MS AMY Loh's letter yesterday, 'Common language key to racial harmony', does not gel with a multilingual society like Singapore.
When I was in Germany for training, the natives spoke to one another in German, even in my presence. At times, they switched to English when the topic was of interest to me. In fact, when I spoke to one Taiwanese in English, our German colleagues asked us why we spoke in English and not Mandarin.
Many times, I have found the same situation here. Could I have the audacity to ask them not to use their language? The sensible course is to learn the other language and this will help promote racial harmony and, at the same time, benefit yourself.
During the colonial days, some English schools forbade use of Chinese or other languages during school hours, because at that time few of us spoke English at home. The school authority had good intention to help us to master the language.
The same happened at the many Chinese schools where Mandarin must be used and not dialect. These measures were good for students.
Singapore must remain multilingual. I suggest foreign talent and Singaporeans who have lived in other countries where they had no contact with local languages be given courses or facilities to learn our official languages, besides English. We must remember: We use English but we are not English.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.