ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
January 31, 2008
A leading advocate for the handicapped on Wednesday defended the sign language of touching the nose to refer to Thailand's new Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, saying that the visual expression--which has been used for decades-- should remain unchanged and it was never been meant to ridicule the country's administrative leader.
Viriya Namsiripongpant, former National Legislative Assembly member and president of the National Association of the Disabled, said a change in the hand gesture could confuse deaf people who have been familiar with the standard translation.
Referring to a recent remark by a People Power Party MP who was irked by such communication on TV Channel 11, Mr. Viriya said, "If you don't want the sign, a nationwide workshop must be held to explain to hundreds of related people. They also have to agree on other sign to refer to Mr. Samak. Will it be worthwhile to have a seminar just to talk about one person?"
Mr. Viraya explained that the speediest way to refer to a person with sign language is to highlight on the person's outstanding feature or apperance--in this case touching the nose to refer to Samak who sports a rose apple-shaped nose.
Another method is to create each sign for an alphabet but the translator won't have enough time to create all alphabets when referring to Mr. Samak's name and, if so, it would be too difficult for deaf viewers to understand, he added.
He insisted that the sign language based on a person's physical appearance was not meant as an insult but simply as a means to create a common understanding among deaf people.
"The method of sign language should not be interfered . If you want it to be standardised, you have to set up a national institute of sign language translators," Mr. Viriya concluded.