Monday, December 03, 2007

What is 'Wong' with this country?

Dean Johns, noted hard hitting columnist at Malaysiakini informed us that he voted for the Green Party in the recent general election in Australia which saw John Howard ousted, only the second PM in 80 plus years to lose his own seat while still in office.

That Dean voted for the Greens signified the concerns of Australians about climate change. Climate change has been the second most important factor that deeply influenced Australian voters, after Howard’s hated 'workplace agreement', quite unlike Malaysian voters who are more concerned, one way or the other, over ethnicity, ethics and equality (eg. who gets the biggest slice of the pie, and why UMNO members are exempt from seditious violations). Race issues have dominated Malaysian election topics for the last 50 years.

On race issue, regarding John Howard losing his own seat of Bennelong in Sydney, I read what SBS chief correspondent, Karen Middleton wrote about the behavior of some Liberal Party supporters on the night of Australia’s general election at the Wentworth Hotel in Sydney, which the Liberal Party used as its convention centre for that night.

When the polling count confirmed the predicted disastrous outcome for John Howard and his Coalition, some Liberal Party supporters went verbally feral.

Middleton wrote that
“a prominent one-time senior Howard government official could not contain himself, even with media representatives standing around.”

That frustrated bigot spat out “Those f**king Chinese”, blaming the Chinese voters in the constituency of Bennelong for voting Maxime McKew instead of the erstwhile PM.

If you have read Australian political history, 60 years ago, PM Arthur Calwell in a 'Whites only' Australia had made an insulting comment against a Chinese resident named Wong. Calwell made a sneering pun: "Two Wongs won't make one white."
So to those diehard Liberal Party ultra conservatives, it must have been just too much to take, where today Chinese Aussie voters were significantly powerful enough to kick their favourite leader and PM out of office. How they would have wished Calwell was still around. But wait, there's more and it's about Wong again ;-)<

But whether the Chinese votes had made the difference in John Howard embarrassing loss is still unknown, but prior to the election the Election Commission had re-drawn the Bennelong constituency, turning it from a once blue ribbon seat for the Liberal Party (and former PM John Howard) into one where it embraced large tracts of Asian voters.
In Malaysia it's the other way around where there have been allegations of untoward gerrymandering and an unbelievable phenomenal increase in postal voter numbers in Lim Kit Siang's constituency despite the absence of any police or military camp.

Perhaps like the new transparent ballot boxes, the police and military camps are also 'transparent' - that's why you can't see them – eat your hearts out, Malaysians, and dream of an independent EC.

Giant killer Maxime McKew, who defeated John Howard, was seen during the campaign dressed in Chinese collared blouse ;-) and even cutting a ... guess ... no, not a cake or a ribbon ...c’mon ... yes, a roast pig ;-) together with several Chinese community leaders.
Hmmm, I wonder how it was done? Maybe they ‘prepared’ it by sawing through the bones but not the skin, so that when McKew and several Chinese blokes jointly cut the roast pig, they did it as if it was like a ... cheese cake ;-)

Needless to say, there were the obligatory lion dances etc. Alas, there was no Penang-style Chingay banner throwing ;-)

It didn’t help the ultra conservatives' anger that when mandarin-speaking new PM Kevin Rudd walked up at a Brisbane Hotel that night to claim victory for the Labour Party, he was accompanied by his family and Chinese son-in-law, Albert Tse who’s married to Rudd’s only daughter, Jessica.

Kevin Rudd and daughter Jessica Tse

The Star Online said: Rudd’s elder son, Nicholas, is studying at Fudan University in Shanghai, while the younger son, Marcus, is still in high school and is studying Chinese already.

An ardent Sinophile, Rudd’s love of things Chinese started when his mother gave him a book on Asian civilization when he was 10 years old. By the time he entered the Australian National University, his obvious choice was Chinese language and history. One report even claimed that Rudd has the Chinese character “solidarity” tattooed on his arm.

Chinese Premier Hu Jintao is said to have liked Rudd so much that he invited the latter and his family to be his guests at the Beijing Olympics. And this was even before the election. When the results rolled in signalling the end of Howard’s era, Premier Hu was among the earliest to congratulate him.

Then there is the report of Malaysian (Sabah) born Penny Wong in a Sydney Morning Herald report which talked about the "rise and rise of … Penny Wong".

Yes, this is the Wong of today that i mentioned earlier. It said:

Penny Wong, a Chinese Australian, is a huge winner.

She has ministerial responsibility for Australia's international stance on climate change. But fresh water is Australia's critical domestic issue. It is drying up. The issue will remain critical for the next decade, at least. Wong is the cabinet minister whom Rudd has given the power and authority to "co-ordinate" with eight state and territory Labor governments to "fix" the problem. A dozen or more of her colleagues would have done practically anything to get hold of the portfolio.

It has gone instead to a woman senator of five years of mixed heritage. Wong, from Adelaide, came to this country at the age of seven with her grandmother from what was colonial British North Borneo before World War II (well, it’s Sabah now). Hers has been a remarkable political career so far. Her handling of the water issue will make or break the rest of it. It is a massive responsibility.

Like Julia Gillard, the mega-ministry deputy prime minister from Melbourne, Wong is aligned with Labor's Left.

Then in another news article showing Rudd’s greater trust in Penny over high profile Peter Garrett, the Environment Minister, where he (Rudd) stripped off a key part of the environment portfolio, namely climate change (including managing the signing of the Kyoto Protocol) and water resource from Garrett, and created them into a new Ministry for Penny to handle, the Sydney Morning Herald in its article Wong set to take on the world talked about Penny being Australia's lead negotiator at global greenhouse talks beginning next week.

The elevation of Penny Wong directly into the cabinet confirms
her rise to prominence as one of the top performers during the election campaign. By naming her as Minister for Climate Change and Water, Rudd has responded to concerns about Peter Garrett as the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Arts.

The paper said:

Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd named Senator Wong minister for climate change and water, while also appointing Peter Garrett to the cabinet as minister for environment, heritage and the arts.

Senator Wong, a 38-year-old lawyer and former NSW government adviser, had not held either portfolio in opposition.

Mr Garrett had been Labor's climate change spokesman but came under intense pressure during the election campaign over his stance in greenhouse treaty negotiations.

However, Mr Rudd said both Senator Wong and Mr Garrett would join him at the UN climate change conference in Bali which will kick off negotiations for a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

"Penny will have responsibility for our international negotiations on Kyoto and Kyoto plus, she will have responsibility for the negotiations of our domestic emissions-trading regime," he said.

"She will also have responsibility for the harmonisation of the existing state-based mandatory renewable-energy targets and regimes with an integrated national mandatory target regime."


Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said while Senator Wong was an "an extremely competent and able senator", a strong team approach was important.

"Climate change is definitely not just an environment matter it's a matter of economic management, it's a matter of health, it's a multi-disciplinary thing," Mr Connor said.

Yes, it has been quite a long march for Chinese Australians since PM Arthur Calwell's infamous “Two Wongs won’t make a white”.

Today, Australia not only has a PM whose son-in-law is Chinese, or where Chinese Aussie voters were purportedly significant enough to vote John Howard out, but the cabinet has its first ethnic Chinese cabinet minister, Malaysian-born Penny Wong who has been selected on merit to be Australia's Tsar on climate change and water resources.

I wonder if Calwell was still alive what would he have made of "One Wong has made it all ‘right’"!


  1. only in australia friend. that also unfortunately while groundbreaking is from the first world. If you are wisfully thinking as a Malaysian plse catapult down to earth...pretty fast and do some real work

  2. Same like what others said, its in Australia, not Malaysia. The one to make the decision in Malaysia is the Malay, not the Chinese. Why? Cause our population are shrinking and the Malay are sprouting like mad!

    It is only a matter of time when UMNO will declare that they DON'T need MCA and MIC to take win the election. And that time they will finally declare Malaysia as an Islamic State and the Constitution Law will be replace by Islamic Law! This is what our Tun had dream off when he still on power and UMNO will make it happen.

    We will be like Indonesia soon where we can't even celebrate Chinese New Year (CNY is ban in Indonesia, you can only do it secretly). So please congrats to our daddy, mommy, uncle, aunties, grandpa and grandma who make this nightmare happen to their next generation by supporting the BN!

    Want to bring down BN? You better pray the Malay will open their eyes or else you can just forget it, start raising fund and migrate to Australia >.< .

  3. Hi Kean

    Better check your facts on Indonesia as many of us whom have worked in Indonesia know that CNY is celebrated openly and not in secret.

    Indonesia has moved ahead of Malaysia in many respects foremost more press freedom,ie they are free to criticise their Presidents, leaders and stage demonstrations. Indonesia has even an Indonesian Chinese, Mari Pangetsu in Economics/Finance Ministry.

    so where is Malaysia heading ? backwards certainly ...fellow malaysians, stop the rot and regression... will not be too long become we become economic pariahs if we do not clean up corruption and racially divisive politics

  4. In Malaysia, "One Dollah is enough to make a wrong"

  5. Kean 3:46 am above,
    Chinese New Year has been a public
    holiday in Indonesia since 2001. Indonesia does have a dark and shameful history in its treatment of its ethnic Chinese minority, but in many ways it is now moving past Malaysia in accepting its multi-ethnic and multi-religious heritage.
    Virtually all legal restrictions on ethnic Chinese citizens have been removed, while Malaysia is still mired in its Never Ending Policy.

    As for Australia, white racism is often just below the skin, just scratch it, it will raise its ugly head. Of course, all legal discrimination is now forbidden, and among the educated middle class, inter-racial social relations are open and easygoing.
    But among those who see themselves threatened economically and socially by immigrants, there's still plenty of resentment of Asians.

  6. 50 years ago, if you said the White Australia policy would be abolished in favor of more equal policies, most people laugh at you with the response... "Not in a million years!"

    Thats not to say that everything's fine and dandy in Ozland today. Racism still exists there, like everywhere else in the world. A lot of things still need to be done, especially for the Aborigines. But it sure is progress from the policies of the 50s & 60s.

    Who knows, perhaps in +40 years time, we will see Ketuanan Melayu abolished in favor of policies that help all Malaysians regardless of religion & race. We may see a Punjabi Singh as DPM. We may also see an aging Lina Joy on a trip to KL, without fear of being prosecuted for her decision many years ago.

    Of course, that puts great fear in some folks who would want to see the eternity of Malay Supremacy in our country, and the other races keep their place.

  7. kean wrote:

    " start raising fund and migrate to Australia >.< ."

    As I wrote earlier in another post in M-T, if you were born in the Straits Settlement before Independence, you can claim British Citizenship, and then from there migrate to Australia. It is easier that way, instead of first getting P.R. in Australia and work yourself to be an Australian citizenship.

    I would use that method if I were to think of emigrating, but as it is, there is still unfinished business for me to take care of here before I make that move.