Thursday, December 31, 2009

Malaysian Politicians: We Love Chinese Calligraphy 马来西亚政治家:我爱书法

Malaysia is a multi-racial and cultural society. Ethnic Malays today make up 50 percent of the population. Ethnic Chinese represent an additional 24 percent and Indians 8 percent.
The Malaysian Chinese have traditionally dominated the Malaysian economy, but with the implementation of affirmative action policies by the Malaysian government to protect the rights of ethnic Malays, their share has somewhat eroded. However, they still make up the majority of the middle- and upper-income classes.
It is therefore understandable that during the general elections, politicians will campaign intensively for the Chinese vote, reminding voters of issues affecting the Chinese community.
Displaying Chinese calligraphy skills is one of the many means used by non-Chinese politicians to woo the Chinese voters.
When Anwar Ibrahim, the former Deputy Prime Minister and currently leader of the opposition, was at the height of power, he took an effort to learn mandarin and Chinese calligraphy. He popularised a saying in Mandarin when he was in the United Malays National Organisation, or Umno: wo-men doushi yijiaren ("We are one family". see diagram 1). As a slogan coined by a Malay leader, elected and re-elected by Umno to be the next prime minister, the slogan was a novel declaration of Malaysian multiculturalism, no less appealing than Mahathir Mohamad's idea of a Bangsa Malaysia sharing Vision 2020.
Even the candidates of the Islamist political party Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS; Pan Malaysian Islamic party) are often seen writing Chinese calligraphy during elections. (See diagram 2)
Recently, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak became the latest politician who showed off his Chinese calligraphy skills. On 23 December, at a function organised by the Federation Of Chinese Associations Malaysia, he wrote on the spot a Chinese word ‘he’, which means harmony or peace. (See diagram 3)
Is the next general election coming soon?
马来西亚首相纳吉成为最新展示他的书法才能的政治家。12月23日,他在马来西亚中华大会堂总会(华总) 的一个晚宴上,当众挥毫了个‘和’字。(图3)

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