Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sibu In The Blue Ocean - Part 46

Capability (4) "Sibu Is Not An Island"

Tan Kee Hian provoked the thinking of Sibuians with Capability (4) "Sibu Is Not An Island".

Sibu Is Not An Island simply refers to Sibu as not being isolated. In the observations of Kee Hian, Sibu has the following potentials:

1. Like Singapore, not much natural resources but:
-Resourceful people
-Convenient central location
-Surrounded by rich hinterland
-And favourable track record

2. Become the "orchestra conductor" or "systems integrator" for resources from and activities occurring beyond Sibu.

3. Learn how to work with other cities, towns, and villages.

4. Be comfortable with a win-win arrangement:
-Smaller slice of a bigger pie

The picture shows the 2nd Governor of Sarawak, the late Tun Datuk Patinggi Tuanku Haji Bujang. Photo: Philip Hii

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A serious matter for Sibu because our identity is lost. Sorry. I am writing for the majority Foochow, but the fact also applies to the other Chinese 'tribes,' such as Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, etc.

It must be in the 70's when the racism among the Chinese in Malaysia rose to the first peak. At that time, much promotions were made about the education in the Chinese stream schools and at the same time Universiti Merdeka was a hot topic. The Chinese were taught to protect their language. The whole thing must have been brought to light slightly earlier in the Peninsular, but it took a while to propagate to Sarawak and Sibu. Because of that, DAP was a champion in the major towns of Sarawak, with Lim Kit Siang landing in Sarawak, Sim Kwan Yang won the Bandar Kuching seat for several terms, and Ling Sie Ming defeated Wong Soon Kai to win the Sibu seat.

While the whole Chinese related issues were super hot, have we asked ourselves about the identity of Foochow? I did not have a TV at home but I knew that one of the hot subjects was about the Chinese TV broadcasting. Foochow is just a small minority among the Chinese communities, over shadowed by the many races and tribes in Malaysia. Do you think other Chinese tribes will protect us and help to preserve our culture and dialect?

I can see now Foochow dialect is quite half dead in Sibu. Many small ones in the Foochow families could not speak Foochow any more because of the promotion to speak Mandarin by the West (West Malaysia Chinese). In the TV channels, you find the dramas and programs in Cantonese. Who cared about Foochow? and yet we leaned toward the majority and will eventually surrender to them. If we care about the survival of Chinese among other races, we should also care about the survival of Foochow in the Chinese community. The survival of Foochow is far more critical because we have a lot more inter-tribe marriage in Sibu. I also see this problem in China, although they still preserve their locality in each region. The younger generations speak a lot more Mandarin, even in Shanghai that used to be very different from other major Chinese cities.

An excellent example to look at is Taiwan, which is comprised of majority Min-nan people, with the dialect almost close to our Hookien. In order to keep this Min-nan tribe under control, Chiang Kai Shek and his nationalist government imposed Mandarin as the official language. Punishment was imposed on the kids who did not use Mandarin in schools. Now the young generations no longer speak good Min-nan but mostly Mandarin. Eventually the real Taiwanese stood up in the past decade and are trying to revive the dialects, including Min-nan, Hakka, and the aboriginal languages. This is really a lesson for all of us. We adopt Mandarin like adopting new building and road constructions. We just removed all the important historical buildings without preserving them.

If the culture and dialect for a particular tribe are lost, it will not be recovered. I felt so great that after 100 years, with the Foochow (actually MinQing or Ming Chiang dialect) learned from my grandparents and my parents, I could still communicate well with the people in MinQing. I felt so proud of it and decided to dig a little bit into this dialect. Apparently it is one of the oldest languages in China (before the Tang dynasty); it is not a real dialect according to the linguistic experts.

Foochow is a very distinguished tribe among the Chinese. I sometimes interpreted it as the Jewish of the Chinese. So please don't let your identity, culture and language/dialect get drowned in the pool of Mandarin. This is the same for Hokkien, Hakka, cantonese and even our Iban friends.

I don't speak Mandarin to the Foochow people. Even if you speak to me in Mandarin, I would reply you in Foochow. I may sound racist, but please do look at our heritage from a different angle.