Monday, March 31, 2008

Of Chinese-Ed, English-Ed and the Many Kinds of Chinese

Note: Adapted from my comment in a ReCom thread.

That was a heck of a long title, but it summarises what I am going to write, i.e. Chinese-educated Chinese, English-Educated Chinese, and the mutual disparagement and aversion between them.

To begin with, let me define the terms in this article. Chinese-ed and English-ed are vague and ill-defined terms; but in the context of Malaysia, Chinese-eds are people who learned Chinese language up to the level of primary school / secondary school / Form 5 (depending on the context); while English-eds are simply any Chinese who are not Chinese-ed. Not terribly accurate terms, but this is how it goes.

If you have been living in Malaysia long enough, I am sure you would have noticed the commonplace prejudice towards people from different education backgrounds. Some Chinese-eds tend to paint a generalised, biased picture of the English-eds, that is, they are often perceived as being more self-centred, ardent admirers of everything from "the West", and most importantly, they "forget their roots". They are often referred to with the derogatory term "bananas" - yellow on the outside, but all white inside. On the other hand, English-eds tend to view the Chinese-eds as being deeply engrossed and obsessive of their language / culture / "root" to the extent of compromising other responsibilities such as the national unity (e.g. the resistance to Vision schools). There is also some counter-aversion by English-ed, stemming from their suffering from prejudice cast by the Chinese-ed.

The rabbit hole goes deeper. Even among the Chinese-eds, you have this stratification of "Chinese-eds who learned the language up to UPSR","Chinese-eds who learned up to PMR but 'betrayed the culture' by dropping SPM Chinese"; and "the TRUE Chinese who took Chinese paper up to SPM without fear for the A2". (See note for more information) The first two groups are deemed to be inferior and more disgraceful than the last group.

I am absolutely appalled by this phenomenon.

Chinese need to wake up to the fact that racial chauvinism is not the way to go in this world, or at the very least, outside China. Yes, written and spoken language are a huge part of a race's identity; but to disparage your fellow friends because of his inability to write, read or speak in Chinese language simply show arrogance and ignorance on your part. Some Chinese in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan etc look down on foreign Chinese who can't speak Mandarin, but to do so is pathetically ignorant of the stories of Chinese diaspora throughout the world.

For the case of "people who didn't take up SPM Chinese" = shameful... why, why, why? Some people might be native Chinese speakers, as they are brought up in a mandarin-speaking family who speak Mandarin and read Chinese papers on a daily basis. Naturally, they will be relatively more fluent and proficient in the language. Some others may have it the harder way, as their family may not be the most conducive environment for learning Chinese, but yet they managed to build a good command in the language through sheer hard work. They definitely deserve our respect. However, some people have never had conducive environment, and had struggled to do well in Chinese language despite continuous effort. In your opinion, are they obliged to take up SPM Chinese just to prove that "they are Chinese", or so that they do not appear to leave out their compatriots who are fighting the cruel grading of SPM Chinese?

I personally know a friend who is from the last category, and he had to go through the ordeal of SPM Chinese as my school makes the subject compulsory. Despite his blood, sweat, and tears, he "only" got an A2 in the end, to much detriment of his scholarship opportunity in spite of his overall excellence in every subject. He only managed to get the scholarship he truly deserved with the help of MCA.

And no, he didn't "become more Chinese", as some claimed SPM Chinese's benefit to be. In fact his aversion towards the language only grew stronger. The only thing we gained from forcing him to take up SPM Chinese, is the false sense of vindication among the overzealous Chinese, who think that "YES, another student has preserved his root and has stood up to the injustice of deviant SPM Chinese marking." But that is also where the benefit ends.

I am all for Chinese learning Chinese language, or for that matter, any foreigner learning Chinese language. It is a beautiful language, it has painted sublime poetry throughout history and adorned the Chinese civilisation. I have always given my wholehearted support for the effort to preserve the opportunity of learning the language in Malaysia and other countries. However, I think that people ought to do away with the systematic discrimination down the "levels of Chinese education", which in turn depends on a lot of factors like opportunity, logistics, interest, and to a huge extent, odds. We need to rethink our obsession of linking Chinese exam papers and Chinese-ness, Chinese identity, Chinese culture or what have you. If there's a single most detrimental effect of the ridiculously low A1 percentage in SPM (with respect to other subjects), in my opinion, it is to widen the divide within the Chinese community.

I must say that I have had enough of it. It ought to be rectified, or there will come a day when I am ashamed to identify myself as part of this racial group.

Note: For the uninitiated, SPM Chinese is one of the most dreaded subjects in the SPM exam, the reason being that only a very low percentage of candidates obtain A1 in it (around 1 - 2% since 2001) compared to most other subjects (around 10 - 20%). Many people dropped this subject in SPM because it lowered their chance of getting scholarships if they did not get an A1. Many people allege that the low percentage is an attempt by the government to deter Chinese from learning their own language, while some claim that this is to cut down the number of Chinese getting the much-coveted JPA scholarship. Read more about this issue in Education Malaysia blog and ReCom (Malaysian Student Forum).

Image Credit: Saratoga News


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Names That I Respond To

  1. Chang*
  2. Yang**
  3. Chang-Yang***
  4. Chang (awkward pause) Yang
  5. Yew
  6. Yong
  7. Chang Yew
  8. Yew Chang
  9. etc etc.

Living in a Western country forces one to respond to all sorts of distorted pronunciation of your name, especially when the words are not quite "Anglicised".

* Calling me Chang alone with the right pronunciation (the Malay pronunciation) used to be enough to annoy me. It got worse when people started rhyming it with "hang".

** And then, some doctors here decided to call me Yang with the rhyme of "hang" too. >.<

*** The ultimate version is to combine the two words with the incorrect pronunciation.

No, I will not succumb to crafting an English name in order to "make it easier" or make myself "blend in" better. I guess I should just get used to my names.

By the way, I am not the only victim of funny names. Xuan Ni has heard at least a dozen different pronunciation of the word Xuan. One of the Chinese doctor with the surname NG sometimes got referred to as "Doctor N-G". Poor thing.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Windows Live Writer

I have always disliked Microsoft on principle. Apart from its Office suite and the relatively stable Windows XP, I think that most things that come from Microsoft are pretty much inferior to its alternatives. In particular, Microsoft Internet Explorer (especially the 6.0 version) tops the list of my most undesirable software.

But today I am going to highly recommend this Microsoft product: Windows Live Writer.

It's basically a blog application. It works on most blog providers, including Windows Live Spaces, Blogger, Wordpress and MovableType. It also works on blogs hosted on your own servers.

There are so many cool features in this application, it will be a hurdle for me to list it out while expressing my excitement at the same time.

In fact, heed me just once: If you have a blog, download the software here, install it, then type your blog address and password. You will be surprised by the first thing you see after that. More surprises will come when you start exploring its features.

Well done Microsoft Live Writer team. This software deserves lots of coverage. Oh ya, it's FREE.

(Needless to say, this post is typed in Windows Live Writer.)


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Duty Calls

Caption: What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they'll keep being wrong!

The bad thing about Internet is, if you are an assertive person, you will soon find yourself hooked in the abundance of discussions and debates out there. You spend endless hours trying to prove your point to friends and strangers alike.

And you don't even know what you stand to gain from doing so. Sense of satisfaction? Assertion of intellectual superiority and maturity? Or as this comic succinctly points out, the "duty calls"?

I am one of them. And I need to learn more self control. 共勉之.

p/s: Do visit for many other great comics. The best comics out there for geeks.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Two-Thirds Majority

To those who think I am going to write "yet another" grandmother-tale political commentary, please be glad that this is not about politics.

I am talking about my research project.

I started my research project back in late August last year, and it's been going on non-stop since except for my one-month holidays in Malaysia in January and February. For my research, I have to get 70 patients in order to obtain statistically significant result. Or in other words, 70 patients are required so that my finding is going to "hold more water" from the rigorous scientific point of view.

And after 5.5 months of recruitment, I have only got 48 patients, which is barely over two-thirds of what I need. And I have only about 1.5 month left for my recruitment, after which I must concentrate on data analysis and report writing.

I am also the only person in my batch (I think) who has to go in the hospital at 7 every morning (in order to "catch" the first patients having operation), but I am not going to finish my project.

Arrghh. Such is life.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Fishing Trip (3)

Note: Continued from Fishing Trip (2).

IMG_3644 (by changyang1230)
It's a rocky seaside, with some not-so-appealing weeds.

IMG_3617 (by changyang1230)
So we took pictures with rocks.

IMG_3619 (by changyang1230)
And weeds.

IMG_3753 (by changyang1230)
Having done with the rocks and the weeds, we headed to a beach nearby. If you look at the centre of this picture closely, you will see...

IMG_3674 (by changyang1230)
Colourful beach houses.

IMG_3779 (by changyang1230)
So we took pictures again.

IMG_3718 (by changyang1230)
Some waded in the sea.

IMG_3799 (by changyang1230)
While some stayed on the beach to watch interesting scenes like...

IMG_3740 (by changyang1230)
A kid playing with his dog.

IMG_3719 (by changyang1230)
As much as we enjoyed the day and the beach, the sun is setting.

IMG_3726 (by changyang1230)
So we decided to call it a day.


All photos and more can be found here: Flickr - Fishing at Mornington Mar 08. Original size images are available.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Fishing Trip (2)

Note: Continued from Fishing Trip (1).

IMG_3492 (by changyang1230)

IMG_3479 (by changyang1230)
While some people were fishily lucky (XN got three fish in about five minutes), those with a bad break could just wait for more in jealousy. (BP actually caught some, this picture is just for illustrative purposes :P)

IMG_3534 (by changyang1230)
As you can see, Kheng Ying even tried invoking her talisman to attract fish :P

IMG_3599 (by changyang1230)
But Thow Kong, like many others, simply succumbed to boredom.

IMG_3481 (by changyang1230)
Regardless, everyone on the boat was treated to a sumptuous BBQ meal on board.

IMG_3596 (by changyang1230)
So we were happy. (Or rather, XN was happy. :P)

IMG_3551 (by changyang1230)
Maybe not so much happiness for Wee Loon. He got very sea-sick, poor thing.

IMG_3643 (by changyang1230)
After four hours, we came ashore...

IMG_3611 (by changyang1230)
To do some "rock climbing".

IMG_3623 (by changyang1230)
And cam-whoring.

[To be continued.]
[Mar 16: Continued and concluded here.]


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Fishing Trip (1)

IMG_3569 (by changyang1230)
It's a beautiful day...

IMG_3461 (by changyang1230)
So we went fishing.

IMG_3498 (by changyang1230)
We hooked up the baits with calamari and little fish.

IMG_3439 (by changyang1230)
Then we rested the rods at the edge of the fishing boat.

IMG_3455 (by changyang1230)
One fishing rod.

IMG_3464 (by changyang1230)
Two fishing rods.

IMG_3449 (by changyang1230)
and more fishing rods.

IMG_3469 (by changyang1230)
Then we waited...

IMG_3576 (by changyang1230)
And waited...

IMG_3489 (by changyang1230)
for the...

[To be continued. Go spoil the story here if you would like to.]
[Mar 15: Continued here]


Monday, March 10, 2008

A Victory

BN snatched the simple majority, but they are not the victor - they lost five states and two thirds majority in the Parliament.

The victor is not even PKR, DAP, PAS, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Hadi Awang or Jeff Ooi.

The victor is my country and its people. The victor is us.

p/s: This is a very grossly simplified description of my (mixed) feeling. I am writing a longer (= more unsavoury) post regarding this election, but expect it to be very late due to the amount of my piled-up works. Blame it on my full-time procrastination.


Sunday, March 09, 2008


It's 3am now, I just came back from a whole day's driving and fishing. But I don't want to sleep.

I couldn't be part of the history; but I want to witness the history unfold.

By the way, this is what I saw in Mornington today when I went fishing (absolutely no photoshop):

Sammy Vellu sighted in Mornington, Australia
What a coincidence eh! Happy Birthday Samy Vellu. :D


Friday, March 07, 2008

Safeway Chicken Discount

Safeway Chicken Discount (by changyang1230)
Safeway supermarket's large roasted chicken. Usually sold at price of 10 - 11 dollars, but after 10.45pm they sell it at half price. Cheap, nice, delicious. In Hokkien we call it "pang gi kot tua teh" (cheap but big) :) Arguably the best thing in Safeway.


[frank2c] GE Ranting

May I shamelessly recommend you to finish this post as I think I am making some good points across the whole spectrum of dilemmas in Malaysian politics as well as its future. Many of these points, I think, are not elaborated elsewhere in many angry ceramahs and blogs. Rational thoughts tend to be overwhelmed by emotions, and as I have always mentioned, people don't like angry people. So I strive to provide a clearer, fairer and more rational perspective without incitement, hatred and fanatic propagandas.
NOTE: This post is a work in progress. There are just so many things I would love to talk about yet I have been restricted by the time factor. Do check back every once in a while to look for updates.

Last updated:
07/03/08 18:17pm

If you are an invited reader, read it here.

If you have no idea what it is, read more about frank2c here.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Geeks Talk

Some will understand this conversation, some will not, but here goes.

A: What is Internet Explorer?
B:The program you use to DL Firefox.
via Digg.

By the way, if you are interested, get the Internet Explorer 8 Beta. It's available now, and is a better browser than the previous versions. But no matter what, Firefox (and Opera) are still my preferred browsers. For the uninitiated, read my "review" of Firefox here.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What I Did Today

I grabbed an old guy's penis, cleaned the glans ("turtle head" in Chinese), chucked a whole lot of gels up the urethra, then inserted a foot-long rubber tube into it.

After that, I injected a bit of water to fill up the bladder. And when I pulled out the syringe, some fluids sprayed onto my arm.

I hope that it's the water.


Monday, March 03, 2008

Melbourne - A Snapshot

IMG_2598 (by changyang1230)

Three things about Melbourne.
  • The green tram (and its failing ticketing system).
  • A multicultural society (you can see a white man, a Malay lady, a young Asian lady etc, all sharing a tram peacefully)
  • The beer belly.