Saturday, July 11, 2015

All Under Heaven

In the climatic scene of the 2002 wuxia movie ("Hero") by Zhang Yimou, the nameless protagonist (Jet Li) aborted his assassination attempt on the King of Qin at the very last moment. As the story telling goes, two words changed his mind, Tiān Xià (天下), which literally means "all (everything and everyone) under heaven". The hero understood this to mean that peace and unity can only be achieved under absolute control by one indisputable ruler. For this epiphany, he gets executed by the king with a spectacular rain of arrows, and a grand funeral rivalling what we saw in March this year. Fareed Zakaria's posit of a culture of disrespect would be anathema to the imperial throne.

Critics who felt the film had advocated autocracy reacted with discomfort. One reviewer condemned it as a "cartoon ideology" and justification for ruthless leadership comparable to "Triumph of the Will", the 1935 propaganda movie chronicling the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg. In the face of backlash, Zhang Yimou maintained that he had absolutely no political points to make.

The unanswered question remains: who should be the one person that determines the fate of millions? Adolf Hitler had his go at it, and six million ended up in the gas chambers. The horrible person initially denied it ("I don't remember any such thing. I cannot understand this, that Ong Pang Boon and Toh Chin Chye would say so. If one said so, I can dismiss it, but two said so..."), but Ong Eng Guan could have been prime minister if Toh Chin Chye had not exercised his prerogative as chairman to cast the determining vote. One of the cartoons in the best selling "The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye" features Lim Chin Siong as prime minister, reflecting on how history would be different if the horrible guy had not quit parliament and skipped overseas - good enough reason for the National Arts Council (NAC) grant to be withdrawn. Pure fantasy of course, but people should be careful of the choices they make. If, and when, they are actually allowed to choose.


  1. The choice we had was always the same - heads they win, tails you lose. What else is new?

  2. Argh, maybe we would be a hybrid between Taiwan and HK now, which is no bad thing in many ways. Maybe Chartered Semicon would be more profitable like TSMC instead of burning holes in taxpayers' pockets, maybe the SMRT would be reliable like the HK MRT, maybe ... I shud stop dreaming!

  3. He talks about respect?
    What has he ever done for Singaporeans that deserves respect?
    Has the Singaporean core been destroyed beyond repair?
    Has the MRT train system been destroyed beyond repair?

    If we count the number of Millionaire Generals in our parliament and economy, do you think we could be mistaken for a 3rd World military junta?

    1. We are not a 3rd World military junta?

    2. Except for the wayang of parliamentary debates, Rubber Stamp passes laws not unlike governance by decree, the result is always what they wanted.
      Can recall any Bill that wasn't passed even if the masses is against it?

  4. Wow, things must be getting pretty dire, because they are leaving no dead bodies unturned to decide your choice. On the morning of National Day this year, Mr Lee Kuan Yew will be reading the Proclamation of Independence, over radio and tv at 9 am. Who says the dead will not rise up from the grave, thus fulfilling his words (in a way):

    "Even from my sickbed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel that something is going wrong, I will get up. "

    1. Don't bother getting up, your horrible son has already said the train breakdowns will be a regular feature.

    2. He did rise up, but to the shore in dead sperm whale.
      Know what that symbolise ?
      Remember the owl ?

  5. "Even from my sickbed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel that something is going wrong, I will get up. "

    is this another broken promise in a long string of broken promises?
    was it all just smoke and mirrors?

    What was more important to him? The money in the reserves or the happiness of Singaporeans?
    what do you think?

  6. If you give someone an award in recognition of something that that he/she has achieved or done, the basic courtesy is that you don't simply take it back for whatever reason. Otherwise people will regard you as being petty or pariah or in local dialect chow kuan.

    So is our NAC being infamous for the wrong reasons when it withdrew even that small grant for the cartoonist ? As if telling us that by withdrawing that grant, the cartoonist is not deserving of such an award ?

    Now this is proof that all those mentoring by that horrible man must be bullshit because if the mentoring has been upright & proper, would we end up in having leaders with such horrible judgement ?

    1. Beware of PAPigs bearing gifts. Otherwise, you will repent.

  7. Could the following prescient observation about China also apply to Singaporeans?

    "More than anything the government fears social unrest.
    In China, the CCP is carefully planning the future step by step, and if it is overthrown its entire project will be derailed.

    Chinese people have made a trade for this kind of planning (and for what has been astonishing economic growth until recently)
    —they’ve traded in Western-style civil liberties like freedom of speech and expression.
    They’ve traded in a multi-party system.

    Until the wider economy, not just the stock market, started slowing down last year, the trade was working.

    And that’s just it. If the Chinese people feel that trade isn’t working out for them — if they see that the government’s plans are not turning China into the superpower it wants to be — they may abandon the project.

    That’s why the stock market’s collapse is so important to the government. Because it could make people stop believing in the trade.


  8. Devotees of the horrible person - a firm believer in "absolute control by one indisputable ruler" and "advocated autocracy" - can catch him in the movie "1965", with his famous crying incident. The hero did not die in a rain of arrows though, but 40 years later of old age. Some critics felt this was a glorification of LKY, and a propaganda film as a run-up to the PAP election campaign.

    Much like Zhang Yimou who maintained that his movie "Hero" had absolutely no political points to make, Daniel Yun (former head of Mediacorp), the executive producer of "1965", said “It is not a biopic of Lee Kuan Yew, it's not a propaganda film, it is not a documentary or a political film.” Isn't this movie "comparable to "Triumph of the Will", the 1935 propaganda movie chronicling the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg'"? What do you think?

    1. Correction: not "40 years later of old age", but 50 years.

      If "1965" is not any of the things as Daniel Yun claimed, then it cannot be anything "under heaven" (天下). Incidentally the crying incident must be on par with the climatic scene in "Hero".