Sunday, February 7, 2016

In praise of Chinese idioms

I love Chinese idioms!

In usually four characters, they can comprehensively, but with great subtlety, sum up all you want to say on an issue. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough pinyin to go to the online sources to pick up the right characters. Moreover, my Mandarin is distorted by my Hokkien tongue. For “whiteness or ”, I might begin with “p”, since I was used to pronouncing it “pai”, when the “correct pinyin should be bai. Similarly, for (country or kingdom), my first instinct was to type kuo instead of guo. Now I have also to search in Xs, Qs and Zs, all very confusing to me. It would turn out to be a tedious exercise for me! Fortunately for me, time is not an issue. I have plenty of it to kill.

The 2.6 (or is it 4) billion saga is getting more or more ridiculous by the day. We were told all along that the donation had come from the late Saudi king, a story line that was even bought by the mighty (and supposedly thorough and objective) BBC. I woke up this morning to learn that the top man in the country’s legal system is now saying the donor is the late king’s son. Is this the same son whom SarawakReport had just claimed it was the recipient of a big kickback in this whole money trail?

Isn’t this another 牛头不对马嘴 (niú tóu bù duì mǎ zuǐ) clarification?  

To a simpleton like me, this is simply a plain act of 盗食公款 (dào shí gōngkuǎn) or privately pocketing a huge chunk of money that is the people's. The mechanics is pretty simple, but this cannot possibly happen unless the entire system is compromised, which unfortunately seems to be the case. You really have to take your hat off to the genius of that young man from Wharton!

Ali Baba’s windfall was soon explained as a donation from the Saudi king. (Who else can afford that sort of figure?) The donor is longer alive. Dead men cannot talk, can they?

Even if it was donation, I am pretty sure the recipient would have by now broken many laws of the land if he had not declared it in the first place.

Then the Saudi authorities are saying that it was not a donation per se; rather, it was a private investment. What sort of investment was that?

And not to be outdone, a TV talk show in Hong Kong speculates that this was a pure money laundering exercise. I say I donate to you and later you say you return to me. Doesn't everything become clean after that? Of course you have to believe that this is not a case of 盗食公款 to buy this conspiracy theory. But does a Saudi monarch need to “clean” his money?

Hence my 牛头不对马嘴 discourse.

Corruption and ex-marital sex (not the gay variety, though) are no big deals in certain cultures. Tony Pua and Lim Kit Siang can scream until the cows come home, but little will come out of it. We as a people have once again proved to a very tolerant lot. The character (guan; ranking government officials) has two “mouths” – some say, one for the public, and the other, for himself. They can also go about Zhǐ lù wéi mǎ (指鹿为马, insisting that a dear that was presented before them is a horse).

The authorities are saying that SarawakReport is creating false news to destabilize a legitimate government. Our AG who has cleared everybody was once a Federal Court judge. Even Tong Kooi Ong is now taking a back seat. Who are we the lesser mortals to question their learned conclusion?

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