Qing Ming Festival – 清明节

In Chinese or East Asian Calendar, one year is divided into 24 solar terms ( 节气). On the 104th day after winter solstice (冬至) is a solar term called Qing Ming (清明). It usually falls on the 5th day of April.

In ancient China, the emperors would use this day to pray to their ancestors and clean the ancestors’ mausoleum. This practice was followed by ordinary citizens and has since been passed down through generations as the day of honouring and paying respect to one’s ancestors and tending to their graves. This is also in line with the Confucian practice of ancestors’ worship, as part of Confucian rule of filial piety.

qing-ming.jpga Chinese painting depicting Qing Ming activities in a river

This is a cultural practice initially and was not meant to be a religious practice. However, since most Chinese are Taoists/Buddhists, they have adopted religious elements in praying to their ancestors, resulting in burning of hell papers, hell money etc.

Year in and year out, whenever I go to Nilai Memorial to pay respect to my own parents, I have seen a few Chinese families going to  nearby graves with European daughter-in-laws or son-in-laws together to pay honour to the ancestors, without lighting joss sticks, but instead paying respect with  flowers and of course tending and cleaning the grave. So this is a cultural tradition, and all Chinese, Korean , Vietnamese do pay respect to their departed ancestors on this day. This is also a day to remind us that without our ancestors, we would not be around.

In China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, this is a national holiday because in these societies, filial piety is considered the foremost important virtue of a person.

It also serves to remind us to treat our living parents with respect and love. All of us owe what we are today to our parents, and it is “important to remember the source of water when we drink it”, a Chinese proverb literally asking us not to forget our roots.

You will do more for your children by doing less for them

Nowadays, you can learn A to Z by enrolling in a college or an university. You can learn how to cook, how to make the bed, how to dance, how to communicate, how to sing, how to play musical instruments, how to do wood work, plumbing, electrical wiring  etc by studying in various courses offered by the various universities and colleges.

However, there is one thing they don’t teach you. The one thing that you cannot learn from all these institution is parenting or how to be good parents.

In ancient China, there were actually a lot of confucian scriptures teaching you how to be a father, a mother, a son or a wife. Confucius called this “Li”  meaning manners. Under “Li”, there were strict behaviour rules in various relationship, eg. there were rules of behaviour between a ruler and his subjects, between a father and his children, between a teacher and his pupils, between a husband and a wife.  A father could scold and punish a son but the son could not retaliate. A wife, after marrying, had ” 3 rules to follow and 4 morals to keep” – the so-called “San Zhong Xi De”. Many of these rules are not practical now such as when a father dies, a son has to look after the grave for 3 years and do nothing else. That is a waste of manpower..

 However, the basic rules about relationship, in my opinion, are  still valid. A son has to be filial to a father, a subject has to show respect to his ruler (this is called protocol now), a wife has to discuss major decision of the family with the husband.  A student has to show respect to his teacher. These rules are still good for our society.

Sad to say, even in our society, with all its eastern values, many of these values are lost. Being a person brought up with these values, with both my parents being graduates from China universities , I treasure these values and hope to pass on these values to whoever willing to listen to my preaching.

I see that our society is fast losing its value system. The values that are passed on get diluted  each successive generation. We have lost our values of honesty, being clean and non corrupt, being hardworking, being humble. All we want now is a fast tract to get rich. To get rich is glorious, even Deng Xiao Peng would tell you.

What prompted me to write this is that this morning, while I was driving, someone mentioned over the radio that ” to do less for your children is actually doing more for them”. I think this make a lot of sense.

People tend not to value things that they can get easily. If you do everything for your child, in the name of love, you are actually spoiling him. You are depriving him of a chance to try to do things on his own. By doing things on his own, he will gain an experience that he won’t forget and which you could never have taught him..

A young baby walks after many tries, through trial and error. If you constantly carry him without letting him down to the floor, he will never get a chance to learn to use his muscles and develop them for walking.

You can teach a person how to drive, but to become a good driver,  he must hone his skills on the roads and learn the finer points of driving himself. No one can teach Schumacher how to drive; he develops his skills on the tract.

You can teach a person how to play badminton, but he needs to play against actual opponents to lift his game and improve his skills.

There are no 2 ways about it.

Similarly, in society, we need to let people compete in order to make them more competitive. We cannot always be the protective parents. We cannot and should not spoil our people.

To do less for your child is actually doing more for him.

“Air on the G String” – JS Bach

 There is one piece of music that even those who don’t quite like  classical music would love. This piece has been played in movies, concert halls by famous philharmonic orchestra . I refer to the ” Air on the G String” by the   musician J.S. Bach, who was one of the greats in the Baroque era.

The piece was original known as “Air”

The title “Air on the G String”  comes from violinist August Wilhelmj‘s late 19th century arrangement of the piece. By transposing the key of the piece from its original D major to C major, Wilhelmj was able to play the piece on only one string of his violin, the G string.

It is said to be a very diificult piece to play since it is only played on one string of the violin, the G string. I come across this video (strictly speaking not really a video just a recording of music) on youtube and would like to share it with all of you.

Those who don’t like classical music, I bet you will like this peice of music too.

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“Malaysia’s Little Big Bang” – a good start

Two reform packages, the recent liberalisation of capital inflow and outflow and the liberalisation of investment policies in Iskandar Development Region, augur well for the country. By itself these will not be enough to increase our competitiveness and attract FDI, but it is a good start and hopefully it is the beginning of further liberalisation of our economy.

I am posting an news article from AWSJ on Malaysia’s little Big Bang:

Given the cash pouring into Asia these days, the message is clear: liberalize your economy, and there’s plenty of foreign expertise, technology and long-term investment to spread around. After a decade or so of watching growth take off in every other country that cracked open the door to foreign competition, Malaysia is finally getting on the train.

Mr. Abdullah’s administration announced two reform packages last week, and added another yesterday. The first, on Wednesday, eased both capital inflows and outflows — a direct repudiation of his predecessor’s damaging 1998 capital controls during the Asian financial crisis. Among other things, the central bank lifted limits on residents’ foreign-currency accounts, dumped caps on banks’ ability to trade foreign currencies, boosted Malaysian corporations’ and
mutual funds’ ability to invest abroad, and threw open the property market to foreigners.

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Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 – by Zimerman

Those of you who have seen the show “The pianist” will remember the scene that the poor pianist after many years of hideaway, was confronted by a German Officer in a deserted bungalow and the German officer asked him to play the piano after knowing that he was formerly a pianist by profession. The scene was one of the most captivating moments; the movie was of course one of the most moving shows that I have seen.

The piece that he played was Chopin’s Ballade No.1, one of my favourite Chopin pieces. My eldest daughter who is now in New Zealand studying used to play it often and she plays it very well too.

The videos that I have posted here are all from nice famous pieces played by great pianist. This is played by Krystian Zimerman, a contemporary polish pianist said to be one of the best in his interpretation of music of romantic era.

He also won the Federick Chopin Piano competition that Yundi Li won in 2000. But Zimerman won it way back in 1975 which makes him one of the best contemporary performers of Chopin’s composition. In the comments on youtube, many say he is better than Yundi Li, so you judge it for yourself. I reserve my comment!

Tun Musa Hitam on blogging-“Malaysia seems to have reach a certain level of maturity”

According to Rocky’s Bru,  Tun Musa Hitam, when opening the launching of the book on the late Tun Dr Ismail in Johore Bahru recently , when asked about blogging, had this to say ” Thank God for digital democracy”.

In my view, blogging can be and is a very powerful tool. What a blogger has written is forever there, unless deleted by the blogger himself, and anyone in the whole world, through the use of a search engine may come to read his postings.

My readers are mainly Malaysian, of course, but they are so many who commented on my blog who are from Canada, New Zealand, Japan etc which makes my blog a multi national and trans-national writings. Most blogs have similar readership.

But bloggers, like journalists, must adhere to certain ethics, and should not go overboard , especially should not go for  any personal attacks, and that’s my views. If we want the world to be a better place to live in, we bloggers must have the responsibilities to expound moderate statements and views.

Use the Dale Carnegie method to influence people. Please read my earlier writings on how to change and influence people. 

Even the Ancient Chinese war strategist Sun Tzu said in his book of the ” Art of War”, the best way to win is to win the heart of your enemy without any physical fighting. But if you need to fight, then try to understand your enemy and if you can understand yourself and your enemy thoroughly, you will win every one of the one hundred battles that you fight with him.

To influence, talk sense and convince people. Not to belittle or scold. To criticise, do it subtly and back it with facts and figures.

I will quote musa-hitam2.jpgTun Musa Hitam’s speech here , thanks to reporting by Rocky’s Bru.

“Some of us may claim, in a very concerned way, that Malaysia currently is in crisis while some claim that we are on a sliding mode. Arguments in support are plenty and we don need to pay attention to them. At the same time though, in honour of our past leaders like Tun Dr Ismail and to mark the 50 years of our country independence, I would like to appeal for a much more optimistic interpretation of current trends toward our country’s future.
“Politically I am sure Tun (Dr) Ismail would approve of what is going on now. He would not brood any nonsense, of course. But after seemingly sliding for many many years, the Tun (Dr Ismail) would certainly approve of the relatively more tolerant, open and liberal way that the present leadership seems to be conducting government. What more with increased emphasis on accountability with action being taken on cases of alleged corruption apparently without fear or favour. More, certainly, need to be done. But what is happening has been unheard of for many many years earlier!
“In politics Malaysians seems have reached a reasonable level of maturity. What used to be taboo subjects are coming out more and more into the open. Even the mainstream media is jumping into the bandwagon, not to mention the digital media that has come out completely unrestrained. Through the internet, furious arguments, most of them again, unrestrained and frank with not a few being highly emotion and even irrational, are continuously going on!

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Drawing investments the hard way – Business times.

I will paraphrase 3 paragraphs of the Business Times of Singapore here. For the full article , please go to the link  and read it.

From the Business times:

26th March 2007 

………………..By giving long tax holidays, freedom to source funds and to employ foreign workers, plus allowing foreign investors full ownership of their company, Malaysia hopes to pull in a huge chunk of the estimated US$105 billion
needed to develop south Johor.

But the waiver of FIC rules only applies to six areas in the IDR – creative industries, educational services, health care, financial advisory and consulting, logistics, and tourism-related services. It stops far short of Musa Hitam’s suggestion that Johor be exempted from Malaysia’s affirmative action policy so that IDR could succeed.

The former deputy prime minister was being practical when he made the controversial proposal in an interview with Bloomberg. Mr Musa sits on a five-strong advisory panel to IRDA, which is the super regulator for the
region, and his fellow panelists include other eminent Johoreans such as Malaysia’s wealthiest son, Robert Kuok.

It was a coup to get Mr Kuok on the panel but he is unlikely to have agreed if he had not been assured that the powers-that-be would heed his advice. That advice would have been in line with Mr Musa’s suggestions. Truth be told, his thoughts would likely to have been to scrap the New Economic Policy (NEP) in its entirety, and Malaysia would instantly be more competitive and attractive to foreign investors. But after more than three decades of the NEP, any dismantling will have to be incremental and gradual.

Mr Musa’s suggestion was likely to have been floated with the tacit approval of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is under pressure to enhance the country’s competitiveness. Despite Malaysia’s enormous economic progress under the leadership of former premier Mahathir Mohamad, he could not put an end to the NEP or empower the Malays to compete on an equal footing, erasing their so-called special privileges in the 22 years he was in office.

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