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Archive for May 27th, 2012

This essay-series, including the title, was first drafted in March, 2012, so Muhyiddin Yassin’s mention of the Three Kingdoms is coincidental. The preface below is a topical addition.

Preface

Muhyiddin’s launch of the Malay translation of 三国志评话 Romance of The Three Kingdoms adds to a series of actions demonstrating that the Chinese – like Malays – can and are entitled to an independent, sovereign existence and still remain Malaysian. Earlier actions:

  • the government’s recognition of ethnic concerns by Chinese organisations like dongjiaozong as legitimate, fair and has nothing to do with Malays;
  • Najib Razak’s statement, made repeatedly, that Chinese education, meaning teaching and learning in hanzi, is “integral to” and a “part of the national education system”;
  • recognition of certain external facets of Chinese culture as national heritage; and,
  • the Johore sultan’s visit to grace the 100th anniversary of a Chinese temple (ampun Tuanku!).

These actions confront a core aspect of ethnic relations in Malaysia, namely the suppression of the Chinese existential person by Mahathir Mohamad, survived today by his legacy Satu Sekolah Malaiyoo fascist boys – little boys actually, people like Jailani Harun, Shamshul Anuar et al, good at throwing threats with more spittle than guts.

But Umno’s growing recognition of the Chinese also reveal an underlying problem: the fettering of the Chinese had been used as a tool to flex Malay political muscle. It wasn’t necessary. Until then the kampung Melayus (as opposed to suburban, Anglophile Malays, the Malaiyoos) were probably indifferent to the Chinese – at least not until the Malay forgery and counterfeit named Mahathir came along with the Arab mullah copy Anwar Ibrahim.

Common people, Chinese and Indian in the main, had to suffer and endure the shackling (the wealthy like Francis Yeoh don’t need to pay, he has connections in high places). They endure restrictions on the use of hanyu; their Chinese schools dwindle by financial deprivations; children suffer Islamic dakwah; quotas; jail; public-sector jobs; harassment at immigration, at the Johor Baru causeway, consular offices; and countless other petty impediments and torments that persons like Ahirudin Attan, that piece of pendatang Indonesian tofu (he thinks he’s solid as a rock), continue to instigate.

For Mahathir’s persecutions, Abdullah Badawi and Umno paid the price on March 2008. These costs continue to afflict Najib Razak whereas Ahi’s Malaiyoos, secluded in their propaganda offices, suffer nothing.

Because the (Malay) government’s conciliatory efforts towards the Chinese do not address root problems, that is, policy treatments, culture and attitudes, they are rendered as tokenism. This tokenism adds little value in resuming the reconstruction of Malaysia that was disrupted by Mahathir. Najib’s transformation runs the risk, therefore, of being superficial and not deep enough so that, post the 13th general election, it is incumbent on Barisan to sit down and draw up lasting, long term policies that put back the Chinese (and Indians) into the rostrum of national, social development.

That’s the surest way to never again see a repeat of March 2008.

Few things are as Chinese as their inherited, outward cultural expressions exhibited through such written works as their ethical philosophy (Analects) and in their arts like Three Kingdoms and the Butterfly Lovers concerto. Malaiyoos, as fascist, ignorant, and as Anglophile as is Hannah Yeoh, would instead regard those expressions as Chinese chauvinism and not human aesthetics or art.

That is, they see culture purely on skin-colour terms. Such is their unadulterated racism, publicly masked behind terms like ‘integration’, ‘unity’ or Malaysian First.

To give the Chinese more personal and collective space is a tacit recognition that Malaysia is, rock bottom, a political family of nations reflecting a very natural state of the diverse qualities of its peoples. This position – or recognition – stands in sharp contrast to the Mahathir legacy that attempted to amalgamate peoples into a single-pillared, attap kampung hut inherited from a colonial past. Mahathir or Umno, failing to severe that past, has produced instead an artifice, a copycat nation that, for a few decades, was hammered out of orang putih history and culture instead of being independent of them.

Recognition is thus a necessary, first step towards respecting each other’s existence. And respect leads to each the right of an independent, sovereign life within a family of sovereign ethnicities, just like siblings have their own lives different from other siblings.

Without granting this diligence to the varied ethnicities and cultures, a person is Chinese only in name in a MyKad, a pseudo Chinese like Joshie Hong, Caliph Lim. Or he is a Melayu purely in name like Shamshul Anuar, promoting a foreign language called English. These are people happy to disown their mothers and change them to English; they are gweilos in culture, in language, and in all their moral and individual sensibilities.

They, Shamshul et al, should be welcomed to leave for the UK or Australia where they belong rightfully, and given the ‘Oxylife’ that’s promoted in Stevie ‘Wonder’ Gan’s Malaysiakini. Predictably, Malaiyoos don’t even consider emigration to the Anglo-Saxon world as disloyalty. In the Ahi Malaiyoo anti-Sino racism, only Chinese who think of China is disloyal, worse if they speak Chinese or return to their motherland.

Muhyiddin’s statement – draw lessons from the Three Kingdoms, he says – must mean that a Chinese history lesson, 1800 years ago, is equally good for Umno or for Malays. This raises questions: What were Umno’s failings that needed Chinese historical lessons? Who in Malaysia exactly make up the Three Kingdoms? What is it about the Three Kingdoms that’s relevant to Malaysia? What are the Three Kingdoms? Collectively or individually, what does it mean in politics, in war or in peace?

Gazing at the ancient soldier’s ceremonial clothes, the Malays are as curious as they are bewildered – when it shouldn’t be. It is as if the man had arrived from another planet even though the Chinese and Malays have lived alongside each other for generations, centuries in fact, long before Islam’s ascendancy in this part of the world.

This disconnection – or cultural gulf – suggests a failure of Mahathir-style integration copied from the west: it assumes people as commodities. They can be pressed, rolled together like chapati. Integration is not to be left alone, like water to finds its own level.

The disconnection especially reflects the failure to place the Chinese, their culture and language in the rostrum of national, social development alongside the Malays. The foreign colonial tongue English is preferred.

Imagine, instead, another kind of a Malaysia today: vibrant in its culture, arts and science; economically energetic; top in the PISA educational world; equal to Singapore in individual wealth; as technically innovative as Koreans and Taiwanese – all of these can be had, even under a Malay prime minister and deputy. But Malaiyoos, like DAP evangelists who aren’t content with political supremacy, demand absolute submission starting with conversion… (see previous day’s post).

This explains why Malaysia is a loser. Unless Najib completes the ‘transformation’ from inside out and bottom up, every piece of outward manifestation Mahathir had unveiled as a step forward in the march of Malay or Malaysian civilization is there just for show – hollow, gleaming buildings in Putrajaya and KL for example, or the Great Malaysian Novel. Ahirudin’s Anglophiles know no shame.

*****

Sino Butterflies, Malaysia’s Kingdoms

In the image above is the traditional Chinese form of warrior salute to honour Muhyiddin – both hands stretched out, elbow at a right angle, right palm over left. Lim Guan Eng wouldn’t know this salute from his Father’s face, nor would he understand; he isn’t even deserving of the honour.

There is no Chinese record that green was used in ceremonial clothes, but gold and yellow were standard colours during the era of the Three Kingdoms, a short 60-odd years following the close of the Han dynasty (206-220 AD).

The book 三国志评话 sanguozhi pinghua (five syllable but only one tonal break) in its original was first written and published during the Ming era, about 1,200 years after the events of the Three Kingdoms. This is to say there was a preceding – and actual – historical account. This official record is known simply as sanguozhi 三國志 or Three Kingdom Annals, published 3rd Century.

Formal records, because they merely document events and persons in chronological order, tend to be straightforward and bland: “on such a year, so and so was made General of the Palace of Guards; the same year he went with 10,000 to attack such and such a place; and so on.

Such formal accounts offer no cause-effect relationships nor are the historical persons embellished in any background: they don’t say why, what were the trigger points, if any, or what had led to certain military or policy decisions. In short, no beginning-to-end plot.

Because 1,000 years had separated the Three Kingdoms era and the book Three Kingdoms, 罗贯中 Luo Guanzhong, its author, would have had to rely on the actual, authoritative text to write. That has to happen because all the events and characters described in Three Kingdoms were faithful to the Annals 1,000 years earlier.

This means two things: (a) Luo gave the unity of a plot to the 60 years of the era, and (b) Three Kingdoms isn’t fiction.

The idea of a fictional novel is a western invention. Chinese literary classics tended instead to grow out of a certain historical background then given a narrative plot. It is the same with the Luo’s work. But the popular perception that Three Kingdoms is a ‘historical fiction’ stemmed from the marketing efforts of those English idiots at Penguin who had translated hanzi into English.

Here’s the other 20th Century problem in the English translation: bad Chinese-to-English along with greedy gweilo marketing of those translations in order to sell books have continually and globally produced an erroneous picture into what the Three Kingdoms book truly represents.

These errors start with the title: there’s next to no romance in the 60-year period of its annual wars. (For actual romance, forget Three Kingdoms; go instead to the Butterfly Lovers or 梁祝 liangzhu, the acronym of two persons Liang Shanbo 梁山伯 and Zhu Yingtai 祝英台.) Accurately, and if it is to be faithful to the original, the Three Kingdoms book ought to be retitled ‘Compedium of the Three Kingdoms Annals‘.

In its Malay Hikayat Tiga Negara is correct without lending itself to varied interpretation but ‘negara’ is wrong because it suggests a nation whereas in effect there were not three nations but three states at war, each battling for the sole jurisdiction to rule over one nation, the Han Chinese.

Although frequent usage of the word ‘country’ or ‘nation’ is rendered in hanzi as 国, its etymology is that of a king 王 within an enclosed boundary marked as 囗. In modern usage, its English translation ought be nation-state so as to signify a ruler or government 王 administrating a land within a fixed geography 囗.

Another failure with the book’s current English translation is, it is unreadable.

The Three Kingdoms original has 600,000 character-words. Because hanzi is a highly metaphorical language, its literal translation was bound to fail, and worse if the translator did not grow up in a Chinese cultural environment.

If, on the other hand, the Three Kingdoms is given the meaning translation it deserves, the English version will run to more than 1 million words.

But English publishers and their stupid gweilo translators have no patience like the Chinese, so they couldn’t care less for veracity and cultural uniqueness. Result: they produce “gift sets” instead of books for actually reading and comprehension.

*****

The Butterfly Lovers

The exquisite and ethereal beauty of 梁祝 liangzhu, the Butterfly Lovers, was orginally written for a violin. This 7-minute Akiko version is truncated from her full length 28-minute performance available here. The first of three movements in Lu Siqing’s solo .

*****

问余别恨知多少,落花春暮争纷纷。

言亦不可尽,情亦不可极。

— 李白760 AD

Like talk, flowers fall at spring’s end…

There is no end of things in the heart.

in translation, excerpt, Exile’s Letter by Li Bai

*****

Three Kingdoms: First of two parts

Documented Han Chinese history (as distinguished from China’s history) approximates 24 dynastic eras spread over 5,000 years, most of which last 400 to 600 years each. This is to suggest not merely the longevity of the Chinese state, with or without dynastic rule. It is also to distinguish the Chinese unitary state from the western parliamentary and republican models.

In its beginnings, the Chinese state exists to defend its civilization, meaning people, land and culture from the marauding bands of tribes roaming the plains north of the present Great Wall.

This is neither a thesis nor a claim. Tens of thousands of historical text and palace records, some dating from the pre-Qin Shihuangdi era, others including Sima Qian’s works and Confucius’s Spring and Autumn Annals, speak of the state’s defensive roles and administrative functions.

Today, modern China is barely any different from its 5,000-year-long past, and this is in spite of an experiment in communism. An entire country, all 1,300 million, are on the move just to lift up themselves and safeguard the collective welfare. The operative term here is ‘collective welfare’.

France is an ideological state; the US is pure legalism, appropriated by Europeans and placed under their own laws to the exclusion of natives. China remains, on the other hand, a civilizational state, contiguous from an unbroken history. Its natives are the creators of their own state.

Those distinctions are crucial.

The western state had begun as an instrument to serve the interests of the monarchy, the family (including the aristocracy spawned by it) or the Church or both. Those differences in roles (what is a state for) and functions (how is a state organised) explain why the Chinese emperor – poor fellow – owns next to no property whereas both the Church and the western monarchy families were, and still are, among the biggest landlords in Europe.

Question: what happens when property acquisition runs out at home?

Answer: you find new ones abroad so that inter-monarchical fights over property in Europe expanded to the rest of the world. Everywhere the European went, land conquest became an expression of state power. When they arrived thus in Africa, the Americas and Asia, one of their first tasks were to draw lines in the sand: the French would take Senegal and Sudan, the British Ghana and Nigeria, the Portuguese and the Dutch split Asia and South America among themselves.

While Francis Light would arrive to claim Penang on behalf and in the name of Queen Victoria, there is no such concept in the Chinese state. There is no New World conquest, nothing in the name of the King Wu of Han, nothing for the glory of some voodoo Jesus, and you are free to believe anything, even a man faking to be Houdini walking on water.

Historically, the individual Chinese obligation to the state is reducible to two things: pay the grain tax and with one of your sons for soldier duty.

Those obligations hark back to the Chinese concept of the state: to keep the peace at home and at the borders from the marauding bands of wei wu’er and xiongnu peoples (tribal predecessors of Mongolians and Uighurs).

Because the basis of the Chinese nation-state is the defence, not the spread, of Chinese civilization, it became exceedingly difficult to remove the invaders once they had absorbed facets, or all, of Han culture. This explains why Manchurian rule was tolerated for nearly 500 years when the nation-state apparatus was kept intact and Han language and culture promoted.

The Manchurian defence of the Han state completely collapsed circa 1900, after which the Americans arrived in Korea and Vietnam, British in Guangdong. Effectively, this meant that the white man had replaced the xiongnu tribes coming in from north of the Great Wall: the west demanding not just land and property but, at the time, human souls for conversion as well. They say it is ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’.

The etymology in the ideogram script-word 國, modified today as 国, gives a far better sense into the Chinese idea of nation-state than its English language equivalent, which is country or state.

Guo 國 is an enclosure, scripted as 囗. Within it nothing is determinate – 或, read as huo – unless they are held together in their defense by this sign 戈. It is the script-word for man with a spear, and this reads as ge. The simplified version 国 offers a parallel idea: all the jade 玉, material symbol of Chinese society, resting inside a border.

But, in western academia and media circles, the Chinese nation-state is exclusively interpreted on medieval European terms: monarchy, aristocrats, serfs, land, gold, tax, freedom, elections and Jesus Christ.

This falsehood continues to be spread today, with ancient Chinese statehood classified alongside and equal to European monarchs – the ‘divine right of kings‘ and in the perverse English term Mandate of Heaven – even though no divinity exists in China, then or today. Chinese emperors don’t draw their legitimacy from any ‘heaven’ but from secular, ethical authority.

Like the spearman who has his duty to defend the borders, the emperor’s role – protection, defence and preservation of Chinese society – is only nominally hereditary and never permanent. Never. (In comparison see, for example, the hereditary list of French emperors). Should the Chinese emperor fails in his duty, another man, usually a general, takes over. Whoever takes over, the state’s role remains inviolate and the nation intact – the collective welfare.

This explains why it is not for no reason Chinese civilization is contiguous. So the Three Kingdoms era, as expressed in the Romance, was fundamentally war’s arbitration into which among the three is fittest and strongest to assume the state’s role and functions.

Today the preferred method of a change in rulership is called an elections. This is an extension of the European ‘divine rights’ concept but handed to the masses. The mob had simply superceded the British Queen.

But, what entitles the masses to this exclusionary or divine right and not, say, the Louis XV? Very little; so that, predictably, immediate post-Revolution France descended into mob rule that the Chinese has long argued would be inevitable 天下大乱, turmoil beneath tian. Clearly, ‘human rights’ is not the equal of competence, harmony and development, the benchmarks for a country’s progress and, backwards in argument, in determining the quality of state rule.

Such endless contradictions in democracy produce great electoral shows, but there is still no order beneath the heaven. An American electorate, for example, repeatedly delivers charlatans: the philanderer Christian do-gooder Bill Clinton, the warmonger George Bush, and the anti-Chinese nigger named Barack Hussein Obama.

Chinese history is replete with stories of successes and of failures of its varied states under varied dynasties. Most dynasties have lasted longer than democracy’s survival to-date so the last word on which model of statehood is best has yet to be written. Why then the repeated presumption in western literature that democracy is best and only way forward?

Answer: because today’s history is written by the ill-educated and bigoted, people such as the American academician Lucian Pye, or the Anglophile Khoo Kay Kim who, like Malaiyoos, can’t read hanzi but makes a living of spitting at anything remotely Chinese.

The current Chinese political thought prefer another route to the electoral succession of rulers. It is to change the menu not the chef and so to give modern governance a chance to correct its failures because there is simply no telling if an elected king is going to better than the one before but voted out of office.

China’s Three Kingdoms era was, in a manner of speaking, a battle for the best model of statehood, a quality which is attested to by one thing: the enduring quality of the Chinese civilization.

Superficially, naive western, Anglophile interpretation of Three Kingdoms was about territorial expansion (you read this in stupid Malaysiakini comments). Yet, nearly all the decisions to go to battle by the main Three Kingdom players – 刘备Liu Bei, 曹操 Cao Cao et al – had little or nothing to do with land but what goes with it. That is, the Chinese had long ago understood the principle 天下 tianxia.

This says that, far more difficult than it is to seize property, it is to keep people within it contented and so avoid a future rebellion.

Western territorial expansion never understood that. All along they presumed that, what they couldn’t solve through the barrel of the gun, they could pacify the natives with Christianity. Consequently its land grab raises more problems than it solves, one of which is something that both the Chinese state and its citizenry have long recognised as fundamental to sustaining a civilization: a person’s identity is inextricably linked to his past and that past to the land.

Cut off any of this chain links, who then are you? This question might had been irrelevant at a time without passports but identity and nationality are today compelling and inextricable: descendents of migrants will confront the question, from where had you come?

The Malays might have found this a vexing problem and thought, at British instigation, that it could be remedied by a constitution definition and by leaving out the issue of origin. This meant, in effect, legalising ethnicity through an artificial construct over its birth nature. In other words, you simply say who you are – an entirely western legal device.

An oppressive, arbitrary quality permeates this device.

Hence, out of the blue, by a mere proclamation, exploiting all 200 nautical miles provided in western law and not an inch less, whether 100nm or 50, the Philippines would attempt to wrench Huangyan dao (Scarborough Shoals) from China. Whereas China has, in its turn, relied not on law but on the combined principles of jus soli (right of soil) and jus sanguinis (right of blood) in its 1,000-year-long jurisdiction over Haungyan.

So as to mitigate legalism’s oppressive and arbitrary qualities, the British through such persons as the Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling (d. 1936) would attempt a moral justification. In White Man’s Burden (1899), Kipling argued for the white man’s contribution, bringing Christian civilization, to heathen tree-dwellers and infidel idiots living in India, Burma and Southeast Asia. This earned him the title given by Orwell; Kipling is the ‘prophet of British imperialism’.

Not coincidental, Mahathir Mohamad, a stupid man, borrows from the same, underlying, white man Kiplingnesque morality when he declared, condescendingly (in The Malay Dilemma), the Malays had earned the right to lord over Malaya and everybody else because they are the first to bring into the land ‘civilization’, i.e. administrative capability. (On all counts factually wrong: definition of Malay, being first, and civilization.)

Ever since then, Malaysia has been tearing at itself downhill, taking along with it the fortunes of Umno and Barisan.

In remedying this set of problems created and left behind by the Mahathir Malaiyoos, Najib Razak’s chief dilemma is reducible to this: what exactly are the role and functions of the Malaysian state?

Launching the Malay version of Three Kingdoms, Muhyiddin alluded to the Rukun Negara for an answer.

This is faulty for two reasons, among others: (a) the Rukun Negara is purely an Umno political agenda writ large to defend and protect Malay society, and (b) its legalistic content in both tone and meaning is a counterfeit copy of a western state model, hence arbitrary, narrow and obfuscating.

One result from these problems with the Rukun Negara is this: its principles have no lasting nor useful value, cohesive purpose much less. They are just so much spittle, not only because they are outdated but especially because they don’t make sense, even to Malays when they see Hadi Awang and Anwar Ibrahim as sources of division worse, far worse, than Chinese ever was or could be.

But, if Najib were to overhaul and reconstruct the reason of the state (French, raison d’État) to be inclusive, to cover Chinese, Indians and East Malaysians as well, then he would be shedding a grosteque Mahathir past and so to build new foundations for actual transformation.

In this regard, Chinese civilization and culture has much to offer him ideas, Umno by extension. But he must accept them in good faith for the reason that the Chinese is not a proselytizing race, unlike the orang putih and their local Bangsarized copies in persons such as Hannah Yeoh, Haris Ibrahim and Ahirudin Attan.

Najib should be the first to read the Hikayat Tiga Negara.

He would be able to claim success in ‘transformation’ once it is possible to say, without reservations or prejudice, that the Chinese cultural treasures of the Three Kingdoms and the Butterfly Lovers also belong to Malays on the basis of a single common denominator called Malaysian.

Being Malaysian, therefore, is not an aspiration that the inane Lim Kit Siang has claimed in the Malaysian First doctrine and Ahirudin in Bangsa Malaysia. It is there, already; people have arrived, integrated. The question left to be answered is, what to do with it?

*****

Addendum

梁祝

作曲:何占豪,陳綱

作詞:鄭國江

恨绵绵(粤)

为何世间良缘

每多波折

总教美梦成泡影

情天偏偏缺

苍天爱捉弄人

情缘常破灭

无奈困于茧中挣不脱

想化蝴蝶

冲开万千结。

情缘强中断时

痛苦不消说

可歌往事留在脑海

梦中空泣血

即使未许白头

柔情难以绝

情义似水滔滔斩不断

翻作恨史

千秋待清雪。

 

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