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Showing posts from September, 2008

Opera Operandi

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While in Kemasik, Terengganu, one gets to see Hainanese Opera; in Taiping, my hometown, where there is a sizable population of Chinese of Hokkien descent, one gets to see Hokkien opera. Twenty years or more ago, I have seen live Hokkien Opera being performed in temples during festivals but nowadays, I think these live shows are few to come by; many shows now feature sexy, sometimes scantily clad young girls belting out popular modern songs. In Kuala Sepetang, a fishing village some ten or twenty kilometers away, there is a sizeable population of Chinese of Teochew descent. I believe there still are Teochew Opera being performed there during certain festivals. Once, about a decade or more ago, someone invited me over to watch one of these shows but I declined since it was performed at night and I am also not into such shows. Hainanese Opera, Hokkien Opera or Teochew Opera or any other Chinese Opera for that matter, there is usually a story involved and there is also a lot of music and …

Of Tongs, Mafia and Yakuza

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In Asian countries and even in the West where there is a large Chinese population, there is a type of secret society called the Tongs. In China, Tongs had actually existed, having been descended from the Tiandihui, a secret society established to overthrow the Qing dynasty in China in the 18th . Chinese left China in droves for other countries both in the East and the West in the nineteenth century when there was war and turmoil in mainland China. Many who emigrated bore hopes of returning to their motherland. Tongs were originally created in their adopted countries for mutual support and protection, especially from other local ethnic groups hostile to the rapid Chinese immigration but their activities often flouted the law or became outright criminal and because of this I suppose, many Chinese frown on their existence. I suppose though secret society is not peculiar to Chinese. In the United States and in Australia, there is always the Mafia ( Cosa Nostra) which is a Sicilian crimina…

Green Post : Garbage Enzyme

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Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng of Penang, Malaysia said that enzymes will be used to eliminate organic waste at a landfill in Pulau Burung. A non-governmental organisation, the Society of Sudarshan Kriya has the expertise and the Penang government makes the landfill acessible to the organisation. A specilaist, Joean Oon said the enzyme is liquid based and is a concoction of water, brown sugar and discarded fruit skin. The state government is also considering introducing the enzyme to factories to eliminate sewage discharge as that can minimise pollution and boost the environment cleanliness. Now, that's good news!

Packaged Mooncakes!

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It is still the eight month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. Just last Sunday, 14 August, it was the fifteenth day of the Chinese eight month and the moon was supposed to be at the fullest and brightest. I didn't remember seeing the moon as I was too preoccupied with other things. First, there was a gathering of friends and relatives at home and elsewhere too; as the Mid-Autumn Festival or Lantern Festival was celebrated. I heard there was as usual, a big crowd at the Taiping Lake Gardens. Youngsters had come out in droves to light candles and lanterns and the Lake Gardens would be a pretty sight indeed despite the jam and all. And just the other day, How and Chin Heng had each given me a mooncake and they were really packed in such a beautiful way these days. Yes, I do think that commercialism has set into this traditional Chinese Festival but what the heck, it's still an enjoyable event and most certainly, I'll look forward to it next year and if I have the opportunity, I&…

Coming Home

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I remember watching a video version of a 1955 movie, Love is a many splendored thing which starred the late William Holden as a married and separated reporter who falls in love with a Eurasian doctor from Mainland China, played by Jennifer Jones. The movie is based on a book written by Han Su Yin, author of many other novels, including And the Rain My Drink which was considered anti-British and had caused her then husband, Leon F. Comber whom she married in 1952 to resign as an acting Assistant from the British Colonial Police Service in Johore in Malaya. Love is a many splendored thing is supposed to be partly autobiographical. The love between the reporter and the doctor encounters prejudice from her family. In a scene where the couple announces their plans to tie the knot, everyone in the doctor's big traditional Chinese family becomes obviously disappointed and the women start to remove the jeweleries they were wearing, and hand them to the would be bride. Such practice see…

Nice Thoughts in a Chinese Wedding

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To my non-Chinese friends, they sometimes think that Chinese wedding dinners are always lavish and elaborate. Indeed they are, what with an eight course dinner, excluding dessert. And really nice thoughts go with it! For example, the number of dishes here, eight, signifies good luck. A dinner will start with appetizers followed by different dishes, each of which symbolizes something auspicious: The shark fin soup which follows the appetizer for example means wealth. The pork dish which may come in the form of roast suckling pig means virginity. The duck and prawns or lobsters represent happiness and are served whole with head and legs to represent completeness. The chicken means peace while the vegetables with the sea cucumber means good heart which is much needed to avoid conflict between the two newly weds . The fish denotes plentiful and the dessert which always comes last is sweet as in a sweet life. If noodles is served, that means longevity but in Malaysia, I have yet to come ac…

Of Immigrants and Citizenships and Rights...

Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, the secretary-general of MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) said that 300,000 Chinese or 20% of the population died protecting Malaysia in the past. They died while defending the then Malaya from the Japanese who invaded Malaya in the 1940s. These Chinese had joined the Anti-Japanese Army to fight the Japanese after the British Colonists who were the rulers then, purportedly fled the country. As a result of this sacrifice, the Chinese thus earned their citizenship in Malaysia. The politician had said the citizenhship had been exchanged with courage, blood, sweat and tears for the country after opening the Perak Wanita MCA convention and this was actually in response to remarks made byan Umno division head in Bukit Bendera, Penang, Datuk Ahmad Ismail who said that Chinese in Malaysia are an immigrant race who do not deserve any rights. Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan was really an eyeopener for many people like me who do not know much of the local history especially…

Panda Pictures

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Historically, the dragon served as China'snational emblem. The Giant Panda has however found a niche; its image appears on a large number of modern Chinese commemorative silver, gold and platinum coins.The Giant Panda is an endangered species.Giant Pandas live in a few mountain ranges in central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces and their number in the wild is said to be less than two thousand. They are said to live in lowland areas once, but farming, forest clearing and other development restrict them to the mountains. Besides millions of people, the recent Sichuan Earthquake affected these animals too and it was heartening indeed to see these photos which Ming Keat e-mailed to me...

Panda Pictures...