SINGAPORE: The online application launched by Nee Soon Link Community Centre (CC) for senior citizens to apply for the 2024 New Year presentation has drawn criticism from netizens due to Mandarin translation errors found in the application form.
The New Year Presentation for senior citizens constitutes charity aids specifically designed for eligible residents aged 65 years and above, with a per capita income not surpassing S$850.
However, netizens discovered incorrect translations within the registration form.
The column intended for applicants to specify their race was mistakenly translated to “competition” (比赛), resulting in a significant contextual error.
Furthermore, for individuals of Chinese ethnicity, confusion arose as the available options did not include “Singaporean Chinese” (华人), but instead, inaccurately translated to “Chinese national” (中国人).
Desmond Ding, a Yishun resident, expressed his frustration on the “Complaint Singapore” Facebook group regarding these translation issues and also the overall inconvenient registration process, especially for elderly residents.
He mentioned being approached by several elderly individuals in Yishun seeking assistance with the New Year package application, only to find himself both annoyed and bemused during the process.
Firstly, he highlighted the requirement for senior citizens to access the application form by scanning a QR code, questioning the practicality considering the limited device accessibility and technological knowledge among this demographic.
Secondly, the registration process demanded applicants to possess a PayNow account and upload their PayNow profile, inclusive of their NRIC and bank account numbers.
Mr Ding emphasized the implausibility of many elderly individuals having a PayNow account and raised concerns about the potential breach of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), considering the sensitive information required.
“Third, is what amused me, the translation of the form is horrible. My race was translated as 比赛 and can only select as 中国人 (China man). Surely this is done by someone who don’t know his job and blindly used Google translate. ”
Furthermore, after completing and submitting the form, he noted that the website encountered persistent technical issues, hanging indefinitely.
Mr Ding expressed disappointment that such deficiencies existed on an official Nee Soon Link CC website.
Derrick Goh Soon Hee is the PAP Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency.
Further comments on the Nee Soon Link Facebook page substantiated the challenges encountered by other residents throughout the application procedure.
For example, one user raised a concern about what to do if their elderly relative doesn’t have access to PayNow. The page administrator responded by advising the user to seek assistance directly at Nee Soon Link CC.
Subsequently, the user shared that when their mother visited the CC, the staff informed her that she needed to visit the bank to initiate a PayNow application.
This response was met with frustration, as the user expressed dissatisfaction, stating, ” This is not assisting liao. Ur poster might as well just tell people must go bank to do and not wasting people time to do down den tell people must go bank.”
Netizens ridicule Nee Soon Link CC Official site’s translation mishap
Commenting on the Complaint Singapore Facebook post, several netizens expressed disbelief at the translation error on an official website that erroneously rendered “race” as “比赛,” finding it nonsensical in its given context.
They questioned whether the app developer lacked common sense or possessed a deficient understanding of Mandarin, raising concerns about the quality control and competence behind such a fundamental translation discrepancy on an official platform.
A netizen queried whether the People’s Action Party’s grassroots association had lost touch with the community.
In response, Mr Ding highlighted a statement from the People’s Association (PA) website that outlined the PA’s core mission as fostering multicultural values through various communal activities.
Some netizens expressed concerns about the inconvenience faced by elderly individuals who might not be technologically proficient.
One netizen drew parallels with the situation at Kopitiam under NTUC, noting the transition from card payments to using apps and linking bank accounts, particularly for purchasing food.
“At times, NTUC oulets have special offer for certain items but only if you use their apps to buy otherwise have to pay full price. How many old folk knows how to do it? Therefore, they will buy the same products for full price. That’s to me is clearly discriminating old folks. ”
Observing another Facebook post on “Broken Chinese in Singapore(“新加破华文”), a netizen also expressed doubt regarding whether the Singapore government truly takes non-English official languages seriously.
A netizen humorously suggested a solution to rectify these translation mishaps: ‘Is the Singapore government looking to hire well-paid proofreaders? I’m ready to apply!'”
“In fact, there are Chinese individuals holding Singaporean citizenship who identify themselves as ‘Chinese nationals.'”
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