Tag Archives: racism

Pondering Freedom of Speech during Ramadan

I love British comedy: dry, witty and deep. However, even with the help of subtitles, some of the time, I still don’t understand the jokes. I would need interpretation. My husband has become fed up because I keep interrupting him, and he would reply, “Don’t worry. You won’t get it.” or “It’s not worth explaining.”

I remember when I first watched British comedies 14 years ago, I was shocked with horror what comedians were allowed to say in public. They freely poked fun of the Pope and the Queen, made rude jokes about themselves, politicians, people with disabilities, or made sarcastic jokes about religions. I constantly told my husband — No, in Malaysia or Thailand or Singapore or China, you definitely can’t say this, this, this, this……, using horrid stories about judicial caning, death sentence and disappearance as solid evidence.

My husband will never understand my fear of total freedom of speech.

Being the youngest in a typical Chinese family. A family of 10.

Being the youngest in a typical Chinese family

I grew up in a culture that guarding my words was important. I grew up in Malaysia, surrounded by Muslims, Hindus, and Chinese of all religions. Each group has its unique tradition, taboos and belief, and I learnt naturally to pick up cues of what to say or what not to say to different groups of people. We learnt to live harmoniously by accurately understanding our boundaries. We embraced peace, not trouble.

I had fear.

I’m very used to living within boundaries since birth.  As the youngest child in a traditional hierarchical Chinese family, I must show filial piety to my parents and respect my elder siblings. Obedience is a great value. Silence is gold. Continue reading

Do you remember the victims’ names in Asiana plane crash?

Three teenage girls from China recently died, when their plane smashed into a sea wall in front of the runway at San Francisco International Airport on 6 July. The girls from Zhejiang, an eastern coastal province in China, were passengers on the South Korean Asiana Airlines Flight 214. Their dream of a fun and exciting summer camp in America was cruelly shattered.  

In response to Lorelle’s blog exercises: How to Write about Something Someone Else Wrote, I’ll examine this tragedy from a fresh angle, a person’s name and its cultural identity.

How many people remember the victims’ names? The girls’ names were: Ye Mengyuan 叶梦圆 , Wang Linjia 王琳佳, and Liu Yipeng 刘易芃. Their names in Chinese meant “fulfilling dreams’, ‘grace’, and ‘lush’ respectively. However, the media was not interested in these names, which carried their parents’ hope and love.

People now seemed to remember the pilots’ fake oriental sounding names. The news anchor from KTVC, a TV station serving San Francisco Bay Area, told viewers the purported names of the pilots on Asiana Flight 214 were: “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk”, and “Bang Ding Ow”. Continue reading

Do sex, age and race matter?

Do sex and age matter? Lorelle’s Blog Exercise: Sex Changes and Age Matters challenges our thought: does your perception change with someone’s age and sex? Do I write or think using sexist and ageist language?

First, let me tell you a story. A few years ago, I accidentally took a milk snake to work. Actually, my son’s new milk snake (30cm long) snuck in my bag and made herself feeling comfortable in one of the folders in my bag. When I took the folder out at lunch break, I saw a flash of black, red and white thing slipping through my hand, quickly slithering around the staff room. “Oh no! Snake! My Snake!” Continue reading