Demise of Liu Xiaobo: a case of lose-lose for China


July 21, 2017

Demise of Liu Xiaobo: a case of lose-lose for China

by Kerry Brown

http://asaa.asn.au/demise-liu-xiaobo-case-lose-lose-china/

China’s treatment of its Nobel Peace Prize laureate, writer, literary critic, and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, raises difficult and penetrating questions, writes Kerry Brown

The loss of Liu Xiaobo is a tragedy. For him, a personal tragedy but there are far wider ramifications.

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The final decade of his life was spent in jail. The books he could have written, the contribution he could have made to Chinese and global society, the influence he could have had as a highly regarded public intellectual.

The silencing of Liu has robbed Chinese society of an important, forensically sharp, and creative voice at a time of huge internal change when it needed diversity of opinion.

The outside world has been robbed of the perspective of a truly authentic, engaged, highly erudite and insightful scholar. The body of work that Liu published in Chinese and English before his incarceration provided immensely useful insight for understanding the complexities of China’s current position. More of this would have been very helpful. But it was not to be.

That he died suffering from terminal cancer is just about the worst possible outcome for the Chinese government. Eight years into his 11-year sentence, the world saw heart-breaking photos of him and his wife, Liu Xia, while he undertook palliative treatment in hospital and received some kind of care.

Stain on China’s reputation

While Xi Jinping, China’s President, attended the G20 in Hamburg, back home a man in a hospital ward in the north-eastern city of Shenyang was making the sort of headlines that the Chinese government would have preferred to avoid during its new era of global influence.

The Chinese state often talks about win-win outcomes. In the case of Liu, it has turned out to be lose-lose. No one comes out of this happily. For Liu, his family and friends, the situation is very obviously a terrible tragedy. For the Chinese government, who of course will be blamed for the entire situation, it is a great stain on its reputation.

We have to remember the crime that Liu was said to have committed. He never physically harmed any one. He never stole. He was never accused of blackmail or bribing or breaking any law recognisable under most standard justice systems.

His crime was subversion of the state. And the evidence for this was articles he wrote on websites, most of which were blocked in China and had no more than a few hundred readers.

When we reflect on the meaning of Liu’s case, we have to wonder why it was that every step of the way over eight years, right to the end, the Chinese government did not compromise, despite paying a huge price in terms of its reputation and image.

Since the Olympics in 2008 in Beijing, the Chinese state has poured huge resources into promoting itself abroad. Under Xi Jinping, it has made a concerted effort to communicate the ways in which its role in the world is now beneficial and positive. At the same time, this one case gave its most implacable enemies endless ammunition.

The horrible irony was that this was the first-ever peace prize to a citizen of China, resident and also in detention

Take, for instance, the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu. The horrible irony was that this was the first-ever such prize to a citizen of China, resident and also in detention. For a government that had been pursuing its dream of getting Nobel recognition for decades, this was a huge slap in the face. But its management of the issue afterwards made a bad situation even worse.

Liu became for Chinese officials a symbol of how they would not bow to Western pressure. In a sense, he became a test case for how emboldened they felt in the face of criticism about their rights record. So, the refusal to allow him to attend the Oslo ceremony, and the empty seat that was used to represent him, was a powerful and emotive symbol. A single image represented just how problematic Chinese government treatment of rights issues had become.

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On top of this, there was the treatment of Liu Xia in the years since. Her incarceration in her own home despite never being accused of a single crime summed up the zero-sum approach of the Chinese security apparatus. Images of her weeping in the street, reports of her deep depression, and sporadic stories about her pitiful condition, provided a parallel, contradictory narrative to the bolder, positive message China was trying to spread under its new leadership.

One of the most worrying aspects of the Liu case is how it points, not to the Chinese government’s strength and confidence, but to its weakness. As uncertainty spreads everywhere, the world is increasingly inclined to want and to believe in a China that is stable, predictable and confident. The fact the Chinese state has been willing, right until today, to expend so much precious political capital, such disproportionate effort on this case, looked like tangible evidence of a mighty party state rattled by the actions of one man.

The answer lies in trenchant comments that appeared in Liu’s essays

Western leaders have to contend every hour of every day with fierce and sometimes savage criticism, without recourse to placing their opponents in jail, yet China made such an effort to deal with a single individual? The question this inevitably provokes is a simple one: why were they so frightened?

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The answer lies in trenchant comments that appeared in Liu’s essays. For him, what broadly typified the Western posture towards politics and culture was a sceptical, questioning attitude. He contrasted this with a much more managed, coerced contemporary Chinese practice.

Questions will linger

Liu’s work repays attention, as does his case. His treatment after his leading role in the demand for more human rights in Charter 08 generates endless, worrying questions about the control of the ruling Communist Party in China, and their mandate.

These are questions they have so far responded to by simply closing down debate, silencing Liu and people like him. One wonders how this approach can be sustained.

From the Oslo 2010 ceremony, from society in China during his imprisonment, and now through his death, it is Liu’s absence that proves so powerful. This is remarkable.

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Liu’s contribution is to leave unanswered questions lingering for years to come. These questions, which can perhaps be evaded but not ultimately avoided, relate to the real inner confidence and conviction of the political system that imprisoned him. His final disappearance will not stop these questions, only make them more penetrating and difficult to answer.

In his life, Liu worried the Chinese state. With his demise, Liu’s questions should worry us all.

 

 

Taking on the Fourth Estate –Trump, Saudi Arabia and The Free Press


July 18, 2017

Taking on the Fourth Estate –Trump, Saudi Arabia and The Free Press

by Azmi Sharom@www.thestar.com.my

What’s the real reason for the demand that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera Arabic channel?

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WHAT is the similarity between Donald Trump and the Saudi Government?Well, apart from a penchant for sword dancing, they both have taken a hard line on the free press.

Both have taken different levels of action, though. Trump, being the type of person that he is, reacts with thin-skinned petulance when the press say things he disagrees with or when they criticise him. His fingers will reach for his phone and tweets will come flying out as fast as his little digits can type.

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These tweets are in equal mea­sure childish, misogynistic and – how shall I put this delicately – lacking in any sort of sophistication.   He has, however, upped the ante recently by having a video of him “wrestling” posted.

This is an old video from when he was merely a media mogul and had some sort of role in the WWE and it was, of course, staged. The thing is the video has been changed a bit with the wrestler’s face superimposed with a CNN logo.

So far, so infantile. It’s a bit less funny when you think that recently a Republican candidate actually body-slammed a journalist from The Guardian because he did not like his line of questioning. A strangely prescient wrestling move that Trump applauded. Of course.

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The American press feel a little under siege and nervous because they argue that what their President is doing is essentially saying it’s OK to attack the press and their members, even in a physical way.

Of course, one could pooh-pooh this as a bunch of entitled journos being a bit limp.

After all, unlike many journalists around the world, the Americans do not suffer governments who actually have oppressive laws and the lack of ethics to use those laws against the press. Nor are they subject to brutal murders and other acts of serious violence.

Still, knowing how some Trump supporters are – again, how shall I put this delicately – simple, I suppose these concerns can be given some credence.

The situation is somewhat diffe­rent in the Middle East. The Saudis and their allies are attacking Qatar, at the moment only economically. The reason is ostensibly that Qatar is supporting terror groups.

The rights and wrongs of this claim are not the subject of discussion here.

Neither will I discuss the irony of a country that exports a most lite­ralist brand of Islam, which provides the ideological grist for terrorist mills, calling another nation supporters of terror.

The point I want to talk about is that among the terms that the Saudis have made on the Qataris if they want the blockade lifted, is that Qatar must shut down their news channel, Al Jazeera Arabic (AJA).

Here’s the thing though: is that really the reason for it or is it because AJA is the only Arabic-language news channel that is consistently critical of the governments (mostly unelected) in the Middle East?

That they provide aspirations for democratic governance and civil liberties, and that they give space to voices which would normally be suppressed in the Arab world?

At the end of the day, I think it boils down to simply this: there are governments and leaders that do not like being criticised and they will do all that they can to shut the media up.

They will try to justify their attacks on the press, whether it be by screaming “fake news” in every other sentence, or by claiming that the media is biased against them, thus casting aspersions on the vali­dity of reports; they can use laws to cower the press; or they can go the whole hog by threatening war.

And what is the press to do? Roll over and play dead? Merely think of their livelihoods and their shareholders? Or does it keep striving and pushing? Does it keep on working in a professional, well researched, impartial manner, to provide news that can be relied on?

Because in this age of the Internet, there is a lot of rubbish floating around, and as retro as this may sound, the mainstream press (and by this I mean all journalistic endeavours that are professional and working within the ethical boundaries of their profession, including online news portals) is still vitally important.

If the media does not play their role as the Fourth Estate properly, the question then is, what is their purpose?

 

Liu Xiaobo– A Warrior for Human Freedom


July 15, 2017for

Liu Xiaobo– A Warrior for Human Freedom

by Dean Johns@www.malaysiakini.com

“…we owe it to ourselves and our fellows to progressively throw off the chains we are born with, or into, or otherwise shackled with, and seize our freedom to be, and do the best we possibly can”.–Dean Johns

Like so many famous rhetorical flourishes that come to be regarded as self-evident truths, French philosopher, and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ringing declaration that “man is born free, and is everywhere in chains” is, on careful consideration, ridiculous.

Tribute to Madiba and Liu Xiaobo

In fact, the reality is entirely the opposite. We are all born in chains – chains of genetic inheritance, of infantile ignorance and impotence, and of the familial, physical, cultural, political and other environmental circumstances in which we find ourselves – and can either submit to being constrained by such chains or struggle against them to try and set ourselves as free as possible.

And this state of affairs seems to me to be nowhere more evident than in China, or what I prefer to think of as “Chaina”, on the grounds that its people have been enchained throughout history by an endless series of dismal dictatorships.

Mostly imperial dictatorships, of course, but currently one led by a Communist Party as dictatorial as any emperor could possibly be, and so deceptive as to try and pass itself off as the “People’s’ Republic of China” into the bargain.

When the people protest, however, it quickly reverts to the “Party’s Republic of Chaina”, as it did on the occasion of the notorious massacre of protesting students and workers in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and again following the publication of Charter 08 on 10 December 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Liu Xiaobo, a hero of Tiananmen Square who had subsequently sought and found sanctuary in the US before courageously returning to China/“Chaina” to co-author Charter 08, was sentenced in 2009 by the regime to 11 years’ imprisonment for “inciting subversion of state power”.

And today, as I write this, it has been reported that Liu has died under guard in a hospital of cancer after being refused permission to seek treatment overseas for his illness.

Here, courtesy of Wikipedia, in honoured memory of Liu Xiaobo and in support of his fellow activists against the Communist Party overlords of the “Anti-People’s Republic of Chaina”, is the first paragraph of Charter 08, followed by a list of its demands of the regime:

“This year is the 100th year of China’s Constitution, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 30th anniversary of the birth of the Democracy Wall, and the 10th year since China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“After experiencing a prolonged period of human rights disasters and a tortuous struggle and resistance, the awakening Chinese citizens are increasingly and more clearly recognising that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal common values shared by all humankind and that democracy, a republic, and constitutionalism constitute the basic structural framework of modern governance.

“A “modernisation” bereft of these universal values and this basic political framework is a disastrous process that deprives humans of their rights, corrodes human nature, and destroys human dignity.

“Where will China head in the 21st century? Continue a “modernisation” under this kind of authoritarian rule? Or recognise universal values, assimilate into the mainstream civilisation, and build a democratic political system? This is a major decision that cannot be avoided:

1. Amending the Constitution
2. Separation of powers
3. Legislative democracy
4. An independent judiciary
5. Public control of public servants
6. Guarantee of human rights
7. Election of public officials
8. Abolition of Hukou system
9. Freedom of association
10. Freedom of assembly
11. Freedom of expression
12. Freedom of religion
13. Civic education
14. Free markets and protection of private property, including privatizing state enterprises and land
15. Financial and tax reform
16. Social security
17. Protection of the environment
18. A federated republic
19. Truth in reconciliation

Of course, China is by no means alone in the world in urgently needing many, if not all, of these reforms for the sake of good government and honest governance on behalf of its citizens. Malaysia, for example, enchained as it has been for almost 60 years by its corrupt, illegitimate, and otherwise criminal UMNO-BN regime, has a crying need for items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 19.

And a great many other nations, from Russia, Pakistan, and all the other “-stans”, to a great many more similarly freedom-impaired countries in Asia, Africa and South America could do with many, if not most of them.

My own country, Australia, could perform much better, in my opinion, on points 6, 11, 13 and 15. And of course the United States, as the self-proclaimed world leader in government of the people, by the people, for the people, could well do itself and the rest of the free world a favour by electing a president capable of thinking coherently and telling or at least tweeting the truth.

But to end on a personal level, it is worth making the point that we are, all of us, part of the problem and thus capable of making ourselves part of the solution.

In other words, whether Chinese or whatever other nationality or ethnicity, we happen to be, we are all chainees of various false “faiths”, “beliefs”, “customs”, “prejudices”, and other mental bonds and restrictions that prevent us living up to our full human potential.

And thus we owe it to ourselves and our fellows to progressively throw off the chains we are born with, or into, or otherwise shackled with, and seize our freedom to be, and do the best we possibly can.

The Spirit of Liu Xiaobo


July 15, 2017

NY Times Editorial Board

How Liu Xiaobo died says a lot about modern China and the fears of modern Chinese leaders. The government in Beijing controls a nuclear weapons arsenal and throws its weight around in international affairs. Yet it was afraid to hear the democratic ideas advocated at great cost by a courageous man of conscience.

In 2009, Mr. Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison, and even after he learned he had liver cancer in May, Chinese authorities refused to let him leave the country for treatment. So one of China’s most famous dissidents died on Thursday under guard in a Chinese hospital at age 61. He was his country’s only Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

As is common in an increasingly repressive China, Mr. Liu was punished not for a crime, but for giving voice to the most basic human yearnings. In 2008, he was a leader in drafting Charter 08, a constitutional reform manifesto that advocated respect for “universal values shared by all humankind,” including human rights, equality, freedom, democracy and the rule of law. The charter endorsed direct elections, judicial independence and an end to Communist Party dominance, and though it was on the internet only briefly before censors pulled it, it garnered 10,000 signatures.

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The government accused Mr. Liu of “inciting subversion of state power,” but in fact the life of this multitalented scholar, writer, poet and social commentator was devoted to peaceful political change. During the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, he staged a hunger strike, then negotiated a peaceful retreat of student demonstrators as thousands of soldiers stood by with rifles.

Mr. Liu was detained many times after that. Yet when Beijing pressed the Norwegian Nobel Committee not to honor him, the committee wisely awarded Mr. Liu the 2010 Peace Prize in recognition of “his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”

There are reasons to question whether the detention prevented him from being diagnosed early enough and from receiving medical treatment that could have extended his life. On Saturday as he weakened, two Western doctors who were allowed to examine him pronounced Mr. Liu fit to travel overseas for care, but still China refused, seeking to control the man and message until the end.

The authorities also ignored dozens of writers and Nobel laureates who signed petitions calling for Mr. Liu’s release. His final days were spent in a hospital under guard, unable to communicate with the outside world. Meanwhile, authorities filmed him lying still in his bed, then released the footage without his permission for propaganda purposes.

Western leaders, perhaps cowed by President Xi Jinping’s obvious distaste for hectoring on human rights, were unacceptably subdued before Mr. Liu’s death, mostly leaving comments about his case to lower-ranking officials. None were more callow than President Trump, who since taking office has shown little interest in human rights while enthusiastically embracing many authoritarian leaders, including Mr. Xi.

Mr. Trump did not raise Mr. Liu’s case when he met Mr. Xi in Germany last week. And within hours of Mr. Liu’s death, Mr. Trump, asked at a news conference in Paris to give his impression of Mr. Xi, heaped praise on him, calling him a “very good man” who “wants to do what’s right for China.” Some American officials, including Nikki Haley, the Ambassador to the United Nations, hailed Mr. Liu’s contribution, but Mr. Trump’s words in Paris signaled to Beijing that it need not listen. Regardless of Mr. Trump, other world leaders should join human rights groups in insisting that Beijing release Mr. Liu’s wife, the poet Liu Xia, who has been under police surveillance since 2010, and let her move to the country of her choice.

Mr. Liu’s death is soul-crushing for his supporters, and there are no signs China will open the door to political reform anytime soon. Even so, there is reason to work for a different future. More than 34,000 people, most in China, recently signed an open letter demanding Mr. Liu’s freedom. And many more Chinese today than in 1989 or 2008 are carrying out “small but significant peaceful acts of protest to further human rights protections,” Xiaorong Li, the founder of several human rights groups, wrote in a Times Op-Ed article.

It will now be up to Mr. Liu’s admirers to dedicate themselves to his dream of a modern China that embraces “universal values,” which will outlive the ruthless leaders who sought to crush him but never could.

A version of this editorial appears in print on July 14, 2017, on Page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: The Spirit of Liu Xiaobo.

Rediscovering Jose Rizal


July 14, 2017–The Bastille Day

Rediscovering Jose Rizal

by Ivan Labayne

http://www.newmandala.org/rediscovering-rizal/

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Significant ironies surround Jose Rizal, my country’s national hero. On the one hand, he is ubiquitous. He is literally erected in monuments in almost every province, and inscribed in every peso coin most of us use every day. On the other hand, one can argue that there’s a lack of understanding of, even interest in, the life and works of this illustrious figure, whom a biographer once tagged as the ‘First Filipino.’

One can try to impress by mastering some trivia about him. For instance, one can recite his full name, or the order of his siblings. Nowadays, even knowing the exact date of his birthday can count as impressive.

For those of us who have gone to school, Rizal’s two novels, Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, are primary avenues for learning about the national hero. Sadly for me, I was not able to make the most out of these minimums set by the education system for teaching Rizal.

This is quite a shame for a literature grad. Reading Noli and Fili during high school might have appeared as a chore to me when I was younger. It is not that I shirked or napped in our classes: the lack of genuine interest in the novels is more likely an effect of our beloved education system’s playing out its favourite game of rote learning and textbook-worshiping. Thankfully, I was more attentive during our Philippine Institutions class (The Life and Works of Jose Rizal) in college.

I remember reading both Noli and Fili in the abridged comic versions which are available in bookstores for less than a hundred pesos. During senior year in high school, discussions of the Fili were more intense and less deplorable compared to those of Noli a school year earlier. Reporters were assigned for each chapter and after the discussion, a quiz would be given. This compelled the class to actually read the chapters. That is why I have stronger memories of characters and events in Fili than Noli: the Physics class with Placido Penitente and the schoolboys, Simoun’s foiled bomb-explosion attempt, his death and the throwing of the chest at the end. In our P.I. (the compulsory Philippine Institutions) class, I remember the discussions focusing less on the literary texts than the social contexts of Rizal’s life and his creations.

It is a pity for me not having read these novels—not just as a Lit major, not just as a student, but as a Filipino. At a time when schooling, accessing and reading books is becoming more like a privilege, and the study of literature and the arts is becoming less popular and discouraged, we can just resign and totally relegate Rizal’s novels to the shelves, forgotten except by nerds.

I am not resigning. Not that I have finally started going back and rereading these novels. We are getting there. Precisely this renewed and altered interest in Noli and Fili was spurred months ago when I encountered two books that touch on them, albeit differently.

Benedict Anderson’s Why Counting Counts: A study of forms of consciousness and the problems of language in Noli and Fili took the arduous task of counting the occurrence of particular linguistic terms—racial or ethnic terms, political vocabulary among others—in the two novels. This microscopic approach sought to turn away from one that relies on ‘selective and often tendentious short quotations from the novels in order to force their author into particular politics’ (80). As an alternative, Anderson looked at contexts: the characters using the terms, the interlocutors and the context of the conversations.

Meanwhile, Vicente Rafael’s merely used a scene from Noli me Tangere to bookend his discussion of encounters between the indios and the colonising Spaniards in Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society under Early Spanish Rule. Early in the book, he commented on a scene in Noli where Padre Damaso was giving a sermon to the indios: ‘they “fish out” discreet words from the stream of the sermon, arbitrarily attaching them to their imaginings… the drift away from the content of the sermon only pulls them back with ‘redoubled attention. … It is as if they saw other possibilities in those words, possibilities that served to mitigate the interminable verbal assaults being hurled from the pulpit’ (3). This generally set the tone for the book and prepared us for much of its argument: how the colonisation process was not received in a standard, let alone deferential manner by the indios.

I mostly recall Damaso as the malicious and lecherous priest who scandalised us with his treatment of, and relationship to, Maria Clara. I hardly recall him giving a sermon, much more a sermon where the band of listeners yawns. I may have missed really immersing myself in Rizal’s novels when I was a student and simply submitted to the prescribed contents of school work. Now I am thanking other reading exposures which haunt me with the presence of Rizal in them, beckoning me to go back to San Diego as a text the way Crisostomo Ibarra returned there as a fleshly being at the onset of Noli.

‘Indio’ Over ‘Filipino’

How can seemingly trivial details prompt us to tease out less simplistic reflections on Rizal’s work? Anderson looked at the terms designating races and ethnicity in the two novels and here I would like to focus on the key distinction between the ‘indio’ and the ‘Filipino’. Said Anderson: ‘In the novel’s 354 pages, the use of Filipino to mean something not confined to creoles occurs only about 14 times, and never emerges from the mouths of either Tasio or Elias (both of which Anderson tagged as ‘politically conscious’ characters). When Elias described himself, what he says is ‘Soy un indio,’ not ‘Soy un Filipino.”‘ This points us to the way racial categories were stratified in the twilight decades of Spanish occupation. As Anderson also clarified, the peninsulares were the pure-bred Spaniards, born in Spain; the creoles were pure-bred Spanish but born in the Philippines; mestizos are interracial ones and indios as the pure ‘Filipinos.’

As much as the term ‘Filipino’ is yet to be used to collectively refer to the people of the country, an official term for this country (now ‘Philippines’) is also absent. Actually, the term ‘Filipinos’ was already used but it referred to the creoles; hence, Spaniards, not Filipinos like Rizal.

Can we not compare the way the word ‘indio’ was employed and owned by the colonized people to the way terms such as ‘queer’ or ‘the N-word’ were appropriated by oppressed groups in contemporary times? While the colonisers bandied about the tag ‘indio’ in a derogatory way, we can say that the Filipinos huddled around this designation in order to collectively identify themselves.

Following this, an anecdote by Ambeth Ocampo reported by Anderson becomes revealing: ‘when Rizal signed his consent to the document decreeing his execution, he crossed out the word “chino” describing himself and substituted not “Filipino” but “indio”’ (48). A cute reaffirmation of what we know already: Rizal’s allegiance to his fellow people, the indios then, we Filipinos today.

To Lay Bare and to Unsettle

How can we approach Rizal? Is there an essential Rizal which institutions such as schools, mass media and the government deliver immaculately to the public?

Towards the end of his book, Rafael recalled the ambivalence in the word ‘exponer’ Rizal used in the Preface to the novel. It could mean ‘to lay bare’ (i.e. the social cancer) but also ‘to put in danger, to hazard, to expose to chance’ (216).

There is no Rizal-at-his-core to be discovered. No Rizal’s essence to be fathomed. Only a Rizal to be used as guide to the continuing formation of one’s own belief, a Rizal to be continually read and discovered as a prospective guide to one’s life practices, a historical figure we can lay bare only to be further unsettled.

Rafael then went back to the sermon and the mood of ‘general paralysis’ it ironically inspired: ‘the Governor snores, the principales nod off, the rest of the clergy are rendered powerless to halt the chaotic stream of words from the pulpit.’ All these contribute to the ‘confounding of the social order’. The act of translation and imposing authority does not happen without a crease, without interrogations or refusals; the colonised do not simply defer.

The same process can be emphasised as the Philippines remembers Rizal’s 156th birthday. Given how bloody the current regime is turning out and how fast paced and ephemeral events are seeming, there is hardly an excuse for snoring and yawning like Damaso’s audience. But the potential to ask questions, to refuse and interrogate remains. We need to be more keen and critical in ‘laying bare’ and making sense of events, perhaps using Rizal’s heroism and his teachings about our history as a starting point. We can always go back to the basics, the so-called ‘foundational’ texts—in this case, the Noli and the Fili. But we can also detour and hunt texts that will inevitably lead us to their real foundations, enabling us to see them in renewed and heightened interest.

Clearly, we do not need a new designation where we can all band together, a term to replace ‘Filipino’. What is more urgently needed is the asking: what does it mean to be ‘Filipino’; who are our fellow ‘Filipinos’, and why band with them?

Ivan Labayne is part of the art collective Pedantic Pedestrians. He obtained his BA and MA in Language and Literature at the University of the Philippines-Baguio. His works have appeared in ‘Daluyan’, a UP literary publication, and the Ateneo de Manila’s peer-reviewed journal, ‘Kritika Kultura’. He blogs at ivanemilabayne.wordpress.com.

 

Tribute to Jose Rizal at 150 by vhive

Jose Rizal’s Last Farewell– Mi Ultimo Adios

Farewell, dear Fatherland, clime of the sun caress’d
Pearl of the Orient seas, our Eden lost!,
Gladly now I go to give thee this faded life’s best,
And were it brighter, fresher, or more blest
Still would I give it thee, nor count the cost.

On the field of battle, ‘mid the frenzy of fight,
Others have given their lives, without doubt or heed;
The place matters not-cypress or laurel or lily white,
Scaffold or open plain, combat or martyrdom’s plight,
‘Tis ever the same, to serve our home and country’s need.

I die just when I see the dawn break,
Through the gloom of night, to herald the day;
And if color is lacking my blood thou shalt take,
Pour’d out at need for thy dear sake
To dye with its crimson the waking ray.

My dreams, when life first opened to me,
My dreams, when the hopes of youth beat high,
Were to see thy lov’d face, O gem of the Orient sea
From gloom and grief, from care and sorrow free;
No blush on thy brow, no tear in thine eye.

Dream of my life, my living and burning desire,
All hail ! cries the soul that is now to take flight;
All hail ! And sweet it is for thee to expire ;
To die for thy sake, that thou mayst aspire;
And sleep in thy bosom eternity’s long night.

If over my grave some day thou seest grow,
In the grassy sod, a humble flower,
Draw it to thy lips and kiss my soul so,
While I may feel on my brow in the cold tomb below
The touch of thy tenderness, thy breath’s warm power.

Let the moon beam over me soft and serene,
Let the dawn shed over me its radiant flashes,
Let the wind with sad lament over me keen ;
And if on my cross a bird should be seen,
Let it trill there its hymn of peace to my ashes.

Let the sun draw the vapors up to the sky,
And heavenward in purity bear my tardy protest
Let some kind soul o ‘er my untimely fate sigh,
And in the still evening a prayer be lifted on high
From thee, 0 my country, that in God I may rest.

Pray for all those that hapless have died,
For all who have suffered the unmeasured pain;
For our mothers that bitterly their woes have cried,
For widows and orphans, for captives by torture tried
And then for thyself that redemption thou mayst gain.

And when the dark night wraps the graveyard around
With only the dead in their vigil to see
Break not my repose or the mystery profound
And perchance thou mayst hear a sad hymn resound
‘Tis I, O my country, raising a song unto thee.

And even my grave is remembered no more
Unmark’d by never a cross nor a stone
Let the plow sweep through it, the spade turn it o’er
That my ashes may carpet earthly floor,
Before into nothingness at last they are blown.

Then will oblivion bring to me no care
As over thy vales and plains I sweep;
Throbbing and cleansed in thy space and air
With color and light, with song and lament I fare,
Ever repeating the faith that I keep.

My Fatherland ador’d, that sadness to my sorrow lends
Beloved Filipinas, hear now my last good-by!
I give thee all: parents and kindred and friends
For I go where no slave before the oppressor bends,
Where faith can never kill, and God reigns e’er on high!

Farewell to you all, from my soul torn away,
Friends of my childhood in the home dispossessed !
Give thanks that I rest from the wearisome day !
Farewell to thee, too, sweet friend that lightened my way;
Beloved creatures all, farewell! In death there is rest!


Mi Ultimo Adios

Adios, Patria adorada, region del sol querida,
Perla del Mar de Oriente, nuestro perdido Eden!
A darte voy alegre la triste mustia vida,
Y fuera más brillante más fresca, más florida,
Tambien por tí la diera, la diera por tu bien.

En campos de batalla, luchando con delirio
Otros te dan sus vidas sin dudas, sin pesar;
El sitio nada importa, ciprés, laurel ó lirio,
Cadalso ó campo abierto, combate ó cruel martirio,
Lo mismo es si lo piden la patria y el hogar.

Yo muero cuando veo que el cielo se colora
Y al fin anuncia el día trás lóbrego capuz;
Si grana necesitas para teñir tu aurora,
Vierte la sangre mía, derrámala en buen hora
Y dórela un reflejo de su naciente luz.

Mis sueños cuando apenas muchacho adolescente,
Mis sueños cuando joven ya lleno de vigor,
Fueron el verte un día, joya del mar de oriente
Secos los negros ojos, alta la tersa frente,
Sin ceño, sin arrugas, sin manchas de rubor.

Ensueño de mi vida, mi ardiente vivo anhelo,
Salud te grita el alma que pronto va á partir!
Salud! ah que es hermoso caer por darte vuelo,
Morir por darte vida, morir bajo tu cielo,
Y en tu encantada tierra la eternidad dormir.

Si sobre mi sepulcro vieres brotar un dia
Entre la espesa yerba sencilla, humilde flor,
Acércala a tus labios y besa al alma mía,
Y sienta yo en mi frente bajo la tumba fría
De tu ternura el soplo, de tu hálito el calor.

Deja á la luna verme con luz tranquila y suave;
Deja que el alba envíe su resplandor fugaz,
Deja gemir al viento con su murmullo grave,
Y si desciende y posa sobre mi cruz un ave
Deja que el ave entone su cantico de paz.

Deja que el sol ardiendo las lluvias evapore
Y al cielo tornen puras con mi clamor en pos,
Deja que un sér amigo mi fin temprano llore
Y en las serenas tardes cuando por mi alguien ore
Ora tambien, Oh Patria, por mi descanso á Dios!

Ora por todos cuantos murieron sin ventura,
Por cuantos padecieron tormentos sin igual,
Por nuestras pobres madres que gimen su amargura;
Por huérfanos y viudas, por presos en tortura
Y ora por tí que veas tu redencion final.

Y cuando en noche oscura se envuelva el cementerio
Y solos sólo muertos queden velando allí,
No turbes su reposo, no turbes el misterio
Tal vez acordes oigas de citara ó salterio,
Soy yo, querida Patria, yo que te canto á ti.

Y cuando ya mi tumba de todos olvidada
No tenga cruz ni piedra que marquen su lugar,
Deja que la are el hombre, la esparza con la azada,
Y mis cenizas antes que vuelvan á la nada,
El polvo de tu alfombra que vayan á formar.

Entonces nada importa me pongas en olvido,
Tu atmósfera, tu espacio, tus valles cruzaré,
Vibrante y limpia nota seré para tu oido,
Aroma, luz, colores, rumor, canto, gemido
Constante repitiendo la esencia de mi fé.

Mi Patria idolatrada, dolor de mis dolores,
Querida Filipinas, oye el postrer adios.
Ahi te dejo todo, mis padres, mis amores.
Voy donde no hay esclavos, verdugos ni opresores,
Donde la fé no mata, donde el que reyna es Dios.

Adios, padres y hermanos, trozos del alma mía,
Amigos de la infancia en el perdido hogar,
Dad gracias que descanso del fatigoso día;
Adios, dulce extrangera, mi amiga, mi alegria,
Adios, queridos séres morir es descansar.

 

Malaysians–Rise up against toxic racism


July 14, 2017

Malaysians–Rise up against toxic racism

by Farouk A. Peru@www.themalaymailonline.com

There is something so counter-intuitive about racism. Even when racism was the norm, racists found a need to explain themselves.

They would come up with different theories as to why some races were superior to others. They would feel the need to explain why segregation was important. Think about it — do we ever have to explain why being united and transcending racism is important? No, because these attitudes are intuitively good.

There is something about them which we know, deep down, is correct and we gravitate towards them. Yesterday, I read a very disturbing news report about Astro and how it treated one of its customers.

Image result for racism in malaysia

A woman by the name of Madhavi Rai was told by Astro’s customer service that ethnic Indians and foreigners were only allowed to use auto-debit service as their payment option.

Rai, who is of Malaysian Nepali and ethnic Chinese parentage, had complained that her application was rejected as she did not choose the auto-debit payment option after she was allegedly informed it was her only payment option as she is “an Indian.” How did they know she was an Indian? They simply guessed from her name!

It is true that my outlook on these matters may be out of touch with reality in Malaysia but I refuse to believe that this incident is acceptable where ever you are.

In the UK, even where the majority population is overwhelmingly white, an incident such as this would receive condemnation from the entire population except a marginal one or two per cent (who are the far right, neo-Nazi types!).

Racism is simply not acceptable and I learnt that from my earliest days here. A police chief commissioner at the time made the mistake of calling a convicted criminal a “black bas***.”

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An UMNO Racist Leader and Najib Razak’s Cheerleader

Had he just used the second word, it would have been ok but the first word made it racist. He then lost his job. No ifs, no buts. That incident left a lasting impression upon me.

Since Astro has not denied this incident—but have apologised unreservedly—it is safe to assume that this policy must have been known to its management.

There is certainly no way lower level management, let alone the employees themselves, could have put such a policy into operation.  The strange thing is, according to Ms Rai’s account, they simply offered no explanation at all.

A customer service representative even admitted that the policy sounds racist but “has nothing to do with it.” Quite a puerile explanation, if you ask me. Sounds more like a denial even though the facts are clear.

Worse still, Ms Rai’s Chinese heritage was invoked. She was told that if she were to register as a Chinese, she would be able to choose other payment options. How utterly demeaning to our Indian brethren!

In Malaysia, we are relatively lax about these things, especially when they happen to non-Malays. We simply see them as realities in 21st century Malaysia but even so, we forget that realities are not made without our consent. It is because we tolerated incidents such as these that they have become the norm.

Imagine the humiliation Ms Rai must have gone through! However she chooses to define herself, racially speaking, it should not have any bearing on her being able to choose any particular payment option.

Pegging payment options to race only says one thing — that some races are either economically disadvantaged or worse still, morally inept.

Either way, this is extremely insulting and all right thinking Malaysians cannot afford to ignore this deeply troubling incident. It is not enough for Astro to apologise. They need to give compensation to Ms Rai for her mental anguish.

If not cash, then free Astro service for an extended period. Even so, that is getting off lightly.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.