• Tue
  • Sep 23, 2014
  • Updated: 12:38pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 4:27am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 4:27am

Politicians must stop abuse of English

If any proof is needed for the decline of English standards in Hong Kong, just take a look at the latest performance of DAB lawmaker Christopher Chung Shu-kun.

I am sure MTR chief executive Jay Walder deserved all the criticism heaped on him in the legislature, but Chung could have done it with better language skills. After all, children and students may be listening. After starting his diatribe in Cantonese, the steward of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong abruptly switched to English.

"Shame! Shame on you!" he said. "You are dreaming on your office or you are not attended at your office. Answer me."

Without giving Walder a chance to respond, he concluded: "I don't think so law."

In Cantonese, we like to end a sentence with la or law for emphasis. In informal settings, we may also mix it with English words and sentences. But in the more august surroundings of the Legislative Council chamber, proper language usage - whether in Chinese or English - should be observed. Actually, Chung didn't quite say shame. It sounded more like: "Shave! Shave on you!"

Walder is almost bald. Was Chung demanding that he shave off everything? Who knows?

The legislator defended his English on radio yesterday, saying everyone speaks with an accent and even native speakers make grammatical mistakes. Not like him though. Someone helpfully sent him a message explaining what he should have said: "You've been daydreaming in your office! You've not been attentive to your work!" Quite!

Chung has no excuse for speaking English poorly. He earned his master's degree in Glasgow and an MBA in Wales. Yet there was not a hint of a Scottish or Welsh accent in his English, which sounded as if he never went overseas. You begin to suspect poor English is a requirement to be a DAB member. Just ask Gary "try my breast" Chan Hak-kan and Starry Lee Wai-king, who pronounced "infrastructure" during a reading of Letter to Hong Kong on RTHK as "yin fa struck cheung", making it sound like "fireworks hit the wall" in Cantonese.

I realise the DAB is a patriotic group. This does not mean we should abuse the English language.

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33

This article is now closed to comments

538c839e-e434-4992-8c5e-350d0a320969
dumb a**
ann.wei.121
Alex missed one , "What are is your daily routine ?".
If you cannot speak English, just do not ! A lawmaker, heaven !
Don't ever say it is " Hong Kong style English ", please.
johnyuan
I learn from life experience that it is essential to be master of language of one than slave to be many. But such rule should be circumspective when an intrinsic message is obviously being conveyed. .
.
For Hong Kong people, like the rest of non-English mother-tongue speakers are too much being thin-skinned to incompetency in English proficiency. They only see themselves being irrelevant in a world or a place like Hong Kong equating English proficiency with ability. .
.
I believe true believers in truth are forgiving people to superficial mistakes in human constructed rules.
.
My god, all these rules in English, both helpful and silly.
Dai Muff
Ha ha ha ha ha
ling2777
The title side-track the focal point which is the possible defect in the management team. As regards proper language skill and manner, it applies to all languages and all circumstances but the title of this article looks giving English a superior status which should not be the case
yfm1@live.com
Very good, couldn't agree more. Enjoyable reading as well!
5359d7fb-6a28-4dc3-872c-34f80a320969
He should be arrested and sentenced to compulsory English language classes until he can pronounce shame...really, SHAME on him!
ruthleelsf
I can't agree more, due to his poor English skills; the choice of words combined with his bodily gesture and tone all add up to this show of farmer-style insults. The worst thing is that Mr. Chung upon drilling by local media of general dismay at his poor English skills, he insisted that "no one can claim they speak native English, not even native speakers...." Just what kind of attitude is that, what model or example have our esteemed legislators set for our younger generations. To quote Mr. Li Ka Shing : "it's a crime to not provide good education to the younger generation".
So Mr. Chung, face up the fact, your poor English is tantamount to a crime!
mercedes2233
Maybe he should have carried on using Chinese. It is always good to know where one's strengths and weaknesses are.
lkwbch2005
It's pity Mr Chung is also weak in Chinese, except in the rude form.

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