Emperor Qin SHi Huang, sometimes known as SHih Huang Ti in English history books, was the person credited with conquering all the small nation states of China during the Zhan Guo era ( the Era of the Warring States), and by doing so, he unified the whole of China, and standardised the written Chinese Language. He was also credited with the building of the GReat Wall, albeit at a huge human as well as financial cost.
Although he was the first emperor of Qin Dynasty and a unified CHina, he was a controversial figure, tyrannical, autocratic; and he had a hatred against the intellectual class, probably because he was afraid that this class of people would speak out and create trouble for his great dynasty. He wanted his dynasty to last forever and as a result, one of his worse acts was to bury hundreds of thousands of scholars alive and burning all Confucian texts that could be found. His court was full of manupulative people, hungry and greedy for power with one common attribute; they would do anything to please this tyrannical emperor.
After Qin SHi Huang died, the chief Eunuch, Zhao Gao, forged the emperor’s will and together with the Prime Minister Li Si, made the 18th Child the new emperor, and forced the Crown Prince Fusu to commit suicide.
The new emperor, known as Er Shi, was only in his teens. As he was young and owed his power to the eunuch Zhao Gao, the latter became all powerful and his wickedness and cruelty caused unrest and hardship in the whole of China. This resulted in revolts all over country, and finally, just 4 years after the death of Qin SHi Huang, Er SHi was killed by Zhao Gao, when one of the rebellious armies was approaching the capital. Soon the dynasty was overthrown and Liu Bang , the rebel leader, founded the Han dynasty.
One story had it that Zhao Gao once dragged a deer into the Courts of the Qin Dynasty and said to all those present that it was a horse. He then asked the emperor what he thought it was. The emperor meekly replied that it was a horse. Then Zhao Gao proceeded to ask one by one, the whole courtful of officials present, their opinion. None except one dared to refuted his claims that the particular animal was a horse. The only dissenting voice telling the truth that it could not be a horse since it was clearly a deer, was executed on the spot… So much for telling the truth.
History is a mirror for us to learn the mistakes of the past, so that we do not commit the same mistakes again. Does the above story sound familair? Can you see the similarities with the present era?
The Great Wall is certainly much more useful than the many Mega Projects that we have, but a similarity is that both were built at huge financial costs, and at the expense of the people.. Whereas the Great Wall protected China for many centuries against the Barbarians of the North (and for that QIn SHi Huang was certainly many class above our “Great” leader) , what did Sepang Formula one track do? What did we derive from the majestic city of Putrajaya? A Minister’s office in Putrajayais is as big and much grander than a lobby of a five Star hotel ..and there are so many ministers… What is the use of having such majestic big office? It only serves to boost the ego of the souls occupying the office to sky height, and make them out of touch with reality and the common people.
I have the fortune once (or misfortune, depending on how you view it) to visit, together with some friends, a deputy MInister in Putrajaya and he invited us to see his rest room. Wow… it was even bigger than an average bedroom of a standard linked house in PJ. Why they need such a big room for their ‘johns’ I really cannot comprehend…Leaders have bigger size, perhaps? If you ask my expert opinion, I can tell you, “size” does not matter… 🙂
The story of calling a deer a horse speaks much about the sycophancy of the Qin Court. What about us? Do we not have the same sycophants singing every time the Great Leader uttered something? Black can be white, deer can be horse, as long as a person is in the good book of the Leader… To these people, life is too short to think about the future of the country or the future of their children. Once the Great Leader abdicates, the sycophants change their tunes, singing along this time with the new leader….They will tell you that conscience is something you leave outside when you enter the corridor of power.
The burying of intellectuals and burning the books and texts during Qin Dynasty are akin to the clampdown on the freedom of expression and the media spin. The fear of a great emperor is always that his legacy may not last. The dangerous ones are the intellectuals, shut their mouth and his legacy can last forever…. So many a ruler, who wants his legacy to last forever, resorts to killing or maiming the intellectual class. But history teaches us that this has never been the case. Tyranny always falls. In Qin’s case, it took only 4 years (4 years is really a short time, because travelling from South China to North in those days took months).
I write this lengthy piece of history to stress one point, and I hope the power that be can see this point. History has taught us that no matter how much you clamp down, truth ultimately prevails. Tyranny and bad policies almost always fail. If we have not seen it , it is only because the day of reckoning has not arrived, yet.
I hope the Prime minister realises this and carries out his promised reform without anymore delay…. without fear or favour… And i hope all those who walk in the Corridor of power, or those who aspire to walk there one day, realise that ultimately, their names will be the only thing history records. Whether future history will look at them in a good or bad light, only they can decide. A good person will be remembered fondly for thousands of years, a bad tyrant or a corrupt will always be cursed. The choice is really in the hands of the person walking the corridor of power….A moment of Greed and False Glory in exchange of thousand years of curse, is it really worth?