English and Chinese station announcements in trains sans Malay and Tamil


Recently, SMRT has started making English and Chinese announcements in the trains. Before every station, English and Chinese (Mandarin) announcements are made. Other announcements like no eating in the trains, security alert etc are still made randomly in four official languages. Until recently, the station announcements used to be made in English only. Recently, Chinese (Mandarin) is added.

For more than 25 yrs since SMRT started operating train services, only English announcement is made for stations. Why the sudden addition of Mandarin? Is it due to the last December train disruptions where some passengers complained of no announcements made in Chinese? Is SMRT addressing that feedback? Is SMRT addressing the correct feedback? “No Chinese announcement” does not necessarily mean that all stations must be made in Chinese! It actually meant reporting the actual crisis situation, delay or train service disruptions in Chinese stupid!

This latest policy of making Chinese announcement has caused lots of controversy. It is creating lots of robust and emotional discussion in the cyberworld especially on facebook and public forums.

Click to read public discussion here.

Click to read another public discussion here.

There are already so many foreigners in our country especially most of them taking our public transport. Some feel that this policy of making Chinese (Mandarin) announcement is to cater to those PRCs working here. Except for those older folks, nearly all of Chinese Singaporeans could understand English. Try speaking in English to taxi drivers or hawkers if you are not convinced. Most of our places have either English, Malay or dialect names. In fact, the local Chinese are more familiar with the English, Malay or dialect names of places. Most local Chinese could understand Bugis, Joo Koon or Kembagan better than if they were to be pronounced in Mandarin. To translate into Chinese (Mandarin) sounds odd and alien. It’s jarring to the local Chinese ears. Of course those English, Malay or dialect place names do not ring a bell with those PRCs since they are not natives.

Some of my Malay and Indian friends are clearly unhappy over this matter. In fact, most of them feel that Malay and Indian languages are sidelined. Mandarin has suddenly come into prominence. They are wondering if they are trying to promote Mandarin? What’s the agenda? If it is only English, then there is no issue as English is a neutral language. But if Chinese (Mandarin) is included in station announcements, then they feel that Malay and Indian (Tamil) should also be added.


Some of the stations are quite close. If all the four official languages are included in station announcements, there may not be enough time. Before the 4th language could be announced, the train has already arrived at the next station. Sometimes in between stations, there are also announcements on security, safety alert or other messages like train delay etc. As such, air time of few minutes in-between stations need to take into account of those messages when including all four langauges in station announcements. There may not be enough time to make all the necessary announcements.

Our constitution clearly accords equal weight to all our four official languages. By highlighting only two of the four i.e. English and Chinese (Mandarin), the Malays and Indians feel sidelined and threatened. It is not a healthy sign. It is very divisive and unpopular with the non-Chinese of course. Like I say, most local Chinese even up to 55 yrs – 60 yrs age group could understand English since it is only names of places which all local Chinese are familiar with, why then the station announcement in Chinese? Only those local Chinese above 65 yrs may not understand English. But I’m sure if it is only names of places, they should have no problem understanding. My illiterate 70 yrs old mother also got no problem understanding the English station announcement. One just can’t help wondering if the new policy is to cater to the tons of PRCs here? Why should we do that at the expense of offending our locals?

I personally feel that it is either English station announcement only or four official languages. Either way, there is no uneasy feeling from the public. If it is English and Chinese station announcements, there bound to be controversy. Those non-Chinese are not going to accept it quietly.

Any idiot, retard or nincompoop knows this simple basic fact. Why do our leaders not sensitive to other races’ feelings? Why made it so divisive? If such thing were to happen in other countries, there will be mass protests and demonstrations or even riots citing constitutional rights and language discrimination etc. Here, you can’t or you will be arrested for voicing your concerns as a non-Chinese citizen of this country! Those non-Chinese citizens could only rant amongst themselves. Must the rumblings and rants slowly build up to a crescendo before some powerful figure reverses this policy of making two of the four official languages in our station announcements on all our trains? We will see where this Chinese “wayang” leading to?


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2 Responses to English and Chinese station announcements in trains sans Malay and Tamil

  1. patriot says:

    No time to announce the Name of the Station in four languages?
    Cannot be lah.
    Let’s give 5 seconds to a long name and 3 seconds to a short one. Let’s also give a 3 second pause in between each language. Base
    on the longest name of 5 seconds times 4(Languages) and 3 seconds of pause times 3 times, the total time needed for announcing is 29 seconds.

    Not sure about the shortest distance of any two station, just say it is no shorter than 5 minutes. It seems that making the announcement of the Station Name at the last minute before the train stops will leave 4 and a half minutes for other routine announcements. And this is for 2 Stations nearest to each other.


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