6 cheem English phrases from the Parliament sitting on Oxley Road to up your essay game

Watch politics, learn England

By Joshua Lee | July 6, 2017

The drama on 38 Oxley Road is turning out to be more tedious than that 224-episode Taiwanese series (爱). Thankfully, the saga has unveiled gems in the form of new words you can use to up your English composition game – like ‘dogsbody‘.

Here are more words we learned from the Parliamentary sessions on July 34:


1. Sophistry (used by Lee Hsien Yang and Goh Chok Tong)

Not to be confused with: Sophie – the girl who dumped you in Secondary 3.

What it means: The use of clever but false arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.

Use it this way: “Trying to argue that she dumped me because of my sub-par laksa cooking skills was pure sophistry.”


2. Fig Leaf (used by Goh Chok Tong)

Not to be confused with: Fickle – what your boyfriend calls you when you can’t decide between Japanese and Korean for dinner.

What it means: A reference to the defacing of nude Ancient Greek art in the 16th century by covering up their naughty bits with plaster fig leaves. This expression is used to imply a cover up. 

Use it this way: “Your frustration with my indecisiveness is only a fig leaf for the unresolved anger you harbour just because I didn’t jio you out for supper last week.”

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3. Golden Thread (used by Lee Hsien Loong)

Not to be confused with: Golden showers.

What it means: Possibly a reference to a character in A Tale of Two Cities who links the destinies of different characters. Usually used to imply a common theme running through several disparate stories.

Use it this way: “At the end of the day, the golden thread running through this debacle is that Facebook is not the place for airing dirty laundry. It is, however, the perfect place for a soap opera to play out.”

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4. Probity (used by Pritam Singh)

Not to be confused with: Probate – another word in the Oxley Road saga that you’ll never use in your composition, so don’t bother.

What it means: The quality of having strong moral principles that are above reproach.

Use it this way: “All your character assassination efforts are like firing blanks because he is renown for his probity.” 

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5. Triangulate (used by Pritam Singh)

Not to be confuse with: Triangles.

What it means: While originally taken from a land-surveying method (using 2 separate points to determine the distance to a third point), triangulation in this instance means to cross-reference facts to proof their validity.

Use it this way: “Based on all the facts available, we triangulated that Ah Seng is a first class goondu.” 

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6. Laxity (used by Halimah Yacob)

Not to be confused with: Laxatives – that stuff you eat to un-constipate yourself.

What it means: Lack of strictness.

Use it this way: “Just because I show you laxity doesn’t mean you can anyhow climb over my head, and call me ‘dishonourable’ on Facebook, OK.”



What it means: Literally to lose one’s pants. Metaphorically, to lose your possessions.

Use it this way: We cannot sue our own siblings, after all, blood is thicker than water. But political opponents and critics – we can sue until they terng kor.

*Use Hokkien phrases in your composition with discretion.


As usual, keep up with the Lees here:


Top photo adapted from YouTube.

About Joshua Lee

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