Yan's Corner - In Touch

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Elite Vs Essence

When I arrived in “Sing-land” on Sunday, I was much delighted by the live telecast of the speech of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for the National Day Rally 2005. Being Chinese-educated, I am naturally drawn to the “essence” of his speech in Mandarin.

Though he used a few Chinese idioms with slight variations from the original, either through ignorance or by intention, he has impressed among the Chinese-educated of his love for the language.

This article is purely written with that heartwarming experience of listening to the elite and essence of Chinese sayings quoted by Lee.

Elite. Essence
Lee is happy to note a new confidence in the Chinese community over the past year. According to him, a new generation has emerged. The new generation are bilingual, and he stressed, I quote, “understand Chinese culture.”

Lee quoted Jack Neo (梁智强) saying that only the English educated are the elite (in Chinese, 精英, because they 精通英语 master English), while the Chinese educated are the true essence (精华) of the country, because they 精通华语 master Chinese. However, Lee disagreed with Jack in saying that this group of “essence” is a disappearing essence (最后的精华). He felt that this group of “essence” has just emerged. There are the first of the best show like in a long-running serial show.

Change
Lee quoted 穷则变,变则通 when he stressed that change is essential.It means when desperate, we must adapt and in adapting, we will find a way out. However, Lee is of the opinion that we should adopt this – 变则通,不变则穷. It means in adapting, we will find a way out. However, if we do not change, it shall be the end of it. He further quoted China’s slogan 三年一小变, 五年一中变, 七年一大变, that is small changes in every three years, moderate changes in every five years and major changes in every seven years.

Life Long Learning
Talking on education and training, Lee used 活到老,学到老 to emphasize that learning is not just for the young ones. We cannot live to only 80 years old, and stop at 55.

The Path
路是人走出来的(roads are formed by the footsteps of pathfinders)is the last of the Chinese essence he used to express confidence that Singapore will succeed!

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