Sway of the Chinese language as China rising, but English is still king


Sway of the Chinese language on display  

AT a recent forum in Hong Kong, Jim Rogers, a Wall Street tycoon, played a video of his daughter reciting a classical Chinese poem.

This is not the first time Happy Rogers has exhibited her proficiency in the language.

At an event in Singapore in 2013, the then nine-year-old showed off her nearly perfect Putonghua pronunciation and tone when she recited a not-so-well-known poem by Li Qiao, a Chinese poet during the Tang Dynasty. She won a big round of applause from the audience, most of them Chinese descendants. Happy’s sister Baby Bee, then five years old, did equally well, singing nursery rhymes in Chinese.

While it is not uncommon for young Chinese language learners to recite ancient poems, Happy spoke in classical Chinese with a fluency that could make even some native Chinese speakers envious, according to a report in Guangzhou Daily.

And recently, during US President Donald Trump’s visit to China, his granddaughter Arabella’s recital of Chinese poems went viral online, making her a “popular figure” among Chinese audiences.

There is a long list of foreign celebrities and their children learning Chinese, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ four children and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his daughter. Even Prince William, media reports say, studied Chinese in school.

The increasing popularity of the Chinese language has led to the introduction of various programmes and classes worldwide. It is estimated that more than 100 million people outside China, including overseas Chinese, are studying the language, as many believe it can be used as a tool to gain access to conveniences in not only China but also some other countries.

The growing enthusiasm of people in other countries to learn Chinese can be attributed to their love for Chinese culture.

It perhaps explains why traditional Chinese cultural elements, from kung fu films to ancient works such as The Analects of Confucius and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, have won so many global diehard fans. Many foreigners even believe that Chinese characters are an expression of aesthetic appreciation – maybe that’s why many famous personalities including former soccer star David Beckham have got Chinese characters tattooed on their body.

China’s economic and social development is another important factor for the growing interest in the language and culture. As the world’s most populous country and the second-largest economy, China for years has accounted for the largest number of students studying in other countries, which might also have made people overseas interested in the language.

As Jim Rogers said, whether you like or not, the 21st century will belong to China. He always tells people that if they have children, they shall encourage them to learn Chinese, “because Chinese will be the most important language”. For foreign companies intending to do business in China, they can have a huge advantage over their competitors if they can master the language.

And with the Belt and Road Initiative progressing smoothly, a number of Chinese enterprises will venture into countries along the ancient trade routes for business, which means a higher demand for Chinese speakers.

Source: China Daily/Asia News Network


China rising, but English is still king

 

Asia News Network and The Star recently published an article “Sway of the Chinese language”, detailing the rising popularity of learning Chinese as posted above.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, US President Donald Trump’s granddaughter and billionaire investor Jim Rogers’ daughter are among some of the famous people or their family members brushing up on their Chinese language skills.

Tourists from China are splashing their cash all over the world (in some countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, the Chinese can also go cashless by making their purchases through Alipay).

Meanwhile, economists predict that the GDP of China, currently the world’s second largest, would surpass the United States’ within 10 years. As the economic value of the Chinese language grows, it will unseat English to become the world’s leading language. Or so we are told….

But if history is a clue, this may not happen so soon.

In the heyday of the Roman Empire, as the great Julius Caesar and his successors conquered the Mediterranean, Latin became the dominant language of the European continent. The Roman Empire began to disintegrate in the fifth century. Latin, however, remained relevant for many centuries to come. (The Eastern Roman Empire, also known as Byzantine Empire, survived into 15th century, but its capital was in Constantinople, and its official language was Greek.)

In year 1215, the unpopular King John of England, pressured by rebel barons, issued Magna Carta. The document established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law. It is considered one of the first steps taken in England towards establishing parliamentary democracy. The Magna Carta was initially written in Latin.

In year 1687, Sir Isaac Newton published three papers which were collectively known as Principia Mathematica. These works form the foundation of classical mechanics. Principia Mathematica, like the Magna Carta, was written in Latin. That was more than 12 centuries after the demise of the Roman Empire.

In ancient times, Malay language was the lingua franca of the Malay Archipelago. Then the Western powers came, created the modern states of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia. Post-independence, Javanese, who make up 40% of Indonesia’s population, dominate the republic’s politics and economy. Somehow, Bahasa Indonesia is based on Malay rather than Javanese.

By 2050, China will become the world’s largest economy. The US will drop to second place. In the third spot, as economists believe, will be India. Like Malaysia, India was a British territory. And like our country, English, the language of the former colonial master, is still widely spoken.

By mid-century, the combined GDP of English-speaking and English-as-second-language nations, which include US, India, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, will likely be larger than that of China.

I do not doubt that Chinese language will get more important every year, and I encourage everyone to learn it if conditions allow. However, it would be foolish if we, in the advent of “China’s Century”, neglect English.

By CHEW KHENG SIONG Kuala Lumpur

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Penang-lang fearing the death of a dialect


Like most Penangites who are proud of their heritage, the writer is troubled that Hokkien isn’t spoken as much as it used to be.

IF there’s one clear feature that separates Penangites from the rest of the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia, it is the distinct northern-accented Hokkien.

It doesn’t matter whether we are in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, London or Timbuktu but we can pick up a Penangite whenever we hear this northern style dialect with its rich sprinkling of Malay words that denotes its nyonya-baba linguistic roots.

But each time I return to Penang, I can feel the linguistic changes that are taking place. Whether we realise it or not, Penang Hokkien is slowly disappearing.

Mandarin is quickly taking over this unique Penang Hokkien dialect and for sure, English is also being affected in daily conversations.

Penangites are fiercely proud of their Hokkien as it is entirely different from the one spoken in Singapore, Taiwan or Xiamen in China.

As older Penangites, perhaps we can be a little snooty, as we sometimes dismiss the Hokkien spoken elsewhere as somewhat crass and unrefined.

Only the Hokkien spoken by the Chinese community in Medan closely mirrors that of Penang Hokkien, presumably because of the proximity between Penang and the Indonesian city.

Whether rightly or wrongly, or plainly out of ignorance, Penangites feel the sing-song delivery sounds better.

Words such as balai (police station), balu (just now), bangku (stool), batu (stone), cilaka/celaka (damn it), campur (to mix), jamban (toilet), gatai/gatal (itchy) gili/geli (creepy), sabun (soap) and kesian (pity), are an integral part of the Penang Hokkien dialect.

If the person is not from Penang, then he or she has to be from Kedah, Perlis or Taiping.

Even Penangites of other racial groups can easily speak, or at least understand Hokkien. My fellow moderation advocate, Anas Zubedy, speaks excellent Hokkien. So do my colleagues executive editor Dorairaj Nadason and sports editor R. Manogaran.

But the daily use of the dialect is rapidly being replaced by Mandarin. Go to most coffeeshops today and the hawkers or helpers are likely to tell you the price of food in Mandarin.

I am feeling a little uncomfortable because I am a very parochial and sentimental Penangite. It doesn’t help that I do not speak Mandarin.

Although I am a Cantonese, Hokkien is the spoken language in my family home and the changes that are taking place do have an effect.

Even most of the Penang state government leaders are not from Penang. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was born in Johor and grew up in Melaka.

Senior state exco member Chow Kon Yeow is from Kuala Lumpur but he studied in Universiti Sains Malaysia. Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy is Sitiawan-born but he spent most of his time in Selangor.

Exceptions are the children of the late Karpal Singh – state exco member Jagdeep Singh Deo and Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh Deo – and other state assemblymen.

The Penang Monthly bulletin, in its May issue, dramatically headlined the situation “Penang Hokkien on life support.”

In an interview with Penang Monthly, the Penang Hokkien Language Association secretary Ooi Kee How was quoted as saying that “people think there’s no benefit in learning or speaking Hokkien, which is not true. Yes, you can survive if you do not speak Hokkien; you can get by with speaking only one language your entire life.”

“But the thing is, something will diminish. Our creativity, our cultural identity, will decline. A lot of innovations will disappear, because different languages shape the way we think differently.”

And what has brought about the decline of the Penang Hokkien? It’s a combination of factors. For one, a whole generation of Penangites have been educated in Chinese schools, at least at the primary level.

This is unlike the older generation of Penangites like me, who are now in the 50s, who attended schools using English as a medium of instruction. In the absence of Mandarin, we spoke mainly Hokkien and English but people in their 30s and 40s find it more comfortable conversing in Mandarin – and for sure, not English.

Then there is this huge impact of Chinese TV shows, especially over Astro. They are entirely in Mandarin, with shows from mainland China and Taiwan, and in Hokkien, which is spoken in a manner more similar to those used in Melaka and Johor.

It is no surprise that the sales staff at malls also expect the Chinese community to speak in Mandarin, and understandably they will begin the conversation in Mandarin – because you are expected to know the language.

There is also the impact of China as the new economic powerhouse of Asia, if not, the world. Mandarin has taken over the dominant spot as a language with economic value, and certainly prestige. That is the reality but it may well be at the expense of a rich heritage.

Catherine Churchman, a lecturer in Asian Studies, in the School of Languages and Cultures in Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, who studied the Taiwanese and Penang Hokkien dialects, reportedly said: “Penangites have become increasingly used to hearing Taiwanese Hokkien, but the Taiwanese are not used to hearing Penang Hokkien.

“Simply replacing Malay loan words with the Taiwanese equivalents does not turn Penang Hokkien into Taiwanese Hokkien either. The grammatical structure of Penang Hokkien is different.”

Fearful of the danger of Penang Hokkien dying, Penang Monthly further quoted Churchman as saying “languages often die the same way, and one of the reasons is simply the existence of a generation gap.”

That melodious Penang Hokkien may not be heard, decades from now, if this frightening trend continues.

On The Beat by Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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Chinese are the unsung heroes of South East Asia: Robert Kuok Memoirs


They are the most amazing economic ants on Earth, ‘Sugar King’ writes in memoir

Good Chinese business management is second to none; the very best of Chinese management is without compare. I haven’t seen others come near to it in my 70year career. Robert Kuok

The overseas Chinese were the unsung heroes of the region, having helped to build South East Asia to what it is today, said Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok (pic).

He said that it was the Chinese immigrants who tackled difficult task such as planting and tapping rubber, opening up tin mines, and ran small retail shops which eventually created a new economy around them.

“It was the Chinese who helped build up Southeast Asia. The Indians also played a big role, but the Chinese were the dominant force in helping to build the economy.

“They came very hungry and eager as immigrants, often barefooted and wearing only singlets and trousers. They would do any work available, as an honest income meant they could have food and shelter.

“I will concede that if they are totally penniless, they will do almost anything to get their first seed capital. But once they have some capital, they try very hard to rise above their past and advance their reputations as totally moral, ethical businessmen,” Kuok said based on excerpts of his memoir reported in the South China Morning Post .

“Robert Kuok, A Memoir’ is set to be released in Malaysia on Dec 1.

Kuok said the Chinese immigrants were willing to work harder than anyone else and were willing to “eat bitterness”, hence, were the most amazing economic ants on earth.

In the extracted memoir published by the South China Morning Post, Kuok, pointed out that if there were any businesses to be done on earth, one can be sure that a Chinese will be there.

“They will know whom to see, what to order, how best to save, how to make money. They don’t need expensive equipment or the trappings of office; they just deliver.

“I can tell you that Chinese businessmen compare notes every waking moment of their lives. There are no true weekends or holidays for them. That’s how they work. Every moment, they are listening, and they have skilfully developed in their own minds – each and every one of them – mental sieves to filter out rubbish and let through valuable information.

“Good Chinese business management is second to none; the very best of Chinese management is without compare. I haven’t seen others come near to it in my 70-year career,” he said.

“They flourish without the national, political and financial sponsorship or backing of their host countries. In Southeast Asia, the Chinese are often maltreated and looked down upon. Whether you go to Malaysia, Sumatra or Java, the locals call you Cina – pronounced Chee-na – in a derogatory way,” he said.

He added that the Chinese had no “fairy godmothers” financial backers.

“Yet, despite facing these odds, the overseas Chinese, through hard work, endeavour and business shrewdness, are able to produce profits of a type that no other ethnic group operating in the same environment could produce,” he said.

Kuok ultimately attributed the Chinese survivability in Southeast Asia to its cultural strength.

“They knew what was right and what was wrong. Even the most uneducated Chinese, through family education, upbringing and social environment, understands the ingredients and consequences of behaviour such as refinement, humility, understatement, coarseness, bragging and arrogance,” he said.

 

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Chinese Scientists Make Breakthrough in Replacing WiFi With LiFi


CHANGCHUN, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) — Chinese scientists have made a breakthrough in creating full-color emissive carbon dots (F-CDs), which brings them one step closer to developing a faster wireless communication channel that could be available in just six years.

Light Fidelity, known as LiFi, uses visible light from LED bulbs to transfer data much faster than radio wave-based WiFi.

While most current research uses rare earth materials to provide the light for LiFi to transmit data, a team of Chinese scientists have created an alternative — F-CDs, a fluorescent carbon nanomaterial that proves to be safer and faster.

“Many researchers around the world are still working on this. We were the first to successfully create it using cost-effective raw materials such as urea with simple processing,” said Qu Songnan, an associate researcher at Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which leads the research.

Qu said rare earth has a long lifespan which reduces the speed of LiFi transmission. However, F-CDs enjoy the advantage of faster data transmission speeds.

In previous studies, carbon dots were limited to the emission of lights such as blue and green. The new nanomaterial that Qu’s team has developed can emit all light visible to the human eye, which is a breakthrough in the field of fluorescent carbon nanomaterial.

Qu said this is significant for the development of LiFi, which he expects to enter the market in just six years.

A 2015 test by a Chinese government ministry showed that LiFi can reach speeds of 50 gigabytes per second, at which a movie download can be completed in just 0.3 seconds

Source: Xinhua

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Citizens’ frustrations, Malaysian youths worry about future; MCA dares to face criticism


Citizen Liow’ plays dual role in National Day video
Myself and I: Citizen Liow (left) comes face-to-face with the politician in ‘Citizens’ in conjunction with National Day.

Malaysia is all about us – On The Beat

‘Citizen Liow’ vents his frustration in short film

KUALA LUMPUR: It is Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai as we have never seen him before – shabby, dispirited and a little rude.

Without his signature full-rim spectacles, Liow, playing an ordinary citizen in a video with a poignant but powerful message, vents his spleen about the country’s current mood.

From the hurtful balik tongsan comment to corrupt practices, Citizen Liow is determined to get his frustrations off his chest.

He even throws a fistful of sweets at a guest in his home. The guest is also played by Liow, who essentially portrays his everyday role of a politician.

The on-screen sparring between both Liows is a creative, yet brutally frank, account of the general sentiments of the local Chinese community.

It is almost painful to watch the heated encounter, but that is exactly why the six minute-long video Citizens is so compelling.

Producers Pete Teo and Liew Seng Tat did not attempt to paint a rosy and glowing picture even though the clip was meant for the upcoming National Day celebrations.

The video boldly addresses the grievances and fears of the Chinese community in Malaysia, which means there will inevitably be “anger, helplessness and conflict”, as Teo explained on his Facebook.

Liow, in his real life as Transport Minister, Bentong MP and especially MCA president, must have often been at the receiving end of the kind of harsh comments hurled by “Citizen Liow” in the clip.

“Politicians only know how to talk!” is perhaps the most common sweeping statement that disregards the efforts and contributions of community and government leaders. In the video, Liow the politician admits there are shortcomings.

The seasoned politician says: “I can find excuses and try to defend ourselves by saying that circumstances do not work in our favour, but no, I won’t do that.”

“We didn’t say there weren’t mistakes. We did not handle many things well, but it is not easy to rule a country.”

“We have seen many politicians from both sides dwelling on the negatives when support for them fades. This alienates the people even further,” he said.

With the National Day just days away, the video is a timely reminder to those with political ambitions to reflect on their vision for the country.

Similarly, the public can look back at the past 60 years of the country’s development, from a mining and agricultural-based economy to today’s multi-sector economy anchored in manufacturing and services.

Of course, there will always be challenges and sacrifices as we progress. Good governance is a must if we are to continue on that path of growth and prosperity.

But as Citizens reminds us, it is important not to lose hope. We must believe that our founding father Tunku Abdul Rahman’s vision of Malaysia will come true.

At the end of the video, “Citizen Liow” has a change of heart. He quietly retrieves the Jalur Gemilang from storage and displays it on his balcony, with his real-life wife Datin Seri Lee Sun Loo at his side.

When met by reporters yesterday, Liow was visibly pleased with how the video has turned out. He said the message he wanted to send through the video was for Malaysians to unite and work together to make the country a progressive nation.

“We love this nation. We are proud to be Malaysians and we are working hard to make this country a stronger nation. That’s the aspiration and message we want to send out,” he said.

By Tho Xin Yi The Star/ANN

‘Youths worry about future, not politics’

Future wave: Liow and Chong (second from left) sharing a light moment with students after the TN50 DialogueUTAR in the Sungai Long Campus.

CHERAS: Youths are more concerned about their future than politics. This is the feedback gathered during the recent TN50 dialogues with students from several universities, said MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

“However, I don’t think they are indifferent towards politics. They are aware of issues.

“For instance, they know that this is about TN50 and about a future that they want,” Liow said after attending a TN50 Dialogue @UTAR with 700 students at UTAR Sungai Long Campus here yesterday.

He cited education and health issues, including the ability to earn a decent living, as some of the aspirations raised by the students during the hour-long dialogue session.

Liow said it is crucial for youths to continue upholding the core value system practised by Barisan Nasional.

He added that Barisan’s core values such as consensus, mutual respect, unity, cooperation and harmony are shared by Malaysians.

“Barisan upholds values of consensus and mutual respect but DAP is sowing the seeds of hatred. The party is also sowing the seeds of anger towards the Government which is causing a split in our society,” he said.

Liow added that the Opposition lacked the core values and was now in a chaotic state.

There was a casual air about the dialogue session where students were asked by moderator MCA youth chief Datuk Chong Sin Woon to address Liow as “Ah Liow” and himself as “Ah Chong”.

Earlier during the dialogue, Chong warned students to be wary of fake news on social media.

“The reality is that most news on social media are fake.

“You should check the source and not blindly believe all that you read,” he said.

He also said that youths were more concerned about “bread and butter” issues rather that politics.

At another function, Liow said more skilled workers were needed as the country progresses.

“It is important for us to train more technical professionals. For MCA, we would like to expand VTAR Institute because of our significant growth in students from 100 to 700 in these few years.

“We will find the right place to expand VTAR and we hope to have more than 1,000 students here,” he told reporters after launching the PW2 wireman competency licence course at the institute in Setapak here yesterday.

VTAR is the vocational education arm of MCA.

Earlier during the function, VTAR CEO Tan Cheng Liang signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federation of Malaysian Electrical Appliances Dealers Association (Fomeda) president Gan Cheng Swee to run the PW2 programme. – The Star

‘Citizen Liow’ plays dual role in National Day video

国民 CITIZENS

A screengrab from the video short “Citizens”.

PETALING JAYA: You’re not seeing double – it really is Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai playing two roles in a National Day video by producers Pete Teo and Liew Seng Tat.

The six minute-long video short entitled Citizens was released on Monday in conjunction with the upcoming National Day celebrations.

In the video, he portrays himself in his everyday role as Transport Minister, having a no-holds-barred conversation with a citizen who has grouses about the way the country is run – a role also played by Liow.

Liow, the minister, is smartly dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and slacks, while “Citizen Liow” is dressed very casually, with his hair a little unkempt and wearing a grey T-shirt, without spectacles.

Teo, in a Facebook post on Friday, said the project took months to put together.

“Largely this was because the script required a Federal Minister who had the gumption to submit to what we wanted to shoot.

“We kept trying and eventually found our man,” he said.

Teo said they did not want to make a film that could be confused for a “tourism video.”

Citizens reflects the current mood of the country, especially the fears of the Chinese community.

“It would therefore have to contain anger, helplessness and conflict. Yet it must contain hope – for we are even now not without hope – and so the film should also unite us in hope across the political spectrum,” said Teo.

This is not Liow’s first film. He previously acted in other 15Malaysia and Hari Malaysia shorts, also produced by Teo.

“What is different this time is that while he was civilly treated as a cabinet minister before, he will be brutalised this time; and while he was stereotyped as a politician before, he is now a human being – filled with the same fears, regret, conflicts and hope as all of us,” said Teo, adding that he thought long and hard about the casting.

Also making an appearance in the film is Liow’s wife Datin Seri Lee Sun Loo.

Teo said that it took courage for Liow, who is MCA president, to act in the film especially since he and MCA “are deeply maligned in sections of the Chinese community”.

‘Citizens’ Liow trends at second spot

PETALING JAYA: As Pete Teo expected, his National Day video in which Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai plays two roles is gaining traction among Malaysians.

The six-minute clip Citizens clinched the second spot on YouTube’s Malaysian trending list as at yesterday afternoon. It had 127,766 views, trailing Taylor Swift’s new music video. The rest were content related to SEA Games.

In the video, Liow, 56, portrays himself as the Transport Minister having an honest conversation with a citizen, also played by Liow, who has grouses about the way the country is run.

Teo, who produced the video with Liew Seng Tat, was glad to see it attracting attention.

“We expect the video to do well, because we think it is a good video and it has something important to say that goes beyond party politics,” he told The Star.

Teo said there were twice as many likes as dislikes.

He applauded Liow for being able to rise above his persona as MCA president and act as an ordinary citizen.

The video was released on Monday in conjunction with National Day celebrations.

Meanwhile, Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah said the video was “unpretentious and right to the point” and therefore, was well received by the community.

The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong) president said it rightly captured the country’s current situation.

“A main point stressed is that the situation warrants the need for us to listen to each other, consolidate our strengths, stay united and be loyal to our country.

“This is a way to overcome the challenges, instead of just venting our frustrations,” Pheng said.

Apart from acknowledging the people’s disappointments and empathising with them, he said Liow had been tirelessly reaching out to the community to guide and help them in whatever ways possible.

Pheng pointed out that Liow had to draw on the party’s strengths and his role in the Government to help the community effectively.

In conjunction with National Day, Pheng said it was timely for all Malaysians to reinforce respect, love and tolerance among themselves and for the country so as to move forward together.

‘Citizen’ producer all praise for Liow – Nation


PETALING JAYA: The producer of the National Day video titled Citizen says it was brave of Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai to come onboard a production which had an “edgy” script.

Saying he would absolutely cast the Transport Minister in such a role again, filmmaker Pete Teo (pic) brushed aside some of the adverse comments on the casting choice.

“We think he did a great job playing the dual role of minister and citizen.

“That his casting is controversial has nothing to do with the job he does.

“We hope Datuk Seri Liow’s contribution will at least be acknowledged in the good spirit that it was given,” Teo said when contacted.

Teo, who produced the clip with writer-director Liew Seng Tat, said they had expected some form of backlash as soon as they decided that the role would be best played by a real-life politician.

“The fact that we eventually cast a Barisan National politician is besides the point, really. If we had picked an Opposition politician, the situation would be the same, except the accusations would be from Barisan supporters.

“So in a way, it was a no-win for us unless we had cast an actor,” he pointed out.

According to Teo, the film would have lost immediacy if they had cast an actor to play the role.

“So the decision was made to cast a politician. In fact, our choices were more limited than that because the script ideally required a Federal Minister.

“This narrowed down the choice to only several people. In the end, Datuk Seri Liow agreed to play the role and we went with him,” he added.

Teo said through the film, he and Liew wanted to drive home the message that it was important not to lose hope and to stay united when the going got tough.

“As said in the film’s opening lines, the last decade or more have been tough for the country. Non-Malay communities, in particular have felt alienated, helpless and fearful.

“That is why we are getting such hyper-emotive response to a Merdeka PSA film promoting hope and unity featuring a serving Cabinet minister from the MCA.

It would be easy to dismiss these aggressive social media outbursts as rantings of opposition cybertroopers, but these are real people with real grievances,’’ he added.

Teo, a multiple award-winning singer-songwriter, also praised Liow for having the courage to be involved in a film with “brutally frank dialogue”.

“Many have ignored the fact that the minister explicitly said in the film that he doesn’t mind who citizens voted for as long as they let their conscience be their guide.

“This is a massively important statement. It underlines our film’s non-partisan credentials,” Teo said.

In the six-minute video, Liow portrays himself in his everyday role as Transport Minister, having a no-holds barred conversation with a citizen who has grouses about the way the country is run – a role also played by Liow.

The video clocked in more than 200,000 views in four days since it was uploaded on YouTube.

 

‘MCA dares to face criticisms’ , Liow: We understand the voices and feelings of the people

 

Liow chatting with China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang.

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA understands the voices and feelings of the people and dares to face criticism, said Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

The party president said having understood the people’s grievances, MCA is committed to overcoming the problems.

“I must stress here that I am aware of the people’s opinions and feelings. Therefore, I am willing to face the reality as I know that is the only way for us to change for the better,” he said.

Liow, speaking at the Blossom Arts Festival Malaysia (BAFM) 2017 awards ceremony and closing at Wisma MCA last night, was responding to some of the responses towards his double role in “Citizens”, a National Day video.

In the clip produced by Pete Teo and Liew Seng Tat, Liow portrays himself as the Transport Minister having an honest conversation with a citizen, also played by Liow, who has grouses about the way the country is run.

Liow also explained that the video aimed at telling people to have faith in the country and never give up, besides showcasing the inner voices of a Cabinet minister and a layman.

Liow added that MCA is steadfast in performing its role in Barisan Nasional.

“We will continue to be the defender of the Federal Constitution, the corrector and the balancing force against hegemony.

“History would reveal that during critical moments, be it fighting for citizenship, persistency on multi-stream education, pushing for the establishment of National Economic Action Council or the recent movement against PAS’ Private Member’s Bill to amend Act 355, MCA has been consistent in playing its role in Barisan,” he said.

Meanwhile, MCA vice-president Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said the next edition of BAFM would be put on hold pending the general election.

“My comrades and I, as well as MCA staff, must turn our full attention towards preparing for the coming general election,” Chew, who is also the Malaysian Chinese Culture and Arts Consultative Council chairman and BAFM organising chairman, said.

Big celebration: Drummers performing during the closing ceremony of the Blossom Arts Festival Malaysia at Wisma MCA. (Right) Liow chatting with China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang.

She said BAFM has received the attention of foreign academicians.

Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, for instance, sent professors and students to observe the event, she added.

“If we persevere, we are confident of becoming a household name and a premier event among artists,” she said in her speech.

The month-long BAFM concluded yesterday. Also present at the event was China’s ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang.

By Yimie Yong The Star Online

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Settle Batang Kali massacre case, Britain told by the European Court of Human rights



International court orders amicable resolution over 1948 Batang Kali killings 

KUALA LUMPUR: The British government has been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to seek an amicable settlement over the Batang Kali massacre, in which its soldiers killed 24 innocent villagers on Dec 11 and 12, 1948.

Civilians lie dead in Batang Kali, in 1948

 

It was also told to submit a written explanation on the merits of the massacre and state its position for a friendly settlement by Feb 7, said MCA vice-president Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung.

The ECHR made the order recently after conducting a preliminary examination of the complaint filed by the victims’ families that London had violated Article 2 of the Euro­pean Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to life, by endorsing the massacre.

Britain has been a signatory to the European Convention since 1953, when Malaya was still its colony and its residents were considered subjects under British rule.

“The descendants of the victims have for years asked the British government for an apology, compensation and construction of a memorial, but all these have been ignored.

“So, they turned to the European Court. We hope the British government and the families can reach an out-of-court settlement,” said Hou yesterday at a press conference attended by the victims’ families and their lawyer Quek Ngee Meng.

Hou said the massacre, in which British courts had held their government responsible for the killings and ruled that the victims were not linked to communist insurgents, was “an issue too big to be ignored”.

“Though many years have passed, justice must be done and the inhumane killings must be recorded. There is a need for governments to learn from history. Let history educate people.

“During the Emergency in 1948, a lot of Chinese suffered and lived in fear,” said Hou.

The British declared emergency rule on June 18, 1948, after three estate managers were murdered in Perak by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), an outgrowth of the anti-Japanese guerrilla movement which later turned anti-colonial.

During the 1948-60 emergency rule, Chinese were rounded up into “new villages” as they were suspected of being sympathetic to MCP.

On Dec 11, 1948, British troops entered the plantation village of Batang Kali, Selangor, and questioned the rubber tappers about the MCP but to no avail.

The next day, they loaded the women and children on a military truck and shot dead 23 men, after killing one the day before.

This massacre was claimed by the British as the “biggest success” since the emergency began, and its official parliamentary record in 1949 described the killings as “justified”.

But in 1970, the episode was given a twist when several soldiers involved in the operation told British media of their guilt over shooting innocent civilians.

In July 1993, survivors of the massacre petitioned for justice after the British Broadcasting Corporation did an independent documentary on the saga.

The survivors took their battle to the British government and later to the British courts with the help of international human rights groups.

Now their descendants are continuing the struggle for justice, this time with the help of MCA.

By Ho Wah Foon The Star/ANN

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Why do Chinese think differently from the West?


Sculptures of Confucius with his students are seen near the headquarters office building of Chambroad Holding in Boxing, Shandong Province, China, June 27.PHOTO: REUTERS

We live in an age of science and technology, so strictly speaking science should be able to forecast the future and help us make decisions better. But in this Age of Uncertainty, the best economic models did not predict the global financial crisis.

How did the ancients attempt to make better decisions? They relied on history, their own experience or oracles, astrology or mumbo-jumbo. In a situation of uncertainty, you make decisions on the basis of information that you have, and if don’t have that information, you simply have to consult someone or something you believe in.

Some people turn to old sacred text, such as the Bible, with a priest to interpret what God intends. The Greeks used the Delphic Oracle, dating back to 1,400 BC, whose predictions were in riddles that were interpreted by the female diviners. Divination was then serious business, with astronomers studying the stars for some cosmic order.

Most people think that Chinese philosophy began with Confucius [551-479 BC], but his school became famous because it compiled the existing ancient books into the Five Classics, of which the I Ching (or Book of Change) is one. The problem with any translation of ancient text is that we can never differentiate translations from interpretation. How an ancient text is read depends very much upon the translators’ biases or ignorance. This is why reading of sacred text is always personal.

My own view is that the I Ching deserves to be considered a book of early Chinese science, rather than as a book on divination, considered at best as pseudo-science.

The I Ching comprises two books, an earlier classic dated to roughly 1,000 BC, and an interpretive text written about 400-600 years later. The earlier classic comprises the Eight trigrams, attributed to Fuxi, one of the legendary founders of China, and the 64 hexagrams, reputedly invented by Duke Zhou, one of the founders of the Zhou dynasty. In simple terms, the Eight trigrams simply stand for eight possible situations, from good to bad; whereas the 64 hexagrams stand for 64 possible predictive outcomes. The later text is attributed to Confucius and his disciples, which helps the interpretation of what the hexagrams mean. To use the I Ching for divination or decision purposes, you randomly choose a hexagram and then consult the I Ching for what it means.

Herein lies a fundamental difference in decision making between Western science and the Chinese approach to life.

Science developed in the West partly because of the alphabetic language, derived from the Arabs, which means that you can define words and meaning much more precisely, since the English language comprises today over a million words. As the philosopher Wittgenstein argued, all concepts are defined by language.

The Chinese language, on the other hand, is basically ideogramatic and phonetic, meaning that each character comprises radicals that originally were pictures. For example, the character for man can easily be identified as a drawing of a standing man. Because there are limited sounds for each character, each character carries four or five tones, and complex words comprise combinations of different characters. Most people can read basic Chinese with about two to three thousand characters, with the maximum number of characters being roughly 50,000. Complex words are combinations of two or three characters.

Given limited sounds, tones and characters, the Chinese language is not as precise as English. A single character can have different meanings and different sounds, so that Chinese words and phrases can only be understood in context. So when I hear a Chinese speak, I often have to ask in what context is that particular sound/word being used? In other words, we have to add contextual information in order to interpret the meaning of what is being said.

Western science, following the Aristolean logic, is essentially reductionist and linear, seeking cause and effect. The language enables the conceptualisation to be precise and the logic flow to be consistent. The imprecision inherent in the Chinese language means that conceptual thinking is more organic and fluid, and subject to interpretation, including guessing.

In other words, whilst natural sciences could be more precise in communication between two machines, the communication between two human beings carry a huge amount of uncertainty. The social sciences are much more qualitative because one human being cannot by definition fully comprehend the other person’s life experience, values and preferences. Uncertainty is built into the social sciences.

Modern economics dealt with this problem by assuming perfect information, which actually assumed away uncertainty. Economic models based on such perfect information and rational players (mechanical decision-making) gave rise to precise or “optimal”, first-best outcomes. The first best ideal is then thought to be a natural outcome, and life will simply revert back to equilibrium or a stable situation.

Real life is obviously not so simple. The eight trigrams mean that in binary good and bad or black and white terms, there are eight possible outcomes in any decision: good, bad and six mixtures of good/bad. The 64 hexagrams makes life even more complicated, since black and white are only two possible manifestations of any system, the rest being 62 shades of grey (mixture of black and white).

By definition, any fundamentalist view of life is more likely to be wrong, because life is mostly shades of grey.

The best games that illustrates this difference between Western and Chinese thinking are the games of chess and Go (weiqi). Chess has defined linear moves with six types of pieces. It forces one to think logically and sequentially. Go comprises only black and white pieces, but the player has to think spatially, playing the piece in any position on the board, continually trying to outguess the other player.

Without understanding these fundamental differences in language, context and decision-making under uncertainty, it would be difficult to bridge the yawning gap between both sides of the Pacific. It also means that the Chinese approach to economics and geo-politics will be quite different than is more commonly interpreted outside China.

By Andrew Sheng, Asia News Network

The writer, a Distinguished Fellow with the Asia Global Institute, writes on global issues from an Asian perspective.

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