Saturday, 7 January 2012

Tight Civet, Fighting Mongoose

We all had a good laugh at the Defence Ministry's "tight Malay civets", "mongoose fights", eye-poking clothes and "skirts with exquisite" - not to mention (George W) "Bush's jacket".

But it's more than just the standard of English.


Photo of mongoose is from thebarefootmom.wordpress.comPhoto of civet is from itsnature.org
A mongoose (left) and a civet. Try wearing these two. Photos not mine.


For one, I would think that the employee dress code for a ministry or firm is not meant for the public. Unlike, maybe, the dress code for visitors to a ministry or firm.

The list doesn't appear properly structured, and its items don't appear organised. And word-for-word translation isn't always possible - or recommended in some cases.

The original dress code section for men, based on the copy in Scribd.com, looks like:

Dress code
How to dress symbolizes the personality of the officers and staff as well as the values and moral work ethics. Therefore, how to dressclean, tidy and appropriate to be standard practice is emphasized to the officers and staff. Following rules of dress while on duty in to be observed:

Dress code FOR MEN

Men's Clothing:
  1. For officers in the management and professional, "Lounge Suite" or "Bush's jacket
  2. long pants with long sleeved shirt and tie
  3. complete with Malay dress clothes and bersongkok bersamping dark.
  4. Officers in the management and professional to wear a neck strap / cap / corporate scarves every Wednesday and the officithe Ministry.
  5. long-sleeved shirts and T-shirt:
    1. collared shirts and tight Malay civet berbutang three
    2. collared shirts and tight Malay civet berbutang five
    3. hidden berbutang Nehru collar,
    4. three berbutang mandarin collar.
    5. long pants. Do not fold your sleeves. Shirts must be included in (tuck in).
    6. Nehru suits made of fabrics and colors to suit:
      1. forward berbutang
      2. hidden berbutang

Would the following be more suitable?

Dress Code
The way an officer or staff member dresses indicates his/her character, values and work ethics. Therefore, the habit of being dressed in clean and neat clothes must be inculcated among the staff. The following dress codes must be observed when on duty:

For men:
Attire for officers classified under management and professional categories:

  • Lounge suites or bush jackets with a
    • Nehru collar with concealed buttons or
    • mandarin collar with three buttons
  • Trousers with long-sleeved shirt and tie; sleeves must not be rolled up, and shirt must be tucked in
  • Baju Melayu, complete with samping, dark-coloured songkok and cekak musang collar with three (or five) buttons
  • Nehru suit of a suitable fabric and colour with exposed (or concealed) buttons
Ties/Caps/Corporate scarves must be worn on Wednesdays and during official Ministry functions or events.


The above is based on my understanding of the original text in Malay, in which I'm not fluent. It's an itch I had to scratch.

Some have suggested that this snafu is why the teaching of maths and science in English or PPSMI should not be abolished. Would teaching maths and science in English help with one's sartorial terminology?

"Ethical clothing", by the way, describes clothes that have, say, not been made in sweatshops or by screwing cotton farmers over and stuff like that.

Since then, more examples of eye-gouging English in the web sites of other ministries have been found. Perhaps not "found", but "noticed". Who knows how long those errors have been there?

No one should claim that a ministry or firm "has better things to do" than correct the grammar on their web sites. Somebody did some research and found that, apparently, sales through online portals can be negatively affected by poor spelling.

Government and corporate bodies these days are represented by their online portals as well as their front-line staff. Typos and grammatical errors are as off-putting as rude or uncaring behaviour. That's something for government bodies to consider as they move towards digitising their services.

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