Seven Years in Tibet

January 19, 2008

It’s a great movie: moving story (a true story), magnificent landscape, and good acting (maybe except for Brad Pitt’s English accent. Yes, he’s playing a German who is speaking English with German accent!).

Whenever I think of Dalai Lama, I think of my 6th grade history class when I asked my teacher what does he look like. What we were (and every kid in China is now) taught is basically “Dalai Lama is an unpatriotic bastard who tries to separate China.” Okay, that sounds evil enough. But how come we can find Hilter’s photo easily while no way we can know whether Dalai Lama has the similar facial hair? Seriously, I was only curious about his facial hair then.

Now, years later, I find the irony in the Harry Potter book (yes, you just never know that one day this wizard novel might come in handy). People never use the name “Voldemort”. Instead they use “You-know-who”. The reason is obvious: they are afraid. The reason is also obvious why there are laws banning publishing Dalai Lama’s photo, or bringing his photos into Tibet. If Dalai Lama was indeed “the evil slave owner in the old Tibet”, and the Chinese Army had done nothing but “liberating all the Tibetans from suffering”, then such laws would be nonsense: do you think it necessary or even sane to pass a law saying “no Jewish family should hang a portrait of Hitler on their wall”? Duh!



Joke of the year

January 1, 2008

If I were to give a joke of the year award, it definitely would go to the debut of Bureau of Corruption Prevention of PRC. It is even funnier to know that within one day after its website went online, it almost had to shut down because of the ridiculously high volume of visit and emails. I wonder what’s the percentage of the people who were really visiting the site seriously. For me, I visited the website for some pure holiday humor and fun. But deep down, I have to admit that I wished that most of the people visiting the website were serious, and optimistic about the future of anti-corruption, because nothing is more ironic than seeing people taking a cure-all pill for their cancer but in fact it is nothing but a pill of multi-vitamin. Yes, what an evil thought of mine. Santa should have revoked my gifts.

Now, seriously, why do I think the bureau is a joke? Because there is no way that it can work! When was the last time in history that a system successfully dealt with its corruption problem without any outside pressure such as an independant media, legal system, or opposition parties? How do you expect the bureau to work when journalists and lawyers are putting in jail for simply doing their job? Stealing money from the people is considered corruption, while depriving people of their freedom and basic human rights is not?

Some people (although I have personally met none) are optimistic about this anti-corruption action taken by the government. But they have to understand that the bureau, to the best, can only deal with low level corruption on the face. It can never solve the root of the problem. It is after all, merely one of the agencies in the corrupted system. A woman can publicly claim that she gave a blow job to the US president in the white house; she can sue the guy; the court can subpoena the guy, and he has to explain all the lies he gave to the public. During the whole process, the plaintiff or the journalists reporting the story did not spend a single day in jail. What if a woman claims that she gave a blow job to the Chinese leader? I seriously doubt the anti-corruption bureau, the court, or the media would step in at all. And I can pretty much bet where she would end up: jail or mental health facility.

Some people have a “powerful” counter argument. They would always point at the skylines of Shanghai or Beijing: “Look at it! We are changing for good, and really fast! So you dissenters should shut up!” They miss a simple logic: just because you get something good doesn’t mean that you are not entitled to something better. Only a slave would always be thankful for whatever his master gives him and asks no more; a free citizen should always be demanding toward her government.

The debut of a good-for-nothing bureau clearly doesn’t meet the minimum demand of many people. On the contrary, it is an insult to those who gave up their liberty or even life for the change of China. Among all the new things in China in 2007, this new born bureau is definitely entitled to the joke of the year award.