Showing posts from February, 2011

Christopher Columbus!

Talk about cigars and most probably Havana cigars would come to mind. You'd probably think that cigars are manufactured in places like Cuba or other Carribean islands too since it was in the Carribean island of Hispaniola that natives first presented Christopher Columbus's crewmen, Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres with tobacco. Then, the images of Fidel Castro smoking a cigar during the days of the Cuban Revolution could still fresh in your mind and you would not dare to dream that once there was a cigar factory in a little place like Taiping in Malaysia. In the 1930s, Burmese Chinese started a cigar factory in the Guan Hin Chan building(inset) at the then 19 Cross Street in Taiping. These Chinese of yesterdays could well be Chirstopher Columbus himself!

Music Forever

Once, while watching a traditional Chinese opera during the Chinese Ghost Festival in Penang, I couldn't help but notice a small essemble backstage with their plucked and bowed stringed instruments, flutes, cymbals, gongs and drums. Chinese music has started eons ago, at the dawn of Chinese civilization to be precise. Documents and artifacts provide evidence that music has been well developed as early as the Zhou Dynasty (1122 BC – 256 BC). Today, the music does not just continue a rich traditional heritage but it has also emerged into a more contemporary form, which inevitably reminds me of the Twelve Girls Band ( 女子十二乐坊 ) , the all female Chinese musical group whose first album, Beautiful Energy reached the top of the J-pop chart in Japan in 2003 and went on a Miracles tour in the United States in 2004. The girls use traditional Chinese instruments to play both traditional Chinese and Westernmusic.

Listen to the girls play!

A Portuguese Origin

It sounds like a strange name for a Chinese boy, Jayden Max but then, that's the name of Michelle Reis's first child who had been delivered by Caesarean section. The name Michelle Reis (inset) itself sounds rather un-Chinese but perhaps, this is expected of the Hong Kong actress, Lee Ka Yan ( 李嘉欣Lǐ Jiāxīn) who has a Portuguese father and a Chinese mother. The actress was born in Macau which was formerly a Portuguese colony. During the Southern Song Dynasty, Chinese who were seeking refuge from the invading Mongols ended up in Macau. Later, under the Ming Dynasty, fishermen from Guangdong and Fujian provinces migrated here. The Portuguese only came later. Portuguese traders obtained the rights to anchor ships in Macau's harbours and to carry out trading activities in 1535 but they did not have the right to stay onshore until around 1552–1553 when they obtained temporary permission to erect storage sheds onshore to dry out their goods drenched by sea water. As more Portugues…


There is a silly CEO who wrote in a blog about a lady bitching about the standards of English among the Chinese educated students in Malaysia. The students were said to be incapable of speaking proper English, do not take initiative to learn the language etc etc. That invariably reminds me of the 1952 Barnes Report in which the then British government proposed that the educational system be reorganized in such a way that there would be a national school system where primary education for 6 years would be provided in Malay and English. Before this, of course, Malaysian Chinese in the then Malaya had their own Chinese schools and the Tamil and Malay had their respective Tamil and Malay school. The British government was hoping that the attraction to have separate schools in Chinese and Tamil would dissapear but unfortunately the Barnes Report drew flukes from the Chinese community. Henceforth, schools in Malaysia evolved into something that probably is just one of a kind in the world. T…