Monday, November 12, 2012

Daughters & Fathers

Aiyah, you guys have been hopelessly unable to read into my (admittedly) cryptic short posts. Okay lah I give up, and am am back to a tng k'ooi (chong hei) long winded one, wakakaka.

Josh Hong

Josh Hong is one of my fave columnists at Malaysiakini. I’ve been following his articles for several years, enjoying his generally astute grasp of international politics. However, I have not blindly agreed with everything he wrote. For example, in January 2005 I disagreed with some points in one of his MKINI articles Chinese racism - not quite in a nutshell.

In that very well written article, while I agreed/agree with his observations that some Chinese have what I termed as a boorish 'Middle-Kingdom' mentality, I believed (still do) that he was incorrect in querying (surprised?) that China's humiliation at the hands of western powers in the 19th Century did not affect the Chinese perception of their grandiose civilization, which according to Hong's line of argument, perhaps might not have been so grandiose after all .

In a letter to MKINI I stated my disagreement with Josh’s contention on the following points:

An English anthropologist, Edward Burnett Tylor, described 'civilization' as synonymous to 'culture', which he termed as that complex whole including knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.

Also, UNESCO defines 'culture' similarly as a set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.

Therefore, regardless of the fact that China was defeated pitifully in its military encounters with the western powers or a technologically more advanced Japan during World War II, the greater body of Chinese 'civilization' would remain largely intact as it must have, …

… though of course like all values and norms that come into contact with foreign culture, they would evolve naturally to eventually change the greater whole. Now, whether this [change] was fast or significant enough for Josh’s liking remains subjective.

However, what we may say with some certainty is that Chinese ego after a serious of military humiliations and foreign occupation would be considerably dented, but a crushed conceit or flattened arrogance would be quite different to their awareness/perception of their magnificent 5000-year old civilization.

Jap murdering Chinese during WWII

The Chinese would in all probability be banging their head hard against the walls, lamenting wailfully how in the f*, given their great civilization and thus supposed 'superiority', they had come to be so defeated ... and not surprisingly, might have even blamed it all on that nebulous feng shui thingy, wakakaka.

If we look at the great civilizations of Greece, Rome and Egypt, which in turn were invaded and severely defeated by other nations or even nomadic hordes through the ages, the depth, durability and indeed grandiosity of their civilizations have never been in question, and exist till today (through assimilation) in the civilizations of modern European and American nations.

Indeed Western philosophy, politics, culture, arts, and science can trace their origins to Greece while we know that western laws draw heavily from Roman law, even preserving many of its Latin terms. While Rome had considered Greece as its model, the latter in turn viewed Egypt as their spiritual and cultural example.

I had (then) stated that Josh might have been confused between Chinese civilization and Chinese pride. While the latter is influenced by the former, the former is not necessarily by the latter. Thus the former would remain intact even if the latter might have been dented.

Now, whether one should consider Chinese civilization as grandiose would be also another subjective issue, but in this regard I believe there is already virtually universal acceptance (especially in learned/academic circles) it has been so.

However, as an associated item of interest (related to another of Josh’s remarks), the Japanese, who denigrated the Chinese shockingly as sub-humans (as the Nazis had termed the Jews, and the Israelis had termed the Palestinians), had no compunction about adopting the Chinese language as its own. It is suggested that half the Japanese vocabulary are of Chinese origin. Even the name Japan or Nihon consists of 2 Chinese characters.

riben = sun's root = Japan

A curious trivia in the shared language has been the Japanese adopting or inheriting the Chinese’s superstition in the utterance of the word ‘4’, pronounced as  in both languages (in the 4th tone in Chinese), a taboo-word on auspicious occasion.

According to the Chinese dictionary, there are 15 different words pronounced as si of which 9 are in the 1st tone, 1 in the 3rd tone and five in the 4th tone. Because the one in the 3rd tone, which means ‘die’ or ‘death’, is almost similar in pronunciation to the word ‘4’ (4th tone), its utterance is studiously avoided during auspicious occasions like weddings, birthdays, New Year period (15 days), etc.

But the Japanese easily and cleverly avoid the taboo by resorting to an indigenous Japanese word for ‘4’, namely yon. But nonetheless the avoidance indicates the Japanese inheriting Chinese belief (culture).

4 = si (pronounced shi) in Chinese and Japanese, also yon in Japanese

Thus Japanese culture borrowed heavily from and adopted Chinese culture.

Another interesting item is that the Japanese monarchy continues until today the tradition of having a Chinese name for a newborn baby. Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako named their daughter with a Chinese name, Aiko. Most Chinese would recognize the words Ai and ko.


This practice stems from medieval times when the refined Chinese language was largely (and only) spoken by Japanese royalty, nobility and the cultured.

Josh had an interesting theory on why Chinese harbour a latent and seldom discussed animosity towards the Japanese – he believes the Chinese detested and still detest the Japanese because they couldn't accept being beaten by a barbarian race of dwarfs. Well, I didn’t agree with his way out theory because matey, being brutalized, raped, tortured and massacred by the Japanese during the last war were terrible and hateful enough without worrying about Chinese-Japanese comparative culture or the enemy’s anatomical measurement.

Chinese woman with baby decapitated by Jap at Nanjing

I then riposted with my theory as to why the Japanese were unusually feral with the Chinese, calling them sub-humans and showing no bounds to their bloody barbaric brutal savagery, horrendously demonstrated in the most primitive genocidal fashion in Nanjing – the Japanese could not accept being culturally beholden to the 'weak man' of East Asia, thus they strove to erase completely from their consciousness and physical presence this reminder of their embarrassing cultural womb.

The Japanese atrocities merely demonstrate that while Chinese racism is real and regrettable it is not unique.

Now, why have I brought out more than 7-year old response to Josh’s earlier article today?

I want to disagree again with a few points in Josh’s latest article in Malaysiakini 'Daughter of a strongman'.

Josh wrote about Park Geun-hye, the daughter of daughter of Park Chung-hee, the military strongman who oversaw the most spectacular transformation of an economic backwater into an industrial powerhouse in the 1960s through the 1970s.

Ms Park aspires to be President of Korea but when confronted with revelations of corruption by her aides, she saw her initially comfortable lead in the presidential race chipped off, and was (as Josh wrote) “… forced into a corner, she had no option but to publicly apologise for all the wrongdoings committed by the state during her father’s economically miraculous but politically oppressive rule.”

Park Geun-hye

Josh was obviously attempting to draw a parallel between Ms Park and Marina Mahathir – namely, daughter of strong powerful father who ruled their respective nation with a strong hand and had forcefully dragged their societies into the 21st Century. Park has apologized for her father’s oppressive rule, why hasn't Marina?

In encapsulating the essence of his article with the sub-title ‘Mahathir at the centre of Malaysian malaise’, Josh queried Marina: In her recent interview in Singapore, Marina Mahathir talked candidly about what she considers has gone wrong in Malaysia: the education system, censorship, money politics and the resort to sex in the political scene.

I am certain her views as such echo Malaysian public sentiments, but in choosing to downplay her father’s influence in her position today, I cannot help regretting that she is still not facing up to the realities.

I’m not aware that Marina had "downplay her father’s influence" or that "she is not facing up to realities".

I’m disappointed with Josh for wanting an Asian child to publicly criticize her (or his) parents, especially as Josh was educated in the Chinese medium which includes Confucian teachings.

For a start, Marina cannot be equated to Park Geun-hye. Marina is NOT a politician nor is seeking political office, whilst the latter is and thus found it politically expedient to do so.

Josh also wrote: Hence, how can Marina Mahathir simply dismiss her father’s political impact on the nation by saying “often people made me feel I had to be responsible for everything he did”, and “sometimes I became the surrogate for criticism”?

Pray tell me how or where in those words quoted from her, has she dismissed her father’s political impact on the nation? My dear Josh, your argument/logic has gone off cocked. Marina was just saying how or why should she have a need to explain or apologize for any unhappiness/dissatisfaction towards her dad, or for that matter, feel any responsibility for his actions?

But ironically, Josh seemed to agree with her in writing: Of course she should not be held responsible for Mahathir’s reign of terror, but she must also remember she is who she is today largely due to her father’s powerful presence in the country.

Anyway, Josh, are you saying that because Dr Mahathir brought his daughter up, she must answer for his ‘crimes’ a la the biblical God, that of visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation highlighted in Deuteronomy 5:9 & Isaiah 65:6-7

And Marina is also guilty of being the child of Dr Mahathir, because she so chose to be born from her parents' loins? What f* balderdash!

In the above political father-daughter continuum, a better equivalent to Park Geun-hye would be Nurul Izzah. She is a politician and continues to seek political office.

So why not ask her to apologize for her father’s lamentable conduct as an UMNO minister for 16 years, which included the most undemocratic (deformed) frogological change of a state government in 1994, forcing non-Muslim school children to perform doa at school (ugly arrogant brutal proselytizing), being Finance minister during the Forex scandal, publicly and arrogantly boasting about UMNO gangsters disrupting Apcet II until the organizers had to abandon the international forum, remaining silent when Dr Mahathir dismissed Justice Abbas from the Lord President position (where silence is consent and support), telling Chinese to balik Tiongsan during his Heartland ceramahs, attempting to change the characteristics of vernacular schools (non-Mandarin trained principals) which culminated in Ops Lalang, and then post-UMNO life, the shameful deformasi 916, Taiwan frog hunt, and various other manmanlai’s.

During his 16 years in UMNO during which he rose to be the very powerful DPM, did he exhibit any inclinations, even a mere subatomic iota, of reforms?

He made that 16-year record of non-achievement as an UMNO minister worse by blaming everyone else except himself, making him sound like a sore loser, only bleating reformasi when he’s no longer in a position of power.

Former Bar president Zainur Zakaria said this of Anwar, when the ex-deputy premier had claimed to have been helpless to make changes while in government. He asked (of Anwar):

“But look, you were there (in government) for 16 years. Then, what were you doing all those years? What did you actually do when you claimed you couldn't do anything?”

Zainur Zakaria

As I blogged in Zainur Zakaria Zapped AAB & Anwar Ibrahim, Zainur then showed Anwar the honourable example.

“(Former deputy premier) Musa Hitam resigned on a matter of principle because he couldn’t agree with Mahathir. If Anwar doesn’t agree with Mahathir, why didn't he resign?”

Zainur stated that the option to quit the cabinet could be taken by any member of the cabinet if they disagree with a decision. Therefore Anwar Ibrahim could not simply shrug off his participation and responsibility in the old Mahathir cabinet. I had blogged that every time Anwar condemns Mahathir, he cuts off a slice of his own nose.

Yes, why not ask Nurul Izzah to condemn her father. After all, isn't Nurul who she is today largely due to her father’s powerful past and current political presence in the country? Hasn't she and her family benefited from her’s father’s time during his ministerial days?

So why is there this continuing double standards in requiring Marina to do something not required of Nurul?

In fact, there is and should be a greater (mandatory) onus on Nurul to do so as she is a politician and continues to seek political office, whilst Marina is not.

Okay, actually I know the reason, besides that of the PKR's iconic perception of Nurul as being the untouchable snow-white virgin princess of politics, with their preposterous titling of Nurul as Puteri Reformasi, not that it’s any of Nurul’s fault.

In fact Josh provided that reason in his writing (perhaps without being aware of it):

There is no dispute that Marina Mahathir is one of the outstanding public figures Malaysians have seen.

Her steadfast fight against stigmatisation of HIV victims is well acknowledged, and she does not mince her words whenever the political scene becomes ugly and idiotic, her solidarity with Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan when the latter came under the contemptuous attack from Perkasa and other Umno members, for instance.

That’s precisely what and why everyone who has criticized Marina wants her to do, to wit, an “outstanding public figure” to stamp her personal disapproval on Dr Mahathir’s record as premier, and how more sweet it would be when this “outstanding public figure” who criticizes Mahathir is his own daughter.

This leitmotif (of getting a child to attack his/her parents) seems to be a particular nastiness of the Chinese mentality. Often we read in Chinese novels or have seen in Chinese movies, tales of how one of the acrimonious feuding families would raise a child stolen from the other side, for him to eventually kill his own (biological) parent, or to marry and have incestuous marriage with his (biological) sister, or vice versa.

Nothing is as sweet as the foe suffering death from his own biological child or abominable disgrace of incest by his biological children. The abomination of incest would curse the victimized family forever more.

I would never ever support a son or daughter in humiliating or harming his or her own parents – and the Heavens would weep when such a day occurs – thus I would never demand either Marina or Nurul condemn their respective parents [my challenge above regarding Nurul and Anwar was merely rhetorical, as a academic exercise in exposing the hypocritical double standards of PKR/Pakatan people].

But having said that, hasn't Marina been quietly and subtly demonstrating her disapproval of the nefarious activities of the BN governments regardless of who the PM is. Josh has admitted so when he wrote:

Marina Mahathir is one of the outstanding public figures Malaysians have seen. Her steadfast fight against stigmatisation of HIV victims is well acknowledged, and she does not mince her words whenever the political scene becomes ugly and idiotic, her solidarity with Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan when the latter came under the contemptuous attack from Perkasa and other Umno members, for instance.

After all, isn't her father the patron of Perkasa?

What more do Josh and PKR supporters want of her, short of crucifying her own father?


  1. i think hong overall writing approach is more objective/consistence compare to kt, at least he is not fanboy of dap. however he took an extreme stance on topic related to chinese value and culture, he act in an totally inferior manner opposite to those that showing superior sense. in other word, he idolise the west too much, in this aspect, kt sound slighly balance.

    here is one instance hong is consistence while kt is not "I’m disappointed with Josh for wanting an Asian child to publicly criticize her (or his) parents, especially as Josh was educated in the Chinese medium which includes Confucian teachings."

    hong appreciate western values more so why expect him to treasure confucian teaching?

  2. btw, this is the first time i read grandiose (雄伟) civilisation, if i recall corectly, chinese often said oldest and continuous (古老和持续) civilisation, not grandiose civilisation.

    hong (or kt?) put words into chinese mouth.

  3. "hong (or kt?) put words into chinese mouth"?

    would you believe (by some strange coincidence) Josh Hong and kaytee are both Chinese, wakakaka.

  4. I would differentiate between the father as a person, and the political figure, past or present , who happens to be the father. I would never expect an Asian child to deny or criticize their parent, the person. However, if like Park, they are running for political office, and they are trying to win over voters who consider their father a most unacceptable figure from the past, he would certainly need to disavow the political actions of the leader who happens to b the father.
    Otherwise they can forget about convincing that part of the electorate.
    I don't consider that there is any double standard with regard to Nurul and Marina. Nurul is not running on any platforms differentiating herself from her father. She belongs to the same party, espouses the same policies as Anwar. There is no necessity for her to disavow Anwar the politician. Many Malaysians would wholeheartedly vote for either Anwar or Nurul.

    Marina, on the other hand, espouses many causes which her father openly condemns. The father who finds it politically expedient to condemn LGBTs, promotes religious and racial intolerance and apartheid-like economic policies. Many of us can smell just a whiff of hypocrisy regarding Marina's social and political stands. Having her cake and eating as we'll, as someone once put it. I can accept it as long as she remains a private activist and does not run for elected office.
    If she ever runs for elected office, I would expect her to disavow the acts of the politician who is her father, otherwise I could never consider her a serious candidate. Unless she runs on an UMNO platform.

  5. So you're saying Nurul's politics and policies ares and will be like her father's - great stuff, we can then expect to see her strong on 916 frogology, and as a minister when in government, will be forcing non-Muslim school children to perform doa at school (ugly arrogant brutal proselytizing), and if Finance minister conducting Forex-like scandal, publicly and arrogantly boasting about UMNO gangsters disrupting any forum if she doesn't like them, like Apcet II until the organizers had to abandon the international forum, remaining silent when injustice are done to judges or civil servants a la Justice Abbas (or remaining silent to show consent and support), telling Chinese to balik Tiongsan during her Heartland ceramahs, attempting to change the characteristics of vernacular schools (non-Mandarin trained principals) which will culminate in similar Ops Lalang, and indulging as a core political activity the shameful deformasi of 916 frogology, and various other manmanlai’s.

    Thanks for warning us. Either that or you are the worst unthinking spinner I have ever read from

  6. and may I add, in showing your invincible bias towards Marina Mahathir, you're the typical anwarista who sees no wrong in (blind as bat to) anything Anwar (and his family) had done, in or outside UMNO whilst everything good Marina has done is explained away as highly suspicious and hypocritical.

    To you of course Marina has and eats her cake while of course Puteri Reformasi as the daughter of the former DPM hasn't - I suppose she starved like a sufi or sadhu

    My post has been precisely about people like you with your hypocritical double standards

    Take the above as constructive criticisms to make you think afresh, that is, if you can or would even bother

  7. I believe Chinese has a saying 帮理不帮亲. meaning one should uphold the right even if it means offending someone close to us. By keeping silent, simply means we condone the wrongful deed done to the people of Malaysia.


  8. This is quite a thoughtful write which poses a moral dilemma. IMO its not right for a society to demand condemnation of parents by children and vice versa. No matter how bad they are, parents and children must protect each other in public. They may not agree and may even be critical of the other in private, but to attack publicly is simply socially repugnant. By doing so all parties involved look bad.
    Then what if you don't agree? One must disassociate oneself and not continue the same. Otherwise it's fair to assume that they are of the same view with each other.
    There's many ways to skin a cat. I think marina did well on putting her stand on issues. With regards to such stands she differ from her father. But if questioned on personality, she must be expected support her dad. On nurul, she should do the same. Take different stand on a number of issues to distinguish from dad or party. But in politics this is not always possible as expectation of similar party whip stand prevails. That's probably the reason she's not distinguishing herself on issues. We obviously cannot expect her to go against the father as a person. But it's fair to ask her to make a stand on issues which may not be similar to the father though politically unbeneficial. Otherwise it's fair to assume that she agrees with her dad. After all we already posit all pkr mps to agree with Anwar on other issues.
    A case in point for marina, we can assume that she does not share the same stand that Mahathir is corrupt. Her actions and words don't reflect as such. On nurul, we can assume that she has the same stand as Anwar on the appointment of Azmin. Many see her condoning fraudulent, cheating, deceitful and manipulative practices and values in Anwars push for his protege.

  9. i dun know if western values and eastern values are that diff when come to issue on fathers n daughters, however most fathers and sons in the western society rarely go diff direction n condemn each other, junior bush even help to finish off what is not accomplish by the senior.

    i personally think marina is doing great. i dun read hong article in full thus i cant be that sure what he really want from marina. i read many of hong chinese writes up, he is most of the time consistence, he yet criticise nurul doesn't mean he wouldnt do it, kt is trying to speculate. i am still wondering when kt going to demand the dap father n son to pull out from pr since i rerely hear anything nice from kt about pkr n pas? no condemnation toward anwar as well? blame it on confucian teaching?

  10. Marina condones Mahathir's corruption and racism.

    To me that postulate still stands...unless she confirms to the contrary.

  11. Its Quite obvious that a lot of people have no problems supporting Anwar Ibrahim as well as Nurul, who obviously has not and does not dissociate herself from her father.

    Equally many people have a lot of respect for Marina , and yes, Mahathir, whether or not she supports his views. Mahathir did a lot of good in his years as PM, and did a lot of bad things.

    Its not a black and white issue, and nobody is totally good or totally bad.

    Lets respect individual choice and move on.

  12. Pardon me dear KT, I have ADD.
    All I can say is Marina is much smarter than Izzah. She will be a much better politician.
    Izzah is just her father's clone. Father talks, she apes.
    I really laugh when people equate Anwar as God-appointed GREAT leader and it follows that daughter too should one day become PM.
    Which law is this?
    You guys don;t see that if daughter becomes PM and dad didn't realize his dreams, PAPA may kill her. Kahkahkah.
    Posible scenario you know, knowing Anwar's manic obsession of becoming PM.

  13. KT of 10.12 pm, you are asking if "Nurul is either for her dad, or is against her dad" kind of declaration.
    (ala George Bush)

    It is possible that she is not advocating those things you listed, but is keeping quiet about it instead of publicly condemning her dad.

  14. Anon of 12:30 PM< Nov 13

    I'm not personally accusing Nurul of advocating the Anwar-as-minister and post-UMNO conduct I listed.

    I only posed the question of her adopting Anwar's approach to politics after commentator Monsterbaby asserted that "Nurul is not running on any platforms differentiating herself from her father. She belongs to the same party, espouses the same policies as Anwar."

  15. Malaysia is doomed to an inevitable decline to a failed state. Anwar , Mahathir, Nurul, Marina, etc, etc. all just slightly different paths to perdition.
    I finally settled down for good in another country a few months ago. Every day just brings more confirmation I made the right decision.

  16. "My opinion is simply that she cannot go on criticizing all that has gone awry under both Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (left, in photo) and Najib Abdul Razak (right in photo), without also taking a deep look at what preceded them.

    Knowing that she will keep quiet, I can only hope that she harbours no political ambitions, or her father’s long and dark shadow might haunt her as is the case of Park in South Korea."

    The above is Hong main point, I think you’re nitpicking his words out of context.

  17. Nurul is a political supporter of her father. Like him or loathe him, that's a separate matter. She does not pretend to be otherwise.
    No doubt Marina has done excellent work in civil society.
    I'm withholding judgement on Marina's politics until and if she shows up on the political stump with her father.

  18. I tend to agree with this blogger's theory why the japs hated the chinese with such unrelenting venom. But that somehow brings to mind our former PM dr Mahathir. His intense aversion and barely concealed contempt of the chinese populace here needs no further elaboration. Methinks our dr M is a japanese too.

    Did he not sound out to the japs to ignore all those calls for compensation by the asian 'comfort' women for the atrocity they had suffered ? Did he not love the japanese type of bread so much such that he set up shops here just to indulge his taste buds ? Talk about buying a whole cow to drink some of the milk....

    But unfortunatley for our mamak-turned-melayu-turned-jap, there is this little-known fact about "the japs and the muslims"....

    (continue at next post)

  19. (continue fr previous...)

    Japan is a country keeping Islam at bay.
    Japan has put strict restrictions on Islam and ALL Muslims.

    The reasons are:
    a) Japan is the only nation that does not give citizenship to Muslims.
    b) In Japan permanent residency is not given to Muslims.
    c) There is a strong ban on the propagation of Islam in Japan .
    d) In the University of Japan , Arabic or any Islamic language is not taught.
    e) One cannot import a 'Koran' published in the Arabic language.
    f) According to data published by the Japanese government, it has given
    temporary residency to only 2 lakhs, Muslims, who must follow the Japanese
    Law of the Land. These Muslims should speak Japanese and carry their
    religious rituals in their homes.
    g) Japan is the only country in the world that has a negligible number of
    embassies in Islamic countries.
    h) Japanese people are not attracted to Islam at all.
    I) Muslims residing in Japan are the employees of foreign companies.
    j) Even today, visas are not granted to Muslim doctors, engineers or
    managers sent by foreign companies.
    k) In the majority of companies it is stated in their regulations that no
    Muslims should apply for a job.
    l) The Japanese government is of the opinion that Muslims are fundamentalist
    and even in the era of globalization they are not willing to change their Muslim laws.
    m) Muslims cannot even think about renting a house in Japan .
    n) If anyone comes to know that his neighbor is a Muslim then the whole
    neighborhood stays alert.
    o) No one can start an Islamic cell or Arabic 'Madrasa' in Japan
    p) There is no Sharia law in Japan .
    q) If a Japanese woman marries a Muslim then she is considered an outcast forever.
    r) According to Mr. Kumiko Yagi, Professor of Arab/Islamic Studies at Tokyo
    University of Foreign Studies , "There is a mind frame in Japan that Islam is
    a very narrow minded religion and one should stay away from it."
    s) Freelance journalist Mohammed Juber toured many Islamic countries after
    9/11 including Japan . He found that the Japanese were confident that extremists could do no harm in Japan.

  20. After working with Japanese & European expatriates, I find that Japs are as bigoted as, if not more than, their western counterparts. Although they are Asian, they think
    that they are a cut above other Asians. I don't understand why DrM idolises them (its true he told Japan to stop apologising for wartime atrocities despite Malayans suffering immensely during the Occupation). Could it be that he was impressed that this one and only Asian country manage to kick out the colonialist Brits?