Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Power of Words

The Power of WordsWriters, particularly news reporters, should have a healthy doze of balance. I know, sometimes, having drunk in someone else's mesmerising speeches, one can get heady and unbalanced. Not that this is true of Mr Leonard Thomas of Today, but he did tip over to one side when he reported on foreign talent bashing in the front page of Today (10 March 2006 edition). The case was about opposition MP, Mr Low Thia Kiang's questioning the Foreign Sports Talent (FST) scheme - a scheme where foreigners get fast-track citizenship based on their potential contribution to Singapore in the field of sports. Agu Casmir was one of its beneficiaries, but who has proven to be an embarrassment to the country instead.

So there are those who question the FST. In reporting this, Mr Thomas referred to these anti-FST people as having reared their 'ugly heads'. Quite obviously, Mr Thomas is an FST person as I don't think he would describe his own head in such terms. But what's so ugly about the anti-FSTs' head, I wonder, and in particular this opposition MP's no less, questioning a scheme that has produced people like Agu? Do those who support the scheme have beautiful heads? Come now Mr Thomas, you are blatantly bias here. Why bash an opposition politician for expressing an alternative opinion which is based on a glaring fact?

There's this thing about words that one must also be careful about. In describing the punishment meted out to Agu, Mr Thomas reported that Agu has been banned from International duty along with a huge fine. Now, if I were banned from guard duty, I'd thank my commander, if I were banned from class duty, I'd hug my teacher, if I were banned from International (soccer) duty, I imagine that I'd kiss my coach, no?

As I wrote before, I cannot see how being banned from International duty can be a punishment. It isn't a must for a footballer's career nor the development of his soccer skills. Look at Alan Shearer of Newcastle United. He opted out of representing his country a long time ago. Yet I think nobody will disagree with me that Shearer is one of the best and certainly one of the most enduring soccer player England has ever produced. He now holds the all time scoring record at Newcastle United.

Words...they do mean certain things. As wordsmiths, we need to do justice to the language tool of our choice, plus or minus a grammar mistake here or there ;-).

p.s. I leave the reader to draw his/her conclusion whether I am for or against the FST scheme. One hint: my head is not ugly.

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