Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Anti-Japanese Protests

Days ago, I wrote a blog about my view on Peter Kammerer's article. Today, I also found an article, 'Don't risk Asia's peace and prosperity', written by Tom Plate, expressing similar view. Both columnists urge the two nations to move forward. Why don't these columnists see the root of the problem? Here, I want to share with you a letter from Fion Yip. I think Ms Yip has pointed out the problem clearly.

Japan must learn from history, or risk repeating it (adapted from SCMP, letters to the editor)

Most Asian people fiercely protest Japan's request for permanent membership of the UN Security Council and its distortion of history textbooks, while a minority seems to have sympathy for it.

This minority says that China and Japan should forget about the past and move on, and that we should look at the economic benefits for both sides. This group has missed a very important point - these are two different issues and we should not mix them together to conclude that we should forget the past and move on.

Whether the Chinese and Korean peoples forgive Japanese war criminals is a personal decision. But it is utterly wrong to try to forget what the Japanese did to China and other Asian countries. It is dangerous. If we do not learn from history, it will repeat itself.

Japan has political and military ambitions in Asia. Both the US and Japan believe that China will be a threat if it becomes a real super-power. With US support, Japan may one day take strong actions against China in order to slow its rapid growth. Precisely because Japan is an economic power and many people like its products, we should tell it to learn from Germany and face up to its past. Japan should contribute to world peace and globalisation. But if it cannot face its past courageously and responsibly, Japan will never be able to gain genuine respect worldwide and convince people that it will not repeat these acts.

The protests, as long as they remain under control and there is no serious damage, should not be suppressed. I believe that the central government will make sure they do not go too far. Those who are sympathetic towards Japan should re-read the history of massacres, tortures and other war crimes. Given the complex international politics - China's tricky relationship with the US, the Taiwan issue and so on - who can guarantee Japan will never invade China again? To expect no protests is even more dangerous to world peace. That's why we all need to speak up.

FION YIP, Sha Tin


I would like to ask a question. If Germany did not offer an official apology after the second world war; its prime minister visited the grave of Hilter overtly and continually; and its government allowed the modification of history textbooks to whitewash the things it did to the Jews, could other European countries and the USA forget about the past and move on?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yan Mah

I finished the book yesterday. The story was very touching and I got my eyes bloodshot because of crying.

The book is about the painful childhood of Yen Jun-ling. Her birth brought about the death of her mother. Her family considered her bad luck and thus her brothers and sisters all discriminated against her. Her father seldom talked to her and made her feel unwanted in the family. Luckily, she still had her Ye Ye (grandpa), Nai Nai (grandma) and Aunt Baba (her father's sister) on her side.

Things started to get worse after Nai Nai's death. Her stepmother had taken the role as the one in-charge of the whole family. No one dared to antagonize her. However, little Jun-ling once had confronted her in the presence of the whole family, she loathed her since then. You can then imagine what kind of life little Jun-ling led in the family.

Since everyone detested her, Jun-ling started to hate herself. Ye Ye and Aunt Baba kept reminding little Jun-ling of her own potentials and how valuable she was. I believe, without the encouragement from Ye Ye and Aunt Baba, little Jun-ling would not be able to survive in such an abject environment and keep telling herself that she would finally succeed one day.

One thing in the book really upsets me a lot. Her stepmother decided to send Jun-ling to a boarding school. On the plane to Tianjin, her father approached her sheepishly and asked for her name! How come her own father couldn't even remember his own daughter's name?

Jun-ling had every reason in the world to hate her parents but she didn't. She still obeyed everything her father had arranged for her and hoped that one day she could get back the love and acceptance from her father. From Jun-ling, I saw the virtue of perseverance and I admire her eagerness to study.

This book finished when Jun-ling was fourteen and set off for England to continue her studies. I will buy her previous bestseller - Falling leaves, her first autobiography. I want to know more about what happened to Jun-ling.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

What a shame!

When I was reading the SCMP yesterday morning, I found an article written by Peter Kammerer, entitled "Let's embrace tomorrow". I could hardly agree with Mr Kammerer's point of view.

He referred to the recent firing of words between China and Japan as pointless sniping and bicker. He also recommended the two nations to put the past behind them. He implied one of the nations (most probably referring to China) should be more tolerant. He quote Belgium as an example. He mentioned that some years ago he witnessed how friendly the Belgian are to the German tourists even though they were completely aware of the atrocities committed by the German troops during World War II. He then urged a reconciliation between the two nations should be made as soon as possible.

Had he been more aware of the historical entanglement Japan and China are involved in, he would have known things are more complicated than he thought.

Japan is far different from Germany. We all are aware of the savagery committed by the imperial Japanese troops in China during the second world war. Instead of following what Germany had done, the Japanese government has never offered a formal apology, not to mention compensation. Worse still, ever since Junichiro Koizumi became Prime Minister of Japan, he and his cabinet have been visiting the Yasukuni shrine (a place where convicted war criminals are honoured along with Japanese soldiers killed in World War II) regularly. What further infuriated Chinese and Korean governments was Japan's official attempts to distort wartime history in school textbooks to whitewash its wrongdoing. It only emphasized the fact that there were two atomic bombs dropped on them, and thus a victim in the war.

I am not justifying the riot in China. No one should resort to violence as it only makes things worse. Everyone has the right to condemn China for allowing the riot to happen. But have any other nations (especially the USA) ever denounced Japan's Ministry of Education for allowing the removal of all references to the "comfort women" and atrocities such as the Nanking massacre in history textbooks?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Master Degree

I am planning to take a master degree in English. When I searched the internet for a list of courses, I found one offered by the University of Hong Kong - MA in English Studies. It sounds quite interesting. The course includes the studying of English literature, linguistics and culture.

However, I do have one concern about taking the course. There is a lot of required reading for each module. Altogether there are 12 modules in the programme, for part-time students, they need to study 4 modules in one semester. Each module lasts for 6 weeks. After the completion of each module, students have to hand in an assignment (usually an essay). For the fourth semester, it's the dissertation writing time.

Frankly speaking, the requirement is not harsh. But as a secondary school language teacher, can I afford the time to do the reading and assignments? This is what worries me most.

Can any bloggers who have taken a master degree before give me some suggestions? Please share with me how you can manage both your work and studies at the same time.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Flute

I've been learning flute with Matthew for about 3 months. Sigh! Though I have already passed the Grade 5 practical examination, he still needs me to start learning from the basic.

His method is completely different from my earlier teacher. He wants me to unlearn all the techniques my previous teacher taught me which I have already got used to. I can see that I am doing better and better each time I attend his lesson, however, the process is frustrating. The breathing, the movement of the muscles, the way the air is blown out from the mouth and how my mouth looks are all different. It's really difficult for me to undo something I used to do and have been doing for 3 years. Another problem I am facing is - not enough practice.

Life in my school is hectic. I can't practise flute every day. It's really a luxury to me. I originally have planned to take the Grade 8 examination next year. Now I don't know for how long I have to postpone this idea.