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Singaporeans see red as Chinese-origin businessman publishes flyers in Hindi instead of Tamil

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: March 23, 2019  | 15:53 IST

By Gurdip Singh Singapore, Mar 23 (PTI) A Chinese-origin businessman in Singapore has drawn flak for mistakenly publishing flyers in Hindi instead of Tamil which is one of the four official languages of the country. The flyers, whose about 100 copies have been circulated, were meant to inform the public about the relocation of a common "Wet Market" where fresh food is sold. The announcement was printed in English and translated into three other languages: Chinese, Malay and what was meant to be Tamil but ended up as Hindi instead. Wayne Neo, a Chinese-origin market operator, prepared a letter of apology in Singapore's four official languages -- English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil -- and submitted it to the authorities to vet, The Straits Times reported. The error was highlighted in a flyer which had translation in Hindi instead of Tamil. A photo of one such flyer was posted on Facebook on March 22 by an Indian-origin woman Vijaya Kandasamy. "I think you need more people who can read and write Tamil. What language is that?... Please remove the person from your team if they don't know our very own official languages!" Netizens also pointed out that the Malay portion of the flyer was poorly translated. Indian-origin MP for Sembawang Group Representative Constituency Vikram Nair told the daily that the flyers were put up by an independent "Wet Market" operator, who had not consulted any MPs or the town council before printing them. Nair said the operator does not speak Hindi or Tamil. The "well-meaning" operator tried to print the flyers to promote the new location of the "Wet Market", he said. "He has been fighting hard for the stall owners (at the market at Admiralty Place mall), to keep the "Wet Market" alive given its move to a temporary location (next to Woodlands East Neighbourhood Police Centre in northern Singapore)," he said. Nair said that he contacted the operator who said the flyers have been taken down. "He was very apologetic," said Nair. Neo has repeatedly apologised for the mistake when contacted by The Straits Times on Friday. A spokesman for the market said: "It was a bad mistake on our part, there are really no excuses." Initially, he and his team had planned to print the flyers in English but were concerned that some elderly residents in the area might not understand the language. A decision was then made to print the flyers in the four official languages. Neo and his team used 'Google Translate' to produce the translations, leading to the poorly-translated Malay section. "We also mistakenly selected Hindi instead of Tamil," Neo told the daily. He intends to display the copies of the letter of apology on the stalls at the market's current location. Nair told Neo that while the MPs were supportive of his efforts, he should only print flyers after getting all the necessary government approvals, and ensuring that the translations are correct. "I also told him that we have people who could help if he needed assistance, and that he should issue future notices in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil," Nair added. PTI GS CPS

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