Saturday, September 5, 2015

Who are really the shallow ones?

The organisers of Bersih 4 have been labelled as "shallow" by some of those who want everybody to believe everything is well and good in Malaysia now. 

I suppose they mean these activists are shallow in terms of intellect, or attitude, or knowledge, or patriotism, or the likes. Who are really shallow, the Bersih 4 organisers or these critics? I think all of us know the answer; there is therefore no point in my labouring over the matter.

However, this type of sweeping accusation does remind me of an incident I encountered some years ago while I was prospecting for land in Indonesia for large scale cultivation of oil palms for the IMC group. One of the provinces I was working on was East Kalimantan; its capital is Sararinda. I usually put up in Bumi Senyiur, hitherto the the top hotel there. One day, I saw that a mainland Chinese was having difficulty in trying to make himself understood to the reception, thanks to his Mickey-Mouse English! (Of course he couldn't speak a word of Indonesian.) I asked him in Mandarin what was his problem and offered my help. 

He was asking for a discount! 

I explained to him that such a hotel would not offer discounts in the manner he wanted. I remember because the rate was rate was quite stiff, he decided to try somewhere else. My local manager Alay Yuanda was kind enough to help him find a hotel nearby that suited his budget. 

Alay became a trusted friend of xiao-Yang, which he wanted to be called. He also bought me dinner one evening. Xiao-Yang hails from Wuhan and was trying to buy coal from Kalimantan to ship to China. He became so successful that soon he opened up mines! He even married a local woman; of course he had to become a Muslim. I believed he was already married in China, though.

Xiao-Yang remarked to me one day that although I spoke fluent English, the type of English I spoke was actually less that biao-jun (标准 or 標準), or not up to "standard". 

Whose standard??? He said his was the standard! How ironical!!! Or funny? Ignorance is bliss I suppose? And to the half-baked politicians I mentioned earlier, where everybody is shallow to them, I suppose stupidity is bliss???

If you do not attempt to see beyond the tip of your nose, you just cannot learn. Try turn on CCTV to listen to news in English; I bet you get irritated by the English spoken by their homegrown presenters. They speak English like the way they speak Mandarin! Don't blame them, though. They simply would not know that their English is bad. I suppose their teachers also taught them to speak English that way in schools and universities! And their teachers had also been taught that way by their teachers! The process thus becomes self-perpetuating (or incestuous?).And Chinglish is born!

I was watching CCTV' English Channel's live coverage on the 70th anniversary of China's victory against Japan the other day. The parade was certainly impressive. But before the anchors took over, it was covered by a number of local reporters. Again, I couldn't help remarking to my wife that Chinese are so very good in shooting themselves in the foot. The channel is meant for international audience, but which part of international audience would tune in to watch this parade - with the English they can hardly bear to listen???

What Al Jazeera does is different. Poach the best from BBC or CNN or CNBC; in no time you are as authoritative as these channels. 

If you are too self-centred, you will never know what has slipped past you!!! 


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