In 2009, the government asserted that its “foolish to advocate the learning of dialects”. In its response to Ms Abu Baker’s ST article (One generation – that’s all it takes ‘for a language to die’), Chee Hong Tat (then PPS to MM Lee) emphasized that “it would be stupid for any Singapore agency or NTU to advocate the learning of dialects, which must be at the expense of English and Mandarin”, hence “that was the reason the Government stopped all dialect programmes on radio and television after 1979.”

8 years later, in typical Roti-Prata fashion, Chee showcased his singing abilities by singing 上海滩 (Shanghai Tan, The Bund) in Cantonese on national TV (Mediacorp’s dialect variety show 欢喜就好, Hua Hee Tio Ho). He also boasted on Social Media on 20 Jan 2017 (2pm).

“I was happy to appear in Episode 8 of the show to talk about healthy eating and active ageing, and also sang a #Cantonese song《#上海滩》 before a live audience of seniors. “I grew up speaking #Hokkien with my grandparents, so my Cantonese is not good. But it’s never too late to try something new and learn new skills. There is a saying “天下无难事,有心不怕迟”. I hope our seniors can keep learning and stay happy!

If you missed the episode on Mediacorp Channel 8, you can view it on Toggle ( or YouTube ( – Hong Tat”

“Hope everyone has enjoyed the dialect” Video link:

The things PAP does to gain popularity, and score points with the populace.

Dr Diu Lay
ASS Contributer

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