Thursday, April 2, 2009

Nation of Servants

Yes, the HK magazine and the erring writer already apologized.
Yes, they already pulled-out the article's online version.
Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of domestic workers in Hong Kong.
Yes, the Philippine's claim over Spratly Islands is under dispute. 
And yes, the article is a criticism on the Chinese government's inability to assert their blah on Russia and Japan...and instead, they chose to "pick a fight" with a poor country like the Philippines.
Yes, the article is just plain sarcastic. 

I now understand what Chip Tsao wanted to say, especially since he had Conrado de Quiros to defend him and his article. What makes the article insulting is that it tells of the truth: the Chinese government is confident that we do not have the political, and hence, military, capability to defend the Spratlys; we have degree holder OFWs paid to "wash (their) toilet and clean (their) windows 16 hours a day"; and the Spartly take-over by the modern state capitalist government of China might as well be a revival of expansionism, among others.

Chip Tsao's article can be funny. If he had not used Louisa to expound his point, I could have enjoyed the article the first time I read it. But then, I was one of those who reacted on the contrary. Glaring was the "disrespect" for his household help. Okay, so this was not his point. I could accept that. I could also accept his apology. 

from Aaron Ceradoy

De Quiros said, "the barb (is) aimed elsewhere", in fact, "it even casts Filipinos in a good light, by inference". But the Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong cried foul. And we must understand why: they have been dealing with ignominy the instant they boarded the plane that brought them there. 

For a "best-selling author and columnist", Chip Tsao should have known better. Has he not heard of the Philippine's calvary already? I could agree that the article is not intended to be condescending. Unfortunately, a nation which needs to deal with blatant insult every single day cannot appreciate satire. Satire scmatire.

Here is a reprint of Chip Tsao's article:

The War At Home
March 27th, 2009

The Russians sank a Hong Kong freighter last month, killing the seven Chinese seamen on board. We can live with that—Lenin and Stalin were once the ideological mentors of all Chinese people. The Japanese planted a flag on Diàoyú Island. That’s no big problem—we Hong Kong Chinese love Japanese cartoons, Hello Kitty, and shopping in Shinjuku, let alone our round-the-clock obsession with karaoke.

But hold on—even the Filipinos? Manila has just claimed sovereignty over the scattered rocks in the South China Sea called the Spratly Islands, complete with a blatant threat from its congress to send gunboats to the South China Sea to defend the islands from China if necessary. This is beyond reproach. The reason: there are more than 130,000 Filipina maids working as $3,580-a-month cheap labor in Hong Kong. As a nation of servants, you don’t flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter.

As a patriotic Chinese man, the news has made my blood boil. I summoned Louisa, my domestic assistant who holds a degree in international politics from the University of Manila, hung a map on the wall, and gave her a harsh lecture. I sternly warned her that if she wants her wages increased next year, she had better tell every one of her compatriots in Statue Square on Sunday that the entirety of the Spratly Islands belongs to China.

Grimly, I told her that if war breaks out between the Philippines and China, I would have to end her employment and send her straight home, because I would not risk the crime of treason for sponsoring an enemy of the state by paying her to wash my toilet and clean my windows 16 hours a day. With that money, she would pay taxes to her government, and they would fund a navy to invade our motherland and deeply hurt my feelings.

Oh yes. The government of the Philippines would certainly be wrong if they think we Chinese are prepared to swallow their insult and sit back and lose a Falkland Islands War in the Far East. They may have Barack Obama and the hawkish American military behind them, but we have a hostage in each of our homes in the Mid-Levels or higher. Some of my friends told me they have already declared a state of emergency at home. Their maids have been made to shout “China, Madam/Sir” loudly whenever they hear the word “Spratly.” They say the indoctrination is working as wonderfully as when we used to shout, “Long live Chairman Mao!” at the sight of a portrait of our Great Leader during the Cultural Revolution. I’m not sure if that’s going a bit too far, at least for the time being.

Chip Tsao is a best-selling author and columnist. A former reporter for the BBC, his columns have also appeared in Apple Daily, Next Magazine and CUP Magazine, among others.

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