singapore Press Holdings’ Chinese Media Group and Nanyang Girls’ High School, and the ‘Penterjemah Pintar’ translation competition co-organised by the Malay Language Council Singapore and Oasis Primary School were very successful. I encourage our industry and community partners to initiate more events and share about the good work that you do, so that we can continue to spark interest in translation among Singaporeans.

Importance of Translation in Government Communications

8. Good translation is more than exchanging words from one language to another. It is essential in last mile communications to reach every member of the public, especially in our diverse society. It also helps the Government to explain policies clearly to Singaporeans, especially our seniors who may be more comfortable communicating in their mother tongue languages. 

9. We are redoubling efforts to deliver more multi-lingual content, especially on digital platforms. Today, Singaporeans can check their Central Provident Fund (CPF) balances, apply for Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) home improvements with HDB, and access useful government services and information at the one-stop Moments of Life Active Aging mobile application in all four official languages. At all our Community Centres, you can also pick up a copy of the multi-lingual “Ask Kopi Kaki” booklet, which contains bite-sized details on key government schemes that residents can benefit from, such as healthcare subsidies, housing grants, as well as transport and education schemes. More recently, I was at the Merdeka Generation Roadshow in Teck Whye to launch the “Mer.De.Ka Adventures”. This comic book features the iconic Old Master Q, or 老夫子 as some of you may know him, and is published in all four official languages to inform readers of the benefits of the Merdeka Generation Package. I was heartened by the book’s popularity among seniors, and hope that you will like your copy too. 

Building Up Translation Capabilities and Talent

10. To keep up the pace and impact of our multilingual outreach efforts, we must continue to build up our translation capabilities and, vey importantly, our talent pool. MCI is leveraging technology to make translation faster and better. Our customised Government machine translation engine for English-Chinese and English-Malay language pairs are already ‘live’ for use within the Public Service. Response has been positive so far, and we hope to launch the English-Tamil language pair soon. But the human touch in communications to deal with subtle expressions and cultural nuances cannot be compensated by technology. 

11. Hence, the Government is committed to developing local translation talent for both the private and public sectors. To groom a pipeline of talent for the public sector, MCI offers Information Service (Translation) undergraduate scholarships. We look forward to welcoming our first batch of translation scholars, who are completing their studies, to join our MCI family soon. We are also raising awareness of the importance of translation in the public sector. Many public officers have benefited from the Translation Workshops organised by the Civil Service College, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). 

12. The Government also partners the industry to identify and work with the best of private sector talent. One key initiative for industry practitioners is the Translation Talent Development Scheme (TTDS). In line with the national SkillsFuture movement to provide all Singaporeans with opportunities to develop their fullest potential, we launched this scheme last year to provide greater support to industry practitioners in their professional development. Recipients receive co-funding to attend courses, seminars and conferences on translation and interpretation. I am pleased that the first batch of recipients have excelled in their learning and are giving back to the community as NTC Ambassadors.

13. It is my pleasure to announce that seven recipients will receive their awards this evening. They have been selected after a rigorous process, and I would like to thank Dr T Venugobal, Head of the Tamil Resource Panel, and NTC member Ms Khadijah Seron, for taking time off their busy schedules to be on our panel of evaluators.

14. One of the selected recipients is Ms Nur-El-Hudaa Jaffar, an accomplished literary translator and author of short stories, poetry and children’s books.

15. She hopes to play a more active role in spreading awareness of the richness of Singapore Malay literature, and plans to use the grant to attend graduate modular courses on translation and linguistics at the Singapore University of Social Sciences.

16. Another recipient is Mr Ho Danyuan (何丹渊), a researcher working on speech recognition in NTU. While pushing new frontiers in communications, Danyuan also hopes to preserve Singaporean culture through literary translations of works by Singapore Chinese authors. 

17. I wish all recipients the best for their endeavours, and I look forward to your contributions as NTC Ambassadors.

18. Please allow me to say a few words in Mandarin. 今年是全国翻译委员会成立五周年。过去五年来,我很高兴得到大家的协助,让我们能够落实不少计划。这些计划有助于激发国人对翻译的兴趣,以及提高本地翻译业的专业水平。这包括与各界人士合作推行的“群策群译”计划、不久前举行的翻译研讨会以及去年推出的翻译人才培育计划等。今晚,将有7位本地从事翻译相关工作的人士,能够获得高达一万元的津贴。希望你们能善用这笔津贴,提升翻译技能,并以全国翻译委员会宣传大使的身份分享经验和知识,让更多人认识翻译。这些项目和计划需要多年的坚持,才会开花结果。让我们继续合作,同为本地翻译业做出更大的贡献。

Conclusion

19. The NTC has come a long way to raise the quality of translation. But our language environment is changing, with more Singaporean families using English as their main language. Translation efforts must adapt to this shift and work hand-in-hand with our initiatives to promote bilingualism, or we risk losing our unique competitive advantage as a country. This, of course, cannot be achieved by the NTC alone. I encourage all of us to continue to pursue higher levels of mastery, invest in the next generation of talent, and embrace innovation and learning. 

20. Thank you very much, and have a great evening.



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