Tuesday 24 December 2013

PM Lee Hsien Loong apologises for calling women 'mak ciks'

No, that's not a made-up headline.

Yesterday, the prime minister posted a Christmasy photo on Instagram with the comment:
Ho Ching and I strolled down Orchard Road to see the Christmas lights, and met this group of mak ciks from Jurong at Plaza Singapura. They were enjoying themselves, like the crowds which thronged the street. – LHL

Which is all well and good. Merry even.

Then someone pointed out:
I see some women in the picture above who do not qualify to be a 'makcik' ...hehehe
And someone else commented:
Sir, kakaks & adiks lah... :D

Which prompted the PM to apologise:
Sorry I said “mak ciks” – “kakaks and adiks” would have been better. I am indeed older than I realise! :) - LHL
He said "sorry"! He even used an emoticon! :)

I got the joke. Some of the women look younger than him, so he shouldn't be calling them "makcik", which means "aunt", according to Google Translate.

But I also looked up "kakak" and "adik", and they mean "older sister" and "younger brother" respectively.

Then isn't calling the women "kakaks" pretty much the same as calling them "makciks"?

And the only man in the picture who could be a "younger brother" looks like the PM's bodyguard.

No, wait. That's Ho Ching.

I'm kidding! Please don't deport me.

Anyway, Google Translate may not be so reliable. I found out from elsewhere that "adik" can refer to a younger person of any sex. (My Malay sucks worse than my Chinese.)

And "kakaks" probably refers to the women in the picture who are older than him.

Good thing he didn't call them "pak cik".