Monday, November 10, 2008
1. To have a special section devoted to racism in Australia, as it was agreed by all that Australia is part of Asia, at least by Geography.
2. A profile section of the three editors (myself plus AsianRacism2 and AsianRacism3) the other two editors are thinking about posting photo's, but may follow my lead and blank out our eyes for personal security reasons
3. Looking at setting up some form of 'subscriber' forum or posting system whereby regular contributors and emailers can post comments freely after a sign-up process, this would hopefully strike a balance between freedom of speech and also keeping a lid on some of the content we receive.
4. A new investigation section (more details soon)
5. A new section on Racism in India
So hang in there, loads of new stuff coming soon!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
13 May 2008
'Ang Mo' in Singapore and 'Lao Wai' or 'Gweilo' in China - Offensive to Westerners?
I promised I would write a blog on this one, so here it is. Although I will put forward my personal experiences, my intention is to try and remain impartial and with an open mind. I really invite comments from any others with personal experience or opinion on this topic.
Firstly, here is my take on the various terms. Although in my country of heritage, Australia, all three terms would be considered 'politically incorrect' and if used toward a foreigner whilst playing sport, would constitute a suspension from the game for a number of weeks and at the highest level of representative sports would ensure that the offending player would undertake mandatory counselling (under racial villification rules), as a foreigner living and working in Singapore and having spent much time in Shanghai, China, I am quite tolerant of the usage of these terms.
In my experience, I have been called all three of these names many times. If a friend or colleague refers to me in any of these ways, it is often with affection or without malice and therefore I take absolutely no offense. However, as with any 'name calling', any of these terms can be used in a derogetory manner - which I have also been exposed to. No country is without some level of racial divide or downright racism, but I have found these people to be the minority in this era of globalization. In this instance, I just feel sorry for the person offering the racial taunt, as it suggests an ignorance that may never be resolved, no matter how much education.
I also understand the cultural divide here - what is acceptable in one country, may not be in another. It is my choice to live and work in a foreign country, and must therefore learn to live with the differences and respect the cultures for what they are - I cannot personally try and change centuries of tradition and beliefs in another country, just because I was raised differently by my parents.
In summary, although I understand the 'passion' that both sides of this discussion adopt, I strongly believe that if we are to ask whether or not a term is offensive (as my topic suggests), the answer lies with the recipient. That is, no matter whether a term is used in a demeaning manner or if the intent is not to offend, this is of no consequence in the argument - if someone is offended by being called any particular name, then by definition, the term is offensive (to that person) and that person should be respected for their opinions and feelings. At the same time, if one is travelling to a foreign country, one must understand that cultures are different and should therefore be respectful themselves and more 'open minded' to various terms. It is however in my mind, never acceptable to 'talk down' to someone based upon difference of race, religion or any other factors - by working together we can make this world a better place.
Please feel free to comment candidly on this topic.
NB: I do not claim to be author of the following texts. All facts on terms below have been freely adopted under 'GNU free documentation licence' and by copyright cannot and have not been altered from the original state. The same free texts can be found on Wikipedia.
Some background facts on the usage of the term 'Ang Mo' in Singapore
Ang mo (simplified Chinese: 红毛; pinyin: hóng máo; POJ: âng-mo•) or sometimes Ang mo kow (red-haired monkeys), also spelled ang moh, is a racial epithet that originates from Hokkien (Min Nan) that is used to refer to white people in Malaysia and Singapore. Literally meaning 'red-haired', the term carries a strong stigma at present amongst a large proportion of the Caucasian minority. The term implies that the person referred to is a devil, a concept explicitly used in the Cantonese term gweilo ('foreign devil').
The term is widely regarded as a racist and derogatory by many Caucasians living in Singapore, but is widely used. It appears, for instance, in various Singaporean television programmes and films. The term was used in the film I Not Stupid, in which when several employees in the marketing department of their company resented a particular Caucasian individual because they perceived that preference had been shown to him because of his race.
Ang mo is believed to be the term originally used in the Singapore place-name Ang Mo Kio (now usually rendered thus: simplified Chinese: 宏茂桥; pinyin: hóng mào qiáo). The term may either refer to the rambutan, a fruit with a red skin covered with hairs; or to a bridge built by the British after which the nearby town was named.
Fort Santo Domingo in Tamshuei, Taiwan is known as the 'City of the Red-Haired' (Traditional Chinese: 紅毛城; pinyin: hóng máo chéng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Âng-mn̂g-siâ; ) in Chinese. It was built by the Spanish in the 17th century.
Some background facts on the usage of the term 'Laowai'
Laowai (Chinese: 老外; pinyin: lǎowài) is one of several Chinese words for foreigner. Laowai literally translates as "old" (lao 老) "foreigner" (wai 外). It is an informal word that appears in both spoken and written Chinese. While some people consider laowai a casual and neutral word, others view it as a pejorative term.
Laowai is a commonly used Chinese word. It is the informal version for foreigner, waiguoren 外国人, which literally means "outside country person." There is some dispute about the correct Chinese characters used to write the word. While "老外" is the more common form, some argue that the character "佬", with the addition of the ren (person) radical (人字旁) is more correct. However, this form is grammatically awkward ("佬" is a slightly derogatory noun for an adult male), and infrequently used.
Lao 老, or "old", is frequently used to express long-term friendship, as in laopengyou, which means "old friend"; or respect, as in laoshi 老师, which means "old teacher." However, there are also words with clear negative connotations containing the character lao, such as lao dongxi 老东西 ("silly old fool"), laohan 老憨 ("simpleton") and lao gudong 老古董 ("old fogey, fuddy-duddy"). Lao is also used as an empty prefix in words for some animals, such as laohu 老虎 ("tiger") and laoshu 老鼠 ("rat, mouse"). (There is some disagreement about this "neutral" use of "lao" in front of these animal characters. In all of the cases mentioned and other cases (including 老鹰 laoying ("eagle") and 老狐狸 "laohuli" ("fox") the "lao" indiciates fear or discomfort. All these animals are considered unlucky or evil.)
Laowai is thus not a completely positive, or even neutral term, and its usage can imply "making fun of" foreigners. The recently published edition of the Chinese-language dictionary 现代汉语规范化词典 (Xiandai Hanyu Guifan Cidian) states that laowai carries a bantering connotation (谐谑; xiexue). Further indication of the negative connotations of laowai is the fact that it is sometimes used synonymously with waihang (外行; amateur, or lay person).
A pejorative term for foreigner, yangguizi 洋鬼子, which literally means foreign devil, was in frequent use early in the 20th century, but today is rarely used and is recognized by Chinese as inappropriate and racist.
Laowai, as well as waiguoren, are commonly used terms that in everyday spoken Chinese refer to Caucasian foreigners, but not Asian foreigners or foreigners of African origin. While a White Westerner may be referred to as a laowai, someone from Japan will be called ribenren 日本人, the Chinese word for Japanese. Someone who has dark skin color and appears to be African in origin will be called heiren 黑人, which means black person. Sometimes the term laohei 老黑 is used for people of African decent, a term which also has pejorative connotations. The most pejorative term is heiguizi 黑鬼子, which literally translates as black devil.
Laowai is one of the first Chinese words that foreigners learn when they come to China. It has now entered the lexicon of China's expat community, which numbers in the hundreds of thousands. It frequently appears in English language literature and advertisements in China as ‘‘laowai’‘ or ‘‘lao wai’‘. It is very common to see ‘‘laowai’‘ used in blogs and websites administered by foreigners living in China. A Google search will come up with 10,000s of entries for ‘‘laowai’‘, including an English language Web portal Laowai.com that caters to expats in Shanghai. There is even a Beijing based drum'n'bass band named "Lao-Why?" that is composed of foreign and Chinese members.
In recent years the word ‘‘laowai’‘ has begun to stir up controversy within the expatriate community in China. In this way ‘‘laowai’‘ is similar to how Americans view the Spanish word gringo and Westerners view the Japanese word gaijin or the Thai word farang. This is because many foreigners in China believe that ‘‘laowai’‘ is a derogatory term. This is due to the fact that some Chinese frequently shout out "Laowai"! to foreigners passing by, which may then be followed up with laughter and taunting.
The official Chinese press has expressed concern about the inappropriate use of ‘‘laowai’‘ and foreign sensitivities surrounding the word. Editorials, written by foreigners and Chinese, have appeared in English and Chinese language newspapers about the subject. In response, local governments have launched campaigns aimed at educating the Chinese public about the appropriate usage of ‘‘laowai’‘.
Some background facts on the usage of the term 'Gweilo'
Gweilo (鬼佬; Jyutping: gwai2 lou2; Cantonese pronounced [kwɐ̌ɪ lə̌ʊ]; sometimes also spelt Gwailo) is a Cantonese term for people of the caucasian race (generally men), and has a long racially deprecatory history of use. It literally means "dead corpse that has come back to life", ghost" or "ghost man", and arose to describe the pale complexion, the sometimes "red hair and green/blue eyes" (traditional Chinese: 紅鬚綠眼; Cantonese Yale: hung4 sou1 luk6 ngaan5) of caucasians. When the term is translated into English, it is often translated as foreign devil. The term arose in the 19th century and is associated with the demonization of Europeans during the occupation of China by foreign powers .
The translation, foreign devil is appropriate when seen from the standpoint of the history of deprecatory use of the term and the common use of the living dead (鬼) inhabiting various levels of hell in Chinese Buddhism.In this sense, the translation foreign devil also has strong merit. The Chinese meaning of gwei (鬼) can mean "ghost" or "devil" in Chinese, because although Chinese religions such as Buddhism do not include beliefs parallel to the the Christian ideas of "God" there are indeed hells where devils reside. Furthermore, some Chinese do believe in ghosts, spirits, and reincarnation. The reason for calling caucasians as "hateful living dead" was probably because during the 1800s, when the Chinese first saw the caucasians with a comparatively much paler complexion, they thought that the Europeans were actually dead corpses that had come back to life. It also could also have expressed hatred, as when the same term gwei (鬼) was historically applied to express hatred of the the Japanese military which massacred many Chinese.
Nowadays, this term demonstrates that Hong Kong residents often refer to caucasians and other races by their race. This is in sharp contrast to the remainder of the People Republic of China where foreigners are most commonly referred to as "foreign friends" (waiguo pengyou 外国朋友) of "good old foreigner" (lao wai 老外). The character "lao" (老) is the same character use in "good old friend" (老友). This sharp contrast reflects the ill will that Hong Kong residents have had towards caucasian occupiers during the past several hundred years. Particularly Hong Kong residents use "Gweilo" as a racist term which betrays a racist and isolationism mentality among many towards caucasians.
One must keep in mind however that gwei (鬼) in gweilo (鬼佬) is indeed used to express the highest degree of hate and deprecation. A case in point is when many Chinese families watched as their mothers were killed and daughter taken into forced prostitution by the Japanese during World War II. At that time the term they chose to express their greatest hatred towards the Japanese was (鬼), the same gwei that is used for gweilo. "Guizi Bing" (鬼子兵) does not refer to a cute Casper-type ghost, but is closer in connotation to devil or Satan. Considering this, "foreign devil" does have merit as a translation to capture the full nuance of the term.
The pejorative sense is further intensified when the term is prefaced by the Chinese word sei (死, jyutping: sei2, meaning: death, damnation) as in sei gweilo (死鬼佬), literally meaning "dead ghost man", using the translation "dead" for "sei" (死) because it is only correct to be used as an adjective. However, the word "sei gweilo" is not really a term, but an adjective added to the term in order to describe the person or people referred to by the term as bad. When the word "sei" (死) is used as such to describe a living person, it means "bad". "Sei" (死) is commonly added to other terms in order to describe the person or people being referred to as "bad", such as "sei lo" (死佬), meaning literally "dead man" or "bad guy" and "sei chai lo" (死差佬), literally "dead policeman" or "bad policeman". Chinese people also can call each other "Sei gwei" (死鬼), literally meaning "dead ghost", but refers to a bad man also. Even without the word sei (死) the character (鬼) itself can express intense loathing as when it was attached to the Japanese military in the term "Guizi Bing" (鬼子兵) during their massacre of what some have estimated to be upwards to 30 millian Chinese during World War II.
Gweilo is the most generic term, but variations include:
- To refer specifically to European women: gweipor (鬼婆; jyutping: gwai2 po4, literally: "ghost woman") which is also often spelt "gwai-poh"
- To refer specifically to European boys: gweijai (鬼仔; jyutping: gwai2 zai2, literally: "ghost boy")
- To refer specifically to European girls: gweimui (鬼妹; jyutping: gwai2 mui1, literally: "ghost younger-sister")
Due to its widespread use, the term gwei, which means devil, demon, or ghost, has taken on the general meaning of "foreigner" or "westerner" and usually refers to the European races since Indians, Filipinos, Indonesians, African and other races have their own separate racial terms that are used for them instead of gweilo. Few people for example would refer to their Philippine maid as a gweilo. The following variant of the term is considered racist because they are specific to a group of people based on their racial characteristic:
To refer to a white foreigner: bakgwei (白鬼; jyutping: baak6 gwai2, literally: "white ghost")
To refer to a black foreigner: hakgwei (黑鬼; jyutping: haak1 gwai2, literally: "black ghost")
In 1999, CFMT-TV in Toronto had a cooking show named Gwai Lo Cooking. It featured a Cantonese-speaking European chef as the host, who was also the show's producer and the person who named the show. In response to some complaints, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that
... While historically, "gwai lo" may have been used by Chinese people as a racist remark concerning foreigners, particularly European Westerners, the persons consulted by the Council indicate that it has since lost much of its racist overtone. The Council finds that the expression has also lost most of its religious meaning, so that "foreign devil" no longer carries the theological significance it once did. Based on its research, the Council understands that the expression has gone from being considered offensive to, at worst, merely "impolite".
According to CFMT-TV, "Gwei Lo" was used as "a self-deprecating term of endearment". Others, however, particularly foreigners living in Hong Kong, find the term demeaning and/or racist. However, it is also used by some non-Chinese (sometimes jocularly) to address themselves.
While "gwailo" is commonly used by some Cantonese speakers in informal speech, the more polite alternative sai yan (西人; jyutping: sai1 jan4, literally: "western person") is now used.
The term is often considered racist by non-Cantonese people. Many Cantonese speakers, however, frequently use the term to refer to white people and westerners in general and they consider the term non-racist, a controversial notion. The term was commonly prefaced by sei (死; jyutping: sei2, meaning: death, damned) as in sei gweilo, meaning "damned ghost man", and used pejoratively with sei as the pejorative suffix.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
With all the vitrolic spewing out of UMNO, it is not surprising that there is an exodus to migrate. Over the past few weeks I have spoken to at least half a dozen professionals, mainly in their late-20s and early-30s who have applied for migration. Many are highly skilled accountants and IT personnel.
The main reasons given are;
1. Limited educational and job opportunities for their children in the future, as many feel that there is a strong possibility that Malaysia will be economically marginalised and that we are in a downward spiral towards economic doom, once the petroleum reserves are depleted.
2. Deep anger at the UMNO's racist policies and open discrimination practised by the UMNO based government.
3. Lack of confidence in the Badawi administration in curtailing the extremist Islamic and Malay agenda.
4. Gradual drift of the country towards an Islamic administration, with the eventual implementation of syariah laws for all.
5. Better financial remuneration outside Malaysia, as salaries appear to have relatively stagnated here.
6.Anger that most of the taxes paid by the non Malays are used to support the UMNOputeras and very little is left behind for others. Unlike in Australia, Canada & New Zealand where taxes are used to provide educational,social and health subsidies for all, irrespective of religion, race or creed.
Many of these potential migrants possess skills that the country desperately needs.
This brain drain is further going to jeopardise our competitiveness vis a vis our neighbours.
This (emigration) news will add salt to already wounded Malaysia. Malaysia had already suffered from fallen FDI (foreign direct investment) and with this news, it will send two very strong signals to foreign investors.
1) Malaysians have no confidence in the country's lomg term prospect, foreign investor will think twice before committing long term investment.
2) Brain drain has becoming more serious in Malaysia. Those migrating are highly mobile professional which are welcome by many developed countries like, Hong Kong, Singapore, US, Canada and etc.
Malaysia is not only losing out in attracting FDI, foreign talents, yet become net export of talent to foreign countries. If this trend is not stopped, foreign investors will find difficulty getting talented employees in this area. Thus they will have to move to countries with abundant talented professionals.
Looking at the situation, the migrating trend will not change unless the government is changed. Is there any hope for Malaysia? The months to come will be very crucial. If UMNO-putera continue to rule the country, Malaysia sure doom in 2020.
Original can be found here
I walked out of the house this morning and feared I had become a racist.
I passed by a newsstand and a magazine tells me about 50% of the world's most beautiful people are from the West, 10% from Singapore, 35% from Hong Kong and Taiwan and 5% from India and Malaysia. A JC Decaux billboard says that a lot of people read their ads and they have faces to prove it: Chinese people of various ages and occupations and genders. There are some which show non-Chinese people but they don't have the dignity of individual names, and they are put under the heading 'The Changing Face of Singapore'. This can mean that perhaps the media is using more non-Chinese people in their ads (which I don't see) or that Singapore's demographic makeup is being altered by the arrival of other races (which I am not aware of, historically). I take a bus and TV Mobile is screening a Taiwanese variety programme. A Singaporean beauty contestant wears a cheongsam as her national costume and asks for an interpreter to translate her replies from Mandarin. The Speak Mandarin campaign informs me of what assets are missing from my life.
Tanya Chua's music video comes on and I unconsciously tally the number of Malay people that appear; I have been doing this for some time now, when I was in JC there was a 'My Singapore' music video which showed images of corporate-looking Chinese women walking through the CBD and Malay women in factory uniforms walking through a bus interchange. Tanya Chua's 'Where I Belong' shows three instances of Malay people populating the landcsape: a husband and wife riding a scooter; a father and son on a bicycle, the son carrying a box one presumes is filled with curry puffs or goreng pisang, and a group of Malay youths playing soccer in a housing estate ghetto so run down, it looks like an opposition ward being denied of upgrading, or one of those satellite towns built when Jurong swamps were still being filled.
But perhaps this is an improvement over other images: the satay man, the songbird owner, the mee rebus Makcik, the Malay bride and groom getting married in gold-embroidered finery (and situated on a dais, we Malays like to call them 'royalty for a day', playing the illusion of being king and queen in a country where the royal bloodline has been evicted from their home and told that the ruins of their palace will be converted into a museum). I think about what Sang Nila Utama really did when he threw his crown into the sea to calm the raging storm; whether the gales spoke to his inner ear: 'if you want to live on the island you must surrender all memory of having once been a prince'. At the Sentosa Merlion there are signs that say that Sang Nila himself saw the Merlion rising from the waters, a fact that the Sejarah Melayu, the Malay Annals, failed to mention. Evidently there is someone called 'Sang Nila' somewhere in the executive committee of the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board.
At the foot of the Raffles statue in Boat Quay there is an inscription that says the man's genius transformed a 'sleepy fishing village' into the modern metropolis it is today, this at the foot of a man who recorded in his journals how he saw the tombs of the Malay kings, and inscriptions on a fortress wall, when he first landed: evidence of an empire, of civilisation. In an interview a doyenne of Singapore theatre laments that all Singaporeans are 'cultural orphans', including the Malays, because they migrated from Malaysia and Indonesia, and that makes them immigrants too, no matter that one can take a sampan from Johor to Singapore.
I walk through a park in Tampines and see Chinese boys playing basketball at the court and Malay boys playing soccer on the field; I am comforted that my complete uselessness at ball games has prevented me from taking either side, has by default made me a conscientious objector to such disturbing polarities. In the army a sergeant major never called be by my name; I was called 'Melayu', which I suppose was better than 'Ah-Neh', used to address the Indians in the platoon. I remember a fellow Malay platoon mate who told me to give it my all when I was fasting, this was to prevent anyone from saying that we could use religion as an excuse for our weakness. He was eventually posted to the infantry (not logistics or engineers, much less the Navy or Airforce) and I used to imagine him burning up his pre-fasting morning meal to be the first to charge up the hill, yelling the pain of hunger and the pain of being different. The Malay staff sergeant in Officer Cadet School gave me a lot of shit just to overcompensate, to show everyone that he was not into any form of racial favouritism. I became a victim of the sidelong glances he made as he watched me doing my pushups, those eyes constantly seeking approval from the eyes of the majority.
I see a schoolgirl from a madrasah wearing a tudung on the MRT and she is filling in the pictures in her colouring book. There are many choices among her colour pencils which she can use for skin, but she will use orange, and colour lightly, not brown or black. I have seen her schoolmates before, eyeing branded scoolbags at pasar malams, wearing branded sports shoes, like every other kid. I want to go up to her and hug her, and tell her how her tudung is not just a symbol of modesty, but a symbol of inscrutability. That layer of cloth makes her suspicious to others, it can be used to smuggle in a grenade or an agenda, so she will never get a frontline desk job, she will be expected to hang around with other tudung-wearing women in the university. I think about the fathers who sent their daughters to schools in tudung and reflect on how the media has framed them as shit-stirrers rather than citizens who practised their right to civil disobedience, the same way Gandhi fasted, or Rosa Parks refused to sit at her negroes-only seat on the segregated bus. If I can tell the girl one thing, it is 'integration is not assimilation', or 'tolerance is a failure in understanding' even though it is something she will take time to understand.
I think also of the men who filmed different locations in Singapore with the heinous intent of planting bombs. Did they not consider the various innocent Singaporean lives that could have been claimed by what they were about to do? And I wonder if they had already chosen another country to live in; a country in which they do not have to face a creeping sense of alienation, of redundancy. And I am not talking about an Islamic country, not Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia or anywhere else, but an afterlife paradise, where everyone is equal in the eyes of God, where wearing a sarong or having a beard does not immediately make you a proto-terrorist. Or perhaps a country that exists in their minds, nurtured by a growing sense of insularity and isolation, where they walk the streets and everyone else is just a ghost, in whose dead eyes they cannot find any light of empathy or understanding.
Once someone told me: 'But the government is bending over backwards to accommodate you Malays.' I smiled and wanted to ask him if it wasn't the other way round, that the Malays are made to bend forward to be fucked senseless. Another time a journalist asked if the statistical evidence of 'progress' shows that Malays are being given the same opportunities as everyone else. I told her that statistics don't do shit for me, as someone who has to live day by day as a Malay person in this country. I told her one Malay Air Force pilot poster boy, and a few bar charts and graphs, don't make me feel more at home. The only thing they do is to convince non-Malays that the country they live in is truly multiracial, that there are no tensions beneath the veneer of newsprint and newscasts and the rosy speeches of Malay MP's.
I have always believed in multi-racialism. I can say with utmost confidence that I have more friends who are non-Malay than those who are. And I mean real friends, who I confide in, who I've shared many things with, who I do love dearly. And yet, of late, I have the feeling that a lot of the things I'm saying, a lot of this talk about alienation and marginalisation, only feeds subconsciously into their sense of how fortunate they are to be born into the status quo. I have written a poem before where I say, 'But more than that we prayed for ourselves,/treading the rosary of our blessings,/for what is pity without thanks for/the opportunity for such pity?' And sometimes I feel as if the more my voice is raised on the fast-eclipsing fate of the minority, the more it feeds into the majority's smugness and arrogance about their assured place in the sun. And this only makes me feel more powerless than if I had kept silent.
So I say now, forgive me if you think my desire to work with my own people marks me out as a racist. Forgive me if you think that my preferences are actually prejudices. Forgive me for retreating into something one can so easily call 'cultural chauvinism'. And I will forgive you for thinking that this person writing this isn't the Alfian that you know, that he has always been moderate and liberal, and I will forgive you if you look at me differently the next time I meet you. For some time already I have felt that as a Malay writer writing in English I have had to carry the burden of articulating so many unvoiced concerns. And the responsibilities associated with this are frightening. I just think it is time I pass on whatever skills I have to other Malay people, so we may tell our stories to those who want to hear them, even though they are stories of loss and loneliness and accidents of birth.
I have been upset since. I don't think i am ever coming back home to work. Not if my race is going to be portrayed that way and especially not when i am respected first by my intelligence and merit here before my race comes into play. I sat in the Bell Canada Board room with my Executive Director for 8 hours on Saturday. My EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. a man who made 7 billion dollars for his company in one year and he sat there actually paying attention to my ideas. I thought to myself that no one at home would have ever paid attention to what a 21 year old Indian girl would have had to say, but here they did. WHY THE FUCK THEN WOULD I WANNA COME HOME AND WASTE MY TALENTS?
Sorry for the long update. Some news: AsianRacism is going collaborative! Two new authors are joining the site, one i met at a conference recently and another is a long-timer contributor (via the comments function) on the site, who has provided a number of great articles in the past. So the site will be updated with some profiles of the three of us, and we should be seeing more content very soon.
In the interim, a nice little snippet of discrimination in the Singaporean workplace as reported in the freely-distributed and government owned Today newspaper. Despite calls from the opposition and other community groups, Singapore still has no legislation in place to deal with discrimination on the basis of race. Enjoy and see you soon!
Link the the article can be found here
Sadly, racial discrimination in the workplace appears to be a worldwide problem, despite all the efforts to curb it. Things are no different in Singapore, as a Today Online article reports.
The job market can tough in Singapore if you're not Mandarin speaking – in other words, if you're Malaysian or Indian. According to a recent study, the problem goes beyond the workplace and is even apparent in schools.
The government response is to "take action" once discrimination occurs. Yet this response is reactionary and opens the government up to criticism of superficially "treating the wound" instead of addressing the real issue.
Another solution put forth by Singapore authorities is a web site that explains cultural differences in the primary ethnicities in Singapore. While noble, I can't imagine how many people – especially those who engage in discriminatory practices – will actually read this web site. Perhaps seminars and surprise adherence checks might be a better way of stopping potential offenders from making the jump to actual offender.
Ultimately, it will come down to companies to police their own personnel and root out any discriminatory practices – something which will require considerable management buy-in. Unfortunately, while I don't see this problem ever truly being eradicated, it's good to see some movement in the right direction
Monday, May 19, 2008
Japan pays Australian rape victim $30,000 as US sailor walks free
May 20, 2008
JAPAN will pay compensation of three million yen ($30,000) to an Australian woman who was raped in 2002 by a US sailor who never faced prosecution.
But the victim, who uses the pseudonym of Jane, says it means little because the rapist is still free.
The woman was raped in 2002 by a then sailor of the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier in the naval port city of Yokosuka, south of Tokyo. Japanese prosecutors dropped the case without pressing a charge against the sailor.
The victim filed a civil case with the Tokyo District Court, which recognised the rape and gave her the right to seek compensation of 3 million yen from her attacker.
However, by the time of the ruling, the sailor had discreetly left the country without even telling his lawyer and he never paid the money. Now Japan will pay her the compensation.
"Of course, I'm deeply grateful for the Japanese Government for using the taxpayers' money," the woman, said. "But it doesn't change very much to me because this person who raped me is still walking around."
Under the Status of US Forces Agreement in Japan, compensation owed by US military personnel to crime and accident victims should be paid by the US Government if service members cannot afford to pay, but with a two-year statute of limitation.
When the court gave the ruling, the two years had already passed. Now the Japanese Defence Ministry has decided to shoulder the payment.
"No one has ever, ever tried to help [me] from the US military," Jane said.
The payment follows a series of criminal cases linked to the US military that has caused public uproar and prompted tighter restrictions on troops when off bases. In the southern island of Okinawa - home to more than half of the 40,000 US troops in Japan - a US military court on Friday sentenced a US Marine to four years in jail for sexually abusing a 14-year-old Japanese schoolgirl.
Earlier this month, a Marine was given a two-year prison term for sexual misconduct with a Japanese woman, but cleared of the charge of gang-rape.
Jane said her compensation would not change the fact that rape cases "keep on repeating over and over again".
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
John Garnaut and Maya Li in Beijing
April 16, 2008
THOUSANDS of Chinese Australians are being asked to rally and defend the Olympic torch from Tibetan "splittists", "scum" and "running dogs" when it arrives in Canberra next week.
The mass campaign is being organised by community leaders in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, while the Chinese embassy is also said to be actively supporting a peaceful show of strength.
One Canberra-based student organiser, Zhang Rongan, said he expected more than 10,000 patriotic Chinese to go to the capital when the torch arrives on April 24. He was arranging "strong men" to protect other torch defenders against violent attacks from pro-Tibet or Falun Gong forces, he said, adding there would be one nurse or doctor on site for every 100 protesters.
Chinese nationals and many ethnic Chinese worldwide have been angered by television news footage of pro-Tibetan protesters in London and Paris "attacking" the Olympic torch, which they see as the ultimate symbol of China's re-emergence in the world.
As the torch has travelled the world, cities along its route have cut its run through their streets and strengthened security to avoid further clashes. Pakistan, which will host the first leg of its Asia relay today, has changed the venue for the torch run, holding it in a stadium closed to the public. India has trimmed the route by two-thirds and Japan has cancelled a public celebration linked to the relay later this month in the city of Nagano because of security concerns.
Perceptions that the West is pro-Tibet and anti-China have generated a furious outpouring of ethnic Chinese patriotism, fuelled by private bloggers and the state propaganda machine.
But the Canberra campaign is unlikely to improve Western views of China because many protest leaders are borrowing the militaristic anti-Tibet and anti-Western rhetoric that is bubbling out of the mainland.
One letter widely circulated among Chinese Australians said "the China forces" in Canberra are weak and need reinforcement because the city is a "separatist base" for Falun Gong, pro-Tibet, pro-Uighur (an ethnic minority group in China's north-west) and other "splittists". It said that no Chinese can tolerate being humiliated by "scum of the Chinese nation" and "running dogs".
"Whether you carry a Chinese passport or are an Australian citizen, I believe that each and every one of you, the sons and daughters of China, are as one with us in loyalty and love for the motherland!" the letter said, adding registration details for free bus rides from Sydney and Melbourne.
This and other calls to protest are being promoted through Chinese-Australian websites such as www.aobo.com.au.
Zhang Zhuning, chairman of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association in Canberra, said Australian police were underestimating the "piles of monks" and Vietnamese "paid" thugs from Sydney who would create trouble.
But he was not afraid of local Falun Gong groups because Chinese triad gangs had "quietened them down".
The language about Tibet and the Olympic torch is more extreme inside China.
Individuals who have called for moderation or dialogue, such as Chang Ping, an editor at the Southern Metropolis Daily, have been subjected to vicious, personal denunciations on blog sites and in state-controlled newspapers.
Zhang Rongan, the Canberra-based student organiser, said the Chinese embassy in Canberra "is organising buses, food and places to stay" for protesters.
Chinese security official in Beijing has also told the Herald that the embassy was organising volunteers to provide a human wall to protect the torch, although the embassy did not return calls late yesterday.
Student organisers say they are arranging express courier deliveries of giant Chinese national flags from the mainland because shops in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne have sold out.
City's shining example eclipses ugly side
By Megan Doherty City Reporter
Canberra had "shown the world" how to stage a successful leg of the Beijing Olympics torch relay despite seven arrests and ugly scenes among some moments of real beauty and pride yesterday.
A massive contingent of Chinese inundated Canberra for the day, most bussed in from interstate, leading to speculation it was only an orchestrated display of nationalism designed to swamp pro-Tibet sentiment.
Some violent scuffles erupted within the crowds but most stoushes were verbal not physical.
Police estimated 7500 Chinese were present in Canberra, compared with 2000 pro-Tibet supporters.
But the Chinese Students and Scholars Association said the figure was more than 20,000, creating unprecedented scenes in Canberra as the five-starred red flag took over the national capital.
The Australian Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China which supports one China claimed 10,000 Chinese came just from Sydney.
"We are not here for protests, we are here for the Olympics because this is the dream we've been dreaming for 100 years," vice-president Dr Ven Tan said.
ACT Chief Police Officer Michael Phelan said the 550 local and interstate police had done their job well. He had received no complaints or reports of injuries.
"There were certainly enough police to look after, not only the protection of the torch, the runners, but also the public at large," he said.
ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope declared the day an "outstanding success".
While he was dismayed by the aggression shown by some Chinese, he believed the vast majority were displaying "proud nationalism" equivalent to Australians at the 2006 soccer World Cup in Germany.
Mr Stanhope said the Canberra leg of the Beijing Olympics torch relay had been better than any of the previous 14 sections and "it didn't go to custard" like the London, Paris or San Francisco routes.
"I had one priority today a successful relay displaying Australia through its national capital to the world and we exceeded beyond my wildest expectations in doing that," he said
The police and a steel fence ensured the Olympic flame travelled the entire 16km route and even across Lake Burley Griffin by a women's rowing eight without being accosted by protesters or taken inside a vehicle or building for protection.
Olympic gold medallist swimmer Libby Trickett (nee Lenton) was beaming after completing her section down Commonwealth Avenue, in what was her first torch relay run.
"That was fantastic, so much fun and the crowd was amazing I'm still buzzing," she said.
There was jostling between an AFP officer and a torch attendant at the beginning of the relay. Mr Phelan said it was a minor miscommunication about how close the attendant could be to the flame.
"Once it was articulated, it was not a problem," he said.
ACT Olympic Torch Relay Organising Committee chairman Ted Quinlan was surprised by the numbers of Chinese who did turn out for the day but maintained organisers had not been overwhelmed.
"Australia has shown the world again that we can organise an event better than anyone," he said.
Veteran Olympian Ron Clarke, who was the second-last of the 80 torch-bearers, said the Canberra leg of the relay had been "a big success", as the Olympic flame left last night for Japan for its the next section.
"I think it's set the pattern for the rest of the world," Mr Clarke said.
"It just shows you what can be done when it's properly organised, frankly. It's a pity that other people like San Francisco didn't have the same sort of planning and forethought."
Mr Phelan said the seven people arrested had been charged with offences under the Major Events Security Act. The five pro-Chinese and two pro-Tibet supporters faced fines if found guilty.
One of the seven arrested was a man who sat on Commonwealth Avenue ahead of Rob de Castella as the Olympian ran with the flame towards Parliament House. Mr Phelan defended the manner in which the police removed the man from the road. "I thought it was appropriate," he said.
At Reconciliation Place and Parliament House, there were tense stand-offs and violent scuffles between pro-Chinese and pro-Tibet or pro-East Turkistan groups, with police either forming a barricade between the opposing sides or dragging protesters out of the crowd to be detained on police buses.
One small section of the Chinese were aggressive, screaming abuse at Tibetan supporters and sticking their fingers up at monks. There were complaints of Tibetan supporters being roughed up and their flags being smothered.
Some Tibetan demonstrators, too, seemed to want to provoke a response, repeatedly walked past the aggressive section of the Chinese crowd, ignoring the majority who were standing peacefully watching the unfolding ceremony.
Pro-Tibet supporter Loretta Rosa said she had taken shelter near a media tent at Reconciliation Place because she did not feel safe walking through the crowds displaying a Tibet flag.
"As an Australian, I should be able to come here and feel safe to carry my point of view as well as the thousands and thousands of Chinese flags I've seen around Canberra," she said.
Gungahlin student Yongjie Qi, 22, who came to Australia from China seven years ago, said he wanted no trouble yesterday.
"We are peaceful, we are happy to be here and we wish to have a really, really good Olympics this year," he said.
There was tit-for-tat protest action throughout the day: Greens senator Bob Brown commissioned a sky-writer to emblazon the sky above Parliament House with "Free Tibet"; it was quickly followed by a light plane dragging a "Go Go Beijing Olympics" sign.
Before the relay start, Mr Stanhope had called for respect for the torch-bearers, "some of whom have done more to advance the cause of human rights on this planet than most of us will ever dream of doing".
The total cost of running the relay would double to about $2 million mainly due to a "significant" police overtime bill. Mr Stanhope did not yet have a firm commitment from the Commonwealth to pay half.
"I would have spent 10 times the $2 million we spent to achieve what I've achieved in the national capital today," he said.
The ACT Government estimated there were 20,000 people at Reconciliation Place, 15,000 at Parliament House, 3000 at the Australian War Memorial and 40,000 at Commonwealth Park, but said some people would have moved from location to location.
Street war victory to the red army
By Noel Towel, Canberra
Canberra was given a taste of red power yesterday as up to 10,000 pro-Chinese demonstrators descended on the capital for the Olympic torch relay.
Armed with red flags and loud voices, the activists, mostly students bused in from Sydney and Melbourne, outnumbered Tibetan protesters and their allies by at least five-to-one.
While the Tibetan side was outnumbered, it enjoyed some star power, with Canadian singer k.d. lang lending her voice to the push for a "free Tibet".
All up, seven people were arrested.
The style and mood of the protests changed throughout the relay route, with hot spots breaking out along the way. One man who tried to block the path of torch-bearer Robert de Castella was quickly whisked away by police.
A few hundred metres from the Australian War Memorial on the so-called "peace mile" brothers John and Nick Price, of North Canberra, claimed they incurred the wrath of an angry pro-China mob.
Nick Price said the trouble started when he and John walked down the middle of Anzac Parade carrying a large "Free Tibet" banner.
"Everyone [was] running with their flags and probably a mob of 100 Chinese surrounded us, pushing us, trying to steal the banner, throwing sticks at us, a lot of abuse," he said. John Price added, "They hit us with sticks on the head and threw rocks at us."
There were more disturbing scenes near the parliamentary triangle with claims the great wall of China supporters was intimidating anyone supporting the Tibetan cause.
Tibetans were not the only ones who turned out to air their grievances against China; Vietnamese, East Turkistanis, Mongolians and Falun Gong devotees were also in voice.
Tibet supporters claimed the Chinese were "rent-a-crowd", university students who had been bussed in from Sydney and Melbourne for the benefit of Chinese TV.
But the Chinese denied it, claiming they came to show their support for their country, and to spread the Olympic spirit.
According to the men and women in red, the human-rights protesters were "liars" who were being paid by foreigners to destroy China's reputation and it was a patriotic duty to defend their nation from the "slurs" of the Tibetans.
The Chinese were well organised with larger groups marshalled by stewards dressed in white and carrying two-way radios, who issued strict orders for the students not to discuss politics with the media.
Canberra-based Chinese Students and Scholars Association representative Zhang Rongan was thinking big yesterday, putting the numbers of Chinese nationals in the capital as high as 20,000 police estimated there were 7500 to 10,000 and denied widespread speculation that the crowds were organised by the Chinese Government.
"We were thinking initially at the most 5000, but it turns out more than 20,000 came," he said.
Mr Zhang said the students paid their own travel costs to Canberra and were not funded by the students' association.
"They just rented the buses to get down the cost," he said.
"They paid their own way. Nobody could afford to pay for so many people."
David Sun and Yoyo, who work for the Chinese state company CATIC in Sydney, said the pro-human rights activists were not telling the truth.
"These people are employed by someone who pays them money to be here," Mr Sun said.
"Many of them are not Tibetans at all. I do not know where they are from. I don't think they should tell lies."
Temay Rigzin, from Canberra's Tibetan community, said the movement in Australia was disappointed by the day's events.
The Tibetans who mustered a crowd of about 2000 believed their message had been drowned out by the behaviour of the Chinese.
Mr Rigzin said he and his fellow protesters had been "mobbed" by pro-Beijing activists.
"A fair few people were pushed around and subjected to mob intimidation but no one was seriously hurt," he said.
"A lot of the time the police were watching the torch and this was going on between stages of the torch relay.
"We felt from the start to have our message heard, but then we felt we got intimidated and overwhelmed and stifled by the Chinese supporters.
"So in that respect, we didn't get the chance to talk about our message as much as we'd like to."
ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said he was proud of the efforts of the 550 police officers on duty yesterday to control the situation and praised his police chief.
"Today was a remarkable success," he said.
"There were some incidents and some very strong expressions of nationalism from the Chinese groups in Australia."
But the Chief Minister said there was none of the violence or disruption which marred the torch relay in London or Paris, and which Canberra had feared.
"It ran its full course, it was peaceful," he said.
"I'm absolutely chuffed."
A coup for the cadres of the embassy
Jack Waterford, Canberra
The emergence, and, in their terms, effectiveness of the red Chinese army in Canberra yesterday was a stunning success for a Chinese embassy intelligence operation which has long maintained close surveillance on most of the nearly 100,000 Chinese students in Australia, and which controls most of the Chinese student associations.
Most of the expenses, and virtually all of the organisation, down to transport, accommodation, strategies, tactics, marshals, face markings and issues of Chinese flags, was arranged by the embassy, which has good reason to think that what occurred overwhelmed protests about Chinese actions in Tibet, other ethnic regions, treatment of the Falung Gung, or actions in Iran, Darfur or Zimbabwe.
By comparison with the value of international and Chinese headlines reporting basic calm, a few arrests, local shock and official distaste in Canberra for the ruthless efficiency of the operation is of little moment.
But to read from that either that the Chinese manipulated a group of brain-washed automatons, or that they blackmailed student participation by threatening repercussions at home, is probably to fundamentally misunderstand what occurred.
It was not threats, real or implicit, that mobilised the students, even if a good many of them understand perfectly well that negative reports could make life unpleasant back home, including for members of families. Nor, by and large, were the numbers gathered in the way of a traditional "spontaneous demonstration" of the sort familiar to those who watch the antics of Arab dictators such as the late Saddam Hussein or political militias in Indonesia.
It was by appealing to a sense of pride, a sense of siege from "unfair" criticism, and a strong belief by many ordinary Chinese students that the upsurge of affected interest in Tibet, or criticism of China, is itself a staged intelligence operation by China's enemies.
A read of the internet discussions focuses particularly on CNN as a supposed senior conspiricist in this propaganda.
The students were invited to rally to defend their country, to show their pride in it, and to express their pleasure and satisfaction at what China has achieved, particularly in recent times.
It was accompanied, of course, by invocations of the wicked motivations, and manipulations, of the enemies of China and the Chinese. These enemies were provoking "splittism" wanting to weaken China by encouraging separatist movements, whether of Tibetans, Uighurs or Muslims.
Canberra has a substantial population of Chinese students, but, even if all mobilised, these were bound to be overwhelmed by splittists, "scum of the Chinese nation" such as Falun Gong supporters, and others wanting to humiliate China in front of the world because Canberra was a "separatist base", full also of monks and "paid Vietnamese thugs".
The Chinese embassy circulated a letter to students hooked into Chinese Students Association networks asking for a voluntary organised and spontaneous peaceful patriotic activity ... to prevent the disruptive actions of Free Tibet campaigners and anti-Chinese elements from interfering with the Olympic torch relay.
The letter an English translation was published by Crikey.com.au told students:
"Discipline: obey orders, act collectively. Prevent all actions that can be detrimental to the image of China, including words, comments and provocative behaviour, or any use of force. When confronting provocation, you must be aware that the media will exaggerate even your most minor actions ... Maintain a smiling face to onlookers, the media and other peaceful demonstrators. Demonstrate the good behaviour of the Chinese.
"The organisers will pay costs in advance. However if any participants wish to pay for themselves, they will be most welcome."
Chinese students in Australia are great internet users, and, like students elsewhere, enthusiastic users of mobiles and other communications devices.
Pride, common purpose, and often, local language difficulties, loneliness and some alienation from Australians as well as a stronger sense of purpose, means most not only socialise with each other, but keep in touch with bulletin boards, representative groups and home.
Right to speak extinguished
Christian Kerr | April 25, 2008
AT times it looked like Lygon Street or Leichhardt on the night of a big game: young blokes driving up and down; flags sticking out of the windows.
But the context was wrong. This wasn't Melbourne or Sydney's inner city. It was the wide, formal avenues of the nation's capital.
The mood was different, too. It felt like one of those soccer games where 500 years of Balkan history is played out on the pitch.
The Olympic Torch Relay run through Canberra was supposed to be a celebration. Instead, it became a clash of cultures. Australia's lost. Yesterday, Beijing suppressed freedom of expression in the heart of our democracy.
Up to 10,000 Chinese students descended on Canberra in a show of national pride, but much of that pride was chauvinism. The T-shirts made this clear. Some simply said "Beijing 2008". Others read "One China". Some were explicit: "Tibet, Taiwan, Diaoyu Islands were, are and always will be part of China."
Banners bore a message, too. "Media: truth shall set you free," one warned. Before the torch had started running, pro-Tibetan protesters had been penned in by a ring of Chinese on Federation Mall, outside Parliament House.
It was a pattern repeated through the day and reflected in arrests. Five of the seven arrested, police media said, were Chinese.
Chinese flags were draped in front of signs and used to block off cameras. Tibet supporters were struck with flagpoles. There were racial taunts. The students looked well funded and well co-ordinated. "The way the world is ... we need events like this more than ever before," Robert de Castella said. "It's really important to continue to promote the ideals of events like the Olympic Games and the Olympic spirit."
But if anything ruled the day, it was a spirit of intimidation. Tiffany Mahon, from the Canberra suburb of Calwell, said she'd come to see the relay with her husband and mother because "we love the Olympics and we wanted to see Ian Thorpe".
But as she passed dozens of young Chinese people, encircling and shouting down a protester in Commonwealth Park, she said she was shaken by the aggression and lack of respect shown to people's right to free speech.
Ms Mahon said she had seen China supporters grab and throw away a flag from a Free Tibet protester and others surround and shout at a small band from Amnesty International, who were eventually extricated by police.
"It's pretty insulting that Australians in their own country need riot police to protect them from foreign nationals," one of the Amnesty group said.
Lars Hahn, from Canberra, attracted debate and abuse by wearing a "Free China" T-shirt and calling for Chinese people to be given a vote. "I like China but it would be a much better country as a democracy, not a dictatorship," he said.
In this case it seems to have gone a little further with the CSA's organizing huge rallies (20,000 Chinese student bused into Canberra, the capital of Australia, pop 300,000) to effectively drown out Tibetan protesters and also to monitor Tibetans (for what purposes one can only imagine).
Whilst I firmly support free speech and the right to protest, one cannot help but think that this crosses the line between the right to protest and agitation by a foreign government in another country. That said, I'm fairly certain that many of the Chinese students attending the rally would have been there out of legitimate nationalistic feelings that Han Chinese seem to associate with them own 'race'.
Death to racism and intimidation in all it's forms!
Chinese students bully torch crowds
Paul Maley | April 25, 2008
GANGS of Chinese students have marred the Australian leg of the Olympic torch relay, assaulting, intimidating and harassing vastly outnumbered pro-Tibetan activists as the torch was carried through Canberra's streets.
Last night, the ACT Government proclaimed the event an "outstanding success" after managing to avoid the violence that has marked the flame's passage through Europe and the US.
"This is the 14th stop of the Beijing Olympic torch relay ... and it's the first successful relay that's been run," ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said.
While the majority of the crowd was peaceful, there was sporadic violence during yesterday's 16km run. Seven people were arrested - five pro-China supporters and two pro-Tibetans. Early in the relay, one man jumped a barrier and sat cross-legged in the torch's path, only to be quickly bundled away by police.
And in what was described as an example of poor communication between Australian authorities and paramilitary flame attendants, members of the police security detail were forced to push aside Chinese security guards early in the run after they attempted to run inside the phalanx of Australian Federal Police officers surrounding the flame.
While the torch carriers were allowed to travel unmolested through the streets, dozens of Tibetan activists were assaulted or intimidated by highly organised groups of Chinese students who flocked from around the country to support the relay.
In one incident witnessed by The Australian, brothers John and Nick Price were forced to jump a barricade to escape a gang of young Chinese men who attacked them after they attempted to walk down Anzac Parade with a Free Tibet banner.
"We were being pushed and spat on, abused. We were kicked in the back and punched. We were hit with flagpoles. They pushed me to the ground," John Price said.
The Chinese members of the crowds became angry when a plane skywriting the words "free Tibet", bankrolled by Greens senator Bob Brown, crossed the sky.
The relay began at 8.50am when 2007 Young Australian of the Year Tania Major carried the flame to a rowing scull that took it across Lake Burley Griffin.
It was greeted by thousands of Chinese supporters waving flags, chanting slogans and singing the Chinese national anthem. It then proceeded back past Parliament House and the War Memorial, before travelling down Canberra's main thoroughfare where there were numerous skirmishes.
The Chinese contingent, estimated by police to be between 7500 and 10,000, appeared well organised, arriving before dawn in a convoy of buses mostly from Sydney and Melbourne.
Chinese marshals mustered the students via two-way radio. By contrast, pro-Tibetan groups numbered about 2000, police said. At least 550 police were called on to control the crowd of 20,000.
Referring to reports the Chinese embassy had been involved in organising the students, Mr Stanhope said he was aware of "contact" between the embassy and some of the Chinese groups.
While the torch's journey was unmolested, the flame was twice extinguished. The torch went out briefly when it arrived on the northern side of Lake Burley Griffin and then most spectacularly at the end of the relay the Olympic cauldron went out, having been lit by swimming great Ian Thorpe only moments earlier. Last night, the Olympic flame left Canberra for the next leg of its journey in Nagano, Japan.
Singapore censor fines TV station for showing gay family
April 25, 2008 - 6:29AM
A Singapore television station has been fined for airing a show that featured a gay couple and their baby in a way that "promotes a gay lifestyle," the city-state's media regulator said.
The Media Development Authority fined MediaCorp TV Channel 5 some 15,000 Singapore dollars ($A11,600), it said in a statement on its website.
The station aired an episode of a home and decor series called Find and Design that featured a gay couple wanting to transform their game room into a new nursery for their adopted baby.
The authority said the episode contained scenes of the gay couple with their baby and the presenter's congratulations and acknowledgment of them as a family unit "in a way which normalises their gay lifestyle and unconventional family setup".
The episode was in breach of rules on free-to-air television programming, which disallows content that promotes, justifies or glamourises gay lifestyles, the statement said.
Earlier this month, the authority fined a Singapore cable television operator, StarHub Cable Vision $S10,000 for airing a commercial that showed two lesbians kissing.
Under Singapore law, gay sex is deemed "an act of gross indecency" punishable by a maximum of two years in jail.
Despite the official ban on gay sex, there have been few prosecutions. But authorities have banned gay festivals and censored gay films, saying homosexuality should not be advocated as a lifestyle choice.
Friday, April 11, 2008
When read in conjunction with the previous report on people who speak out on racism being labelled as promoting "splitism" by the Chinese Communist party, you can begin to see just how far China has to travel in relation to other countries in terms of confronting racism, both in society and, as this and the previous article demonstrate, at a governmental level.
One wonders when the world will take actions similar to those taken against South Africa.
Hong Kong’s Olympic Racism
17 October 2007
Original can be found here
Only Chinese need apply for the territory’s Olympic team
Until recently, qualification to represent Hong Kong at the Olympics was determined by length of residence, in keeping with the territory’s dependent status and the multi-ethnic origins of a significant part of its population. But now the Hong Kong government, perhaps abetted by Beijing, is changing the rules in a move that borders on outright racism.
Although qualification by length of residence remains the case with other dependent territories, such as Bermuda, it is being made a condition of joining a Hong Kong Olympic team that individuals have a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport, which requires that the person be of Chinese nationality. This is contrary to practice across the whole Olympic movement.
1. The Olympic movement bases nationality qualification not on passports but on “sports nationality.” Thus a British passport holder who has lived in Australia for several years would be eligible to represent Australia. In the same way a Canadian permanent resident of Hong Kong should be able to represent the territory.
2. The implementation of a Chinese nationality qualification for Hong Kong (and also Macao) in effect gives China three representations while depriving non-Chinese national residents any chance to compete for the territory. It also enables mainlanders to qualify very quickly to represent Hong Kong rather than China.
3. China’s definition of a Chinese national includes an ethnic element. Thus a Malaysian Chinese resident in Hong Kong for a short time may readily be accepted as a national while a person of Indian descent will have great difficulty even if resident for many years and willing to abandon Indian national status.
Hong Kong has only once won a gold medal – wind-surfer Lee Lai-shan in 1996 so its presence is largely irrelevant in the wider scheme of things. But it is not irrelevant to persons such as equestrian hopeful Jennifer Lee Ming-hua, who was born in the US and has a US passport but has lived in Hong Kong for 14 years and has a locally born husband and children. To compete she would have to become a Chinese national and acquire an SAR passport.
The International Olympic Committee is allowing Chinese chauvinism to trump its own rules and ideals. It is time either to make Hong Kong change its qualifications or take it out of the IOC, together with Timothy Fok, the territory’s representative on the IOC, who got there not through sporting achievements but as the son and heir of billionaire property developer and Beijing friend, the late Henry Fok.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I've copied one of the below:
Racism: China's Secret Scourge
ICT Report Refutes Beijing's Denial of Racism in China
Washington, D. C. - International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) will release a report at the UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) documenting the origin and nature of racism against Tibetans and how the Chinese government perpetuates racist attitudes and policies.
The 60- page report, entitled "Jampa: The Story of Racism in Tibet," describes how racist language and concepts permeate China's constitution, laws and policy and how this has contributed to the racism and discrimination Tibetans face today. It is the first comprehensive analysis of this phenomenon, a subject that has not been widely addressed by scholars, human rights groups and others who generally focus on more conventional human rights violations in Tibet.
"While highlighting racism in the west, China has effectively suppressed racism as a domestic issue. This is their shameful secret," said Tsering Jampa, Director of International Campaign for Tibet- Europe.
In the months leading up to the World Conference on Racism, China has portrayed racism as a Western phenomenon that does not exist in China. In a February 2001 submission to the UN, China stated that "all ethnic groups are living in harmony" in China.
"The Chinese government's denial that racism is a significant problem in China is a policy which prevents Tibetans and others from addressing racism in meaningful, constructive ways," said John Ackerly, President of ICT.
The title of the report, "Jampa," refers to the protagonist of a ubiquitous 1963 Communist Party propaganda film depicting Tibetans as a backward people who can only be uplifted by the civilizing force of the Chinese.
"All Tibetans live under the shadow of this film," said Tsering Jampa. "The Chinese government has used it to denigrate Tibetan culture and justify its occupation of Tibet."
At the conference ICT will urge the government of China to acknowledge the extent of the problem and to remove derogatory, chauvinist or paternalistic language from laws and policy statements. ICT is also urging Chinese non- governmental organizations based in the west to work with Tibetan groups on educational programs and initiatives to help combat this long-standing problem.
Although China tried to block the accreditation of Tibetan human rights groups to the World Conference against Racism a vote by UN member counties approved accreditation for ICT and one other Tibetan organization.
ICT has invited also Xiao Qiang, Director of Human Rights in China, whose organization was not accredited, to join its delegation to the conference.
International Campaign for Tibet:
Jampa: The Story of Racism in Tibet
On the eve of the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) is releasing a comprehensive report entitled Jampa: The Story of Racism in Tibet.
The 110-page report exposes widespread racism and discrimination against Tibetans and highlights how the China's laws, regulations and policy statements contribute to racism in Tibet.
PRC Government Policy
The report addresses the myth propagated by the People's Republic of China that racism is mainly a Western phenomenon. Officials in Lhasa and Beijing publicly express that racism has not existed in China since the inception of Communist power. In February 2001, China's Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya declared during the Asia Regional Preparatory Meeting for the WCAR, " . . .at present the Chinese people of all ethnic groups are living in harmony."
However, as stated in the report's foreword, "Racism should be spelled out in order to be dispelled" (Chinese intellectual, Yang Liensheng). Although the government of the PRC adopted a constitution that stipulates racial and ethnic equality for all 56 peoples or "nationalities" in the PRC, enforcement mechanisms are extremely weak and politicized. Peoples who do not physically and culturally resemble the Han are not considered truly Chinese and are ranked lower in the racial hierarchy.
Constitutional and legislative provisions dealing with equality and discrimination are designed and implemented more to maintain a united and integrated Chinese state than to prohibit inequities of racism and discrimination.
Advocacy against racism in China is sometimes interpreted as inciting 'splittism.' The Chinese government's suppression of free discussion concerning race and ethnicity in the PRC is of grave concern and presents a major obstacle to be overcome in eliminating racial discrimination in China and Tibet.
The portrayal of Jampa, an uneducated, dirty Tibetan in the 1963 Chinese propaganda film The Serf, exemplifies the longstanding ethnocentric Chinese perception of Tibetans as backward and in need of Chinese assistance. The government enforces these racial perceptions in supporting the contradictory claim that Tibetans are part of a common "Chinese" ancestry while simultaneously propagating and implementing China's "civilizing mission" in Tibet.
Today's policies and practice of racism and racial discrimination in Tibet are heavily influenced by the historical development of Chinese perceptions of Tibetans. Chinese leaders, including Sun Yatsen and Chiang Kaishek, promoted racial myths to redefine territorial borders and unify the Chinese nation- state.
Chinese nationalism, embedded in a historiography of Chinese greatness and superiority over all other "barbarian" peoples, provides a backdrop to the current Chinese policy on the control and administration of Tibet. In July 2001, Hu Jintao credited China for ushering in "a new era in which Tibet would turn from darkness to light, from backwardness to progress, from poverty to affluence, and from seclusion to openness."
Liberation, enlightenment and modernization have been the ideological banners for subjugating national minorities and, far from promoting respect and equitable treatment, fuel pre- existing biases of backwardness, barbarism and primitiveness.
Tibetan Experience of Discrimination
The Tibetan experience of racism is particularly painful because it exists in the context of colonialist repression, where the government seeks to suppress the distinct Tibetan cultural identity in its efforts to create "Chinese unity."
The denigration and persecution of Tibetan religion and culture is a direct result of central government policy aimed at combating Tibetan resistance to the occupation of their country. The policy decisions resulting from the Chinese government's 3rd Forum on Work in Tibet, held in 1994, have led to the undermining of Tibetans' distinct national and cultural consciousness and religious faith and the assimilation of Tibetans into the framework of Chinese culture.
Tibetans are faced with the choice of assimilating and relinquishing their Tibetan identity, religion and culture or facing the perpetual potential of discrimination.
Tibetans lack access to healthcare, partly due to the concentration of medical facilities in urban areas rather than rural areas where the proportion of Tibetans is greater than Chinese. In the area of education, Tibetan children face many obstacles compared to their Chinese counterparts including expensive school fees, poorly trained teachers, struggling to retain Tibetan language skills through primary school, difficult transitions to Chinese- medium secondary and tertiary schools, and being subjected to the degrading messages of prejudiced curricula. Tibetans also face discrimination in employment and have less access to training and special business permits. Additionally, they must compete with Chinese settlers who frequently have the connections needed to expedite the ability to attain permits, government- provided housing or job opportunities.
Enforcement of laws and regulations that do exist to prohibit acts of discrimination are lax and are subject to an ever- changing political agenda and climate.
Although China's occupation of Tibet has brought a certain level of development to the region, the benefits of this development disproportionately favor Chinese settlers, especially as an influx of Chinese settlers is encouraged to dilute the population.
Among the most consistent human rights violations by the Chinese authorities in Tibet is the suppression of religious and cultural freedom. Approximately half of Tibetan political prisoners are Buddhist monks and nuns. Moreover, the attitude in China toward religion in Tibetan culture constitutes a type of discrimination that has been recognized by the UN Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination.
Conclusions and Recommendations
China has a demonstrably good record in opposing racism in some of its international forms and for opposing apartheid in South Africa long before many other governments, including the government of the United States. But domestically, China lags far behind much of the world in acknowledging and addressing racism. Rather than allowing open debate about racism, China rigorously suppresses such discourse, setting back progress in the fight against racism.
- The PRC should acknowledge and expressly recognize the existence and harmful effects of racism in the PRC. The government must initiate a public discussion and education campaign on the issue, for which it should mobilize substantial resources.
- The PRC government should create a commission to undertake a thorough review of the Constitution and laws of the PRC and repeal any language that is chauvinistic, paternalistic or could otherwise contribute to discrimination against minority groups such as Tibetans. The commission should consist of members of all ethnic groups in the PRC who have a good understanding of the perceptions and feelings of their respective peoples.
- The PRC government- should commission a revision of all school and university textbooks to remove and revise any portions and references that contain racist elements or that could contribute to the perpetration of racist perceptions and attitudes.
- The PRC should invite the U N Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia to visit Tibet and examine Chinese policies and practices with respect to Tibetans and make specific recommendations on ways to combat any manifestations of racism and racial discrimination he/ she may find there.
- Acts of racism and racial discrimination should be prevented and prosecuted by law; victims should have legal redress and perpetrators should face punishment.
Friday, March 21, 2008
First off, it's clear that this person has assumed I am 'white' or Caucasian, and sorry to say it my anonymous friend, you are wrong. I am not Caucasian. Further to that, my race is not an issue, despite you trying to make it one.
Now, this concept of 'white privledge' got me a little intrigued, as did the concept of 'white guilt' being pushed as reasons why Asian racism is not as bad / non-existent, should not be discussed (the old "you are racist to so don't preach" argument) . I think the concepts are both piles of steaming junk.
First of all there is the false assumption that 'white' concepts of racial superiority were unique to western schools of thought. This is not true, a number of other societies have had related concepts of racial divides and levels etc independently of any western influence and often pre-dating western contact. So the concept of racial hierarchies is not a western construct.
The second false assumption is that only 'white' nations engaged in colonialism to enrich themselves. Again, wrong. Indeed four of the biggest colonial powers, the Mongolians, the Han Chinese, the Japanese and the Indonesians are not 'white' and, in the case of the Chinese and Indonesians, are still today engaged in colonialism.
The third false assumption is that somehow the combination of a belief in racial superiority combined with colonialism and economic domination and control has led to some form of privilege that only white people enjoy.
What a joke, and a funny one at that! The fact of the matter is that for whatever reason, western societies went from a level of civilization below that of most of the rest of the world to basically running the world in around 300 years. That's a big turn around. WHY this happened is still open to debate. Was it technology? was it the underlying social systems that developed? the economic ones? the intense competition between European nation states? whatever the reason, the concept that somehow 'white' people should be guilty for their successes is laughable.
What is NOT laughable is that they should apologize for their colonial actions and repressions. Likewise we have right now in the world, a number of Asian countries that are still playing the colonial game. China is one, Indonesia another and Japan has never truly confronted it's imperialistic past the way, say, the Germans have. So if the 'white' people need to apologize for colonial actions, then a large part of the Asian world also needs to do so, and even worse, desist in current colonial actions.
So how does this relate to Mr anonymous? Well he appears to be trying to say that in Asian soceties no such thing as 'white privledge' exists. I have to disagree and respectully suggest to Mr anonymous that they read a plethora of information on this blog and elsewhere to see that this is simply not true.
Mr anonymous also asserts that as a 'white' (as false presumption) I can never know what it feels like to be the subject of white racism AND that any racism a 'white' faces in Asian CANNOT (repeat, CANNOT) be as bad as what non-whites face at the hands of whites.
Now, i'm sure most of my educated readers won't need to see the strawmans arguments in those assertions. But for the fun of it...
1. How do you measure how bad racism is? therefore, how do you tell if a person of Asian origin, experiencing a racist act at the hands of a 'white person' feels worse than a 'white' person experiencing the same racist act at the hands of an Asian person?
2. Why is racism perpetuated by one group (in this case, accoring to Mr anonymous, 'whites') worse than racism perpetuated by another? What makes it worse? why is it worse? How do you measure it?
3. What is so unique about 'white' racism that makes it so different to other forms? (remember, the historical, social and economic aspects that supposedly make 'white' racism unique are bunk arguments as other ethnic groups that engage in racist behavior have the same historical, economic and social advantages over others groups, hence the circumstances that many writes suggest make 'white' racism unique, are indeed not unique)
As such, I don't think 'white privilege' really stands up to scrutiny in the 21st century. Likewise, I see no reason why 'white guilt' over success (not over colonial acts, the two are not totally connected) should exist. Even if you take both concepts to be true, then there should be Chinese-Singaporean privilege and associated guilt, Malay privilege and associated guilt and so on and so forth.
Mr anonymous then suggested that I should make a blog against ALL forms of racism in the world. With all due respect Mr anonymous, thanks for the tip but NO.
I started this blog for a number of reasons. First of all 'white' racism is well documented and there are a large number of links of WWW to support groups and so on and so forth. There is even one on this very blog. Likewise blogs against he caste system in India and the discrimination between inter-arab groups and inter-african groups also exists.
Secondly, I believe, given my experiences in Asia over the last 20 years (coming onto 21 soon) that I am in a better position to write about Asian racism against other Asians and non-Asians that I could write about the experience of say, Turkish migrants to Germany, Serbian shopkeepers is Kosovo, African Americans in Texas, Lebanese migrants to Australia, Japanese migrants to Brazil or Maori experiences in New Zealand.
So i could write about the time I was detained for nearly 48 hours by airport police, in an Asian country, being interrogated without legal representation, over a bottle of talcum powder in my carry on bags for my new-born baby, repeatedly being told that as I was a (insert name of my ethnic background)
I look back (now) and laugh at the situation because that particular nation is now one of the worlds leading drug suppliers and people from that nation have been responsible for establishing criminal drug distribution networks in a large number of non-asian countries.
So YES Mr anonymous i have experience racial profiling and discrimination first hand, and that is not the only incident in my time in Asia where my race has been used as the basis for refusal of service, physical intimidation and assault, rejections from educational institutions based on racial quota's, extortion, detention (then release, obviously!) and overt hostility.
Racism in Asia is a problem, like racism anywhere. This blog aims to highlight it, to bring news clippings, academic articles etc into one place for reference purposes. This is not in anyway denying the equally destructive other forms of racism.
The differences between Asian Racism and other forms is this:
1. Gernerally speaking, Asian Racism is not discussed in Asian media, and indeed in some countries (it appears Mr anonymous is in Singapore) it is even 'off limits' by government control on media. As a result people are not always challenged to acknowledge, discuss and confront the problem.
2. Generally speaking, Asian Racism is not even seen as a social problem by the dominant ethnic majority and likewise, minorities perspectives are discredited (ala Ainu in Japan, Indians in Singapore, Tibetans in China etc)
3. Unlike most western countries, most Asian countries donot have strong anti-racism systems in place at the governmental or community level. As such there is often little recourse for those who have been discriminated against or little done to educate people in ways that reduce racial tensions or little done to sooth community relations when issues do arise.
4. As shown by Mr anonymous, the common response when talking about Asian racism by those that seek to defend it or deny it's existence is that the author should not comment as they either (a) come from a racist country (b) are not Asian (c) are not citizens of the country of residence (d) a racist themselves or that (e) other forms of racism are somehow worse or more deserving of attention.
Finally, Mr anonymous challenged me on another two issues:
1. My own anonymity and lack of ability to contact me directly.
2. Freedom of speech
Ok, on the first issue let me make my reasons who having a moderated blog and not having my email anywhere on this blog for a number of reasons. First of all, given the country I live in it would be unwise to have an unmoderated blog as case law has show that site owners and editors (and blog owners are considered editors) WILL be held responsible for any racist comments that appear on thier blog regardless of weather they are personally responsible for the content or not. Given the number of "*uck you you stupid *ucking angmoh/gaijin/white/honkey/redneck *****hole" type comments i get, followed by diatribes against Caucasians, Indians, hell, i've even had some crackpot white supremest post a number of 1000+ word articles on the evilness of a specific ethnic group. Damn scary stuff. So given all that, a non-moderated blog is not an options.
Secondly, I donot have my email as contactable for similar reasons as above, plus spam reasons AND given that various countries have anti 'sedition' laws in the books and given my previous run-ins with one government in particular whilst working for Amnesty international in the late 80's and the Red Cross in the late 90's, no thanks, I'll keep myself off the radar a little.
Finally, freedom of speech. I love it. I support it. But I also support censorship in certain circumstances (i.e pornography, hate speech etc) and in my opinion Mr anonymous, your last posts were paint all 'whites' and most western countries in a very specific and negative way, and so as a result, I saw little value in what they can add to the debate as this is not a debate about western colonialism or racism, but Asian colonialism and racism.
Mr anonymous, you can deny it exists, but to do so is like walking with your eyes closed. It's out there and this blog is designed to highlight it. This doesnot mean I don't acknowledge other forms of racism, merely that this blog doesnot deal with them.
For more on 'white' guilt etc take a look here and here.
I've covered Chinese racism on this blog extensively before, and I have also touched on the subject of Chinese colonialism, as China is one of the worlds largest and most successful colonial powers the world has ever seen. It is right up there with the Mongols, the Indonesians, the Russians (in the guise of the USSR) and to a lesser extent, the Japanese.
I think it's a crying shame that so much inter-ethnic violence happens inside China (again, covered before) and is not reported, examined or discussed to develop more effective solutions other than violence and the suppression of language, culture and peoples based on difference.
Just like Malaysia has religious 're-education' camps for people who wish to convert from Islam to another religion, China needs to 'deepen' it's 'nationalistic education' . In other words, we need to BRAINWASH our non-Chinese population more.
Media tell of Chinese police threats over Tibet
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China said journalists had experienced interference in the cities of Beijing, Chengdu and Xining, as well as in Lhasa.
"You don't want to know what will happen if you don't show us the footage,'' the club quoted police telling Finnish reporter Katri Makkonen, who was detained yesterday in Gansu province, where Tibetan monks held protests against Chinese rule.
In several other locations, police barred reporters from carrying out their work and escorted them out of areas where forces were reportedly quelling unrest.
Tibetan regions erupted last week in the most serious anti-China riots in nearly 20 years. The exiled government of the Dalai Lama in the India town of Dharamshala has said hundreds of Tibetan protesters were killed in the crackdown on unrest.
Hundreds have also been detained in the regional capital of Lhasa, according to activists.
The interference comes after the club this week demanded that the government respect new regulations issued for the period up to and during the Beijing Olympics, allowing greater press freedoms for foreign journalists.
On Monday, the US State Department spokesman Tom Casey decried China's expulsion of foreign journalists from Tibet, calling it "disturbing and disappointing''.
Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders strongly condemned yesterday what it called steps taken by Beijing to prevent media coverage of demonstrations and an ongoing crackdown in Tibet.
China warns of 'life and death' struggle
China warned of a "life and death'' struggle with the Dalai Lama today, as it sought to end a wave of protests in its Tibetan regions with arrests and tightened political control.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has accused the Tibetan spiritual leader of masterminding the protests - which culminated in a riot on Friday in Tibet's capital, Lhasa - from his base in the Indian town of Dharamsala, where he lives in exile.
"We are in the midst of a fierce struggle involving blood and fire, a life and death struggle with the Dalai clique,'' Tibet's Communist Party secretary, Zhang Qingli, told a teleconference of the region's government and Party leaders.
"Leaders of the whole country must deeply understand the arduousness, complexity and long-term nature of the struggle,'' he said in remarks carried online by the China Tibet News.
Zhang also suggested greater political control in the region.
"We must continue to deepen our nationalist education and practically strengthen the building of political power at the grassroots,'' he said.
'Rioters' surrender, says China
Chinese authorities say 105 "rioters" involved in protests in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa had surrendered, the official Xinhua news agency reported today.
The 105 people gave themselves up to authorities by 11pm yesterday, (0200 AEDT Wednesday) - 23 hours after a deadline set by the government for those involved in last week's unrest to surrender, Xinhua said.
Chinese authorities said rioters killed 13 "innocent civilians" in Friday's unrest, when a week of protests by Tibetans against China's rule of their homeland erupted into violence in Lhasa.
Authorities have insisted that they did not use any lethal force to quell the protests, however Tibetan exiled leaders have said possibly hundreds of people were killed in the ensuing Chinese crackdown.
Tibetan government vice chairman Baema Chilain said the people who gave themselves in to police had been directly involved in "the beating, smashing, looting and arson" on Friday, according to Xinhua.
"Some have turned in the money they looted," Xinhua quoted Baema as saying.
Lhasa has been sealed off to foreign journalists, making it impossible to determine the real situation.
Xinhua's report quoted one Tibetan who surrendered, Doje Cering, 25, as saying he was drunk at home when he heard the unrest and decided to join in.
Xinhua said it had spoken to the protester after he surrendered.