Do the crime, do the time

I was disappointed to see that China has allowed to go free a former journalist who committed the ultimate offense – defacing the image of Mao. This man poses a threat to all of us, and now that he is out, no one is safe.

A Chinese journalist was freed Wednesday after spending nearly 17 years in prison for splattering paint on a portrait of Mao during the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, a family member and a human rights advocate said.

The journalist, Yu Dongyue, now 38, and two friends hurled eggs filled with red paint at the famous painting of Mao, which still stares at Tiananmen Square from across the street, where it hangs above the entrance to the Forbidden City. Mr. Yu and his family are expected to reunite in Hunan Province on Thursday, but his younger brother said the family was deeply concerned about Mr. Yu’s mental health.

“He no longer recognizes me,” said Yu Xiyue, the brother, who made a prison visit last year. In 2004, Reporters Without Borders, the journalism advocacy group, said Mr. Yu had gone insane as a result of torture in prison.

Don’t be sentimental as you read the descriptions of this rightist going mad from years of torture and solitary confinement. He was 21 years old when he committed his treasonous act, he knew what he was doing. He sought to split apart the Chinese people and disrupt the harmony that binds us. One people, one party, one voice.

Especally be suspicious of the whinings of John Kamm, an enemy of China who seeks to protect those who would threaten the established order – the very order that has brought China unparalleled success and made it a great superpower. Kamm’s snivelling, maudlin attempts to pull at our heartstrings are despicable.

Mr. Kamm said Mr. Yu’s return to society would be tightly restricted, as is the case with all freed political prisoners. He will not have any political rights and will be forbidden to work at a university or any state-owned enterprise. He is also prohibited from speaking to news organizations.

“He will be, for the rest of his life, a targeted person,” Mr. Kamm said.

Mr. Yu had worked as a reporter and art critic for Liuyang News, a local paper in Hunan. In 2004, Lu Decheng, one of the two friends arrested with Mr. Yu, visited him in prison and told Radio Free Asia that he was “barely recognizable.”

Mr. Yu had “a totally dull look in his eyes, kept repeating words over and over as if he were chanting a mantra,” Mr. Lu said, adding: “He had a big scar on the right side of his head. A fellow prisoner said Yu had been tied to an electricity pole and left out in the hot sun for several days. He was also kept in solitary confinement for two years, and that was what broke him.”

Well, well, well, Mr. Kamm, why don’t you be good enough to tell us why Yu shouldn’t be a “targetted man” for the rest of his life? None of your mawkish claptrap, larded with bourgeois sentimentality, can alter the fact that he sought to deface an image of the man who gave China its backbone. He was given a fair trial and legal representation, and his too-lenient sentence was determined within the framework of the law. China is a nation of laws. Don’t sit there in your posh American office and tell us how to run our country.

Mr. Hu, I urge you to re-imprison Mr. Yu. The sickness that motivated him is a thousand times more lethal than bird flu. Bird flu is a disease of the skin, Mr. Yu’s splittist treason is a disease of the heart. How sad, to see our leaders get weak at the knees due to foreign pressure and hooligans like John Kamm.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 55 Comments

Jesus Richard- they convinced you!

February 23, 2006 @ 1:35 am | Comment

Woah. When you do dark-bitter, you really do dark-bitter. Excellent writing mate.
(Now, how are the party faithful going to react to this?)

February 23, 2006 @ 1:40 am | Comment

The suppression of human rights and freedom of expression in China often has to be experienced at firsthand before the enormity of it is truly comprehended.

Yesterday, the Guardian had a feature on the radical British documentary film-maker, Nick Broomfield.

Buried at the bottom, there is a reference to his documentary on the death of Chinese cockle-pickers in Britain a year or so back. Broomfield went to China to discover the reasons why so many Chinese were willing to risk everything to find employment outside China. Of course, this veteran risk-taking film-maker received no co-operation from the authorities.

Evidently having had no experience of China previously, this was his verdict:

“… we filmed in China illegally. The authorities are very controlling. I found China charmless and brutal. It was a ghastly place. I so hated it.”

http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,1714318,00.html

February 23, 2006 @ 1:45 am | Comment

Yeah, Richard, I think you need some winking emoticons here…
;)

Great piece.

February 23, 2006 @ 2:20 am | Comment

Richard, good post – ’nuff said.

February 23, 2006 @ 3:08 am | Comment

He got of lightly, the penalty used to be death.

February 23, 2006 @ 5:03 am | Comment

Is this a special guest post from Panzi?

February 23, 2006 @ 5:37 am | Comment

wow. very dark. for a minute i thought something happened and the duck turned to the evil side.

gread piece. right to the point.

February 23, 2006 @ 2:42 pm | Comment

i hope he does not return to his treasonous ways. i want to believe in the effectivness of torture, as a rehabilitative tool.

February 23, 2006 @ 5:51 pm | Comment

Did patriotboy sneak in and kidnap Richard?

February 23, 2006 @ 6:38 pm | Comment

It’s funny how all of the “China-lovers” have steered clear of this post like it was the plague.

February 23, 2006 @ 7:43 pm | Comment

I believe everyone, including the ones that was once guilty, has a right to live on. “How long has one to pay for a mistake, for a misstep in one’s life? When is enough enough? There is no reprieve in life? You just keep paying for your sins.” Why is he unforgivable? He has paid for his guilty for 17 years, and you brtually put him back into death penalty. I really can’ t understand. He is now insane. How can you make him destroy now ultimately solid foundation?

Though I am also Chinese, I can hardly agree with you.

Thank God, be generous!

February 23, 2006 @ 8:00 pm | Comment

Kent, I do hope you understand I was being sarcastic…? This man should never have gone to jail to begin with, let alone for nearly 20 years.

February 23, 2006 @ 8:13 pm | Comment

I think someone should send Kent an email. Otherwise, he’ll probably never come back here, think that this is a crazy Legalist website.

February 23, 2006 @ 10:18 pm | Comment

Poor Kent :)
Since there are no hard core commies here, I’ll play the part.

February 23, 2006 @ 10:34 pm | Comment

You don’t understand China. The fact of the matter is that we need social stability while we build China and our armed forces. This is a critical time for us to rise while the US is preoccupied with other matters. We all have to make sacrifices to ensure the rise of China.

The great helmsman Mao2 Kung1 Dong4, ended the humiliation of China. If it was not for him, and the CCP, China would be run today by a single party on the platform of nationalism, and rife with corruption, instead of the harmonious society we know today, with a Chinese form of human rights and freedom.

So you see, the rule of the CCP is not only justified, but also critical to the survival of China, which includes Taiwan, even though we’ve never controlled it in our history. Do you understand? This is because CCP is China, and Taiwan is part of China, so the CCP is the rightful ruler of Taiwan. You see, Americans do the same thing. They like to call their presidents the “Leader of the free world.” Since France is supposedly “free,” isn’t the US claiming to rule France? So you see, it’s essentially the same thing.

So during this time of transition, we must make sacrifices. And this includes not throwing paint on large portraits. Do you know how long it took somebody to paint the painting? Hard working painters slave away at it and this man shows total disrespect for the painter and all laborers and workers of China (which includes Taiwan).
Transition – when will this period end? The CCP will tell us when this critical time is finally over and China has fully risen. Until then, anyone in China should take it up the ass from the government if that is what is needed for China’s rise.

February 23, 2006 @ 10:53 pm | Comment

How was that? :)

February 23, 2006 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

Very funny!

February 24, 2006 @ 3:38 am | Comment

Spot on, Skystreaker. You’ve sure got the standard talking points down.

February 24, 2006 @ 5:48 am | Comment

accidently,17 years ago,when the three warriors threw the egg of ink into the image, I was just passing by the spot,and saw the student pickets seized them(students delivered them to the police later), a few hours later,when I came back to the TAM square the image had been covered by a big carpet from a helicopiter.It’s tragical both for the three heros and the students.
your blog recalls my memory almost forgotten.

February 24, 2006 @ 10:23 am | Comment

Where did you get the impression that those two mud slingers were seized by “agents” among the students?

They were seized by the other student leaders and turned over to the police. Why? Well for one thing, most students did not hate Mao, and the 6/4 movement was not directed at Mao. In fact, it explicitly expressed a desire for the return of Mao(or at least some elements of it). So when those two threw mud at Mao’s portrait, it genuinely enraged the public and those two’s actions received no popular support whatsoever.

So this idea that the public cheered on as those two threw mud, and they were only caught by “agents” is ludicrous.

February 24, 2006 @ 1:25 pm | Comment

If you watch the famous documentary on 6/4, called “Gate of Heavenly Peace”, one of the prominent student leaders being interviewed said explicitly that those 2 guys were seized by the students and turned over to the police. He explained that they seized him because they wanted to make it clear to the gov’t their demonstration was not an “anti-CCP” and “anti-China” demonstration, and that they loved their country as much as CCP did.

February 24, 2006 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

Taken from the transcript of the Gate of Heavenly Peace:

During the student demonstrations of 1989 three men from Mao’s own home province of Hunan splattered the great portrait with ink. The students immediately distanced themselves from this act. They denounced the outrage, and helped arrest the men responsible.

http://www.tsquare.tv/film/transcript.html

February 24, 2006 @ 1:30 pm | Comment

Your point being…?

No matter who handed him in, do you think he was treated fairly? Are you proud of the way the leaders you extol handled him? Did the punishment, in your eyes, meet the crime?

And do you think the students, had they known what was going to happen on June 4, would have been so eager to hand him over? Look what they got in return, these young students who, as you say, didn’t hate their govewrnment or country. You are saying they were patriots, which makes their murder even more sickening.

February 24, 2006 @ 8:06 pm | Comment

China_Hand,
to be frank, i am shameful to share the term “china” with you.
it’s unimportant to the point of who handed these three heroes to police. what we care is, is it fair to detain this hero into jail for 17 years?

testing..

February 24, 2006 @ 10:56 pm | Comment

china_hand,
do you really think the sentence of 17 years in prison is needed for one action of throwing an egg to one portrait?

Even for the Danish cartoonist, no rational Muslims had said to the press that the cartoonist should be put into jail for 17 years because of the provoking cartoons against Mohammed.

In some stupid chinese eyes, Mao’s position in their eyes equals to the Mohammed in those extremists’ eyes. Mao, likes Mohammed, is so sacred that no human-being can criticize them, can harbour supsipisions against them, anyone dares to do such actions, will be dragged to the Inquisition, and sentence to jail for 17 years, right?

February 24, 2006 @ 11:06 pm | Comment

regarding the student helped the police arresting those three heroes, i can make sure that they will regret for what they did on that day. the gun pointing to these three heroes will be shifted to those students who helped the police. and this drama, never be foreseen by those students.
china_hand, you are lacking of the eyesight to anticipating which direction the gun (which you currently help) is going to shift to. maybe like those students, the next target is you.

February 24, 2006 @ 11:20 pm | Comment

CCP is not the man who fulls of gratitude. they do everything to take advantage of the press/speech freedom when KMT was holding power on mainland. KMT gave them the freedom to express their opinions, and they use this freedom to criticize the KMT goverment. when the CCP became the ruling party, what they did in response to the speech freedom? censorship!
when the students came to the street and protest against corruption, the majority of the students, saying they love china, and love CCP. what they got in response to their love towards CCP? tank! blood! massacre!
that’s not all. farmers are the cheapest tools for CCP. when the CCP was a opposition party before 1949, they lied to the farmers and made a false promise to the farmers, promising the farmers will be the major member in the “ruling coalition” if they hold the power. what these farmers got after 1949? please go to the NPC and count how many farmers there.

February 24, 2006 @ 11:31 pm | Comment

Your point being…?

No matter who handed him in, do you think he was treated fairly? Are you proud of the way the leaders you extol handled him? Did the punishment, in your eyes, meet the crime?

And do you think the students, had they known what was going to happen on June 4, would have been so eager to hand him over? Look what they got in return, these young students who, as you say, didn’t hate their govewrnment or country. You are saying they were patriots, which makes their murder even more sickening.

My point was simply that when those students threw mud at the portrait, the crowd did not cheer him on as many of you would like people to believe, instead, the crowd was enraged and people seized him and turned him over to the police. So don’t turn your heat on me. If you are displeased with those 2 guys’ sentences, you should start condemning those student leaders who turned him in.

to be frank, i am shameful to share the term “china” with you.

I have never shared the term China with you….

do you really think the sentence of 17 years in prison is needed for one action of throwing an egg to one portrait?

When did I say that it’s needed?

In some stupid chinese eyes, Mao’s position in their eyes equals to the Mohammed in those extremists’ eyes. Mao, likes Mohammed, is so sacred that no human-being can criticize them, can harbour supsipisions against them, anyone dares to do such actions, will be dragged to the Inquisition, and sentence to jail for 17 years, right?

Who are those “stupid Chinese” you are referring to? I’ve never met anyone who thinks Mao is like Mohammed or that he cannot criticized. There are plenty of criticisms of Mao, even Deng Xiaoping himself has criticized Mao. Please stop making stuff up….

regarding the student helped the police arresting those three heroes, i can make sure that they will regret for what they did on that day.

Really? You talked to those students? What do you base your certainty on?

china_hand, you are lacking of the eyesight to anticipating which direction the gun (which you currently help) is going to shift to. maybe like those students, the next target is you.

Are you gonna shoot me now?

February 24, 2006 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

someone is disgracefully concocting an equation between CHINA and CCP. if CCP can really represent China, then i have to say “i am sorry, i hate that form of china. like the German hate Hiltler’s Germany. i am a human-being, not a beast. and china, should not crowd with beasts. ”

February 24, 2006 @ 11:37 pm | Comment

someone is disgracefully concocting an equation between CHINA and CCP. if CCP can really represent China, then i have to say “i am sorry, i hate that form of china. like the German hate Hiltler’s Germany. i am a human-being, not a beast. and china, should not crowd with beasts. “

Jeffery, who are you referring to? When did I ever equated CCP with China? Or are you just ranting with no audience in mind?

February 24, 2006 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

Oh…good sarcastic comments, Richard.

I am afraid you are being too generous! but that’s all right, it’s all my fault to take you as a patriot.

You are generous, but you can’t be as generous as Deng Xiaoping. In other words, you can never be great.
If we allow everyone to throw eggs onto the portraits of our country-founder, will we have a government that has made our GDP grow at such a rapid speed? Politics can be cruel, like Sadam. However, his people are living in even greater pain without him due to the invasion from a so-called generous, democratic, and peace-keeping nation.

The other day, I threw a stone through my neighbour’s window glass, then I was criticised. Don’t you think that he could free from punishment. The portrait is not a window glass. It is a picture of our leader without whom we have no today.

Things have two sides. You can say we did wrong. But I am sure they will never act in your personal way. The government hates being intervened in political affairs.

February 24, 2006 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

Communist China_hand, no one said people were cheering the paint tossers. Wangning called them heros, and that’s his opinion.

Kent either has horrible english, or can’t express logical thoughts.

February 25, 2006 @ 2:28 am | Comment

Richard,

You should not so blatantly give your support to the Communist Party. They may be smart people but sometimes they also appreciate constructive criticism.

It is quite sad that the man is imprisoned for so many years. But during the time, let’s hope that he has learnt some things. He was simply too carried away and mental problem is very common in prisons. What does defacing the photo of Mao suppose to accomplish?

But things like that happens all the time.

Back in Hong Kong colonial days, if you deface the picture of Queen Elizabeth, they would have you deported to Mainland China.

And during the hey days of anti Communism in the US, if you hang a photo of Stalin in your office, their citizens will probably fist you up nevermind waiting for the FBI to arrive.

In Malaysia, we had numerous independence fighters who were imprisoned by the British for fighting for our independence. Many went into hidings, and many of those imprisoned were only freed after the Japanese came. Then after Japan lost the war, our freedom fighers were again imprisoned by the British.

In countries like Malaysia, it is still considered a sin to deface the photos of our Sultans. And in many Moslem nations, it is still a big crime to deface the photo of Nabi Mohammed SAW.

February 25, 2006 @ 2:56 am | Comment

“Mr. Hu, I urge you to re-imprison Mr. Yu. The sickness that motivated him is a thousand times more lethal than bird flu. Bird flu is a disease of the skin, Mr. Yu’s splittist treason is a disease of the heart. How sad, to see our leaders get weak at the knees due to foreign pressure and hooligans like John Kamm.”

Mr. Richard,

Thank you for your inspiring letter. You are truly one of the few true revolutionaires left in China.

We have taken into consideration your request for the re-imprisonment of Mr. Yu. However, you have truly underestimated the cunningness of our evil plans.

Given your inspring letter, let us comrades share this evil plan with you. We feel that it would be better if Mr. Yu is returned to his family so that his family can play a role in shouldering the burden to nurse Mr. Yu back to health. This saves the government money and we need every cent of it for other more deserving citizens. It will also teach other disobedient dissidents that not only will they land themselves into trouble if they try to pull a stunt like Tiananmen’89 again, but when they get sick, their family will have to shoulder the burdens of their sickness and not the state.

Let it be of comfort to let you know that we were not in any way influence by hooligans like Mr. Kamm. Our decision to release Mr. Yu is to further punish his immediete families so that they now have an extra burden in their lives.

The Western media like to protray us as having turned over a new leaf through this release of Mr. Yu, but please do not be fooled. There is currently a strong pro-China agenda in the Western media to make us look good. But we are still who we are. We shall never change. There is always an evil plan up on our sleeves. Do not underestimate us and continue on your trust in us, the Communist Party to hammer down on dissidents.

Your fellow comrade,
Mr. Hu

February 25, 2006 @ 3:10 am | Comment

China Hand, you really are an idiot (no offense intended). Arguing with you is fruitless. Who in this thread ever said the crowd urged the paint-throwers on? Are you nuts? Why do you make things up?

Anyway, the students who turned him in were probably undercover government agents, anyway. Just my guess.

February 25, 2006 @ 3:44 am | Comment

Jefferey, good to see you back!

February 25, 2006 @ 3:45 am | Comment

mahathir_fan

Are you that guy that claims China has free speech but the only reason there isn’t any is because the media is “State-owned”? Because I’ve seen your bullshit apologist posts before on JapanToday and was not impressed.

February 25, 2006 @ 4:39 am | Comment

china hand, I don’t know if my usage of english language is so shit or yours. I never said any words like “agents among students”,I just said” pickets of students”,maybe you’re too young to understand the real history many years ago. and except my personal experience I said nothing about in the last comment, why did you have such reaction of antipathy.

February 25, 2006 @ 9:28 am | Comment

“It is a picture of our leader without whom we have no today”.

Yeah, without him you might’ve had a better today

February 25, 2006 @ 10:35 am | Comment

Yu’s sentence was only a gesture, a “chicken-killing to show the monkeys”. One man is irrelevant but the message behind the act should have been palpable. Yu was singled out for specific reasons out of the three egg-ers. He’s from out-of-town, public media worker, and had connections to the same region as the birthplace of former general secretary Hu Yaobang. The final hapless coincidence doomed him. And comments about who rat him out are most unproductive. If you do not examine the entire situation – an almost impossible task during the eventful summer of ’89 – please refrain from making surmises.

February 25, 2006 @ 11:39 am | Comment

Idiot. There are lots of bad things our government has done, and anyone is free to reference them and write about them. The records of the Bonus March are open. Just as with the interment of your friends the Japanese. Terrible. Unconscionable. But the records are open and anyone can discuss it. There is no censorship about it, no arrests of those who discuss it.

You have no idea how the American media work. They love to tear down their government – and they can do it and they have done it.

February 25, 2006 @ 7:52 pm | Comment

Communist China_hand, no one said people were cheering the paint tossers. Wangning called them heros, and that’s his opinion.

Well I apologize if I misread. If that’s his opinion, then he’s entitled to his opinion. I disagree, but that’s just my opinion.

I never said any words like “agents among students”,I just said” pickets of students”,maybe you’re too young to understand the real history many years ago. and except my personal experience I said nothing about in the last comment, why did you have such reaction of antipathy.

When the 6/4 incident broke out, I was a graduate student in China. I even have a tape of the students’ dialogue with Li Peng carried live on CCTV. I think at that time I called Li Peng some very nasty names.

But today, I am a mature person, and as I think back to the days of 6/4, I am convinced that the students were way too naive back then. What the gov’t did was of course horrible, but then sadly they had no other choice. I do believe most of the students (note, most, not all) who were on the square were genuine patriots and wanted the best for their country (this is more than I can say for many of the bloggers here). In this sense, I do believe perhaps the gov’t should privately apologize to some of the Tianamen Mothers like Ding Zi Ling, and perhaps pay her a good amount of monetary compensation for her loss.

February 25, 2006 @ 11:58 am | Comment

“But today, I am a mature person, and as I think back to the days of 6/4, I am convinced that the students were way too naive back then. What the gov’t did was of course horrible, but then sadly they had no other choice. I do believe most of the students (note, most, not all) who were on the square were genuine patriots and wanted the best for their country (this is more than I can say for many of the bloggers here). In this sense, I do believe perhaps the gov’t should privately apologize to some of the Tianamen Mothers like Ding Zi Ling, and perhaps pay her a good amount of monetary compensation for her loss.”

China_Hand, Your opinion is very similar to EVERY university student from China that I had chance to talk about his subject with.

It seems that the inability of some folks to “get over it and move on” are mostly coming from foreign forces.

The Americans also have their own Tiananmen episode. It happened in 1931 where tanks rolled into Washington DC and police and armies resorted to using force to clear away the protestors. I recommend this link for reading:
http://wappingersschools.org/JohnJayHS/students/ap/ap33/

The kid who did this project should really be applauded because it isn’t normal. The Bonus March incident though not officially censored by the US department of education, is not part of their syllabus. “US History” is generally a required subject that american high school students have to study if they wish to go on to university and they usually study it in Grade 11. Many American high school students graduate from high school with no knowledge about the Bonus March incident. They know about Tiananmen’89, but do not know anything about the Bonus March. Till this day, the American government has yet to apologize for the violent removal of protestors from Washington DC during the Bonus March incident.

Foreign forces like to use Tiananmen to discredit the Chinese government. Perhaps the Chinese government missed thier monthly payment to the Washington lobbyists or they were outbid by the Anti China movement? In Washington, you have to pay the lobbyist if you with to meet with their Presidents and get good publicity. At least, this is what our great leader, Dr. Mahathir recently told us. He got invited to the White House and received a warm reception after another organization paid $1 million dollars to Jack Abrhamoff. I remember reading somewhere too that after the payment there was a concerted effort to shine Malaysia in a good light in the media.

February 25, 2006 @ 12:57 pm | Comment

Wow, I did not know about the Bonus March Incident until today. Thanks!

According to Wikipedia:

he Bonus Army or Bonus March or Bonus Expeditionary Force was an assemblage of about 20,000 World War I veterans, their families, and other affiliated groups, who demonstrated in Washington, D.C. during the spring and summer of 1932 seeking immediate payment of a “bonus” granted by the Adjusted Service Certificate Law of 1924 for payment in 1945. They were led by Walter W. Waters, a former Army sergeant, and encouraged by an appearance from retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, one of the most popular military figures of the time.

The marchers were cleared and their camps were destroyed by the 12th Infantry Regiment from Fort Howard, Maryland, and the 3-3rd Cavalry Regiment under the command of LTC. George S. Patton from Fort Myer, Virginia,

President Hoover did not want the army to march across the Anacostia River into the protesters’ largest encampment, but Douglas MacArthur felt this was a communist attempt to overthrow the government. Hundreds of veterans were injured, several were killed, including William Hushka and Eric Carlson, a wife of a veteran miscarried, and other such casualties were inflicted.

Sounds like a mini-Tianamen to me. How come no one is blogging about this incident, or holding annual candle-light vigils for the victims, or demanding gov’t apology?

February 25, 2006 @ 1:51 pm | Comment

China_hand,

Have no fear. We mahathir supporters have been there and done that, and thwarted these foreign trouble makers into the abyss of shame. Looks like now, they are picking on China.

Mahathir went through similar blacklisting and criticism from the foreign media much like what you see is happening to the Chinese government.

But we were victorious in the end. Till this day, my eyes twinkle in delight as I recap the heroic story. The story should be made into a movie someday. Enjoy:

It was in the late 80s, Dr. Mahathir clamed down on human rights. He jailed his political opponents without trials, and shut down news paper that wrote counter revolutionary materials. It was called Operation Lalang. You can read about it here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Lalang

Mahathir was also a very outspoken critic of the Western world. As a result of the incident and his principles, he was blacklisted. He was not useful to the Western governments. Malaysia government was describe as authoritorian and many times, Dr. Mahathir himself was called a dictator by their media.

The intense criticism of Dr. Mahathir by the foreign media let to the banning and censure of foreign media publications several times in Malaysia. The press was not free, and foreign press requires a license to publish. If the foreign presses did not behave, their licenses were revoked. Those opposing such moves were screaming for freedom of the press, very much like what is also happening in China right now. Everything seemed to be going very well for Dr. Mahathir and his deputy, Mr. Anwar Ibrahim until the Asian Financial Crisis hit in 1997.

During this time, the internet came into household existence. Our government passed a law and promises not to censor the internet. Critics attempt to discredit Dr. Mahathir by saying that it was useless for the government to pass such a law, because the internet cannot be censored anyway. But we know today, it is not true. So those critics were wrong.

But the financial crisis came as a surprise. Ordinary Malaysians now have the freedom to access the internet to freely read what the foreign media had to say about Malaysia. CNN, BBC were all freely accessible from Malaysian homes. Many of these reports were not good and highly critical of Dr. Mahathir.

Then a surprising bomb shell exploded. Anwar Ibrahim, the No. 2 man in Malaysia was sacked by Dr. Mahathir on charges of homosexuality.

The foreign anti Mahathir forces immedietly threw their support behind Mr. Anwar. They are now armed with a matyr like Anwar and a Malaysian population that have access to freedom of information via the internet. Will they finally succeed in overthrowing Dr. Mahthir now?

Anwar defiantly launched a campaign to overthrow Dr. Mahathir in what they called the “Reformasi” movement.

The vocal minority in Malaysia marched on the streets of Kuala Lumpur demanding Anwar’s release. We had quite a mini riots here and there. The foreign presses dramatized the unfolding events as the begining of the end of Dr. Mahathir.

And all this time, the silent majority were reading about the riots in KL in both state owned media and uncensored foreign news website.

American Vice President, Al Gore even lend his support to Anwar. In front of Dr. Mahathir’s hosted dinner at the APEC summit, he said, “Democracy confers a stamp of legitimacy that reforms must have in order to be effective.” He went on: “And so, among nations suffering economic crises, we continue to hear calls for democracy, calls for reform, in many languages – People Power, doi moi, reformasi. We hear them today – right here, right now – among the brave people of Malaysia.”

It must be the end now for our great leader, Dr. Mahathir. The Malaysian population can now read about what he had been trying to hide us from reading over the last decade because we can now read just about any shit we want about Dr. Mahathir over the internet. And with a popular leader like Anwar, Dr. Mahathir is doomed, or so thought the foreign anti Mahathir forces.

Soon, election came around and it was in 1999. Anwar’s supporters formed what is called the Keadilan Party with the goal of a regime change in Malaysia. The foreign anti-Mahathir forces were so loud that we all thought Dr. Mahathir’s end was near.

What was the result of the 99 elections? The most damaging and humiliating defeat for the foreign anti-Mahathir forces. Dr. Mahathir’s grip on the number of parliamentary seats was left hardly intact, well maybe a small dent. The party that was formed by Mr. Anwar and received support and kudos from the foreign media won only 2 seats out of 170 or so seats at parliament.

To quote:”The Anwar crisis sparked protests by some Malaysians, of all ethnic groups, and some of Anwar’s supporters from UMNO regrouped around the intellectual-Muslim “Parti Keadilan Nasional” (National Justice Party). Failing to garner widespread support from Malaysians, “Parti keAdilan could only win only 2 parlimentary seats in the 1999 elections. ”

It left the foreign anti-Mahthir forces very confused. They had thought that with freedom of information over the internet, no dictator will be able to cling on to power for long. Yet, it appears that in the case of Dr. Mahathir, freedom of information actually helped the “dictator” gather ever more support. Even their best chance of creating a regime change in Malaysia resulted only in them winning 2 parliamentary seats out of 170 or so.

As Dr. Mahathir age into the 21st century, he finally decided to retire. His hand picked successor, Abdullah Badawi won the last election with one of the largest ever landslide victory. The party Keadilan that receive the support of the foreign anti-Mahathir movement managed only to win 1 parliamentary seat.

To quote: “In the subsequent 2004 elections, the party was nearly wiped out, with Wan Azizah, the wife of Anwar, winning one seat by the narrowest of margins, mainly based on sympathetic votes, and thereon ceased to be relevant.”

The victory of the “dictator” Dr. Mahathir was truly sweet. I believe it proved for the first time that freedom of information can be used by “dictators” to gather more power.

The masses can tell propaganda from true news and are not as gullible as we think they are. After all, we Malaysian grew up in propaganda environment with state owned TVs, state owned Radios, and state influenced newspapers throughout the 70s and 80s. By the time the internet came around, we were already well trained to identify propaganda be it from local sources or foreign sources.

Dr. Mahathir was asked a question by a foreign journalist during his last year in office what he thought able being labeled a “dictator”. He chuckled, “If I am a dictator, then I must be the first dictator I know who is retiring while still quite healthy.”

TOUCHE!
Sources:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahathir

So take heart china hand. Sometimes, those foreign forces sound very loud, but they are actually really very weak. Looks like their battle in Malaysia is now over as we trashed them into the abyss of shame. Now its their turn to turn the crosshair at China. China can learn a lot from the Malaysian experience in how to handle them.

February 25, 2006 @ 2:37 pm | Comment

Both the Bonus and Tianamen events are examples of public discontent with their governments, but the events and the context are not at all alike.

All countries as they develop go through difficult times. In non-totalitarian countries, journalists and people through public discourse can express their thoughts, seek the desired balance of ethics and ultimately shape the government. There is constant “organizational learning.”

In China no one can even talk about it yet. If someday people can freely express their thougths on Tianamen, and in doing so shape the government of China, then I would agree with you that China is over it.

February 25, 2006 @ 4:54 pm | Comment

Of course the events and context are not at all alike. Probablisitically speaking, no two events can have the exact same contexts and content.

The point is: given the saturated and incredibly enthusiastic coverage of the Tiananmen Incident by the Western media, one would be led to think, just by logical extension, that the Western media and society would be even more feverish and enthusiastic about an event of a similar nature in their OWN COUNTRIES. But the fact is, even though all the information about the Bonus March is publicly available, none of the media is enthusiastic in covering this issue, very few US high school history books cover this issue, very few (or none at all) documentaries on 60 mins or PBS cover this issue, and very few Americans are even aware of this incident.

Everyone in the world knows about what happened on Tiananmen Square in 1989 and that man in front of the tank. How many know about the Bonus March? Does Time magazine ever do a commeoration on the victims of Bonus March with a perhaps an American citizen standing in front of an American armored vehicle?

This brings about a larger issue, and I’ve made this claim many many times before: Media censorship exists everywhere in different forms. The media censorship in China is a lower form: the state owns the media and dictates CCTV on what to report. Media censorship in the US exists in a much advanced and sophisticated form: media themselves know their “responsibilities” to the institutions of this nations, and on many “sensitive” issues, the bureau chiefs of NBC, CBS, ABC would tactily understand it’s best not to cover them, not as a result of duress from the White House, but as a result of their own “responsibility”, because they have a vested interest in the stability of the American institution and historical legacies.

February 25, 2006 @ 5:30 pm | Comment

Let’s try to remember a few things here: accurate information on the Bonus March is available (I’ve known about it since high school). You don’t get put in jail for discussing it, for supporting the marchers or for publishing your opinions about it. The government does not supress information about it or actively lie to people about what happened. Even when the US government does lie, as it has so vividly recently, you can call them liars and present your evidence without going to jail or getting a bullet in the back of the head.

China hand and Mahatmir seem to think that the reason the Bonus March isn’t taught in schools or much talked about is due to some sort of coverup or self-censorship on the part of historians and journalists, no doubt under state pressure. In this way, they equate how the US government and Chinese government have dealt with these bloody episodes.

Both the US and Chinese governments used troops to clear non-violent demonstrators committing no less than mass murder in the process. But how journalists historians and societies handled the aftermath reveals much about the character of the governments. Even if the government hasn’t officially apoligized to anyone, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in American society, inside the government or out, who doesn’t think that clearing the Bonus Marchers with violence was a huge mistake. This is assuming they know something about it. Uninformed Americans upon hearing the facts (again, readily available in America) will no doubt say the same thing. This is a far cry from China where the state actively praises the murder of unarmed demonstrators as a heroic act and apologists lament it as “necessary.”

Which brings me to my final point, I don’t think that the reason most Americans don’t know about the Bonus March is because of conspiracy or self-censorship, I think it’s because it happened so long ago and that it wasn’t that important. The protesters were not trying to change or even modify their government, they were not engaged in a watershed event in their nation’s history as the Tiananmen demonstrators were. They were just trying to get money they felt they were owed.

Incidentally, let’s stay focussed. Pointing out America’s faults and occassional homocidal gaffs doesn’t make the Chinese government any less murderous.

February 25, 2006 @ 10:43 pm | Comment

…or sinister for covering them with a screen of lies.

February 25, 2006 @ 10:46 pm | Comment

Well said Buddha.

“Probablisitically speaking, no two events can have the exact same contexts and content.”

China_hand, I said the two events are not at all alike, not that they are identical or have the same context and content.

The US is over the Bonus event because the event and its issues are obsolete, and have no bearing of American life today.

For mainland China, however, can you honestly and logicall say the same for Tienamen? The CCP will in all likelihood put down (or at least try to, barring international pressure) another Tienamen event if it happened again today.

February 25, 2006 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

Let me guess, now that Chinahand has had his ass rhetorically whipped, he will disappear from this thread and go say something stupid in another thread.

February 27, 2006 @ 12:05 am | Comment

[...] already explained years ago why Yu was a threat to us all. In honor of the impending 20th anniversary of China’s deliverance from the descent into [...]

May 24, 2009 @ 6:45 pm | Pingback

Maybe the reason the Bonus March is a non-issue (I had never heard of it) is because anyone who wants to find out about it can, there is nothing hidden or covered up hence nothing relevant to the political situation today.
In other words, what has happened is exactly what CCP supporters wish would happen with TAM.
We do get the message loud and clear from them that TAM is similarly irrelevant in China now. Obviously it is not so irrelevant that the CCP can allow openness about it.

May 25, 2009 @ 7:51 am | Comment

Peter, exactly. Also, it wasn’t shown live on television, because there was no television then.

May 25, 2009 @ 8:42 am | Comment

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