Saturday, May 14, 2005

flower Posted by Hello

A change in the weather

It's already mid-May, and the past few weeks the weather has been like winter: freezing winds, rain, and frosty nights. But today, there seems to be a change. The sun is shining, and the temperature rising. And today I even heard the first fly buzzzz near my window. More like the season, more like spring.

Just spoke to mum on the phone. Even at home there may be a change in the weather. I called dad a few days ago, after a silence of almost three months. I talked to him a while, and told him of my plans. He was a bit sceptical, but not angry when I said I wanted to postpone my study yet again this year. Just heard from mum that she saw and spoke to dad today at the hospital when he went for the weekly check-up. He is delighted that I'm coming home. He even rescheduled his weekly check-up on Saturdays to another time, because he wants to pick me up at the airport.

My eyes were about to water when I heard that. Though he does not show it, he does care, he does want to be with his son, and his family. Mum invited him to join us on our trip to Eastern Taiwan, and he agreed. Mum told him that in old life, the most enjoyable things are time with family, and family. All else are material things, things one cannot take with you when you go. And she said he seemed to understand. She says he has become softer, even repentant in his tone, and that he is showing signs of wanting to return. I'm not sure how to react to this has been out of our family, and out of our home for almost three years already. I remember that year when I was in my first year:

I came home from work at university, and brother told me dad had moved out, that mum had been crying. Things seemed so terrible at that time. The next few months following would be solemn, filled with tensions between relatives and family members, with angry letters, phone calls and burden. I felt often like a ghost, not sure where to go, who to side with, when in fact I wanted to side with no-one. And family get-togethers were so dramatically fake and brimmed with such tolerated acting, with spiteful words, with such sarcasm and such twisted mind games that I often felt physically sick. Could it be better now? Could it all be over now?

I heard from mum today that dad is considering retirement earlier than planned. And that he might join us for a while here in Holland. At first I was happy about that. After all, it's been a while since we saw, or even lived with dad. But then my thoughts turned to something the old habits that caused much of the tension and sorrow in the family in the first place. Will he be doing the same things he did almost nightly in the four years he was here? That dreaded place of smoke, of dazzling lights, of the clinking of money, chips and cards...

I now look more forward to going home. I can close my eyes and feel them water at the thought of seeing mum and dad at the airport, waiting. For me, for the proud son they have returning home. And I can already imagine the warm tears that flow when the time it is to go again...
I wonder how many smiles, sad moments, what sort of close bonding and of unpleasantness we will go through till we realise, till we realise that...

we are family.

Mum and dad in front of Mackay Hospital, Taipei, where I was born

Friday, May 13, 2005

About the recent visits to China...

The following makes it clear what I think about the visits of opposition party leaders Lien Chan and James Soong, and their visits to China:

- they have personal agendas and are making so-called 'historic journeys of peace' as a political show;
- they are both sour because neither of them, either running alone (2000 elections) or running together (2004 elections), were able to become president of Taiwan;
- their trips to China, and their red-carpet treatment by the Chinese is nothing more than ploys to undermine the democratically elected government of Taiwan;
- ironic that fifty years ago the Nationalist Party of Lien Chan and (for a while) also of James Soong were arch enemies with the Communist they seem to have become close pals, calling one another family, relatives, brothers;

- China has played the 'Taiwanese compatriots come home' trick, aggrandising the visits by Lien Chan and James Soong, propogandising it in the news media as a victory of China's campaign to woo Taiwan and its people to embrace the motherland'. It is however ironic that though China expects everyone to accept that Taiwan is a part of its sovereign territory, the red-carpet treatment extended to the two special guests are befitting and only given to foreign dignitories;
- their trips have undermined the credentials of Taiwan's not-so-old and not-yet-mature democratic foundations, and send an ambiguous message to the rest of the world that the people of Taiwan condone such 'peace-seeking' visits, whereas the visits were (in the words of the two politicians themselves) purely personal in nature, and have no official capacity;
- the trips come in the aftermaths of the adoption of the 'Anti-Seccession Law' by China which is directly targeted towards Taiwan, and which legitimises the ability of the Chinese regime to use force to forcefully invade and conquer the island; Again, the trips appear to the world that the people of Taiwan are cowering to the threats and bully tactics of China.

- the agreements and the pacts made by both Lien Chan and James Soong with President Hu Jin-tao are illegal and should have no effect on the lives of people in Taiwan, and the status of Taiwan as a de-facto independent state;
- such agreements are ploys by both the Chinese Nationalists and Communists to realise their fantasies that Taiwan ever belonged to them at all, and ignore the rights and democratic freedoms of Taiwan's 23million people;
- if China wants to respect the rights of the so-called 'Taiwan compatriots', it should be willing to talk and negotiate with the democratically elected government of Taiwan, without pre-conditions, without coercion, without the threat of force, without any pre-planned arranged, but on the basis of mutual equality and respect;

- any change of the status quo, such as the threat to use force to invade and 'liberate' Taiwan, is clearly unacceptable and a clear violation of all international norms governing peaceful relations between states and a disturbance to world and regional peace and order;
- the international community and international organisations in the world should recognise the fact that China's encroachments to Taiwan's sovereingty and dignity are illegal and threaten not only Taiwan's people and their livelihoods, but also all else in the region and stability in the world as a whole.


Below is an excellent editorial in the Liberty Times about this all...

Responding to a double sell-out
By the Liberty Times editorial
Sunday, May 15, 2005,Page 8

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong's (宋楚瑜) visit to China was a carbon copy of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) earlier trip. Both behaved as Beijing's script dictated.
Their behavior was no different in substance -- they both identified with the concepts of "one China" and "one Chinese people."

Neither dared to bring up the name "Republic of China," let alone stress that the Republic of China is a sovereign country.

This pair of political puppets predictably made Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) very happy and helped in his efforts to dwarf Taiwan's status.

Both the Hu-Lien communique and the Hu-Soong communique were ambiguous on Taiwan's sovereignty, but in fact are barely disguised plots to promote unification and prepare for surrender.

Lien and Soong have run in presidential elections twice, and were rejected on both occasions. During those campaigns, Lien and Soong repeatedly stated that the future of Taiwan should be decided by its 23 million people. They even got down on their hands and knees to kiss the ground in an attempt to repudiate allegations they were selling out the nation.

`The ease with which Hu mixed with Lien and Soong suggests that the three have far more in common with each other than any of them have with the people of this nation.'

Now, in order to save themselves from political marginalization, Lien and Soong have dashed to Hu for help, shouting "one China" and "one Chinese people" along the way. How is such behavior different from selling out Taiwan?

The future of Taiwan should be decided by its citizens. So long as a majority of people agree, of course Taiwanese independence remains an option.

But Lien and Soong denied Taiwanese their right to choose independence by dismissing it as an option altogether. They are therefore genuine enemies of democracy and hold the people in contempt.

Since 2000, helped by an opposition majority in the legislature, Lien and Soong have repeatedly jeopardized the sovereignty and security of the nation.

They have behaved as if the public were not entitled to good governance simply because they failed in their bids to be elected president.

The defeat of Lien and Soong in last year's election demonstrated that the public's stance on sovereignty and security was not swayed by these efforts at cultivating mayhem over the past four years.

This means that as long as the president of this country holds firm to a pro-Taiwan stance, he can win the support of the majority.

This is not surprising. Taiwan is our home. People will not tolerate Lien and Soong dividing Taiwan and handing it over on a silver platter.

Unfortunately, recent events suggest that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has not been his usual self in standing firmly by the nation's sovereignty and security.

The combination of Lien's and Soong's agenda of havoc, Chinese threats from without and other international factors have placed a lot of pressure on Chen.

However, as a leader, he must do what is right as well as live up to his own campaign promises and stay faithful to his supporters.

This fundamental principle of democracy seems to have been thoroughly forgotten after last year's legislative elections.

When Soong and Chen issued a 10-point consensus, through which the two embraced the "Republic of China," Chen cast aside his campaign platform on name rectification and a new constitution. The only excuse offered was that they could not be accomplished.

The political change that has come over Chen has opened a Pandora's box, opening the door for Lien and Soong to do what they have always wanted to do but dare not admit -- team up with the Chinese communist regime in a gambit to revive their political fortunes. When the Chen-Soong consensus was announced, Soong immediately declared that Taiwanese independence was not an option. And there was Chen, sitting right next to him but saying nothing, as if tacitly supporting Soong's words.

Even more puzzling is this -- when China invited Soong to visit, Chen was expecting Soong to serve as a kind of envoy.

He probably entertained the illusion that Lien and Soong would open doors for him in China.

So it was a little strange for Chen to repudiate Soong after the latter declared in Beijing that Taiwanese independence was no option.

Other than his endorsement of the 10-point consensus, what could have earned Soong's invitation to China?

After saying that Taiwanese independence was not an option, Soong proposed to Hu that the "wisdom" of the "Chinese" on both sides of the Taiwan Strait had to be combined so that the "Chinese" could handle the misunderstandings and problems left over from the past on their own.

In other words, the Taiwanese had no substantial right to speak on cross-strait differences. They were merely at the mercy of the "Chinese" on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

If this is the case, then Taiwan will take only one path in the future: Chinese unification, or Chinese engulfment, in other words.

This is why the six-point consensus between Soong and Hu accepted the "one China" principle and opposed any campaign on name rectification and a new constitution.

Soong even seemed to take pride in the slogan "two sides of the Strait, one China" and "`one China' with each side of the Taiwan Strait free to interpret its meaning."

If Taiwan accepts "one China," then it is all over. So Soong has not achieved anything at all. Given such treacherous behavior, it would be ridiculous for Chen to continue portraying Soong as some kind of envoy.

Some pro-unification media outlets have pointed out that Soong's speech in National Tsing Hua University mentioned "Taiwan" and "Taiwan consciousness" a number of times.

So what? Does using these terms make treachery less treacherous?

Lien and Soong have stressed that "Taiwan consciousness" is not the same as "Taiwanese independence."

Soong, for example, said in China that Taiwan consciousness is a sentimental identification with the land and people of Taiwan that has built up over a long period of time, while Taiwanese independence is an attempt to sever ties between Taiwan and China.

Then is it not naked political manipulation by Beijing to spurn this identification and coerce Taiwan into its arms?

Soong has now returned from his homecoming tour. And with his and Lien's helping hands, China can now accelerate its efforts to divide this nation.

This is therefore a major test for Taiwan as it works toward becoming a normal country.

The ease with which Hu mixed with Lien and Soong suggests that the three have far more in common with each other than any of them have with the people of this nation.

It is important that Taiwanese recognize this so that it can pass this test.

If Chen still cares about Taiwanese sovereignty and security, then he should no longer employ the "Republic of China" -- a name that even Lien could not dare to utter in front of his communist masters -- as a tool for co-existing with the current pan-blue-camp leadership. Lien and Soong have not only failed to find a way forward for this nation, they have in fact dug a hole for Taiwan to fall into.

Will the efforts of Lien and Soong to sell out Taiwan work? Will China's plot to force unification through an economic Trojan horse be successful? And will the national identification with Taiwan be ripped apart?

Chen's decision to either cooperate with the communists or stand up against "China fever" is critical.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A day in May

Just spent the past couple of hours browsing the net, looking for where my future might lie. And I still have no clue at all!

Been to see a studieadviseur about my plans and possibilities. She advised me to conduct my little research, and maybe even find someone who is willing to supervise me so that I could possibly bring my research into my masters studies...It all sounds so wonderful, if things could fall into place. I would go to Asia, to Taiwan, to Indonesia, see different people and worlds, collect lots of information, write many articles about my findings. I would achieve something there, I would touch lives there, I would find out what it is that has been missing from my life. Then I would return, with renewed hopes, with ideals and with determination. I would do an intership at the ICC starting next year, earn some money to support myself, gain great experience and contacts in the international world and in legal practice. Then I would pursue a study, and things would start rolling from there on.

That's all I would like to do, all I could imagine would make the worries and the frustrations go away... The days to when I'll be gone are counting down, and I feel I need more time. More time to prepare, to think things through, to read and to ready myself for my trip to Asia. Exciting as it all may sound, and as luring as it all may seem I'm having doubts and second thoughts whether I'll be able to accomplish what I set out to do. And most of all, whether I'll get the support, and by that I mean the physical, moral and approval, I need to continue on this journey.

I think about what I may be doing...I think about the one more year I'm taking out to pursue my interests, to continue this journey of discovery and exploration....but is it right? Is it what I need? Is it what I want? I doubt, sometimes, whether I will ever know what I truly want in life. Besides going to work and going home again, I feel like there is little space for me to breathe, to take time out and to just stop and think things through carefully. I should be reading up on the literature on migrant workers, I should be translating the articles I have been given, I should be studying and improving my Indonesian, I should watch the news and keep up with what's going on, I should contact my dad after all this time (it's been three whole season, a quater of a year gone by without any contact at all...), I should get the essentials ready (like my visa, my plane tickets, my accomodation etc!!!) for my trip, I should be out there enjoying my life and youth more, I should be, I should be, I should be......

When I think about that all, I feel like sleeping. And I think back at the past year, at all the times I've been sleeping and playing games and doing nothing, wasting my life away, while I could have been preparing and could have been answering, or trying to find the answers to, the questions I now toil myself with! Filled with regret, remorse and longing to escape this dreadful time of doubt, uncertainty and denial.

I should face it all, no matter how tired I feel. I should be able to confront it all, no matter what difficulties and setbacks lie ahead. But it's really tough...really tough when there's no guidance, no one to really confide in and no one to share with.

The other day I was in the train and looking outside at the world pass by.
I thought how green and peaceful it all is! How peaceful and uneventful it has all been! And now I want to change all that, now I want to seek out excitement and seek out life itself elsewhere. And now I want to leave this peaceful and quiet life and head into the trouble, the dirt and the heat of other places, and of other people.

What am I doing?
What am I really doing?

Monday, May 09, 2005

'Say a little prayer'!

One of my favourite songs. Of course, the real title is 'Say a little prayer for you'. It's on the radio now. Ironic after somethings that happened today.

Just returned from a weddingparty of a colleague. It was in the cellar (or so it seemed) of Fort Blauwkapel near Utrecht. So different from the wedding parties in the movies...more like something SOASians (my uni in London) would able to pull off! Tibetan music and singing, Medditeranean foods, Medieval singing and dancing. Quite unique, quite 'multi-culti'! And the couple were beautiful together. Amid good friends and family we celebrated the night away. When you know it's the one, you know.

Looking at all these people around me, seemingly settled and happy. Either married or in a serious relationship. Maybe it's their age, since most people I know or work with are much (I mean MUCH) older. And seeing them together as couples makes me, not jealous, but somehow wonder why I'm alone. Often imagine meeting or being with someone...kind, sweet, warm and in touch with the 'human' side...often imagine going to some place to 'pick' someone up, or be picked up....but never had the will or courage. Always something is in the way, or excuses like 'if I start something now, I'll be gone in a few weeks...'

Then a 'Tante' at work was saying I think too much of others, and do not care enough of myself. Which was surprising, and I'm still wondering why she said that. But it's true. I do care too much about others, and they seem to come first before me, whatever I do, whatever I think of. Why do I not 'love' myself, not treasure who I am, and what I have accomplished? Nothing seems enough for me, I seem to want more, demand more from me, but take whatever others give, or do not give, me. This selfless-ness, if it's possible, is tiring, and should stop. Like Tante was saying, 'een gewoonte leer je aan, maar een gewoonte leer je ook af!' (a habit you learn, but a habit you also unlearn') True, very true, but difficult to practice.

The moment I came through the door, the first thing brother asked was whether I took the bike today. No greeting, no how-are-you, no how-was-it...just a command, a sentence to make me guilty of 'taking' the bike, of ot answering the phone when he called. Of course I took the bike, who else?! Of course I didn't hear the phone, or else I would have answered it. I just ignored him and went away. Not the first time, but everytime an insult. Incosiderate. Bossy. Unforgiving. Mean.

The kitchen seemed full of rubbish. Empty package of noddle just on the kitchen counter, bottles on the floor, noodle still in a pot after four days, unwashed dishes, and the bin full even though its garbage night. Why should I do anything? Be a little selfish. They have been home the whole day, why couldn't they do any of it?

When going upstairs, Kleine Kat (my cat) followed me. I sat down, and she butted me, my arms, legs, hands and body with her head. I caressed her softly...maybe she was hungry, maybe she was hungry for attention, but it still made me think, for the so many-est time (de zoveelste keer: meaning countless times):
at least someone is happy to see me!

Kleine Kat