Twitter User Questions If TikTok CEO Chew Shou Zi Is Singaporean Because Of How He Speaks
Over the past week or so, TikTok CEO Chew Shou Zi has been in the spotlight after being at the centre of an intense United States (US) Congress grilling session over data privacy concerns.
Our Favourite Moments From TikTok CEO’s Congress Showdown, Including Explaining How WiFi Works
While Mr Chew impressed the Internet with his calm composure (and some would say good looks), there were those on Twitter who decided to call the Singaporean’s nationality into question.
And it’s because of the way he speaks.
Other users have since come to Mr Chew’s defence, pointing out the concept of code-switching.
Twitter user says Chew Shou Zi doesn’t speak like typical Singaporean
Last Thursday (23 Mar), Mr Chew testified before the House Committee for Energy and Commerce in a five-hour hearing, addressing concerns over US TikTok users’ privacy.
The session was streamed online, meaning that anyone with an Internet connection could watch all the drama unfold.
At one point, a congressman shot Mr Chew a question about China’s intelligence laws, to which Mr Chew replied, “First, I’m Singaporean.”
However, Twitter user @003carrierfan apparently has a bone to pick with Mr Chew’s declaration of his nationality.
On Sunday (26 Mar), he wrote a tweet calling Mr Chew “a mainland Chinese, despite having a Singaporean passport”.
TikTok CEO Zhou Shouzi is a mainland Chinese, despite having a Singaporean passport. He speaks a sort of American English with a Mandarin accent. A sign of growing up in mainland China and receiving college education in America. Singaporeans don’t speak this type of English. pic.twitter.com/nqU4LnXETe
— Manchu (@003carrierfan) March 26, 2023
Attaching a video of Mr Chew speaking in a TikTok post, the OP described the former as having “a sort of American English with a Mandarin accent”.
Singaporeans, the user claimed, “don’t speak this type of English”.
He followed up by posting a video of another TikToker commenting on the hearing in a more ‘typical’ Singaporean accent, remarking that that’s what Singlish sounds like.
Twitter user @DanCollins2011 agreed with the OP. He even claimed that most Singaporeans have a different accent “as their first language is not Mandarin”.
According to his Twitter bio, Dan Collins is the founder of a cybersecurity company and is based in Miami, Florida.
He also spent 20 years in China, but there’s no mention of any connection to Singapore.
Singaporeans bring up concept of code-switching
@003carrierfan’s unquestionably controversial take sure riled up Singaporeans, who took the opportunity to remind him of the concept of code-switching.
The Encyclopedia Britannica explains that code-switching is the process of shifting from one language or dialect to another, depending on the social context or setting.
What’s more, since Mr Chew lived abroad for such a long time, it’s only natural for him to code-switch so effortlessly.
Over at Reddit, there were discussions over how Mr Chew’s English was ‘too good’, which may have led to the Twitter user’s flawed opinion.
Netizens also pointed out that, like any other Singaporean son, Mr Chew has completed his National Service (NS).
But regardless of how one speaks, at the end of the day, as long as someone holds a Singaporean IC, they are Singaporean, as this level-headed Redditor stated.
This applies to anyone, from CEOs who received their education overseas to “kopitiam boomers who can only speak Hokkien”.
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Featured image adapted from House Committee on Energy and Commerce on YouTube and @003carrierfan on Twitter.
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