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The article farther below, told by Cecilia Cheung, is taken from the NPR. Other than two or three dodgy assertions (like teaching ‘happiness’ to children, an utter absurdity), she is generally correct about the storybook ethical imperatives written by Chinese versus Americans who merely tell stories.

Making the comparison, Cheung misses a fundamental point: imbuing ethics into Chinese story telling is natural to us and is not just a tradition that’s as old as our civilization. When ethical telling becomes natural it makes nonsense of Cheung drawing ‘implications’ from the stories which children grow to internalize instead; they don’t merely learn. Children don’t care for ‘implications’ nor ‘happiness’ and can’t tell the difference.

In any case, that was how we Chinese had a built Jesus-free culture and so sustained a ‘secular’ ethical system absent in the West. The West, as represented by America, somehow lost all that purpose, considering the Brothers Grimm, for instance, who once told lovely, meaningful stories. Perhaps because too much of their lives were latched on to one dominant piece of giant fairy tale called the Bible. Once Dostoevsky and Nietzsche killed their Jehovah God, they could no more tell good stories.

From the NPR:

What are the hidden messages in the storybooks we read to our kids?

That’s a question that may occur to parents as their children dive into the new books that arrived over the holidays.

And it’s a question that inspired a team of researchers to set up a study. Specifically, they wondered how the lessons varied from storybooks of one country to another.

For a taste of their findings, take a typical book in China: The Cat That Eats Letters.

Ostensibly it’s about a cat that has an appetite for sloppy letters — “written too large or too small, or if the letter is missing a stroke,” explains one of the researchers, psychologist Cecilia Cheung, a professor at University of California Riverside. “So the only way children can stop their letters from being eaten is to write really carefully and practice every day.”

But the underlying point is clear: “This is really instilling the idea of effort — that children have to learn to consistently practice in order to achieve a certain level,” says Cheung. And that idea, she says, is a core tenet of Chinese culture.

The book is one of dozens of storybooks from a list recommended by the education agencies of China, the United States and Mexico that Cheung and her collaborators analyzed for the study.

They created a list of “learning-related” values and checked to see how often the books promoted them. The values included setting a goal to achieve something difficult, putting in a lot effort to complete the task and generally viewing intelligence as a trait that can be acquired through hard work rather than a quality that you’re born with.

The results — published in the Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology: The storybooks from China stress those values about twice as frequently as the books from the U.S. and Mexico.

Take another typical example from China — The Foolish Old Man Who Removed The Mountain, which recounts a folktale about a man who is literally trying to remove a mountain that’s blocking the path from his village to the city.

“Every day he has to dig some dirt from the mountain,” says Cheung.

The book celebrates perseverance, of course — but also another value Cheung and her collaborators tracked: steering clear of bad influences. As Cheung puts it, “avoiding a negative person and staying on track and not being distracted by things that would derail you from achieving your goals.”

In this case the man keeps on digging “even as he has to endure criticism from his fellow villagers who call him silly. And in the end he actually removes the mountain.”

By contrast, Cheung says a typical book from the U.S. is one called The Jar of Happiness.

“A little girl attempts to make a potion of happiness in a jar,” explains Cheung. Only to lose the jar. She’s really upset — until all her friends come to cheer her up. “At the end of the story she comes to the realization that happiness does not actually come from a jar of potion but from having good friends.”

Cheung says this emphasis on happiness comes up a lot in the books from the U.S. In some cases it’s overt – central to the plot of the story. But often it’s more subtle.

“They’ll just have a lot of drawings of children who are playing happily in all sorts of settings — emphasizing that smiling is important, that laughing is important, that being surrounded by people who are happy is important.”

The same held true of the books from Mexico.

“They’re just not so focused on the importance of achieving a particular goal or persisting so that you can overcome an obstacle. Those are much more emphasized in the storybooks from China.”

What are the implications?

Cheung notes that children in China consistently score higher on academic tests compared to children in the U.S. and Mexico. But she says more research is needed to determine how much of that is due to the storybooks or even to the larger differences in cultural values that the books reflect. Other completely unrelated factors, such as different teaching techniques could be at work.

In the meantime, Cheung says her study suggests all three cultures might have something to learn from each other.

For instance American parents might want to take a cue from Chinese storybooks and supplement their children’s reading with more tales that promote a view of intelligence as changeable.

After all, says Cheung, if you think intelligence is gained through effort, then when you’re confronted with a challenge or even an outright failure, “you just put more effort into it. You try to learn from the experience and you think about different ways of approaching the problem rather than saying, ‘No, I’m just not smart and I’m just going to give up right away.'”

Conversely, Chinese parents might want to learn from the American focus on encouraging children’s happiness and sense of connection to others. “This is something that’s really important to instill in children,” she says. “And happiness is also important when it comes to learning. It can be a predictor of future achievement.”

And lest you’ve been worrying about the fate of that cat — Cheung has reassuring news. Once the kids improve their handwriting, “the cat feels very hungry,” says Cheung. But then the kids take pity on him — and write a few sloppy letters for him to eat.

***

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…in China

Part 2. The Last Chinese in China continued.

Above, received from a Beijing compatriot on Christmas eve. In translation:

Safeguarding our security and peace isn’t some Santa Claus old man, but our brothers and soldiers.

Hercules power: Our men stand guard, our women build houses, below, for this is what we do in China. We will protect with all our powers at hand and at all cost that which we built with the labor of our hearts. This is why Umno’s Red Shirts never got pass the gates of Petaling Street.

This time a year ago… 姐姐 应该早完成了吧

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In ancient Chinese text, the standalone script word hua 华 or means, ‘accomplished’. Today, it has become the derivative of many compound noun words, guanghua 光华 (brilliance, splendor), haohua 豪华 (luxurious), jinghua 精华 (essence of, fundamentally of) and huaxia 华夏 (Cathay; old name for China). Then there is huaren 华人, the Chinese. The Chinese were an accomplished people — and we still are.

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I Am China!

Qinhuangdao was minus seven in the morning yesterday, minus twelve before that. When the wind sweeps in, it feels like minus 20. Such days are best spent indoors and Jian, positively, refuses to go out, not even for cigarettes and wine. Weather forecasts expect snow this Saturday, three inches thick. Last week’s snow is still around, on the streets, on the ledge of our windows, rooftops, treetops, everywhere.

Jian hadn’t been back home for the last three chunjie 春节. For missing those days, she has nothing but tears. We talked about the times we went mushroom hunting but found honey instead; lucky thing there weren’t many bees around when we fished it out of the thicket. Soon, though, she shall return for spring’s reunion dinner next month; the flight is two hours; by train 42. Mama, she was told, would be back as well. But not her brother because his Tianjin restaurant is going to be opened until the eve of chunjie so he will be catering to the reunion of Others. This is the second year in a row he skipped dinner with the family.

This might read like a sign of the times, the breakup of the family. On the contrary; modern life strengthens the institution.

As for me…? Just to think of Malaysia, that steamy, great decrepit, stinky Islamic mosquito infested jungle swamp, built on the sweat of infidels and our money, makes me want to throw up. If only Najib Razak and the Malaiyoo pirates would loot the country dry and empty. That will be the day Malaysia is saved — from Allah, from PAS and Umno, the muftis, Mahathir Mohamad, and the DAP Anglophiles.

Some years back I heard for the first time in China the following words paired — ‘motherland’ 租国 and ‘compatriot’ 同胞. This was at the public security bureau, but where it shall not be named:

“The matter concerning (your friend), it is in good hands,” said the officer. “We’ll do everything in our powers to resolve it. Trust us. Is this not your motherland? Are we not your compatriots?”

In China, I had never felt like a Malaysian, not even for a single day, and don’t wish to feel like one. None of which is, of course, helpful to be specific about what it is to be Malaysian. A Malay may go to Mara, believes in Allah, eats with his fingers and live in a kampung coconut tree, but there’s still trouble describing a Malaysian on terms that are not exclusively Malay (which is problematic enough), and on terms neither Indonesian nor Arabic. The difficulties are all too apparent: Malaysia is, after all, an artifice on paper and the Malaysian is most times a motherless bastard and other times an orphaned child.

Anglophiles like that Christian mouthwash named Joshie Hong or that kangaroo baby girl fantasizer KTemoc might claim Malaysian identity but that’s just talk — words, and English words at that. As it was with the sycophants Kadir Jasin and Mahathir, Annie of the Valley has repeatedly questioned Chinese loyalty to Malaysia although, by that, she means loyalty to Malaiyoos in the way her Chinese mother gave herself to a Malaiyoo (and getting fucked by him).

Only Malays question the loyalty of the Chinese because, in asking, (a) it puts them as guardians of patriotism, hence, in control of nationality status and the passport, and (b) it keeps up with their pretense and the facade that there is thing called Malaysian and the Malay is some rojak three-in-one Milo cum: bumi, passport and loyalty. Worse for it, Annie judges loyalty — and hang on to your seat — on the basis of social media comments.

Here, therefore, is a key defining characteristic of Malaysia (that includes Annie’s little horde of coconut heads, fancying themselves as ‘Gladiators’): Stupid.

The longer one stays in Malaysia in the company of Malaiyoos and Anglophile thambis, the more moronic one becomes. Must be the kampung goat milk they drink with their mushy rendang. That or the Malay DNA.

Being Chinese has no need for constitutional definitions: one is either Chinese or not; there is no debate; no questions of patriotism; and no hankering over the IC. The passport may be something else though, so that being a Chinese in China transcends nationality; your IC doesn’t count. This situation arises not necessarily because I speak the language or because everywhere I’d go I had been fortunate enough to be welcomed and well-received. So the words of the security officer was revealing not just for their reassurances, which weren’t needed, but reaffirmation that a Chinese everywhere is a Chinese anywhere.

Collectively, we are in possession of a common consciousness, binding us not by skin color, which is fickle, nor by nationality, which is artificial, but by a set of linguistic, humanistic culture and values system that has taken more than 3,000 years to evolve and then to perfect that it’s near unshakeable.

China never — not to my knowledge, anyway — claims the rights of Chinese overseas, unlike say, India claiming rights of thambis in Malaysia and elsewhere. What it claims are fair and decent treatment, the same values that are pivotal to Sino-Confucian ethical culture. Which is, to treat others as you would like to be treated. Or, to be put it negatively, not to treat others in the way you wouldn’t want to be treated.

That isn’t too hard to ask and it’s simple to follow. But Malaiyoo and Muslim politicians couldn’t do this easy thing. When the security officer reaffirms my status as a Chinese compatriot by virtue of China being my motherland, she reiterates the long-standing virtue in Chinese thought: not special treatment but plain fairness.

I am, you see, the last Chinese from Malaysia in China.

Things here are not postcard picture perfect — and who says it must be — but we are working at it, all of us.

China’s nationwide economic or political or social policies are never issued out of a whim, driven by some attitude, or proclaimed through some ideological and religious filters. That’s how the West governs itself and so, too, Malaysia.

We don’t live a life with a baggage that today formulate and drive western policies and governance. Umno carries a ketuanan baggage, PAS an Islam baggage, Pakatan an Anglophile baggage, Helen Ang Hannah’s baggage, and Annie? An existential angst. Instead we Chinese do what works.

Take, for example, the problem of the wealth gap between the village and the city. China’s policy making body the National People’s Congress had for years been deliberating this: What to do?

Some ten years ago, the NPC began to free the counties to alone decide how villages under their purview should develop. It recognized that the local authorities alone ought to know best what’s for the best. Along with that freedom, the NPC offered some suggestions for development — and they are just suggestions, they say — such as cultural tourism, agri-business and handicrafts. The point was to exploit local resource and local resourcefulness, local ingenuity, and their individual drive to go forward.

A village in, say, Chongqing or Lioaning isn’t a collection of lazy kampung huts like those in Kelantan or Kedah that Anglophile idiots associate their western, city bias with an idyllic, rural life. The reasons for this difference in perspectives are rooted in the realities of history, geography, civilization and culture. Malaysia has no history, civilization much, much less, because 60 years is not history; it’s the drop of a cow dung.

Jian’s family are on official written record to be resident in their village for 46 generations. Give and take, that’s more than 1,500 years, long before there was even a Malacca named river mouth that Malaysia say birthed so-called Tanah Melayu civilization. (It was, of course, just Malaiyoo claptrap.) Over time, Jian’s family came to own a few mountains where she and I would go foraging for mushrooms and wild flowers. These mountains sit atop valleys, so that looking down produce a vista of unrivaled splendor that would shame Genting or Cameron and render them third rate by any standard.

Could something, economically viable, come out of this combination of geographical beauty, historical backdrop, present agriculture, and Chinese ingenuity?

Next, consider in the photo, further below, the bridge over a lake by a mountainside forest of pine decked in winter snow. That’s from a village in northeast Jilin. It’s near identical to a lakeside home that belongs to my cousins, excepting that their houses are pretty run down and the winter winds creep in through the cracks and there is no central heating.

Many villages still keep the architecture from a thousand years ago. To see what I mean go to Dali in Yunnan. At the old part of the town, roughly a rectangular plot 2km by 2km, is an example of what a county could do with its run down places. With government support, it was resurrected. Bathed in neon lights, the buildings, canals and streets, the place is today breathtaking in its beauty — like a fairy land, if there is such a thing. Thousands of Chinese tourists go there daily just for the heck of walking on its cobble streets and to stay in those tiny hotel rooms. Beyond Dali, and as bonus to the visitor, is longxue shan 雪山 that looks like something out of the Shangri-La movie. 

But, something else happened. Five years on, some counties were turning themselves into Shenzhen look-alike. Which would have been fine if that’s what they wanted, except that nobody live in those high-rise, property existed for speculative purposes, and the villages are not being repopulated because there’s nothing worthwhile and financially sustaining to go back to. Infuriated, central authorities dispatched officials to audit the work then put a halt to the self-governing plans: You give them the freedom to work as they please, and those county fellas fucked it up.

Now, it’s back to the drawing boards.

All told, do you see any governing ideology or bumiputraism in town planning? Or, in what China does to itself?

South China Sea is another lesson in history that today drives China’s policies.

For a start, look at the map: To the west, desert and more desert. North of China is nothing but stretches and stretches of ice and snow in winter. The so-called Silk Road was short lived, 100 odd years and thereabout. By the Song dynasty it was entirely abandoned because it was simply too much trouble, too much work for too little value. Paradoxically, for more than a thousand years, China’s safety was threatened time and time again coming from the west and north, the marauding Mongols, Manchus, Turks, and those fucked up Tibetans.

Why won’t they leave China alone is no mystery: the wealth and abundance of the Chinese.

Something else happened. By the 1500s, China’s primary threat came from the sea, from the east, the Japanese, and from the south, White people. Our ancestors, the Mings and the Qings, failed to see the dangers ahead, with the result that the plunder and the killings that accompanied the arrival of foreigners were unprecedented in scale in China’s 5,000 year written history, so that the so-called Portuguese ‘conquest’ of Malacca is, really, a dog’s piss. Some 30 million are dead from direct causes — the entire population of Malaysia today.

We aren’t going to let it happen again, even if the Denis Ignatius and Rais Husin of the world shout their voices hoarse about an ‘expansionist’ China. We’ll secure the places from the east to the south, all the way around Singapore and onwards to the Malacca. Pakatan doesn’t like it, take us on. If America’s intent is good, we have no problem letting its Seventh Fleet pass; they piss in our backyard, we’ll cut off their motherfucking prick. Japan? Step aside, boy; we deal with only men, like Uncle Sam.

Now, do you see any doctrine, Monroe or whatever, going with China’s island reclamation?

Jian and I shall return to our apartment after the spring new year. That is, after she had completed her 老家 laojia obligations and mine for mine. For the time being, there’s just the one life we now share between us. Nothing is going to separate us anymore, not Malaysia, not a passport, and certainly not money nor poverty; we’ll see to it. We toyed with the idea of doing diving in the Spratlys islands. This year, there has been too much snow. But, we must first leave it to Mao yeye to straighten out those Vietcongs and Yankees and then we’d go in — maybe even hop island to island and then enter Sandakan.

I recognize that our circumstances are far, far better than millions of others although Jian makes a problem out of it, something like, ‘I won’t go back without 30,000!‘ She had started with forty. Later, it went down to twenty. Life, you see, is negotiable.

Poverty is a perennial Malaysian mythology. Here, we think nothing of it because there is one born into it every minute, naked, penniless and helpless. People are instead classified as those ‘with money’ and those ‘without’. Those ‘without’ knows the pleasures of those ‘with money’ and how that opens the possibilities closed to them. That is, they know money is a service, not the ultimate object. At home, at chunjie, it helps to lift Grandma’s spirits, banish Papa’s worries, and to repay the relatives a debt of gratitude. All of which constitute ‘face’  面.

Only Anglophiles, carrying with them their Jesus Christ baggage of sins, think of money as a corrupting power, a force of evil.

Beholden to the word ‘poverty’, Mahathir has led the Malays to be dependent on an external agency, if not some contract then some job, and the NEP. Malays think of money purely in terms of extraction as opposed to earning it. It’s a loser’s attitude, which is what made Umno, ultimately, and made Najib Razak — like Allah and the Arabs make their consciousness. Malays are losers because Mahathir made them, yet he is not even sorry he did. He never did realize it, and still doesn’t — how could he, a man fed on Anglophile culture? — not even Malaysiakini, both of who are still beating on China for lending money to Najib. If the money was lend to Anwar Ibrahim, they would sing the praises of China.

Anglophile inability to see beyond money’s ostensible value is why Malaysia is such a flop in every facet of life. (Anglophile because they lead society for the stupid — and only — reason they speak English.) That has, in turn, led to every kind of failure, as a unified state, as a progressive society and as a common people. They can’t see that money calibrates capability; it is better than Allah as a source of motivation to excel. That, with money, each person begins to find the need for the Other because an individual is his own market. Alone, no person could satisfy all his needs, not even if you are a monk. The love of money would have meant that they learned to live and let live.

This is why, at the airport shops, Jian and I are going to splurge on all the fine liquor, fine cigarettes, expensive herbs and medicine, winter overcoat, Birkin bags and all the Belgian chocolates that money will afford.

We want diamonds, too…. We are Money!

***

This winter overcoat is so appropriate for someone tall and slim. And it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to own one. China’s factories are so good with garments, coming out not just with inexpensive material but highly cost-effective design that needs people like Jian to showcase and sell their wear locally.

Malaiyoo girls won’t need it. Duduk kampung la and feed the mosquitoes.

假如愛有天意

If Fate’s only wish is Love

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The cell phone revolutionized not just photography but the ideas behind it: beauty and art. More than most, the Chinese are enthralled by the arts and its expressions thereof. Below, graduating students make faces for selfies. Why? Answer, recall the monkey king and the Beijing opera mask, above, beside which two Chinese eat out in Japan.

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World Risk Areas for Overseas Chinese

海外华人安全地图

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The map above was prepared at sina.com after a large number of Chinese were rounded by Nigerian police. The reason? It doesn’t matter: they want Chinese, they will cook something up.

The color-coded map is titled 海外华人安全地图 which speaks of ‘World risk areas for overseas Chinese’. The darker the color the riskier the places. Red is red alert. This doesn’t necessarily mean risk in a racial sense, for example, the Middle East is included because it is dangerous to everybody. But Indonesia is red because the risk, purely on racial grounds, remain racist. Malaysia is close behind.

Overseas Chinese gathering; note the sign bearers in traditional Chinese clothes and hairdo.

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应警惕! 是的: Yes! As more and more Chinese travel abroad, always be vigilant. Girls: On the street, keep the men by your side. Always. Any Ali Malaiyoo touch you, you know what to do….

Better yet, don’t bother and don’t waste your money going to Malaysia. It has no snow, never can, never will. All it has are Chinese bananas and Indian coconuts, lots of Malaiyoos and mosquitoes, and their stinking sweat.

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These days, China has too much snow, above. Yes! No Christmas for Chinese! (Fuck that motherless Jesus.)

抵制圣诞节?海外华人应警惕!

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Yes! Yes! Yes! Chinese! Be vigilant during Christmas (above).

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We are so sick of western media distortions that this, above and below, have to be said. Distortion includes the like of Annie whose racist bigotry and idea of patriotism is to say all the good things of her Malaiyoo government, no matter its failings and even outright crimes.

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How’re you, my Motherland

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祖国好

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栾菊杰 Luan Jujie, above and below: Although a naturalized Canadian and fencing for Canada, her heart remained Chinese, a true huaren. Winning the first round match during the 2008 Olympics, she promptly pulled out and unfurled a banner written in hanzi, 祖国好. (Full sina article, below, in Chinese.)

Word for word the script translates as ‘motherland good’. In common day expression, for example, 你好 nihao means ‘how’re you?’ 祖国好 is therefore a greeting: ‘How’re you, my Motherland!’ She is also saying, I’m China!

The beauty of the Chinese language is that we can say the same things in English with the least number of words.

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Annie, Malaiyoo, Where is Your Loyalty?

In her Valley of Bigots, Annie’s racism goes something like this: Matters of loyalty and patriotism are not to be judged on their merits but on the basis of skin color. If you’re Chinese, say nice things about her Malaiyoo government or else… She’ll go to the police?

To answer Annie’s case about unpatriotic Chinese, let this be said for the last time and for all time: The hearts of the Chinese and our devotion and loyalty and our love will always be, first and foremost, our Motherland. China.

You want loyalty to Malaiyoos and patriotism to Malaysia, Annie? Fuck you. Fuck Malaysia.

We owe Malaiyoos and Malaysia nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not money, not passport and not IC. No, on the contrary. Malaiyoos owe us, loyalty to the Chinese and to China. The like of Annie and Kadir Jasin and Ahi Attan are so lucky to have us pay for your fucking Mara tuition, for your stupid rendang, and now your ports and railways. So, show some gratitude…. Get it, Annie?

*

 

 Chinese Power vs Barbarians

No more are we to take shit from the like of fucks as Annie’s assholes. We’ll make China great again (link goes to a third rate article that Evan Onos gets wrong, talking about America’s failure more than China’s greatness). When we Chinese say we are going to be great again, we aren’t asking your permission nor America’s. If, however, Malaiyoos believe that raw power speaks then we’ll show you our fist. Just that alone will turn them into little pussy cats.

Malays and Barbarians don’t comprehend the true qualitative essence of power that the Chinese do: ‘Power does not always assume just one form and that, in virtue of this, a given form of power can coexist alongside, or even come into conflict with, other forms of power.’ (That was leaked by Michel Foucault. Spell it out in English and Anglophiles still scratch their heads, wondering what the sentence means. Stupid Malaysians.)

Hence, when we feted Donald Trump, we understood  what he didn’t, ‘barbarians respond well to receptions and entertainment, after which they have had a feeling of appreciation.’ The Chinese formula is simple when it comes to deploying power: ‘That which is ours, we will fight for it. That which doesn’t belong to us, we don’t want.’

But, how power is expressed and worked out, that’s a matter of culture, Chinese culture.

The movie above, Wolf Warriors II, was made in response to the threats and bigotry Chinese face overseas. Unpatriotic Malaysian Chinese should help our compatriots respond to such situations. We are, you see, experienced in and adept to the Valley of Bigots.

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为救女儿她加入他国国籍 “祖国好”看哭许多人

竞技体育没有国界,但运动员却有自己的祖国,目前许多从中国归化到其他国家的运动员在面对中国时,或者咬牙切齿想要击败中国,或者口出狂言对国家不敬。不过也有一位老将,她在回到北京参加奥运会时,有一个举动使许多人感动流泪,而她的采访更让在场的记者都哭了,她就是击剑运动员栾菊杰!

栾菊杰曾是中国击剑队的一员,在国际上享有非常高的知名度,1989年退役之后, 栾菊杰本想跟随丈夫去外国做生意,而她也想成为一名裁判。但是1991年他们的大女儿出生不久后被告知有先天性心脏病,为了女儿能够健康成长,栾菊杰与丈夫选择移民加拿大,让女儿受到更好的医疗照顾。

因为女儿的治疗需要钱也需要人照顾,于是栾菊杰开始加入加拿大国际,并且迅速成为加拿大一流选手,如今她已经退役担任教练,但是60%以上的奖牌都被她的弟子所包揽。而她的人也在加拿大击剑界是一位举足轻重的人物。

虽然栾菊杰代表加拿大出战,但是她却时刻心向祖国。08年北京奥运会的时候,已经50岁的栾菊杰在赢得第一场比赛之后,她举出了“祖国好”的横幅。这一刻,她的举动感动了无数的观众。

而她本人在接受采访时面对记者讲述了这些年来她为了照顾女儿在加拿大的经历,在场的记着和她本人都哭了。这么多年来,栾菊杰虽然一直在加拿大打比赛带队员,但是她从来都不曾忘记自己是中国人的身份。

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The Banana Republic continued.

Part 1/2 here.

***

Is this what it means to be a person?

— Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star, 1977

Gentlemen — I see no ladies — I have a statement to make.

I shall be returning the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. I say this with much regret. Still, I’m sure my dear Butler Stevens would agree with me. I’ll keep the money though. I have been nominated in turn for the Sartre Prize for Price Refusals. To my brothers and sisters, thank you from the bottom of my heavy heart, if there’s such a thing. But I can’t accept it… just to be consistent. The Petra Principle, you know.

There will be no questions. Good evening, thank you for coming; all of you should go and type out your stupid stories. Make sure it gets subbed. Still, you never know…. Now, all of you, get the fuck out of my house.

*

Because things that happen center on the going-ons in a home, in a mansion, The Remains of the Day is striking in one regard to a Japanese (or Chinese) reader. It’s the complete absence of a family, no mother, no sister, brother, cousins, aunties, nothing. Not even neighbors. Stevens’s father got only a few words in, and that when he was going to die.

Stevens is, thus, human only if he is English surrounded by other English, a pathetic character replicated in Saul Bellow’s Dangling Man, and if lived in New York, he is strung between office and apartment, filled with meetings and ‘work’ to banish a boredom that would have been fatherless, motherless, meaningless, like a dog thrashing in a river, seeing which our instinct is to reach out with a hand and then to pluck it out of its misery.

On that criteria — a human is only human if following Englishness — has become the underlying motif each time an Englishman writes of the Far East. Problem starts therein; and Ishiguro makes the point well enough, here:

…the Japanese people may be viewed as amusing or alarming, expert or devious, but they must above all be seen to be non-human.

If this is the British life and attitude, why are Anglophiles — banana Chinese and coconut Indians in particular — so enamored with it? We know why, of course….

That was purely a rhetorical question to poke at Ishiguro because there would have been a time he thinks the world of English society, culture, values, ethics, politics, taxis, shops, hound dogs, sheep, jobs, education, the Queen, even the snow, in fact the whole shebang. On the flip side, however, is the plausibility Ishiguro had little regard for Japanese society in spite of being raised in a Japanese home. He is the Anglophile in perfection.

(Among Anglophiles elsewhere, knowing far less and understanding nothing, Malaysians had only contempt for their ancestral past, people like Tony Pua, Hannah Yeoh, Lim Kit Siang, Joshie: almost anything and everything about the English is for emulation, from the system of government to the books they read and what they eat for breakfast. Fish and chips?)

Ishiguro can be read as an answer to John David Morley who had in the reverse order tried to be Japanese but ended up instead preoccupied with sticking his dick into other people’s bedrooms. That was as far as he got being Japanese, so that Ishiguro was wrong by a thousand miles saying this about Morley’s Water Trade: Adventures of a Westerner in Japan:

 [The book]  is the story of a man who – for reasons left unstated… – feels a powerful need to leave his own culture behind and become accepted by the Japanese. He succeeds so far as to find the inner doors closed to him.

Acceptance? Why would Morley want that when he has English? And especially an English that’s superior to all others? Besides, how do you — pray tell, sihei-san — ‘leave behind a culture’?

Ishiguro speaks as if culture were a coat you take with you, put on and take off each time you feel like it. But, once you reject that premise then his answer about ‘inner doors’ doesn’t make sense especially since, plain to all and sundry, culture isn’t a physical notion nor will anyone find metaphysical doors that you knock on, open and then to get in and out. What exactly are those ‘doors’ that presumes people exist and whose roles are to stand guard over culture with specified entry and exit points? And they are ‘inner’ ones at that.

Though he observes and writes well, Ishiguro fails as a thoughtful writer, unlike, say, Camus or Clarice, the clever, insightful writers. Ishiguro, recall, had grown up in a moribund literary diet (Morley is an example) of English culture that pretends to itself, eats its own tail, like Stevens deluding himself and so gets the worse out of a life of his own making and self-justification.

Ishiguro, the Anglophile perfection, is a man copying the same self-delusion.

Take this other piece of evidence, Exhibit B, that is the opening line in Ishiguro’s review of Morley’s piece of trash:

The British and the Japanese may not be particularly alike, but the two races are exceedingly comparable.

Holy fucking Moses! That and other lines were typical British talk that Ishiguro invariably copied not just into his language and writing style but his thinking as well: flippant, meandering and wishy-washy that show a contempt for the truth. It was stupid. Not alike but comparable? And not just comparable, but ‘exceedingly comparable’! Does that mean they are exceedingly unlike or exceedingly alike?

Near identical and similar lines and modes of thought permeate Ishiguro’s writings, especially in The Remains and they filled up Stevens’s thoughts.

At another level, when Ishiguro makes cultural comparisons, he was being true to his adopted western attitudes. And it is this: when things are different these won’t and can’t be left alone to be simply different. No, instead, deploying his English (and western) prejudices that he brought into his life, Ishiguro must conduct a comparison followed by a judgment call. This then ends up as some contradictory, self-ingratiating hogwash that typifies the contradictory attributes of Anglophiles who, on the one side, imitate to be English while, on the other, want to seek British acceptance of their inherited cultures. In the end, thus, is an Anglophone world jumbled up with irrationality piled on irrationality, a jumble of banana Chinese idiots and coconut Indian monkeys.

One does not need to live in England to experience, as Ishiguro did, the English mental illness. English delusional sense of delusional cultural superiority would come to us, the Scots following in lock-step then the Welsh. Rudyard Kipling, that ‘jingo’ imperialist (that’s from George Orwell), once described Africans as ‘half beast, half child’.

Between Kipling and Ishiguro almost a century has passed, a good three generations. Had the English worldview changed? More important for our purpose here is this, Is Ishiguro himself any different from the Japanese (or African or Malaiyoo) three generations ago who saw themselves as somehow and in someway a lesser being, inferior, to the English, a half-beast, half-child? Has Ishiguro learned anything being English?

Like Ishiguro, many Japanese (and Asians) are today western nationals holding, say, a British passport but are they English? The question is asked to, as they say, push the envelope a little. Pushing it, you confront these questions: What is it to be English? Or, another way of looking at it, to be Japanese (or Chinese)? Is it possible for a Japanese not simply to be an English but to be a fine Englishman, a ‘gentleman’?

White, blonde and speaking English, an American of, say, Italian parentage could reasonably pass off as the Lord of Darlington, actually an area in England’s northeast Durham, with the Yorkshire parks to the east and west, Newcastle to the north and Scotland beyond. In The Remains, an American’s answer to the gentleman question was to buy the Darlington estate. The act of ownership places the American squarely into the English world and so resolves some of the fundamental barriers in identity belonging or, shall we say, tribe membership: race, language, and class (which does not necessarily equate with wealth).

In the case of the American acquiror, Englishness was primarily a matter of appearance, backed up by a new passport and residence in some rotting pieces of real estate; so what if it has historical, national significance. But appearances can’t buy inheritance that connotes originality. Which raises, in turn, the question, If culture and skin color are simply necessary requisites (though insufficient ones), what then does it really, really take to be a so-called English gentleman? Especially if you aren’t white and Japanese or a passport Chinese like Joshie Hong and KTemoc Kongsamkok?

Four years before The Remains appeared on bookshelves Ishiguro reviewed the Water Trade: Adventures of a Westerner in Japan. In it, he concluded that the protagonist in the plot (almost certainly the author Morley) failed to become Japanese because the ‘inner doors’ were closed to him. Characteristic of English style writing that attempts to read profound by being vague, Ishiguro says nothing about these ‘inner doors’, what they might represent and so on. There is just the sense that culture is a locked room (although it is not) and if Morley were admitted he would be Japanese.

Conversely, Ishiguro becoming an Englishman stems from the ‘liberal’, openness and generosity of English culture? It meant that culture is a guarded, exclusive place and admission to it singularly depends on people already inside, belonging to it. Morley was therefore excluded, but this interpretation says nothing about the people who wants to get in to the other side, nothing about Morley and about Ishiguro himself, one a scumbag wanting Japanese, starting and ending with the women, and the other an imitator who thinks English by way of mansions, grandeur, prestige and all the related material appearances of British life. The entire representative English life in Ishiguro’s Stevens was devoted to appearances — how to talk, what to think, what’s important and not important. Deeper than skin-deep there is just emptiness. Human relationships were a staged dance, never purposeful nor meaningful.

The whiteman’s adventures in Asia are invariably expressed as physical events — John Morley coming into contact with someone, preferably with a vagina — and never a mingling of relationships, a cultural exchange. It is a one-way street because, true to Christendom, there is no equality in relationships and individual persons are always categorized in groups and so judged by the latter, beginning with heathens and so on. True to his copycat Englishness, Ishiguro saw the life of Stevens as the property of the job function — being a butler.

Morley was therefore the least qualified to talk Japanese culture, or language, but then he has written the book in English and selling it to idiot westerners. Ishiguro?

He almost fell for it, talking and weighing the English life from the outside in. But then he is not Japanese in any fundamental sense but a born Japanese and which is entirely a different thing. This presents a problem of the outside worming itself in and talking of an outside experiencing the inside because there exist no experiences, no outsider adventures to write about. Ishiguro is neither. An Anglophile belongs to nowhere, not even on the fence because identity is not what Ishiguro or Morley or anyone says it is or belongs to. It is not a fixture, defined by, say, the Bible within a given set of specifications peculiar to a group. No, it is what a person becomes and continually become; in a manner of speaking, an individual creation, a part of which being character building, being good or bad, being stupid or clever, since identity is personal not group think. This is how we, the Chinese, sees identity.

Identity combines then transcends birth, body and mind. Person and identity are one and are not separable things and this amalgamation, producing culture within groups in a village or a province, is not a test-tube factory production because the identity culture needs to be lived and experienced, the better for it if one lives like among likes.

White people could never get it when a Chinese tells them, there is a Chinese ‘culture’ (文化) in Taiwan and one in the mainland; that Chinese ‘culture’ in Taishan mountains is not the same as that downstream in Beijing. Cross the river, is another wenhua. Huh…?

https://i1.wp.com/www.bekkoame.ne.jp/~gensei/ten/luxun2.jpg

Lu Xun, 1881-1936

The popular western idea that Chinese or Japanese is quite nearly non-human predates Morley.

Take Lu Xun’s 阿Q正傳The True Story of Ah Q. Simon Leys, one of the few American historians on China who can actually read and write hanzi, said of Ah Q in one his essays in the 1970s:

In getting to know Ah Q, those Western readers for whom China is most alien will discover a valuable fact that remains obdurately hidden from both the Yellow Peril theorists and from the apostles of Red China: this fact is that the Chinese too are human, or to put it another way, we are all Chinese.

In the western default view of the Chinese — a yellow horde, communist locusts, and so on — is Ishiguro’s chief complaint: “the Japanese people may be viewed as amusing or alarming, expert or devious, but they must above all be seen to be non-human.

In 1927 Lu Xun refused nomination to the Nobel then wrote to his friend Tai Jingnong that same year. Rather than put the finger on White people, he wrote, in characteristic Chinese fashion, for self-introspection (‘the archer seeing that he has missed his mark turns around, to examine himself and not his bow‘). In translation:

To be honest, I don’t feel there’s anyone in China yet capable of getting a Nobel prize. Sweden had best ignore us, leave us out of it entirely. If it’s a case of yellow-skinned people deserving special treatment, it would have the contrary effect of encouraging false pride among the Chinese, leading them to think they’re on a par with great writers from other countries. The result would be disastrous.

In Remains, Ishiguro surges ahead with the same critical self-examination, but using Stevens, an Englishman, so that in western literature this is a novelty. Chinese society had lived with the interior monologue since the beginning of time. In Confucian thoughts, it is standard fare. From ancient Chinese texts then pass through classrooms are the same conceptual notions of interiority and reflection:

  • (a) He who learns but does not think is lost.
  • (b) Of the three methods in acquiring wisdom, reflection is the noblest, imitation the easiest, experience the bitterest.

What had enthralled the Anglophone reader was reading, without knowing it, Ishiguro’s application of that central Confucian idea. In self-examination — a human quality unmatched by other animal species — is the paradox exposed: the discovery that the fine Englishman gentleman, apex of English society, is a fraud. He, not only anti-human, is inhuman.

Because of its introspective quality, The Remains says as much about the English as it ab0ut Ishiguro because, while Stevens is the quintessential English, Ishiguro is the quintessential Anglophile, like Hannah Yeoh is Anglophile and Lim Kit Siang and so on; the difference being a matter of degrees, meaning the level of their anti-humanity.

To that, Lu Xun’s work took great exception. In Call to Arms he called to the Chinese with the bowler hat and cane walking down a Shanghai street: The Anglophile isn’t a matter of acculturation, not especially in Hong Kong nor the Anglophone world; it is a conscious, deliberate choice.

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Me shihei-san!

Kazuo Ishiguro, hanzi/kanji name 石黒 一雄, on the day he learned that he would receive the 2017 Nobel Literature Prize: Seeing the impact of his work inside Britain, not outside, White and Anglophone reporters duly assembled at Ishiguro’s home to pay homage. “At last, here, truly, is one of us,” says Whiteman to himself.

You’d have to admit though that in his (English) writings さん shihei-san is very good, the perfect banana imitation to an English way of life, even thinks like one. He’s King of the Anglophile Anglopheny.

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https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/827006824989720576/d9RCphxS_400x400.jpg

Fan Jiayang, still want to be Anglophile Queen of Anglopheny? You aren’t going to make it in New York. You got to be in England. But if the weather isn’t suitable then try Australia. Stick to your wok, girl. Does New York think that’s all there’s to it about you?

On the bright side though: In Australia you will be among tongbao 同胞, and will have for a brother (warning: he likes girls, younger than teenagers; even dream dreams of them) this piece of Anglophile kangaroo prick for company but since konverted, rekonverted now re-re… to the greater cause. Round and round they go; one loses count.

That’s Anglophile for you, Queenie SupFan…

***

Nobel Lit Revisited. Award goes to…

The Banana Republic of Anglophiles

*

The British and the Japanese may not be particularly alike, but the two races are exceedingly comparable. The British must actually believe this, for why else would they be displaying such a curious desperation to deny it? … Hence the energy expended on sustaining an image of Japan as a place of fanatical businessmen, of hara-kiri and sci-fi gadgetry. Books, articles and television programmes focus on whatever is most extreme and bizarre in Japanese life; the Japanese people may be viewed as amusing or alarming, expert or devious, but they must above all be seen to be non-human. … No wonder the British are so fond of the ‘inscrutability’ of Japanese faces. — Kazuo Ishiguro, London Review of Books: Uchi, 1985 August.

*

THE INSCRUTABLE

Soon after the 2017 Nobel Literature prize went to Kazuo Ishiguro, he came to some “serious biographical thinking.”

Biographical thinking? And serious, too. Let’s dig into it.

Start with Josephine Livingstone who had strung up that phrase in the New Republic. Does she mean to say and yet not saying it that the western literary world has begun to question Ishiguro’s credentials for writing as if he were an Englishman? With which you can hear the quiet refrain spoken in London pubs: ‘But he isn’t even one of us!‘ Is he even English?

In America, Ishiguro became a further source of excitement among Koreans and Chinese writers and, of course, the Japanese — this is the Asian Anglophone world. In the New Yorker, Jane Hu wrote of a response by a writer friend, one Ed Park who thinks skin:

The Remains of the Day‘ was an important book for me twenty-five years ago—I was fascinated by the idea of an author of Asian ancestry writing so outside his skin. I hadn’t read anything like that before…

Not even in America with the like of Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club, horrid book, overrated) and Michiko Kakutani (New York Times, under-represented?) had they done it. Could they? A Japanese in England isn’t the same as one in America, No? Being an American was first and foremost a question of identifying where the immigrant had come from before, ‘What’s an American am I suppose to be?’ In contrast, there is no existential angst with being British; the only problem is one of skin-color.

Take (the American?) Fan Jiayang, eight when she was taken to America by her Sichuan parents but, Rosie Blau first.

In ‘Who is Chinese‘ (Economist, 2016 November), Blau, conflating notions of nationalism and race, then went on to suggest that China becoming a global influence has an underlying racial — even racist — motivation. That is, Han Chinese power. (Past commentators rarely say this of Europeans or Americans when they went global marching in — White power.) Picking up on the Blau’s sour-grape diatribe about Chinese identity, Fan tweeted, ‘complicated subject I’ve been thinking about for a long time‘.

Complicated? Thinking about who’s Chinese?  As if she’s capable of some independent, profound thinking, excavating the depths of her existential soul for answers nobody had before.

What’s there to think about when, after all, it’s either you are or you aren’t? Or, either you want to be, or you don’t want. (We, Chinese, would say to her: 老乡,想太多了.) Fan’s soggy brains and vacillating heart reflect the many dilemmas the Chinese needlessly put themselves into when they end up in West, among the first of which: How the fuck on paper am I to put my name, first name or last? Poor woman, but she has now decided to go with white: I’m Jiayang Fan, she shouts from Twitter and the pages of New Yorker. She doesn’t realize it. Just flipping the name around, half of her deep-thinking work in ‘thinking about’ has already been conceded to someone else.

By ‘thinking about’, Fan probably meant her rightful place — as Chinese — among Americans and as one of them. It also meant that, under editorial diagnosis, the human specie, given yellow and black skin types, are like rat specimens with which objective, independent traits exist to be cut up, fished out, labelled, classified then bottled in a jar for the start of some morality lessons, usually peppered with Christendom. In that attitude, Blau is representative. The western world believe that their moral standards constitute the primary basis for establishing modernity and culture. (The German sociologist Jurgen Habermas said that actually: the West is fundamentally Judeo-Christian, any other explanation is modern claptrap.)

A cottage industry writing books and editorial columns have since flourished from the slicing and dicing of the Chinese and Japanese. For one, we, economically, culturally and intellectually, make up the strongest ethnic group outside the West: no other society, not Indian, neither Aztec nor Arabs, come anywhere near to challenging western dominance in modern life. Today, at the height of this exercise, exasperated commentators, they’d throw up their hands in exasperation; you’ll find Anglophile motherfuckers, the RD and Kangkung types, by the dozens hogging Annie’s Life.

Enter Ishiguro: Inscrutable, you say? He knew how to set straight the record on what is it to be inscrutable, word by word, line by line, 100,000 words in all. With unparalleled finesse, he had turned inscrutability into pure art; he could tell you what is it be English, down to the man’s penile urgings.

The Remains of the Day is old world, blue blood English in fictional disguise, complete with tones, nuances and language style. With it, Ishiguro saw a way to offer a complete display of English traits: egotistical and self-centered, deluded, pretentious, prone to lying, and more inhuman than a dog when the butler Stevens left his father to die alone upstairs while, downstairs, his cruelty is justified by his dedication to some principles of greatness. More important than his father was Stevens’s dedication to his job — attending to the rich and famous.

[This kind of moral exchange is rampant among Anglophiles today. Remember Petra Kamarudin and Malaysiakini‘s Steven Gan? The latter, in the name of some journalism righteousness, had published and circulated RPK’s defense for abandoning his thieving son in jail over some moral, unbending dedication to supposed high ‘principles’, which is, better to retain the purity of his godly soul than soil his hands — not even once with a bribe to a cop — to bring out the son from a lockup cell where doors and windows don’t exist, and walls cram in ten people in a space for one, where the common odor is sweat and floors are thick with urine.]

In The Remains, Ishiguro employed a literary technique sometimes referred to as an interior monologue which, really, is an act of confession, the difference being that the confessing is delivered to oneself instead of the padre. This act, so Christian, so personalized, and because it reaches down to the depth’s of a white man’s soul, the interior monologue became a highly effective tool not just to answer the question about who is English but, more important than that, what is English.

It is this intrinsic quality in the butler Stevens, emblematic of English culture, that Ishiguro not only turned the tables on the West. He would also undo two centuries of an English-centric view of the world that they are superior, culturally, morally, and in their thinking.

Yet, it is befuddling how, after Stevens, could England and the West be the same to the rest of the world?

INSIDE THE SKIN

Indeed, nothing like this has ever been written until Ishiguro. It drew a backlash. With western writers in particular, whose own lives now sequestered by an outsider, how are they to consider life “outside their skin” when they can’t truly tell what’s on the inside, of their own lives?

What is a Japanese — really, really a Japanese? For an Englishman or a westerner to reach into the the inside depths of the Other, crossing the Pacific in a sampan would be easier. One John David Morley did try or became on; living or probably imagined a Japanese life; tried his hand at a Ishiguro-kind novel, and out came… trash (more on that later): Garbage in, garbage out.

Unlike a Chinese or Korean raised to contemplate the world primarily in terms of an external web of relationships as opposed to a lone Self radiating acts and thoughts, the western child has no such perception. The western child sees the world around him as he would as an anchor, from where other people are considered, examined and after which the child makes daily judgments, sometimes from moment from moment. His rules of living are received from the outside, not created from within and, indeed, an anarchist would prefer none. Growing up, religious morality, education and job training reinforce this self radiating view.

Ursula K. le Guin: Experience of the ‘Other’ is a gift….The West now sees the ‘Other’ on TV.

Christopher Hitchens sensed the same dilemma facing white, post-Christian society, without the self provided and instructed by a God. The ultimate source of western morality, the root of Englishness, has been the man Jesus Christ who pretended then bragged he has answers to everything and now he is dead and you can’t even find his gravestone while countless numbers in the west don’t give a shit for him anymore (the ‘Atheists’). Hitchens:

What will do about values, ethics, morals; how will we teach the children; how will we learn to live with one another in the absence of any real religious authority, any credible one.

Shuzheng now prays: Forgive him, my Allah in Heaven, your son Christopher hasn’t yet come to read Daoism nor Confucianism — and now it’s too late. He’s with you! But, he has the answer (and thank you, our Jesus in Heaven, for sending him to us) which, although 3,000 years late, is all self-evident with the Chinese and with Confucianists who have all along maintained that humanity is an acquired thing, by experience, day-in, day-out, so that being good or learning to be good doesn’t cease until death because morality, in our definition (and correctly, too), is internal volition. Hitchens again:

Morality is not learned by orders — they are thought crimes in the Ten Commandments! It’s acquired by experience, by moral-suasion and by comparing and contrasting these questions. Morality is what you do when you think nobody is looking.

No viewpoint could be more insular than, a child having grown up then becoming a writer, thinking thoughts of an outside world where its objective reality can only be penetrated by the experience of it. The west, contrary to its self-spun mythology, is the most insular thing that the human specie has evolved into.

Small wonder the English (and the West) thought Ishiguro inscrutable; we, the Chinese, knew more about inscrutability than Ishiguro or the Englishman, indeed we had preceded both. From the daodejing 道德经:

Say it, you will lose it

daokedao, feichangdao
mingkeming, feichangming

https://i1.wp.com/www.sacu.org/chs/CN126daokedao.png

say it’s that way, the way is lost
name that thing, the thing is lost

*

ANGLO JAP

Ishiguro was also exceptional as a Booker prize recipient and not because he is Japanese, and until him most of those writing outside the skin never wrote inside it, and were invariably Indian. They were Anglophiles writing Anglophile things, that is, looking at Indians as skin Indians from a cultural, self-radiating western platform: Roy, Adiga, Rushdie, Desai, Naipaul, Thayil, Mukhejee, even Martel.

They were imitations — and imitation was easy as god — but could anyone say that of Ishiguro?

English identity wasn’t the only thing he had taken up in The Remains because inside the (white) skin, what’s it like? How do you become English?

What’s Ishiguro as Englishman? Is that even possible? Or, is there anything to being more English than English? An uber-Anglophile perhaps.

Ishiguro would have thought of taking this ‘inscrutable’ path from an idea seeded when in 1985 he came to Morley’s Water Trade: Adventures of a Westerner in Japan. The book was typical, been-there, done-that sort of thing and just about every gweilo who came to the Far East wants to write a book about their ‘experiences’, certainly autobiographical but always disguised: What was it like, in China, in Japan? About Thailand, it almost always talked women and prostitutes when it isn’t about poverty.

All had one thing in common: those books invariably failed because all were wrong, including Morley. Their failure wasn’t just in the banality of their observations — and it couldn’t be anything other than banality. It was especially their self-delusion. In a book such as Water Trade, Morley trades his own Englishness for his egotistical notion of the Japanese by replacing the former with latter as one indivisible specimen — a rose is a rose, a cockroach is a cockroach, a Jap is a fucking Jap.

Morley, on the other hand, pretends to be a well-meaning and disinterested man in an apron and scalpel, never mind the times spent running in and out of other people’s bedrooms. His Englishness never left him and, invariably, all his efforts came down to pure literary fraud. To an outside reader, especially if Japanese, there was indeed something persuasively absurd with the style, language and genre and a quick example suffices to see it: a Japanese simply doesn’t talk nor think the way Morley had put it, especially in the translated English.

Ishiguro was clever enough to avoid following this inscrutable path because the problem with imitation — and this is fundamental to any good writer — is that an Englishman like Morley can never tell the real from the superficial, nor between truth and pretense in Japanese society, in its characters and their lives. How could Morley? In common, philistine parlance, this inability of some outsider getting and looking in then finding it all bewildering is called a ‘cultural shock’.

There is another expression for this shock: Inscrutable.

From Ishiguro’s standpoint, If the Japanese is inscrutable, how then is a Japanese to be English since Japanese to the English has to be unattainable because inscrutable? This encapsulates an essential emigrant dilemma, an impasse with contradiction piled on contradiction that renders meaningless and stupid Salman Rushdie’s one time claim that Ishiguro, in The Remains, was into Big questions of life: What’s identity? What is it to be English? That’s like asking a pig what’s it like to be a cow, a Japanese to be English, or worse in its absurdity, as in Morley’s case: Now that you have fucked all the Japanese women, what is it like to be a Jap?

*

Part 2 of Inscrutable Ishiguro is next.

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While Ishiguro, in England, went out of his way to be nice when writing about the English, the same wasn’t happening about an Englishman writing about the Japanese (above). All that the author John David Morley (below) could think of and imagine while in Japan was to go up and down the country inserting his dick into every Japanese housewife he encounters and, in between all that, going to brothels.

That’s about summed up the Englishman’s view of the Japanese, in contrast to the view of the English by the rest of the world. Morley, it seems, understands next to nothing about Japanese culture but manages to find the metaphorical term for the night-time pleasure world of brothels, clubs and cabarets: The Water Trade.

The book was released four years before Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. Morley’s stereotyping of the Japanese so rattled Ishiguro that although Morley was just regurgitating White trash, Ishiguro in England reviewed it for the London Review of Books and managed to stay civil:

I fear, then, for this … book by John David Morley, based on his three-year stay in Japan during the mid-Seventies, which adopts the approach of assuming the Japanese to be human beings, and rather ordinary ones at that.

Assuming? There we go again: Are the Japanese even human? Ishiguro:

[The book]  is the story of a man who – for reasons left unstated… – feels a powerful need to leave his own culture behind and become accepted by the Japanese. He succeeds so far as to find the inner doors closed to him.

Wrong, shihei-san! He got past the bedroom doors, didn’t he?

Truth be told: All that interested Morley was to fuck as many Jap cunts as he could lay his dick on (then recoup his testosterone capital selling his experiences in book form), any of who — the girls — he couldn’t get in a deeply butlerized English reserve society so saddled with all its Christian morals. Besides, Japanese women are far, far, far far, far less likely than Virginia Woolf to shout sexual harassment.

Small wonder, the Islamic State like to cut white man throats: they are in competition for a scarce resource. It’s all masochistic.

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Morley, above, born in Singapore, 1948, he is close to Ishiguro’s generation. Like Ishiguro’s Stevens, he is also English, but for another problem: Trying to find his way into the world, he goes for the most English of notoriety —  native sex and then he brags about it to Anglophiles, at book length, about the conquest of his penis.

Morley is the Englishness that Ishiguro pretended not to see — or maybe couldn’t — in an imitation case of English self-delusion so characteristic of Anglophiles.

***

https://shuzheng.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/d9dc6-japanese-prostitutes-10.jpg?w=574&h=423

Pictures of the Water Trade: The Sexual Adventures of John David Morley

Photos like the one above help inform and complete the English worldview of the Japanese, today Thai and Chinese: a bunch of whores they can buy, own and discard. The images, above and below, were taken before the time Morley was there, but the same Japanese location, circa 1910. Notice the English naming of the brothel as well the motherfuckers in bowler hats (think RPK). They probably work in the offices of the East India Company. Or maybe Jardine Fleming, or Sime Darby.

Imagine, hence, John David Morley entering the same place 50 years later.

Raja Petra Kamarudin, the half-Welsh Malaiyoo and Anglophile, today lodged in Manchester, has an identical stereotypical view of the Chinese; he said so himself.

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Spot the Difference

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One for the Stevens: Look Annie! There’s a Chinaman in our home!

Francis Yeoh (above, and don’t you dare ask who is he among them) badly wants to be a Lord Darlington, indeed any kind of Lord so long as Lord and never mind where so long as it is England (not motherfucking Scotland, please). He is the Lordly kind of Anglophile, Christianized, Anglicized, Malaysian (still is?), build railroads and utility plants for a living, a pedigree to its own that the Anglopheny world happily prostrates to.

But who among the above — and he has to be an Englishman — is going to be his butler?

The world upside down.

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Part 3

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…you don’t know how lucky are Malays to have us, Chinese, in Malaysia. Now your luck stops.

*

From the Robert Kuok Memoirs

COMMUNIST DEVILS? PLEASE, PRIME MINISTER

Malaysia has had six Prime Ministers since independence. I have known all six. The first, Tunku Abdul Rahman, had tremendous rhythm. He was a well-educated man, having graduated with a law degree from Cambridge. If you talk of brains, Tunku was brilliant, and very shrewd. His mother was Thai, and he had that touch of Thai shrewdness, an ability to smell and spot whether a man was to be trusted or not. Tunku was less mindful about administrative affairs. But he had a good number two in Tun Razak, who was extremely industrious, and Tunku left most of the paperwork to Razak.

Tunku was like a strategist who saw the big picture. He knew where to move his troops, but actually going to battle and plotting the detailed campaign – that was not Tunku. He’d say, “Razak, you take over. You handle it now.” In that sense, they worked very well together. In my meetings with Tunku, he demonstrated some blind spots. He had a bee in his bonnet about communism. One day, when we had become quite close, he said to me, “Communists! In Islam, we regard them as devils! And Communist China, you cannot deal with them, otherwise you are dealing with the devil!” And he went on and on about communists, communism and Communist China. I responded, “Tunku, China only became communist because of the immense suffering of the people as a result of oppression and invasion. I think it’s a passing phase.” He interjected, “Oh, don’t you believe it! The Chinese are consorting with the devil. Their people are finished! You don’t know how lucky you Chinese are to be in Malaysia.” I replied softly, “Tunku, as Prime Minister of Malaysia, you should make friends with them.”

Tunku Abdul Rahman had a bee in his bonnet about communism

Years later, when Tunku was out of office, he was invited to China. Zhao Ziyang, then Premier, entertained him in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Tunku travelled with a delegation of 15 Chinese businessmen who were good friends of his. On his way to China, Tunku stopped in Hong Kong and I gave them dinner. Then on his way out of China, he stopped in Hong Kong and we dined again. I asked him for his impressions. All of his old prejudices had vanished! He didn’t even want to refer to them. He just said the trip had been an eye-opener. “They are decent people, like you and me,” he said. “We could talk about anything.” From then onward, you never heard Tunku claim that the Chinese Communists were the devils incarnate.

FRIENDS, NOT CRONIES

One thing I will say for Tunku: he had friends. His friends sometimes helped him, or they sent him a case of champagne or slabs of specially imported steak. He loved to grill steaks on his lawn and open champagne, wine or spirits. His favourite cognac was Hennessy VSOP. Tunku would also do favours for his friends, but he never adopted cronies.

When Tun Tan Siew Sin was Finance Minister, Tunku sent him a letter about a Penang businessman who was one of Tunku’s poker-playing buddies. It seems the man had run into tax trouble and was being investigated by the tax department, and he had turned to Tunku for help. In his letter, Tunku wrote, “You know so-and-so is my friend. I am not asking any favour of you, Siew Sin, but I am sure you can see your way to forgiving him,” or something to that effect.

Siew Sin was apoplectic. He stalked into Tun Dr Ismail’s office upstairs and threw the letter down. “See what our Prime Minister is doing to me!” Tun Dr Ismail read the letter and laughed. “Siew Sin,” he said, “there is a comic side to life”. Ismail took the letter, crumpled it into a ball and threw it into the waste-paper basket. He then said, “Siew Sin, Tunku has done his duty by his friend. Now, by ignoring Tunku, you will continue to do your duty properly.” That was as far as Tunku would go to help a friend. Cronyism is different. Cronies are lapdogs who polish a leader’s ego. In return, the leader hands out national favours to them. A nation’s assets, projects and businesses should never be for anyone to hand out, neither for a king nor a prime minister. A true leader is the chief trustee of a nation. If there is a lack of an established system to guide him, his fiduciary sense should set him on the proper course.

A leader who practices cronyism justifies his actions by saying he wants to bring up the nation quickly in his lifetime, so the end justifies the means. He abandons all the General Orders – the civil-service work manual that lays down tendering rules for state projects. Instead, he simply hands the projects to a Chinese or to a Malay crony. The arms of government-owned banks are twisted until they lend to the projects. Some of these cronies may even be fronting for crooked officials.

Tunku was unnerved by the riots of May 13. After the riots he was a different man. Razak managed to convince him and the cabinet to form the National Operations Council, a dictatorial organ of government, and Razak was appointed its director. Parliament went into deep freeze. By the time the NOC was disbanded, Razak had been installed as prime minister. Tunku felt bewildered. He had helped the country gain independence and had ruled as wisely as he could, yet the Malays turned against him for selling out to the Chinese. In fairness to Tunku, he had done nothing of the sort. He was a very fair man who loved the nation and its people. But he knew that, if you favour one group, you only spoil them. When the British ruled Malaya, they extended certain advantages to the Malays.

When the Malays took power following independence on 31 August 1957, more incentives were given to them. But there was certainly no showering of favours. All of that came later, after 1969. The riots of May 13, 1969, were a great shock to the system, but not a surprise. Extremist Malays attributed the poverty of many Malays to the plundering Chinese and Indians. Leaders like Tunku Abdul Rahman, who could see both sides, were no longer able to hold back the hotheads. The more thoughtful leaders were shunted aside and the extremists hijacked power. They chanted the same slogans as the hotheads – the Malays are underprivileged; the Malays are bullied – while themselves seeking to become super-rich. When these Malays became rich, not many of them did anything for the poor Malays; the Chinese and Indians who became rich created jobs, many of them filled by Malays.

ON PRO-MALAY POLITICS

I vividly recall an incident that occurred within a few months after the May 1969 riots. I was waiting to see Tun Razak when a senior Malay civil servant whom I knew very well came along the corridor of Parliament House and buttonholed me. He asked, “What are you doing here, Robert?” I replied, “Oh, I’m seeing Tun.” He snarled, “Don’t be greedy! Leave something for us poor Malays! Don’t hog it all!” I could see that, after May 1969, the business playing field was changing. Business was no longer clean and open. Previously, the government announced open tenders to the Malaysian public and to the world. If we qualified, we would submit a tender. If we won the contract, we would work hard at it, and either fail or succeed. I think eight or nine times out of ten we succeeded.

Don’t be greedy Robert. Leave something for us poor Malays!
A senior civil servant friend

But things were changing, veering more and more towards cronyism and favouritism. Hints of change were there even before the riots. I was hell-bent on helping to develop the nation: that’s why I went into shipping, into steel – anything they asked of me. Even among the Malays there were those who admitted their weaknesses and argued for harnessing the strength of the Chinese. Mind you, that may have created more problems. If they had harnessed the strength of the Chinese, the Chinese would ultimately have owned 90 or 95 per cent of the nation’s wealth. This might have been good for the Malaysian economy, but bad for the nation.

Overall, the Malay leaders have behaved reasonably in running the country. At times, they gave the Malays an advantage. Then, when they see that they have overdone it, they try to redress the problem. Their hearts are in the right place, but they just cannot see their way out of their problems. Since May 13, 1969, the Malay leadership has had one simple philosophy: the Malays need handicapping. Now, what amount of handicapping?

The Government laid down a simple structure, but the structure is full of loopholes. Imagine that a hard-working, non-Malay Malaysian establishes XYZ Corporation. The Ministry of Trade and Industry rules that 30 per cent of the company’s shares must be offered to Malays. The owner says, “Well, I have been operating for six years. My par value of 1 ringgit per share is today worth 8 ringgit.” Then the Ministry says, “Can you issue it at 2 ringgit or 2.50 ringgit to the Malays?” After a bit of haggling, the non-Malay gives way. So shares are issued to the Malays, who now own 30 per cent. But every day after that, the Malays sell off their shares for profit. A number of years pass and then one day the Malay community holds a Bumiputra Congress. They go and check on all the companies. Oh, this XYZ Corporation, the Malay shareholding ratio is now down to seven per cent. That won’t do. So the Malays argue that they’ve got to redo the shareholding again. Fortunately, the ministry usually acts as a fair umpire and throws out such unscrupulous claims.

The Malays’ zeal to bridge economic gap with the Chinese bred ugly racism

It’s one thing if you change the rules once to achieve an objective agreed to by all for the sake of peace and order in the nation. But if you do it a second time, it’s robbery. Why is it not robbery just because the government commits it? And when people raise objections, it is called fomenting racial strife, punishable by three years in jail. As a Chinese who was born and grew up in Malaysia and went to school with the Malays, I was saddened to see the Malays being misled in this way. I felt that, in their haste to bridge the economic gap between the Chinese and the Malays, harmful short cuts were being taken. One of the side effects of their zeal to bridge the economic gap was that racism became increasingly ugly. I saw very clearly that the path being pursued by the new leaders after 1969 was dangerous. But hardly anyone was willing to listen to me. In most of Asia, where the societies are still quite hierarchical, very few people like to gainsay the man in charge. As in The Emperor’s New Clothes, if a ruler says, “Look at my clothes; aren’t they beautiful?” when he is in fact naked, everybody will answer, “Yes, yes sir, you are wearing the most beautiful clothes.”

THE EAR OF THE PRIME MINISTER

I made one – and only one – strong attempt to influence the course of history of Malaysia. This took place in September 1975 during the Muslim fasting month. Tun Razak, the second Prime Minister of Malaysia, was gravely ill with terminal leukaemia, for which he was receiving treatment in a London hospital. My dear friend Hussein Onn, son of Dato Onn bin Jafar, was Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and acting Prime Minister in Tun Razak’s absence. He was soon to become Malaysia’s third Prime Minister. I went to Kuala Lumpur and sent word that I wanted to have a heart-to-heart talk. On the phone Hussein said, “Why don’t you come in during lunch time. It is the fasting month. Come to my office at about half past one. There will be no one around and we can chat to our heart’s content.”

Hussein and I go back to 1932 when we were in the same class in school in Johor Bahru. Shortly afterwards, his father fell out with the then-Sultan of Johor and the family moved to the Siglap area of Singapore.

My father would often spend weekends with Dato Onn. Two or three years later, Hussein returned to Johor Bahru and we were classmates again at English College from 1935 to 1939. Hussein’s father, Dato Onn, did not have a tertiary education. But he read widely and was very well informed. He was a natural born politician, a gifted orator in Malay and in English. He was a very shrewd man with a tremendous air of fine breeding even though he was not from Malaysian royalty. When you were in his presence, you knew you were in the presence of someone great. Dato Onn would go on to found UMNO, the ruling party of Malaysia, and become one of the founders of the independent nation of Malaysia. He set a tone of racial harmony for the nation – and he practised it. Our families were close.

So, I went to call on his son, my old friend Hussein Onn in 1975. His office was in a magnificent old colonial building, part of the Selangor Secretariat Building. In front of it was the Kuala Lumpur padang, where, in the colonial days, the British used to play the gentlemen’s games of cricket and rugby. I climbed up a winding staircase and his aide showed me straight to his room. There was hardly another soul in that huge office complex. After greeting one another, I warmed up to my subject with Hussein very quickly. I said, “Hussein, I have come to discuss two things with you. One is Tun Razak’s health. The other is the future of our nation.” I said, “You know, Razak has been looking very poorly lately. We all know he has gone to London for treatment.” Hussein interrupted: “Tun doesn’t like anybody discussing his health. Do you mind if we pass on to the next subject?” I said, “Of course not.” I continued, “I had to raise the first subject because that leads to the next subject. Assuming Razak doesn’t have long to live – please don’t mind, but I have to say that – you are clearly going to become the new Prime Minister in a matter of months or weeks.”

“I’m listening,” he said. “Hussein, we go back a long way. Our fathers were the best of friends; our families have been the best of friends. In our young days, you and I always felt a strong passion for our country, which we both still feel. Whatever has happened these past years, let’s not go backwards and ask what has gone wrong and what has not been done right. Let’s look at the future. If there was damage done, we can repair it.”

Hussein listened patiently. I pressed on, “First, let me ask you a few questions, Hussein. What, in your mind, is the number of people required to run a society, a community, a nation with the land mass of Malaysia?” This was 1975, when the population was about 12.5 million. He didn’t reply. For the sake of time, I answered my own question. “Hussein, if I say 3,000, if I say 6,000, if I say 10,000, 20,000, whatever the figure, I don’t think it really matters. We are not talking in terms of hundreds of thousands or millions. To run a society or a nation requires, relatively speaking, a handful of people. So let us say six or seven or eight thousand, Hussein. And of course this covers two sectors. The public sector: government, civil service, governmental organisations, quasi-governmental bodies, executive arms, police, customs and military. The private sector: the economic engines; the engines of development, plantations, mines, industry.

“The leaders of these two sectors are the people I am referring to, Hussein. If we are talking of a few thousand, does it matter to the masses whether it becomes a case of racially proportionate representation, where we must have for every ten such leaders five or six Malays, three Chinese, and one or two Indians?” I continued, “Must it be so? My reasoning mind tells me that it is not important. What is important is the objective of building up a very strong, very modern nation. And for that we need talented leaders, great leadership from these thousands of people. If you share my view that racial representation is unimportant and unnecessary to the nation, then let’s look at defining the qualifications for those leaders.

“Number one, for every man or woman, the first qualification is integrity. The person must be so clean, upright and honest that there must never be a whiff of corruption or scandal. People do stray, and, when that happens, they must be eliminated, but on the day of selection they must be people of the highest integrity. Second, there must be ability; and with it comes capability. He or she must be a very able and capable person. The third criterion is that they must be hard-working men or women, people who are willing to work long hours every day, week after week, month after month, year after year. That is the only way you can build up a nation.”

I went on, “I can’t think of any other important qualifications. So your job as prime minister, Hussein – I am now assuming you will become the prime minister – your job will then be from time to time to remove the square pegs from the round holes, and to look for square holes for square pegs and round holes for round pegs. Even candidates who fulfil those three qualifications can be slotted into the wrong jobs. So you’ve got to pull them out and re-slot them until the nation is humming beautifully.”

“We do not have all the expertise required to build up the nation,” I added. “But with hard work and a goal of developing the nation, we can afford to employ the best people in the world. The best brains will come, in all shades and colours, all religions, all faiths. They may be the whitest of the white, the brownest of the brown or the blackest of the black. I am sure it doesn’t matter. But Hussein, the foreigners must never settle in the driving seats. The days of colonialism are over. They were in the driving seats and they drove our country helter-skelter. We Malaysians must remain in the driving seats and the foreign experts will sit next to us. If they say, ‘Sir, Madame, I think we should turn right at the next turning,’ it’s up to us to heed their advice, or to do something else. We are running the show, but we need expertise.

You’re going to be the leader of a nation, and you have three sons, Hussein … your eldest son will grow up very spoiled

“You’re going to be the leader of a nation, and you have three sons, Hussein. The first-born is Malay, the second-born is Chinese, the third-born is Indian. What we have been witnessing is that the first-born is more favoured than the second or third. Hussein, if you do that in a family, your eldest son will grow up very spoiled. As soon as he attains manhood, he will be in the nightclubs every night because Papa is doting on him. The second and third sons, feeling the discrimination, will grow up hard as nails. Year by year, they will become harder and harder, like steel, so that in the end they are going to succeed even more and the eldest will fail even more.”

I implored him, “Please, Hussein, use the best brains, the people with their hearts in the right place, Malaysians of total integrity and strong ability, hard-working and persevering people. Use them regardless of race, colour or creed. The other way, Hussein, the way your people are going – excessive handicapping of bumiputras, showering love on your first son – your first born is going to grow up with an attitude of entitlement.” I concluded, “That is my simple formula for the future of our country. Hussein, can you please adopt it and try?” Hussein had listened very intently to me, hardly interrupting. He may have coughed once or twice. I remember we were seated deep in a quiet room, two metres apart, so my voice came across well. He heard every word, sound and nuance. He sat quietly for a few minutes. Then he spoke, “No, Robert. I cannot do it. The Malays are now in a state of mind such that they will not accept it.”

He clearly spelt out to me that, even with his very broad-minded views, it was going to be Malay rule. He was saying that he could not sell my formula to his people. The meeting ended on a very cordial note and I left him. I felt disappointed, but there was nothing more that I could do. Hussein was an honest man of very high integrity. Before going to see him, I had weighed his strength of character, his shrewdness and skill. We had been in the same class, sharing the same teachers. I knew Hussein was going to be the Malaysian Prime Minister whom I was closest to in my lifetime. I think Hussein understood my message, but he knew that the process had gone too far. I had seen a picture developing all along of a train moving in the wrong direction. During Hussein’s administration, he was only partially successful in stemming the tide. The train of the nation had been put on the wrong track. Hussein wasn’t strong enough to lift up the train and set it down on the right track.

The train of the nation had been put on the wrong track

The capitalist world is a very hostile world. When I was building up the Kuok Group, I felt as if I was almost growing scales, talons and sharp fangs. I felt I was capable of taking on any adversary. Capitalism is a ruthless animal. For every successful businessman, there are at least 10,000 bleached skeletons of those who have failed. It’s a very sad commentary on capitalism, but that is capitalism and real capitalism, not crony capitalism. Yet, I’ve always believed that the rules of capitalism, if properly observed, are the way forward in life. I know that, having been successful, I will be accused of having an ‘alright Jack’ mentality. But I am just stating facts: capitalism is a wonderful creature – just don’t abuse its principles and unwritten laws.

Source: SCMP

***


In your time, Mr Kuok, you did what needs to be done. You rest now. We’ll take over but we can’t follow your ways because you can see the results today.

Indeed, there is no way to keep doing all the things you did. Let the Malays write themselves off history; they got what’s coming — they will destroy themselves, in their own hands — and we should let go the rotting beams and pillars that we, the Chinese, had held together to keep Malaysia from collapsing into a Zimbabwe or a Syria much, much earlier.

Consider this motherfucker Bung Moktar Radin for example: How does he respond? Money! Give money to him and the Malays! You write a book, tells it as it is, and still he — and this is an MP — doesn’t get it.

Malaiyoos never seem to have the culture to see beyond the mountains. You say the Tunku is smart. Really? But is Bung intellectually any lesser than the Tunku, than Hussein Onn, Razak (and Mahathir Mohamad, too, who you say nothing)? Don’t they think the same, say the same thing?

Maybe it is true after all: Malaiyoo hebat bodoh. Worse for it, a Malay like Bung thinks only of himself, points his finger at the fruit tree and not at the dried earth below. Consider also Najib Razak who shows off Jamal Yunos as a model of a great politician giving free lunch! This is so Umno, so Malaiyoo — and so Mahathir and so Tunku.

You, Mr Kuok, can only warn and warn and warn, and even throw money at them. Have your spittle not run out? The money? Can you not see what all that has brought us, this generation? You can’t do this forever, not now, not anymore partly also for the reason of China to where we must return, where resides our true Love, and where there are more important things to worry about and to care for…

Now that we take over, we stop playing nice.

無爲 weiwuwei, Mr Kuok, you had forgotten that.

*

貝加爾湖畔

*

A Chinese so very, very, very lucky not to be among Malaiyoos.

News Update: Latest NPC resolution!

With immediate effect, all criminals will be deported from China to Malaysia and to live among Malaiyoos — as punishment. No parole!

我的爱 别介意 我只是在玩乐

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Part 2

Robert Kuok’s mother (second from right) and her family in China, c 1924. Photo: ‘Robert Kuok, A Memoir‘ (Landmark Books, 2017)

*

From the Robert Kuok Memoirs

Tim Dumas, one of the senior partners in ED&F Man, once asked me, “Why do you want to go on battling the odds in the business world, Robert? You’ve made your pile. Why don’t you retire?”

My answer may have sounded strange to him: “Tim, can’t you see we come from two different worlds? The British Empire spanned the world; wherever the sun rose, there was a Union flag fluttering in the breeze. You had colonies for over 200 years. Even today, Britain punches above its weight because of that history. I belong to a developing Southeast Asia. And now there is China, the land of my parents and ancestors. As long as I can still contribute, I cannot rest.”

My 1958 sugar barter deal with India and Mitsui almost led to disaster after the Chinese entered the market as a seller of sugar at the exact same time. However, in the end, it was a blessing in disguise. Through this deal, I got to know the Chinese trading companies based in Hong Kong. They decided that they would rather work with me than against me, and Kuok Brothers gradually built up a strong trading relationship with Chinese-affiliated trading firms in both Hong Kong and Singapore.

Business is about one individual getting to know another individual and then another, and so on. We did sugar, we did rice, and then we went sideways into miscellaneous small things like photographic film and dyestuffs. From 1965, I began travelling to the mainland itself. My first trip took me to the Canton Trade Fair, with a side trip with several busloads of overseas Chinese to a commune outside the provincial capital. We had a good lunch of simple village-style food at a village community hall. In my early visits, I sensed that the people in China were highly moral and decent. I never felt like a stranger.

MOTHER, MAO AND DENG XIAOPING

China went into a self-imposed period of isolation during the Cultural Revolution, and the China that I returned to in the mid-1970s was a very different place. There was a lot of red tape laced with a high degree of suspicion. Many cadres did not have experience of business, and they feared that every capitalist was coming to try to rob the nation of its national treasures. The cadres didn’t know how to develop a business; but neither were they prepared to let you develop it. Mother warned me against investing in China: “You are going in too soon, my son, too soon. You will meet brick walls. Why bang your head on a brick wall? Your head will only bleed, and you won’t achieve anything. Worse still, if you achieve something, then they will take it away from you and you will be back at zero.”

Mother knew the Chinese make-up and the mindset of her generation. However, I saw that China was pitifully backward. I felt that the country must wake up and join the modern world. It was much poorer than the Malaya into which I was born. I felt that I wanted to help China and, if possible, push the country to develop faster.

Thank God there were good people, and standing above them all was Deng Xiaoping. I have Mother to thank for my lifelong interest in the birthplace of my parents. Mother always retained a strong and deep emotional tie to her homeland. Yet, she was very objective and critical of all the Chinese faults, including the foibles of successive governments and leaders. She was travelling regularly between Malaya and China in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She welcomed the victory of Mao Zedong and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

Mother always stood up for the poor. In 1951, on one of her trips back to China, she collected all the title deeds for her properties in Shandong province and went north with an assistant. They identified each tenant farmer and made a gift of the land to those who had tilled and maintained it. Until her death, she said Mao’s pluses far outweighed his minuses. But, from early on, she knew that mistakes were being made. She saw the harm that the Great Leap Forward did to the rural areas.

I think that, today, we would say Mao didn’t really understand how to run an economy. During the war years you needed heroic acts. The tales of daring during the Long March and the call to fight the Japanese resonated with the people. But once all the battles are won, you have to focus on building up the economy and bringing up the standard of living of the people.

Mother was a strong critic of the bad and bullying behaviour of local bureaucrats towards their fellow Chinese. This was particularly so during the Cultural Revolution, which she saw as the dark period in China’s history. In the early 1970s, she made a trip to Fuzhou after many years away. She was required to deposit her passport with the Public Security Bureau of Fuzhou. After staying for a few months and feeling unhappy at what she saw around her, she decided it was time to go back to Malaysia. She went many times to retrieve her passport, but the Public Security Bureau always gave her some kind of stupid answer and wouldn’t return it to her. One day, she got really angry. She went to the bureau, pounded on the desk, and said, “I am an overseas Chinese citizen of Malaysia. The Chinese Government told us to go overseas and become worthy citizens of the countries of our adoption. Why do you keep my passport? What have I done wrong? Why are you treating me like this? I shall go to Beijing to lodge a strong complaint.”

Within a few days of that incident, an official brought the passport to her home, and she booked a flight and returned to Malaysia. Many poor Chinese from Fujian had left to seek a better life abroad, particularly in Southeast Asia, and when they went back to China to visit relatives and asked for assistance, they would often find the bureaucrats at the Overseas Chinese Bureau officious and unsympathetic. On her other trips home to Fuzhou, the bureau would send someone to greet her who would say, “Madame Kuok, I have come to welcome you. What can we do for you?” Her response would be: “I have come back to see relatives and to worship at the temples here. I do not need any help from you, but you could offer your help to the many returning overseas Chinese who are poor and illiterate and who really need your help.”

She assessed Deng Xiaoping quite correctly from the beginning. She told me, “Nien, China will go back to capitalism in your lifetime. It’s already moving in that direction. I can tell you, son, man can only be driven by the selfishness in his heart and the betterment of himself and his children’s well-being. Only that can propel him to achieve more things, to be more creative and productive. China will and must continue to be driven by this.”

But in her mind, the ultimate goal of society should be true socialism, where man truly works for all his fellow beings on a totally selfless basis. But that stage is a long way off. Before that, man must complete the long march to becoming truly civilised, and we have only travelled the first few of ten thousand miles.

HONG KONG, A BIGGER (TAX-SAVVY) POND AND SINGAPORE’S FOUNDING FATHER

The principal reason that I elected to move to Hong Kong in the 1970s was taxation. At that time, it almost appeared as though the Singapore and Malaysian governments were competing with each other to see which could levy the highest taxes on those who were generating wealth for the nations. Both were taxing our profits at punitive rates. If you earned a dollar, you barely kept fifty cents. My main business at the time was in commodities. I was a substantial trader, taking large positions. Three thousand lots is the equivalent of 150,000 tons of sugar. A movement of one US cent a pound would bring huge profits or losses. If I went long and wrong, or short and wrong, margin calls could easily wipe me out. So it was imperative for me to build up my company’s cash reserves.

Because of Singapore’s steep tax rates, I was handicapped in my effort to build up cash reserves. And without deep reserves, I would be dangerously vulnerable to margin calls if our trading positions went sour. Although Singapore did not tax offshore trading profits, officials imposed extremely onerous conditions on you to prove that your profits were generated offshore. They essentially regarded you as guilty until proven innocent. A tax audit was a bit like the Spanish Inquisition. By comparison, Hong Kong’s tax environment encouraged business. You only paid 17 per cent corporate tax, so you were better off by 33 cents on every dollar of profit.

Since I was in the international sugar-trading business, with mobile operations it seemed almost irresponsible not to trade sugar from a low-tax base. Tax policy plays a very important role in encouraging or discouraging business. Hong Kong’s policy is very straightforward. Why would I want to hire an army of lawyers and accountants to avoid taxation? I should stress that I had not – and indeed, have not – lost one iota of my affection for Singapore. It is simply that it made more sense to base my operations in a low-tax jurisdiction like Hong Kong.

In fact, from about the mid-1970s, I often met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in a sitting room next to his office. His office would call my office at short notice when he had free time. In an early session, Kuan Yew explained that he wanted to have chats with me because I had a good feel for the scene in Malaysia. He had an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, but he wanted a different perspective. I was always very frank with him. If he asked questions for which I had no answer, I would tell him so.

We had many pleasant such sessions, sometimes over lunch. Unfortunately, these informal sessions ended when I moved to Hong Kong, as I could no longer pop around at a moment’s notice. Hong Kong was a much bigger pond than Singapore or Malaysia. I began to see very clearly that the CEOs of the top American, Japanese and European corporations were visiting Hong Kong, if not once a year, then once every two or three years. The senior VPs would go to Singapore and the VPs or departmental managers would visit Kuala Lumpur. That was the pecking order. Today, of course, CEOs are more likely to frequent Beijing and Shanghai. We had considered relocating part of our operations to Hong Kong from the 1960s. I finally made the plunge in 1974, deciding that I must form a Kuok Brothers Hong Kong.

I summoned several of our executives in Singapore: Richard Liu, Lee Yong Sun, James Lim, Kenny Yeo, and one or two others. I told everyone that we had to act quickly: “I have made up my mind that we will open a branch in Hong Kong. I ask for volunteers. Please give me your answer today. Two weeks from today, I want you to be in Hong Kong, ready to work. On the plus side,” I concluded, “anyone who follows me to Hong Kong will be well rewarded.”

Lee Yong Sun, Kenny Yeo and James Lim all put up their hands. I asked Richard Liu to commute back and forth, like I was planning to do, to look after both sides of the business for at least a year. I spent about seven to ten days a month in Hong Kong from 1974, and then gradually it became 15 days a month, 21 days, until eventually I moved there in 1979.

We started with about HK$10 million when I formed Kerry Holdings Ltd, the name that we chose for our Hong Kong operation. The executives who relocated to Hong Kong were allowed to apply for the first allotment of shares in the company. Trading, of course, migrated with me; that was unavoidable, as I was the main trader. Within 20 years, Hong Kong has blossomed into by far the largest of our three group companies of Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

THE RISE AND RISE OF HK PROPERTY

I saw great potential in China, but I can’t claim to have had a crystal ball on the momentous changes that would follow the death of Mao Zedong. Luckily or unluckily, I was born Chinese, and I have always remained very proud of being Chinese. The more I heard people call China backward, the more I felt we must show the rest of the world, some day, that China can be advanced. I felt that I had something to offer my fellow Chinese: modern ways of thinking and management, and respect for the value that both sides brought to a business relationship.

However, our focus was most certainly not on China during the first few years after we moved to Hong Kong. Kerry Holdings focused on supplying sugar and rice to Indonesia. That was when Yani Haryanto had his magic arrangement with President Suharto, under which all that vast land’s sugar and rice imports passed through Yani’s hands. My first major investment in Hong Kong came in November 1977, when I bought a piece of land in Kowloon at auction and built the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel. It is still a very important jewel in the Group’s hotel crown more than 40 years later.

After that, I plunged into the Hong Kong property market, then into warehousing and local stock-market investing.

It is well known that Hong Kong property has created quite a few billionaires. In the hindsight of history, it is not hard to see why. My first visit to Hong Kong was in 1947, when Joy and I were there on honeymoon. We drove with a friend, Eddie Cheung, past the old Peninsula hotel in Kowloon. When we were maybe a few hundred metres down Nathan Road from the Peninsula, Eddie said, “Robert, if you have spare money you should buy land here. I think you can buy empty land at about HK$5 a square foot.” Well, that is probably the greatest missed opportunity of my life!

Fast forward to the late 1970s, when we had been in Hong Kong for three or four years. We had established a small office, and we rented apartments so that those of us who periodically came over from Singapore would have a place to stay. When a two-year tenancy expired, the rent would always shoot up. The rising rents were creating a strong headwind for our business. So I called several of our executives into my office, and said, “If rents keep going up like this, we will never be able to gain a foothold here. We have to go into property investment.” So, we established Kerry Properties Limited, which is now a public company, and which has been our primary company for investment in Hong Kong and mainland China real estate since 1978. Even I did not see how important this decision would be. In the 1970s, despite the rising rents, the cost was not that steep. But, as China developed, it became very apparent that rents would continue to soar and soar. We decided not to stop at buying just one or two floors of office space or one or two apartments. We branched into development. We built entire buildings, and then major integrated commercial and residential complexes. We have never looked back.

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Source: SCMP

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https://www.tvnz.co.nz/content/dam/images/news/2017/11/25/marks222_800.jpg.hashed.fe358ccf.desktop.story.inline.jpg

The above image first appeared on a WeChat chat page by an anonymous then went to TVNZ after which it went round the world. Circles mark the places with what look like needle punctures. The CCTV recording of a teacher beating toddlers have also appeared.

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TERROR IN THE NURSERY

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https://chinadigitaltimes.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/4/files/2017/11/Screen-Shot-2017-11-23-at-11.36.26-PM.png

RYB Education Inc (RYB = red, yellow, blue), New York listed last September, total stock value USD766 million (MYR3 bn), operates 1300 kindergartens and nurseries in more than 300 cities throughout China.

Three days ago, November 22, several parents noticed that their children in 新天地分园, a nursery in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, had come home with needle puncture marks (top image) on their arms, buttocks or legs. When children tried to explain, they cried. For two days after that parents assembled at the nursery gates to demand answers. They got nothing, other than excuses.

Once parents began sharing stories, the problem wasn’t confined to needle marks. Kids were given pills; others had red scars on the ears and necks. That is, there was systematic abuse.

Yesterday, RYB administrators lodged police reports against parents for fake news and false accusations, after which both social and print media, including Baidu, were told to put a lid on the entire affair. “Say nothing”, the headline below reads.

This is our response to the RYB head honchos and their authority connections in Beijing: we’ll shout farther and louder. Meanwhile, go fuck your mothers.

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https://screenshots.firefoxusercontent.com/images/e0dd0424-4694-4f88-81e3-76a47ad763fc.png

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The worldwide reports:

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https://www.whatsonweibo.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/learningcentre-min.jpg

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https://fm.cnbc.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/img/editorial/2017/11/08/104830318-RTS1E3KZ-ryb-education.530x298.jpg?v=1510181152

RYB Ownership Structure & Finances

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The image below is the same one above. Click on it, the screenshot appears full screen and reading is easier.

 

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