Playing with semantics is not wise, NTUC Income

So, here’s the thing: while Rebecca Lim is being (rightly) castigated for the publicity stunt gone awry and refusing to apologise for her part in it, along comes the company behind it, with PR goons in tow, to try and explain away the awful thinking behind the ill-conceived mess.

First, there’s the NTUC Income’s chief marketing officer, Mr Marcus Chew, 41, who said the following:

“We did not set out to mislead anyone. We regret upsetting anyone over the weekend.”

Note: “We regret…” is not exactly an apology. But that’s another matter.

Pay attention to their first claim: “We did not set out to mislead anyone.” We’ll come to that in a moment.

What grates your insides is what NTUC Income’s head of strategic communications, Ms Shannen Fong, 39, said, when it was pointed out that most people would read Ms Lim’s original facebook post (which gave rise to the whole sham) as Ms Lim announcing her retirement from acting.

Ms Fong tried to tai-chi away the obvious meaning of Ms Lim’s post:

“‘Retiring’ is about when you are starting that journey. With proper planning, you can start ‘retiring’ at the moment.”

And Ms Fong added, according to a Straits Times report:

ntuc income

If ever there was a sham explanation to plaster over a mistake, this is very much it.

Let’s recall Ms Lim’s original post, where she used the word “retiring”:

“Hi everyone, I’ve decided to do something that will change my life. I have been thinking about it for a while now as I know it has to be done.

“I’m retiring.”

lim

Ms Lim is, incidentally, 29-years old.

According to Ms Fong’s explanation, Ms Lim is not “retiring” NOW, but is “retiring” in the future, although Ms Lim may have said, “I’m retiring.”

And do also note that NTUC Income has admitted it “had worded the post in collaboration with the actress”, according to a Straits Times report.

In other words, NTUC Income knew exactly what it wanted the post to say.

And it is quite clear that either someone in NTUC Income or its PR company has very bad comprehension ability in the English language, or a very good one and has used it to mislead.

For if, as Ms Fong claims, Ms Lim is not “retiring” NOW but “retiring” in the future, then would it not be more honest in simply adding in the words “in future” to her sentence “I’m retiring”?

“I’m retiring in future.”

There. No misleading. No misrepresentation.

But NTUC Income seems entirely oblivious to the reason/s of why the public is upset, and instead of apologising and admitting its mistake, NTUC Income instead – and incredibly – resorts to semantics and language gymnastics to try and wriggle its way out of the mess itself has created.

Perhaps it is the public which needs a lesson on grammar?

“I’m retiring.”

How many people will see this as “I’m retiring in future”?

Bleah.

NTUC Income, you’re hopeless. Taking the public as fools, and in effect talking down to them, dismissive of the anger and concerns, and in the process not giving two hoots about the damage to the trust they have put in you.

I’ll end with what one of my friends posted on my Facebook page:

“We wanted to introduce the concept of bullshitting as a journey. Therefore that word was used. If you notice, we didn’t say ‘bullshitting’ to what. It was very generic”

Works too.

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