#214 food scare

Milk, an essential for babies and now cup noodles, the popular fast food for adults especially the elderly who found this convenient to prepare.

All one needs is to pour hot water into the cup and wait for several minutes…voila, the food is ready for eating! Mind you, the price for a cup noodle is not that cheap…but for convenience, to fill the hungry stomach and saving time in this fast track life is an alternative choice!

Tainted milk in China stole the headlines at a time when the global financial crisis was looming large, now this cup noodle scare in Japan where insecticide is found! Is there something more sinister?!

About a million cups were recalled. This scare comes at a time when prices of some staple foods are on the rise!

The Nissin Foods product company was founded by Mr Momofuku Ando. Died at ripe age of 96, he was born in Taiwan in 1910 and returned to Japan in 1933. According to sources, he was inspired to provide cheap food for the masses after witnessing people queueing for hot ramen (noodle) at a black market stall during the time of food shortage in WWII.

Interestingly the first instant noodle came on the market in 1958 but the cup noodle in 1971.

#176 china gymnasts falsify age?

I heard on BBC that China’s gymnasts who won gold were under age. Was there deliberate oversight in submitting the age on their part?

There is always confusion for those outside of China to know the age of the China Chinese.

Even for one who is born in Singapore, growing up, I was always confused about my age until I applied for my national identity card when I was twelve.

If you asked me what year my parents were born or their birthday, I couldn’t tell you. You see the Chinese go by their Chinese calendar year.

I was befuddled with the age of some of my China-born friends living in China or those who never went abroad. Many of them don’t give you the actual date of their birthday…so when celebrating their birthdays, the day changes with our calendar year. This is NOT INCONSISTENT as the Chinese go by their Chinese calendar year. For unknown reason, the Chinese always add 2 years to the day they were born.

Is this being dishonest? A lie? A stripping of the medals?

Surely not…when this is cultural difference in interpreting age or the day they were born.

#162 religious freedom

In an earlier post I complimented President George Bush that he was smart in his decision to attend the Olympic Opening Ceremony in Beijing — smart does not equate wise though.

As usual the US and the West pride they know what freedom is…human rights, religious freedom, freedom of speech…

This religious freedom the West adopted has bankrupted many believers in Christianity…in fact money has become the God! During the Reformation and Enlightened Age, the West shone in every aspect of life — politically, economically and socially. Today, decadence seems to pervade the West, so much so many young are embracing the eastern religions.

When I was in Germany in the 1980s, I discovered the citizens had to pay church tax. I do not know if this tax law exists today. What was the church tax for? The state would deduct 1% (?) off a personal income. Many young resent this deduction as they do not believe in their parents’ belief and the church. In fact many claim atheism or believe in other religions.

I believe ALL churches ARE registered with the state around the world.

In China, I believe there is a measure of religious freedom today, unlike the Mao regime when all religions are forbiddened. There was crackdown on those religious leaders and active devout devotees…buddhism, muslim, christianity and confucianism and taoism.

Yet strangely my encounters with many Chinese who went overseas, the first place the young actually entered was the church. Many had the notion that the church is spiritual refuge from reading the Russian literatures. However many young are blindly following the trail of the MONEY God!

Religious institutions exist and it is actively operating…yet why the foul cries from the devotees?

When I first visited Beijing on my own (not with tour groups), I was pleasantly surprised at the openness. Yes, there were uniformed police patrolling around the Tiananman Square area and the shopping areas, but that did not give me the impression that I had to watch that I say any more than in my own land or when residing in the West. In fact I feel safe that these uniformed police were around for security reasons!? In fact these are signs of a developing nation on the road to prosperity! (I’m sure I’d be clobbered for this!)

One obvious sign to religious freedom was I saw many monks clad in their robes walking freely around. Or are these for show?

Are the locals not allowed to worship in the open 3-self churches? These might be opened for the expatriate community and I was told Christians are not allowed to openly evangelise or proselytise. I can talk and discuss Christianity within the church compound but not outside. I’ve yet to test the truth as I was not there long to see the truth. 

Many Christians in China feared that if they openly profess their faith in Jesus, they are liable for persecutions…is this true? Can a people light a lamp and put it under a bowl? Are Christians not the light of the world?

Jesus in sermon on the mount said:

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14)

Is this not true that the Chinese government is cracking down on the clandestine groups — those groups that function without registration or within the law?

I fancy there are two groups praying for the Olympic Games: one, this will be a success and the other, hoping this event will highlight some ugly aspects of the country and eventually to shame China!

Unfortunately, the Olympic Games has become a tool for politiking!!!

#161 has the olympics changed china?

China is a huge land mass divided by mountains and rivers. Can the Olympic Games change China?

Probably not the way many outside of China would like to see. It is true that the Olympics might be a national event but those who could really enjoy the occasion is far in between. This happens in all the cities that hosted the event.

Personally I know in homes whenever parents had visitors or play host, there would be massive clean up of the homes…in some ways, spring cleaning, some things had to go to create space and so forth.

The place where it is hosted like Beijing, the capital, will definitely receive accelerated transformation which is positive but certainly not for some dwellers.

Even if the dwellers are well compensated, I believe there will be some discontents on sentimental reasons and unwillingness to change or psychologically for families or elderly to start again in an unfamiliar surrounding where possibly having new faces around. 

Undoubtedly some sights or living quarters had to make way for facilities to host the event…as a form of respect to visitors or good hospitality?

The same could be said for those cities or venues that hosted the event in the past. I recall in Sydney there were some unhappy voices on this; and I sincerely believe virtually all the venues that hosted the Olympics gave the same woes and cries.

This will definitely happen in the next host country when the event will be held unless the organisers or governing leaders have a way of getting around the problem. 

What fascinates me was this event in China had called for massive and extensive media coverage. Perhaps to generate news and to arouse interests?!

The heightened situation was China wanting to share the event with the populace only to see this backfired in the protests in some parts of the world.

No matter, the Olympics is always and will be an event NOT for the nationals or ordinary people BUT for athletes from different nations to meet in one location in celebration of their sportsmanship and…the national leaders. Like football or tennis or golf tournaments, it is always for those interested…never, never, never for all.

#157 can man control weather?

There is constant vigilance and scrutiny these days about pollution and the weather on the forthcoming Olympic Games in Beijing…will the pollution hinder or bring some side-effects on the health of the athletes?

What is the media doing by constantly harping upon whether China is able to clean up the air for the Games?

Is China not doing her level-best to take control of the weather and her environment?

Is the media and those in the West asking China to become like a god or deity?

It has been clearly stated: man cannot and not able to take control of the weather. If man can take control of the weather, then…man is almighty!

A decision had been made for China to host this Games. Why are the media and human rights groups and some leaders in the world bringing longstanding issues like human rights or pollution to task? President George Bush was smart in defending his decision to attend the Opening Ceremony…

Pardon me, what have the human rights organisations contributed to the affairs of the people in that nation? What concrete realities or help have they offered except come up some statements? Why are some Chinese so foolish to echo those human rights organisations and go to jail? Surely there must be some creative and think-out-of-the-box to beat some unjust social issues.

Are the Chinese NOT able to learn from past history — the sages, heroes and writers to consider and beat the system. Historically, the people in China had suffered injustices and corrupt officials, will this be abolished within this decade…or even during this Olympic Games?

Previously, there was little publicity or hype on global warming or greening the earth –venues in the past were not under close scrutiny on such.

Unfortunately or fortunately for China today, she comes under tremendous pressure to make a success of the Games. Will the West make China stronger and almighty when she is able to control or lessen the smog?

Positively, this has brought much awareness and accelerated research on how to curb air pollution in China.

In Singapore, there was increased level of smog when there was huge forest fires in our neighboring countries.

#139 release of political prisoners

According to some news sources, Congressmen Frank R Wolf and Chris Smith went to Beijing to lobby release of 734 (?) political prisoners under the human rights banner.  

Are these congressmen willing to absorb these political prisoners to America — that is, to offer these political asylum to their country?

What are some implications in releasing these political prisoners? Will China see greater unrests if they remain? Is this what these American congressmen wished for in China?

Once a dissident, always one. The person will not be subdued until he lives in another society to know the difference. If the political prisoners remained in prison, perhaps one of them might become ‘Mandela of Africa’!?

Building a nation is one of the most challenging tasks but destroying a nation is so very easy!

What is democracy offering to the world? Where is democracy? It appears more countries are entering this arena but…is the world a safer or less fightings or licensed killing in the name of wars and dissensions and protests (accidental deaths?

Today this word ‘democracy’ has many shades and interpretations…some according to the whims and fancies of naivettes or unthinking people! Is democracy not freedom to respect one another’s rights to live peacefully? Is democracy not giving one the opportunity to deal national issues through consensus?

The congressmen must be bitterly disappointed that President George Bush will be attending the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. Will they stir more resentments on President George Bush and his administration before he relinquishes the presidency? Will there be more resignations among Bush’s men?


Mongolia is in a confused state — some Mongolians took to protest allegating that votes were rigged. Does freedom means protest and destruction of premises and getting one another arrested — in the name of human rights which the world is hawking on China’s human rights issue?

If Mongolians do not appreciate freedom, will there be elections in future? Will the world point a finger saying I told you so…that China is an authoritarian rule? Is this what the world wants to see in order to put that nation down?

I sincerely hope China will rise above criticisms and allegations…

I hope the world will give the present leaders in China a chance to run their nation which has long history of dissensions and strifes — certainly not easy to rule a country when it’s so huge in land area.

I wonder — is this a ploy of the human rights organisations especially by the exiled leader who claims himself a spiritual leader. If this exiled leader is truly a spiritual leader, he would not be involved in politics of this nature.

I note whenever reconciliation talk was taking place between the envoys of exiled leader and China, there would inevitably be some form of protests in parts of China. Is their holding talks a signal for more protests — so as to put China down as the Olympic Games is due in a couple of weeks’ time!

If this is so, this is a most devious ploy.

I certainly hope the world will focus on the Olympic Games as an event in celebration of athletic prowess and glory — not on politics or finger-pointing on human rights issue!


#125 a chinese by descent

Interesting that BBC’s James Reynolds sought readers to name 10 top-list about China or people of China.

He prefaced that he wrote for his own people…I wonder about the average English interests in the things of the East or China if not for those negatives that happened in UK and Europe like the recent Olympic Torch protests.

Many young Britishers like their forefathers travelled to Asia to find ‘gold’ as there are greater opportunities today.

Understanding China is still a huge and challenging puzzle…even for a Chinese in the diaspora — our views are so diverse.

I belong to the migrant class of Chinese parents living in Southeast Asia. My father wanted a better life, away from the corrupt and politically unstable nation he was born during the 2nd World War.

I was brought up at a time when Singapore was the new nation. Our focus was on nation-building and a people belonging to Singapore.

My immigrant parents always considered themselves Chinese and hoped to return to China one day until the Cultural Revolution in the mid-sixties…it was then they made Singapore their adopted home. Resulting, they never talked about China or educating us on the things of Chinese.

Naturally I grew up knowing only Singapore and always regard self as Singaporean rather than Chinese. It was when I worked and lived in Hongkong in early 80s that I experienced identity crisis. The HKs saw me a Chinese as yellow-skinned but when I claimed I’m a Singaporean, they could not understand — in fact I experienced some form of hostility and frown upon. However one interesting phenomenon was at official counters, when I started to speak English, I was served hand-and-foot, otherwise these HK officers would bully or deride one who cannot speak Cantonese! You see HK was a colonial island, like Singapore before Singapore became a nation.

Then, I realise I’m a Singaporean of Chinese descent. But this does not make me Chinese as I didn’t know the culture or able to identify with things of Chinese, coming from the diverse cultures in Southeast Asia, though culturally rootless I am. 

Strangely when studying in Sydney (Australia), I was not aware of my difference as I spoke and think English and my caucasian Aussie friends never made me feel different either. During the school breaks I was invited to join life in Aussie families.

You see I’m one of the new Singaporeans where our national leaders’ vision was to unite the different races to become one — one for all and all for one. I grew up not aware of the color differences during my primary school days in an English-stream school.

In those days, there were the Chinese-stream schools. If one studied in such schools, there was only one race, Chinese. The minorities like Malays and Indians do have their schools but there were few.

Parents proudly put their children in the English-stream schools. Some time in the 70s, Chinese schools entered the mainstream as those educated in Chinese-stream found difficulty in getting satisfactory jobs. So the policy changed accordingly.

#120 a teen-survivor’s courage

I want to record this one of many human stories…the Sichuan earthquake has seen survivors young and old saved from rubbles from several to hundreds of hours after the quake struck; in one case, water fed with love by one’s spouse.

Xue Xiao, the 17-year-old, was saved after he survived 80 hours in the rubble — his parents were crushed emotionally. His right arm was crushed and amputated yet he hopes to fulfill his dream one day…

…when Xue called out to his rescuers Zhang and He: “Uncle, I want to have a cola, I want an iced one”, he was speaking the language of the new generation, a generation that has grown up on junk food and aerated drinks.

The Cola Boy’s passion for life is exemplary. The words he used to console his mother leave a lump in the  (blogger’s) throat. “Mother, don’t be sad. I knew I would lose my right hand if I were saved.” If this is not the triumph of the human spirit, what is? Xue knows that thanking Zhang and He for saving him is tantamount to belittling their effort. That’s why he told his mother when she asked him to thank his saviors: “No need to say thanks between friends.” Here is a 17-year-old showing the maturity of a wise man. And the fighter in him spoke when he said: “And I will learn to use my left hand to continue with life. I love math. I want to be a scientist.” (quoted from columnist Op Rana in ChinaDaily)

I hope the leaders in the provinces and counties take care of those who they are called to govern and not corrupt the system and callously interpret policies set by the Central Committee. I hope these leaders will not go out of their way to prove they are capable at their jobs at the expense of the poor and helpless.

The world criticise the President and Premier and leaders of a country but the truth is those down the line are the ones who created many ills in a country.

I wish those leaders in the West will not make callous and uncalled for remarks and allegations listening to one side of biased persons or judging a situation through their tinted glasses!

I can understand if parents protest against those government civil leaders…they reap that they sow…these leaders will be judged accordingly.

I hope the forthcoming days will find more graciousness on the lips of leaders around the world.

#119 one prays for China

I’m praying that my Lord Jesus Christ will give the Chinese the courage to face tomorrow and at some unkind and callous words of discouragements to the victims and people of China. 

I pray for all aftershocks to cease and allow those in authority to concentrate on reconstruction and serving her people.

I pray for salvation and healing to come upon the land of China. That China will be the favored country tomorrow…that God will bless China bountifully.

I pray that those whose children died in the quake will allow the dead to rest in peace, though difficult that may be — to forgive those leaders in the counties and to give those callous leaders a second chance to prove themselves to bring good to those under their care.

During my time working on oral history in understanding Christian believers in China in late 1970s, one lesson that stood out — those suffered forgave those who persecuted them. They saw those who persecuted them were forced to under the circumstances. They saw another unseen force at work quoting from the Christian Bible when Paul wrote in the New Testament in the Letter to the Ephesians Chapter 6:12…

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…

Furthermore God in Christ has enabled many miracles and wonderful testimonies that shone brightly in those days of darkness.

The quake is a double-edged sword — this either draws the best out of humans or the worst in humans.

“Weeping may tarry in the night but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)