Essay | 文章 > In The Name of Our Forefathers - Clear Tea, Light Rice - Chee Wang Ng
- Chee Wang Ng 吳子雲
And that the desires of the majority of the people are often for injustice and
inhumanity against the minority, is demonstrated by every page of history.
– John Adams (1735-1826)
It’s No Crying Over Spilt Milk – In China 5,000 years history, the great waves of Chinese migrating only began from the 1800s in the waning era of the late Qing Dynasty 清朝. Ever since then the Chinese had been discriminated and prosecuted with plight of being “sold off as piglet” 賣豬仔 on labor contracts. Life of these Chinese migrants was dire; those that survived were in less than the poetic idiom of 清茶淡飯 “Clear Tea Light Rice” - as bare minimum as "bread and water." Most were “enslaved” as coolies - into indentured servitude 做牛做馬 to “being a cow, being a horse” filling in on the desperate shortage of labor after the slavery was abolished in the Western colonial plantations in the Caribbean, Latin America, South Africa; and to build the US Transcontinental Railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, and to mines in Australia and New Zealand.
Closing the Barn Door After the Cows Have Gotten Out – Human trafficking were sanctioned to the Britain and France to ship Chinese laborers by the hundreds of thousands overseas with the signing of the unequal treaties of the Convention of Peking 北京條約 1860 after the defeat of the Second Opium War 第二次鴉片戰爭 1856-60. Unrest of the Chinese Civil War 國共內戰 1927-50 further forced out massive Chinese overseas.
Holy Cow – The radical induced high influx of Chinese labors ignited hostility around the world - Anti-Chinese sentiment from the Yellow Peril to Sinophobia ran amok. At least 200 Chinese were lynched in the Western US alone between 1870s-80s. In 1871 a mob lynching of 17 Chinese in Los Angeles Chinatown (The Biggest Public Lynching in the US History), in 1880 rioters destroyed the whole Denver Chinatown, in 1885 Massacre in Rock Spring, Wyoming with 28 dead, 15 injured, and 75 Chinese homes destroyed. In Mexico, the Revolutionaries routinely targeted Chinese homes and businesses - both Chinese and assimilated families were forcibly expelled with unwarranted deportation.
Until The Cows Come Home – In Southeast Asia, home to the most concentrated and the longest history of Chinese diaspora group in the world, and is still a minority despite being the biggest contributor to the growth and progress of the region. These Overseas Chinese had not only served under the various indigenous rules, they were subjugated and exploited by the many Western colonial powers - Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, and American; and were left to fight for their own life with countless perished under the cruelty of the Japanese occupation during the Second World War; and least to say with the struggle between the Beijing and Taipei China.
Sacrificial Cow – Racial stigmatization has always been intense even after generations of assimilation and living with insurmountable amount of brutal legal bigotry. Anti-Chinese Riot has never stop in Indonesia, from the 1740 Dutch Colonial massacred of 10,000 Chinese in Batavia, the 1965-66 Indonesian Killings with upward of 2,000 Chinese killed, to the 1998 Riot of another 2,000 people dead and over 150 women raped. During the last Indonesian Presidential Campaigns in mid-2014, the 230-year-old Hoo Tong Bio Temple 護唐廟 and the 151-year-old Liong Hok Bio Temple 隆福廟 both were mysteriously burnt to the ground - cause “accidental.” Malaysian Chinese is still living with the tension and legacy of the “13 May 1969 Incident” racial riot 五一三事件. Under all regimes against all odds our forefathers as sojourners to settlers had survived to ensure a smoother path for all that follows.
Sacred Cow – Upon the back of these pioneering forefathers, Chinese diaspora have self-emancipated from enslavement to being the model minority. With the recent Rise of China, Chinese diaspora is now not only the bridge but also the link on this bilateral progress. With both the language and cultural skill as being the natural bond in creating a closer relationship together with a high technical education, training, resources, and most of all the dedicated work ethic that are crucial to develop and enrich in the diversity and advancement in all fields.
How Now, Brown Cow? – Regardless of being 50 million strong and being the world biggest ethnic diaspora group, the Chinese diaspora will always be a minority. There have been some token readdressing of affirmative action to the past bias policy treatment by some countries but headlines of Chinese diaspora civil rights violation still persists, and legislation on Chinese suppressions are still being enforced. As generations of Chinese diaspora with myriad upbringings have since grown beyond the simple dichotomy to a rich diverse vibrant larger world culture, all have proven the vitality by establishing home globally and integrated into the establishment, but then there will always be new Chinese émigrés. There is a gulf between the minority of the powerful and that of the weak. It is time to refocus and make a start. Does it really matters of whom being the majority or the minority? We all share the same human value and dignity, and seek the same social equality of a just and progressive society like you and I.
A new paradigm for a new day is a moo-ing experience indeed.
Hey Diddle Diddle, The Cat and The Fiddle, The Cow Jumped Over The Moon.
The Little Dog Laughed to See Such Fun. And The Dish Ran Away with The Spoon!
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