Author Archives: Dr Yeow Poon

Spring Festival: What shall we call it?

The celebration of a New Year to welcome spring is practised by many people in East and Southeast Asia. The celebration is usually referred as the Spring Festival in China. Chinese people and the Chinese diaspora generally greet each other with Happy New Year or Prosperous New Year (in Mandarin, Cantonese and the many other Chinese dialects). In some other East and Southeast Asian countries, for example Vietnam, the celebration is called ‘Tet’ and the Vietnamese would greet each other in their language with Happy New Year. Similarly, the Koreans celebrate ‘Seollal’ and greet each other in Korean with Happy or Lucky New Year.

Japan used to have a similar celebration but adopted the Gregorian New Year in 1873. In Tibet, the celebration is known as ‘Losar’, which means New Year and the dates are based on the Tibetan calendar. It should also be noted that within East and Southeast Asia there are communities and countries that have their own New Year, such as the Islamic New Year or Hijri New Year. Buddhists, depending on the sect they belong to, will celebrate Mahayana New Year and Theravada New Year.

Nobody in the East and Southeast Asian countries that celebrates the coming of spring says Happy Chinese New Year, Happy Vietnamese New Year or Happy Korean New Year amongst themselves in their own languages. Neither do people say Happy Lunar New Year in their own languages. The problem of what to call the celebration of the coming of spring stems from attempts to differentiate a New Year celebrated by a vast number of people, based on the moon, with the solar Gregorian New Year on 1st January. By the way, the dates for the Spring Festival are not based on a lunar calendar but a lunisolar calendar, which combines both lunar and solar elements.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

We Stand Together Against Racism

NationalHCAW has been running National Hate Crime Awareness Week in October every year since 2012.  NationalHCAW aims to “encourage the authorities (Government, Police and Councils), key partners (the anti-hate crime sector and voluntary sector), and communities affected by hate crime to work together to tackle hate crime across the UK“.

For 2022/23, the theme is “We Stand Together Against Racism”. The Candle of Hope and Remembrance was lit in St Paul Cathedral on Sunday 9th October with a special dedication to Chinese, East and Southeast Asian victims of hate crime. The speakers included myself and Claire Waxman OBE (Victims’ Commissioner, London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime).

As can be seen in the table below, police recorded hate crime has increased year on year.

Hate crime, England and Wales, 2021 to 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

In fact, hate crime has been increasing steadily since 2014.  The 26% increase from 2020/21 to 2021/22 “was the biggest percentage increase in hate crimes since year ending March 2017, when there was a 29 per cent rise”.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Standing with Myanmar – Military rule and the struggle for democracy in Myanmar

History appears to be repeating itself in Myanmar with the military unwilling to relinquish control. Will thousands be killed again, as massive numbers of people nationwide protest in the streets and are engaged in civil disobedience?

Following independence from British colonial rule in 1948, disagreements amongst political elites, the civil wars with ethnic-based groups and anxieties over communist influence led to General Ne Win forming a caretaker government in 1958. An election was held in 1960, but when minority groups pushed for a loose federal structure, which were seen by the military as separatist movements, General Ne Win took over in a coup d’état.

Since then, for the next 30 years, Myanmar was ruled by the military. In 1974, a new Constitution was established and a one-party system was adopted, whereby military officers resigned and governed through the Burma Socialist Programme Party. Protests were held against military rule throughout the 1960s and 1970s, which were crushed, culminating in a major unrest and widespread pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988. Thousands were killed. Martial law was declared in 1989 and Burma was renamed Myanmar.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 7 Comments
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Recent Comments

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    @Adam Ah, that's my bad on that. I misread it. Apologise about that. Part blame dyslexic tendencies (always came out as that despite three attempts to get it p...
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    @Alex Macfie..Whatever the reason, this individual felt the need to assassinate a democratically elected head of government. As Mary has pointed out - those t...
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    @ Andy Not "invented" but "inverted"! https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/inverted_snobbery...
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