Alan Soh

I am my own columnist, sharing my own thoughts and experiences!

The NTU Graduation Ceremony Saga

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This took place at a graduation ceremony held at Nanyang Technological University last Friday 29 July 2011 . Particularly for the 2011 graduating cohort of students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communications and Information. The 14th Graduation Ceremony.

Ms Chong Chiao Sing Trinetta, 23 years old, a major in Public Relations and Communication Research who now works at a government statutory board, have been chosen to deliver a valedictorian speech on stage. At the end of her speech, she congratulated her peers and shockingly added this – > “We f***king made it!!”

Oh my goodness!

She may be someone from the Generation Y, but this is definitely no excuse for her for doing so.

When interviewed by Straits Times paper yesterday, Ms Chong said that she is sorry. She further said that it has never been her intention to sensationalise her speech, or offending anyone in the course of delivering the speech. Looking back, she said she realised it have been inconsiderate to make the remark at the graduation ceremony attended by professors, deans, and parents. She is now concerned about possible repercussions.

NTU Assistant Professor Mark Centite defended her. He said, “If you see the video in context, you will know she wasn’t trying to be offensive. It was an expression of exhilaration.”

Yes I may agree with that but I don’t think it means that we can condone her action. I mean, can’t Ms Chong think of another proper word to substitute the word “f***”????

NTU Associate Professor Cherian George however said that valedictorians have the honour of speaking on behalf of their entire cohort, and the chosen ones usually take this responsibility to their peers very seriously. “We have had amazing speeches in the past. It is a pity that this one grabbed attention for the wrong reasons. It is an occasion shared with family members and the F-word isn’t exactly family-friendly. The incident was not monumental enough to spoil a special occasion, but it was inconsderate.”


I was a mass commmunications student graduated from Marketing Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS).

I agree to a certain extent that communications students tend to be more expressive, in terms of describing their thoughts or viewpoints. But I have been taught/trained to be always mindful of what I say or behave in public, especially at formal events. Be sensitive. Know who are your audience. Think and pause a while even before you intend to say the word. Use good impressionable words, NOT expletives. I think a good example used is “Change” by US President Obama.

And in addition, as compared to say, 5 years ago, these days there are more people using digital media tools such as digital cameras with filming function/smart phones with video function to “record events” with easy access to upload stuff on cyberspace, not restricting to media personnel. People present at the graduation ceremony may be filming her delivering the valedictorian speech. Ms Chong should have been well-aware of that.

Okay, I am aware that there are some young Singaporeans out there (especially those born in the late 1990s or early 2000s) who might rebut and say “Hey, this is no big deal ok. Why do you people get so worked up over the matter?”

Boys and girls, call me old-fashioned if you want to.

I still hold onto this firm belief today that when we are in front of others, in whatever event settings, we should always think before we say. Use appropriate wordings. Because once the word is out, the act is irreversible. And like it or not, once we sprout out an expletive word in a not-so-proper context, people whom do not know us personally would tend to judge/view us negatively. And it is furthermore our Asian value that most of us have been brought up and been taught by our parents – “Do not use any vulgar language in front of teachers/elders/parents/bosses. It looks bad on you right in front of others.”

Let us also be aware that some people may be quite unforgiving – not willing to change the inital bad first impression they have towards us. These people include potential employers who may have the intention to hire us.

To quote a comment by a good friend of mine pertaining this incident — You don’t have to use F-word to show your excitement. There is a tinge difference between coolness and impoliteness. This brings nothing but shame to your school.

An NTU official spokeperson has also spoken that Ms Chong has already apologised to Chairperson of Wee Kim Wee School of Communications and Information, Associate Professor Benjamin Hill Detender, both in person and in writing.

Lastly on a final ending note, let’s just hope that Ms Chong’s current statutory board employer will not judge her negatively, accept her reason that it was “that moment itself, on impulse, she regrettably used the word to express her emotion.”


Author: alansoh79

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