Jillian
I was leafing through the newspaper as I was having my breakfast this morning and caught this article in their "Over A Cuppa" section written by Hoo Ban Khee. I am not criticizing his writing, I am just appalled by some of the words that he used!

(For the full article, please click here)

The article mentioned talks about old-age woes, and that "the ravages of age can leave even the most powerful man helpless and undignified" wrote Hoo. You're beginning to see what I mean, don't you? Don't worry, it gets worse.

Hoo then gives examples of former world leaders and legendary heroes who; in their prime were seen as invincible but when old age caught up with them, they were seen as "helpless" and "pathetic" those were among the words he had used.

First, Hoo talks about Muhammad Ali, who reigned supreme in the boxing ring during the 1970s.

"The three-time world heavyweight champion who turned the bloody sport around is now a bloated, trembling and stammering old man ravaged by Parkinson's disease" Wrote Hoo. I understand that he is trying to make a point here, but he really could've used words like senile or weak, I believe these are strong enough words yet they carry the message across. Then Hoo added, "Old age plus the crippling Parkinson's disease have robbed him not only of his dignity but also his strength and vitality".

I don't get this Hoo person! I mean what has dignity got to do with anything? The man appears on TV accompanied by caregivers and could barely utter a complete sentence. If that isn't dignity I don't know what is!

Muhammad Ali wasn't the only 'pathetic' person Hoo wrote about. He went on to mention President Ronald Reagan and Chairman Mao Zedong "who were heroes in their prime, wielding immense power over the fate of lesser mortals, were pathetic sights in their twilight years." As you can see, Hoo evidently likes the word pathetic very very much.

I'm not much of a girl scout either but these words are very belittling and to put it simply; it's a mean word.

When Hoo got to Chairman Mao, he wrote, "looked helpless and pathetic when he was seen on TV receiving our Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak in 1974. Did he still have a grip on his country during the most destructive years of the Cultural Revolution? One wonders".

Oh, Hoo is not done yet, he still tries to convince us further by saying "And if you are still not convinced, take a look at 'superman' Christopher Reeve who was paralyzed from the neck down following an accident and had to spend the last lap of his life in a wheelchair." For some reason, he did not use his favourite word here. I wonder why.

In a nutshell, I understand what Hoo's viewpoint is trying to say, that we should look into our own mortality by taking these examples into account the next time we think we could be superheroes. But what I am trying to point out is that he could really be more sensitive over the language.

These may be heroes of yesterday but people out there still remember them fondly (or un-) and with an article like this, it tarnishes the very image that these people stand for.

Don't you agree with me, folks?
2 Responses
  1. marta Says:

    I so much agree with you, what kind of values are these? A person can be a resource even when physically fragile!


  2. Sugarscamp Says:

    You're right Marta...that's how I felt when I read that article. I dont believe he has a regular column


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