Hang on. There’s something fishy in the won ton soup. We’d always been led to believe that one of Kevin Rudd’s great skills was his talent for Mandarin, supposedly honed with First Class Honours at the ANU and finessed during his stint as a diplomat in Beijing. Yet it now turns out – if youtube is anything to go by – that our once and (potentially) future PM can barely string two words together in the language of the Middle Kingdom without exploding into a hissy fit of curses and f-bombs.
“Mate this is just impossible,” he snarled at his cameraman, as he struggled to get his tongue around a greeting video. But how hard can it be? The words were displayed on an auto-cue for him to read in the privacy of his own studio. The editor was standing by to cut the good bits together and leave out the mistakes. The message was presumably along the lines of “Sorry I couldn’t be there with you tonight, but I hope you all have a great time.” Hardly an orthoepic dissertation on aspiratory consonants in the Pinghua dialect.
Yet somehow the whiz-kid from Eumundi ended up all over the place, like a plate of left over dim sums at Sunday yum cha. “Just give me simple sentences! This f***ing language! How can anyone do this?” he dummy-spat, fretting like a Gonksi-ite schoolkid who’s just found out he’s come bottom of the class.
Was it all just a myth? Is Kevin’s lauded mastery of Mandarin no better than his mastery of economics (“save capitalism from itself”), diplomacy ("those Chinese f***ers are trying to rat-f*** us”), science (“the greatest moral challenge of our time”) or team management (“a psychopath with a giant ego”)?
Surely he hasn’t been hoodwinking us all along?