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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Typhoon Disaster in Hainan

It's the month of natural disasters.  Closer to Singapore is the greatest typhoon affecting Hainan, China, in over 30 years.  Hainan, where I visited end of 2004, is also where my ancestors came from.  Pictures of the Hainan typhoon disaster from the internet. 
 
 
Apparently there is a lot of damage in Qionghai City, one of the major hometowns of the Hainanese Diaspora.  Qionghai, my maternal ancestral county, is the county north of Wanning, which is right on the direct path of the typhoon.  In fact, Qionghai was destroyed in a great typhoon disaster in the 1970s and was totally rebuilt.  
 
Dad rang a relative in Wenchang County, my paternal ancestral county, and was told that many of the coconut trees and rubber trees in my ancestral village were totally uprooted.  A relative at the prawn farms nearer to the coast had to crawl his way through the destroyed coconut plantations in order to reach home.
 
Some rooftop tiles of our ancient ancestral house which I visited in December 2004 (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/twc-nomad/message/268) suffered damage but the house is generally ok.  The more modern building in our family compound built a few years ago was intact, but I hope our old house would be repaired in the same ancient ethnic style (see my Dec 04 report on the local architecture).  Some buildings in the village were severly damaged.  Although not many people were killed due to the swift evacuation of local population, the overall economic damage on the densely populated eastern Hainan counties is devastating.
 
 

 

Monday, September 26, 2005

Freedom of speech 'like X-rated films'

What lessons do we draw for Singapore?
 
 
 

CHINA: Freedom of speech 'like X-rated films'

Taiwanese author Li Ao addressed an appeal for free speech at Peking University

South China Morning Post
Thursday, September 22, 2005

By Irene Wang

Outspoken Taiwanese legislator, author and talk-show host Li Ao delivered an appeal for free speech at Peking University yesterday and called on students to embrace the Chinese Communist Party.

Quoting Mao Zedong and former premier Zhou Enlai , he said different voices should be heard. He compared freedom of speech to the legalisation of pornography, saying the number of sex crimes had dropped in northern Europe when pornographic movies were legalised.

"Freedom of speech is just like X-rated videos. If you let people speak, talk and criticise, and let them touch the tiger's behind, it will be OK," Mr Li said.

In the speech - one of three Mr Li is scheduled to give during his 12-day trip to the mainland - the liberal historian and television commentator also praised independence of spirit, a trait widely regarded as the traditional Peking University ethos.

He paid tribute to former university presidents Ma Yinchu, who opposed Mao on the issue of population control, and Cai Yuanpei , who refused to accept Education Ministry directives early last century.

But Mr Li criticised today's Peking University as being submissive to authorities and too weak, challenging the institution's leaders sitting beside him to live up to the legacy of the past.

He also told his audience that they should turn the Communist Party to their service by co-operating with it in a "sober, rational and happy" manner.

"We should hold it, embrace it, and let it serve us because its slogan is to serve the people," he said.

Mr Li said it was not feasible for students to criticise the party in the same way that he had opposed Taiwan's Kuomintang.

In response to a student's question about university party secretary Min Weifang's insistence that teachers voicing "anti-revolutionary" remarks should not be allowed to give classes, Mr Li said nothing should be forbidden.

"There is nothing to be afraid of or that should not be talked about at universities," he said, as Mr Min sat beside him on the stage. "It is like the search for a cancer treatment at a medical school. It is important to find solutions."

He teased former Communist Party publicity department chief Ding Guangen for always having a stern face and joked about Taiwanese politicians, including former KMT chairman Lien Chan and his successor, Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou.

The address drew constant applause and laughter from students.

Wu Hao, an international relations major, said the speech had "resonated with the old Peking University spirit".

Mr Li also took time out to respond personally to a letter from 15-year-old university hospital cancer patient Wu Ziyou, by visiting him at his bedside. The teen said he liked Mr Li because "he is an interesting person", and "our conversation should be one between strong men and between high mountains".

 
 
 

Thursday, September 22, 2005

[In Chinese] �����������ֲ� / Beijing's Changan Club

 
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