Use standard English in films

The stars of Ah Boys To Men.

I am certain John Lui was being deliberately provocative when he proposed setting aside time for local English music on the radio and providing slots for local film-makers to show their work in cinemas and on television in Set Aside Airtime For Local English Music And Films (Life!, April 2).

He must know that such protectionist measures are futile as they do not address the real cause of the lack of following for local music and films; non-converts will continue to stay away.

The answer rests in continuing the search for that winning formula to gain more converts to local English music and films.

As an avid supporter of the local music scene, I am quietly confident that some inroads have been made.

In many clubs featuring local musicians, the fan base has been expanding and it includes music lovers of diverse nationalities.

There is a common language in English music, which is - surprise! - English.

Even local musicians who are less than proficient in English sound good when singing in English - a common observation by many of my foreign guests.

However, the growth potential for local films will remain limited as long as non-standard English is used in these films.

I understand that this practice is for realism and often to project local humour. This being the case, we have to accept that such films are intended for the local market only and refrain from bemoaning their lack of wider support.

However, if we are serious about growing our local English films, we have to take the bold step of adopting standard English in films - besides taking other measures, such as improving the quality of acting and selecting good scripts.

As has happened in the past, this line of comment runs the risk of turning into a debate on the use of Singlish in Singapore.

For clarity, I am merely suggesting that our film-makers consider the use of English as spoken by most Singaporeans in the office, and not the Queen's English, so as to reach a wider global audience.

This article was published on April 5 in The Straits Times.

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