Thursday, January 12, 2012

When Mindef Gets all Pokey...

I am sure by now the informed public would have been well-acquainted with Mindef's (Ministry of Defence) clothes poke eye embarassing debacle.

In the world of linguistic faux pas, this must have ranked somewhere near the top, in league with all those skewed bits doled out daily on that veritable treasure trove, (here).

The Mindef dress code web page went into a downward spiral right from the beginning, with "Ethical Clothing". For 57 years I have existed in blissful ignorance, not knowing that clothes have ethics to live by. 

The horrendous plunge continued with choice morsels such as forward berbutang, civet berbutang three, blouse/skirt with exquisite, National Dress by race, shine closed, long-sleeved batik shirt with mongoose fight...

The spectre of those Mindef folk wearing suites (two bedrooms with a bath?), jackets that belong to (George?) Bush, and tight civets and fighting mongoose haunt me. How and where does one style these creatures? Draped like a woman's fur stole?

Sadly, half-baked translation is the norm these days. It's the classic release cough on staircase syndrome. The bar has been set so low that a pidgin speaker could probably make a decent living doing translation jobs.

Any which way, I'll give a pass at deciphering those Mindef gems above; my jaw still hurts.

Every Cabinet Ministry has its public relations arm and Mindef is no different. Those long-ago days when I was still working as a newspaper reporter, I knew almost every single one of these PROs.

They were competent people the media could reach out to anytime for clarifications, comments, confirmation and such.

Professional in their approach, articulate and savvy in their presentation, they knew their stuff. Most importantly, they knew their English. And well. 

Now, this translation job would definitely have come under the purview of Mindef's public relations department, a nook in all probability manned by a whole team of PR personnel. 

Please tell me the person/s responsible didn't know or couldn't find a single local translator who could do the job, and had no choice but to turn to Google Translate. 

It can't possibly be that Mindef was too skint to pay a qualified translator a couple of thousand ringgit to get it professionally done.

I say it's ineptness, that 'can't be bothered' attitude, that's what. Mindef can take off the offending page and apologise (they have) but the damage is already done.

Much like the 'gems' on, these choice morsels will be trotted out every now and then in the years to come, to be laughed at, to be ridiculed.

In one stupid stroke, Mindef has become the country's laughing stock. This is beyond malu. The person/persons responsible should be hauled up and held accountable for this fiasco. 


Anonymous said...

Why can't they use Bahasa Malaysia only? After all its meant for their own officers and staff..kan dah besar kemaluan..haha

Kama At-Tarawis said...

anon - betul jugak tu, kan?

Wan Sharif said...

Hopefully many other government bodies and private sectors be more careful with their documents..

meulaboh2004 said...

1) "Shirts must be included in" maksudnya .. Kemeja-kemeja mesti dimasukkan kedalam??

2) "Dress up that thought it seems to want to attend a party or picnic.."
Maksudnya mungkin begini... Dress up yang difikirkan macam nak pergi parti atau piknik??

Overshoot boat can reverse, overshoot word ugly consequence...Betul ke??

Kama At-Tarawis said...

YohWang - begitulah all boils down to the sense of amanah towards work these penjawat awam carry in them.

meulaboh - hehehe, i like the 'overshoot boat' bit... sangatlah betul..!

mekyam said...

even if the translation was done in-house, shouldn't it be edited, reviewed & approved before it was allowed to be published? it's obvious those pages never went through any QA process.

even entries in personal blogs get polished and dusted several times before being served. this is an official website of a government ministry, for heaven's sake!

it's indeed a lesson to be learnt [or learned, if you're speaking yank] for all government bodies.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

ditto that mekyam!

ninotaziz said...

Malu indeed, Kak Puteri. Good for us translators all. Perhaps our clients will stop quibling when we present our invoices now.