Standing on the Cliff - Political writings by Tay Tian Yan
The title, 'Standing On A Cliff' is taken from one of the articles in this book. It also describes how I imagine my outlook of the world to be -- at the edge of a cliff, peering down into a steep fall, looking ahead into a boundless horizon. Hopefully, this is also a place with a peculiar viewpoint, where everything can be seen in a different light.
Standing on the edge of the cliff is a precarious matter. One slip, and you never know if it's just a bruise, or if it's time to say Sayonara.
Events, topics, even individuals will gradually fade with the past. But, most of the time, writing remains. As a spark of insight, or as a moral guide for the distant future.
Tay Tian Yan
Mr Tay possessed a diverse and unusual range of experiences. Indeed, his cosmopolitan, world view, coupled with his birth and initial primary and secondary education in Malacca gave him a uniquely Malaysian perspective.
Whilst his work is generally loaded with social criticism and lashings of sarcasm, he's not without his hopefulness. Moreover, he's courageous and bold when it comes to issues that he knows mean a great deal to his readers.
This collection is timely and important. Coming from the pen of one Sin Chew Daily's most prominent editor/columnists I would ask all Malaysians to read it and ponder the complexity and richness of our nation.
- Part 1 : Collective Insensibility
- Part 2 : Taking the Risk of Public Contempt
- Part 3 : Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining
Exotic Chinese Road Signs
I used to live in Toronto, Canada many years ago.
A large number of Chinese live in its older district and Chinese characters could be seen on its road signs.
I could still remember that Richmond Road was labelled 烈治文路; Dundas Street - 登打士街; Yonge Street - 央街. Most impressively, Huntingwood Avenue was named 肯定活大街 (surely alive road). I wonder who was the translator (apparently Cantonese-speaking) that gave it the good name.
I was really shocked as a young Malaysian to see Chinese characters on these road signs for the first time. We could not find even one Chinese word on thousands of road signs in Peninsular Malaysia with a huge number of Chinese living there with the Chinese language being widely used.
Meanwhile, a Western government took the initiative to put up Chinese road signs in a city with only small Chinese population and limited use of Chinese language.
You can imagine how great my culture shock was.
I believe it was meant for the convenience of the elderly, new immigrants and tourists who do not know English, so that they would not get lost.
Besides, the Toronto government wishes to tell all that there are Chinese living in that area. They accept them and are proud of them.
These Chinese road signs have been there for a long time and they are updated occasionally. We have never heard any Canadian saying that it was not in line with its national conditions and iolating the Canadian Constitution?
These exotic Chinese road signs are giving convenience, paying respects as well as serving as a symbol of recognition to the Chinese. As a multicultural city, Toronto has shown us that Canada is a country of tolerance.
That is the first time for me to experience the so-called multiculturalism.
After 20 years, various parties attacked the Penang state government with all sorts of accusations. They claimed the state government had violated the Constitution and even the social contract when it said it wished to add Chinese, Jawi, Tamil and English to the existing Malay road signs for several roads in the World Heritage district.
Why many people in this country, particularly politicians who always go abroad and have spent a lot of public funds to experience exotic cultures, don gain any knowledge and be open-minded?
They have been living under a coconut shell for too long; please save them!
(Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE)
Tay Tian Yan was born in Malacca, Malaysia. He received his B.A. degree (Journalism) from Taiwan and his Master degree from United Kingdom.
He began his career with Sin Chew Daily in 1985. He started as a reporter and then became an editorial columnist, leader writer, executive editor and now as deputy editor-in-chief.
He won several awards for his commentaries and had published four books.