Really Clunky, Error-Filled Article by Wong Sai Wan in The Star


I often object on factual or ideological grounds to the columnists in The Star, but when I read this piece I was taken aback by the sheer presentation.

The odd sentence structure, the schizophrenic swapping between singular/plural, the overall clunkiness of the prose!

Excerpts from The Star 22 July 2011 – When great nations go broke and my remarks which follow. See what I mean…

And in a third country, the government is in a tussle with its elected representatives as the country hurdles towards defaulting on its US$14.5tril (RM43.4tril) debt.

The term is hurtles, not hurdles. Though I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that the process is full of obstacles that have to be jumped.

The British claimed the industrial revolution as its own and is rightly credited for turning manufacturing into becoming the mainstay of the global economy.

The British is plural, but is referred to as the singular its.

Turning = Becoming, why the redundacy? Read the whole sentence out loud and hear how clunky it is.

It is now a shadow of its glory days and at best is the rabble rousers in the European Union (EU) zone. Gone are its colonies in every far-flung corner of the world that kept its super economy running.

Again, first it denotes singular, then rabbles rousers turns it into plural.

And like, what kind of, y’know, languageyness is, like, super economy? Like, let’s go shopping!

Now the British have even got to putting for sale its huge Chancery in Kuala Lumpur because it would be cheaper for the High Commission to operate out of a commercial building.

Singular becomes plural again.

As for the United States, wasn’t it the leader of the free world and the fatherland of industrialisation where hardwork is always rewarded with ample financial gain?

Goodness. The above sounds like a bad parody of Nineteen Eighty-Four Newspeak.

Go to the website http://www.usdebtclock.org/ and you will get the real time feeling of how much the land of the brave and free owe the rest of the world.

Sigh, again with the singular and plural.

The land as the subject here is singular, so you’re supposed to use owes. ‘The brave and the free’ would be plural if used by itself.

It will probably take hundreds of PhD thesis to explain what went wrong for these three nations but suffice to say that successive governments did not do enough to prevent their economies from falling into such a dark hole.

On top of that politics has played a strong role in pushing these economies into even darker places.

What is the plural of thesis?

Much of my gripe is with the terms used. So… Unimaginative. I just feel there are so many better choices of words or metaphors that could be used. Like in the above case, ‘a fiscal black hole’ or ‘a financial Sisyphean pit’ would be more interesting choices than ‘such a dark hole’.

And when a fancy metaphor is used, it seems shoehorned in at an awkward angle.

Finally, on the factual side, any layperson should be able to see what went wrong: Far too much government spending. (In fact, read on and witness teh hypocrisy!!!1one!)

But wasn’t it their foolhardiness that brought Greece to this position in the first place.

Where did the question mark at the end get lovelessly flung to?

The same can be said of Ireland, Spain, Portugal and many of the old eastern block countries.

The term is Eastern Bloc. No ‘k’ at the end. Good grief!

As for the United States, the rivalry of Republicans and Demo-crats is threatening to send the world into possibly the biggest depression ever as there is less than 10 days left before America defaults on that huge debt.

10 days left is plural and so demands ‘are’, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt again that he means a ‘period of less than 10 days’. But Demo hyphen crats?

The Republicans, who control the House of Representatives are refusing to approve President Barack Obama’s proposed budget on the debt ceiling because they claim it would hurt the American economy (read the rich).

I’m bashing the grammar and language here, not the politics, but I can’t let this just slide.

The USA is $17 trillion in debt, and Obama refuses to consider meaningful cuts in spending. And what budget plan proposed by Obama? It’s the Republicans who are the ones proposing plans while Obama hides in a corner!

As for whether the economy or the rich would benefit from debt reduction, see plentiful graphs here and read Thomas Sowell’s piece here. While for just who the rich really are cosy with, see GORDON GEKKO IS A DEMOCRAT.

In any case, liberal-leaning pieces are run of the mill for The Star.

Yes, surprisingly our country’s debt is not a huge mountain as some people would like us to believe, but what is worrying is the lack of support for efforts to reduce it further.

A sure way of doing it is by reducing subsidies.

Liberal-leaning is one, and hypocrisy is another.

If you follow Wong Sai Wan’s reasoning, the Republicans are the real meanies who would rather default than hurt their rich pals. (Conveniently, no mention of the fact that the insane US debt threatening the default is caused by massively wasteful spending.)

Meanwhile, reduce subsidies to save Malaysia!

And recall, just a short while ago the claim was that ‘hundreds of PhD thesis’ (sic) would be needed to find out why the Greek, British and American economies are in trouble!

What a shill.

The most popular comments against Malaysia’s spending cuts has been to ask the Government to reduce the leakages before even thinking of cutting back on subsidies.

Comments = plural.

Has = used for singular.

What a hack.

> Executive editor Wong Sai Wan has been through three recessions and fears the fourth the most.

Yes, because with this shoddy level of writing, we all know who is already marked for downsizing.

Don’t think the overall quality of writing is that bad? Go briefly read that piece by Thomas Sowell again and then come back to Wong Sai Wan’s piece.

The contrast is startling.

UPDATE: Okay, some of his other work is much better. It makes me wonder if today’s piece was actually slapped ghost written by an intern and he slapped his name on it for appropriation.

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3 Responses to “Really Clunky, Error-Filled Article by Wong Sai Wan in The Star”

  1. Ron Says:

    The USA is $17 trillion in debt, and Obama refuses to consider meaningful cuts in spending. And what budget plan proposed by Obama? It’s the Republicans who are the ones proposing plans while Obama hides in a corner!

    Actually, the total debt is about $21 trillion: $14.5 trillion public debt, and $6.5 trillion in unfunded OASDI liabilities (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid). And if you actually listen to the ENTIRE press meeting (instead of cut-and-paste snippets posted on right-wing blogs), Obama stated that he was comitted to cutting over $3 trillion in spending and raising $1.2 trillion in revenues “which could be accomplished without hiking taxes — tax rates, but could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions and engaging in a tax reform process that could have lowered rates generally while broadening the base.” (Transcript). Then Boehner walked out of the meeting.

    As for whether the economy or the rich would benefit from debt reduction, see plentiful graphs here and read Thomas Sowell’s piece here. While for just who the rich really are cosy with, see GORDON GEKKO IS A DEMOCRAT.

    Response

    If you follow Wong Sai Wan’s reasoning, the Republicans are the real meanies who would rather default than hurt their rich pals. (Conveniently, no mention of the fact that the insane US debt threatening the default is caused by massively wasteful spending.)

    You mean like those trillion-dollar wars George embarked on in the Iraq and Afghanistan?

  2. Scott Thong Says:

    Then Boehner walked out of the meeting.

    Last week Speaker of the House Boehner said he was done talking to Obama and would work with Harry Reid to come up with a deal. Apparently that process was going well. A little too well for Obama’s liking so he killed it. – Obama: Let Me Be Clear, My Reelection Campaign Is Far More Important Than This Default Stuff

  3. Ron Says:

    C’mon Scott — a link to a blog, that links to yet another blog that quote’s the ‘views’ of an unnamed senior Republican aide — this is your smoking gun?

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