Posts Tagged With: guangzhou

Amusing Things in 2017

Let me share to you the following random list of amusing things I have encountered this year:

Three Persons

During my trip to Sri Lanka in the month of May, Kriya from Thailand and I were fetched in the Colombo International Airport by the personal driver of a common friend, Lady Hom. Kriya arrived half an hour ahead of me, and we exchanged pleasantries while waiting for the driver to signal us to mount the street monster. But the driver seemed waiting for somebody else. As I read again the insignia he was holding, I realized that he was indeed waiting for three persons – Kriya, Mansoor, and Limba. I told him, “Brother, let’s go to the hotel.” He replied politely, “But Sir, we have to wait for Limba as well.” I said, “Don’t worry, I have already put Limba inside my luggage!”

Men’s Toilet

In a seafood restaurant in Guangzhou City, China, the toilet sign for men is an image that depicts the action inside the toilet. On the contrary, the toilet sign for women is just a usual image of a standing lady. I wonder, does the second image also imply the action (mere standing) inside the toilet for ladies? If it is not, then perhaps males should cry “gender (masculinity) sensitivity, please!”

Democrazy

As we visited the Shenzhen City Museum before the concluding day of our training workshop, Harry from Myanmar drew my attention to the caption of a picture, and asked, “Mansoor, do you think it is intentional?” “What do you mean – the caption? Sure, it is intentional!” “Read the caption again.” As I read again the caption, I realized what Harry was referring to – the word ‘democrazy’ instead of’ democracy’. So, I told him, “Yes, maybe it’s intentional [as a satirical way of alluding to the self-styled Champion of Democracy and Defender of Human Rights]!”

Dela Cruz Juan

While I was doing a research on corruption-violent extremism nexus in the Philippines last August, I had to read the maiden book of a veteran Filipino journalist who is a well-known expert on the armed groups in Southeast Asia, and reread her second book, among many other materials to read. What I noticed in both books is her consistency in mistakenly interchanging the first and family name of the late founding chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). If the chairman’s name were Juan Dela Cruz, she would always call him ‘Dela Cruz Juan’. Ma’am, ‘Salamat’ is the first name while ‘Hashim’ is the family name. It should be ‘Salamat Hashim’ and not ‘Hashim Salamat’!

MSU

Yes, MSU means Mindanao State University – the largest state-run university system in Mindanao and second only to the University of Philippines in the whole country. I was shocked, and thereafter, amused, when a Philippine expert on terrorism in Mindanao assumes in a national TV interview that MSU means ‘Marawi State University’.

Private Vehicle

A government agency invited me as the Resource Person on two separate topics. After the event, I was asked to present pertinent receipts for the reimbursement of my transportation expenses. The financial officer refused to honor my receipt for fuel on the ground that I used private vehicle. I told her, “So, Ma’am, do you mean to say if I took an airplane in coming here, you will also not reimburse my money?” “Why?” “Because the aircraft is also owned by a private airline company!”

Sleeping while Taking Exam

While conducting a major examination, I noticed that a student of mine who was seated at the back was not moving. As I silently approached him, I found out that he was sleeping! Sleeping while taking an exam? Yes, it’s also my first time experience. Assuming that it was not done intentionally and he must not be feeling well that time, I just let him sleep. It’s good that after three minutes, he woke up and then continued taking the exam. The same student once slept in my regular class session. And he did not wake up even after I dismissed the class. Fortunate indeed are the ‘young ones’. We, the ‘young once,’ on the contrary, would experience having a professor that prohibited his or her student from even looking at his/her watch!

Wahhabism from Africa

In a regional workshop on violent extremism and religious education in Southeast Asia, the speaker in a plenary session gained enough audacity in claiming thus: “You know, there’s no problem with Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia; the one that brings problems around the world is the Wahhabism from Africa!” What – Wahhabism from Africa!

Choice of Words

A close friend recently reasoned out, “I did not give wrong information; I was only wrong in my choice of word!” No comment.

How about you? Any amusing experience you want to share?

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A Visit to Maqam Sa’d ibn Abi Waqas

As we commenced our workshop at nine in the morning for the topic “Culture and Conflict Resolution,” Prof. Jianrong Chen, who was then the facilitator (in addition to being the lead organizer of the Asia-China Peace and Leadership Training Workshop), assured us thus, “If you can finish your workshop at noontime, then I will call for a free time this afternoon so that you can go wherever you want within the city.”

Having such assurance for a break, in the workshop we ‘played’ with full delight as if we were little kids. And yes, we were able to finish ‘playing’ a bit after noontime.

After lunch, I joined a small group of participants (from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand) who wanted to go to Hui Hui cemetery at Guihua Gang district of Guangzhou City, China. To be specific, it’s located along Jiefang Beilu Avenue.

We are told that Hui Hui cemetery is where Sa’d ibn Abi Waqas, a Sahabi (first generation of Muslims) was buried during the Tang Dynasty.

After visiting the graveyard, we proceeded to Sa’d ibn Abi Waqas Mosque which is also located within the cemetery compound. Some of us performed their ‘asr (afternoon) prayer there while others performed optional prayers and supplications.

As we were about to leave the place, an arriving group of around 10 people greeted us thus, “As-salamu ‘alaykum!” Upon inquiry we have learned that they were Chinese Muslims from Xinjiang Province, who were then on their way to Hajj.

Bidding farewell to them and wishing them an acceptable pilgrimage, we left the place and I could notice Wiwin‘s teary eyes.

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Tougher to Negotiate With

The second module we had studied during the Asia-China Peace and Leadership Training-Workshop (Jinan University, Guangzhou, China, July 14-23, 2017) was about International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, and for this two-day module, we were lucky enough to have PROF. GUY OLIVIER FAURE as our facilitator or resource person.

Dr. Faure is currently a Visiting Professor at CEIBS, Shanghai, China; Professor of Sociology Emeritus, Sorbonne University, Paris; and Director of International Conflict Resolution Center, The Hague, Netherlands.

Having done extensive works in international negotiations and conflict resolution, particularly in the domains of Long-term Strategic Forecast, Terrorism, and Business Security, Prof. Faure has lectured in a number of renowned universities and institutions including the Harvard Law School and the New York University.

He has authored, co-authored and edited 19 books and over a hundred articles, and one of those books is entitled “Negotiating with Terrorists: Strategy, Tactics and Politics” (Routledge, 2008).

During the second and last day of the module, as the time for lunch was approaching and everybody seemed to be already imagining to hold a spoon, instead of ballpen, I posed a question:

“Sir Olivier, taking into consideration your wide array of experiences in negotiation, both as a theoretician and a practitioner, which do you think is tougher to negotiate with: the ISIS, or MISIS (“wife” or “madame” in Filipino)?

After an unprecedented laughter, Sir Olivier retorted, “Of course, it’s the MISIS because they personally know our soft spot!”

How I wish, Sir Olivier’s next book project will be entitled, “Negotiating with MISIS: Strategy, Tactics and Politics.”

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My Tai Chi Learning

Attended by 30 participants from South and Southeast Asian countries as well as China, the eight-day intensive Asia-China Peace and Leadership Training Workshop organized and hosted by Jinan University’s Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies included not only modules ranging from conflict analysis and mapping, and international negotiation and conflict resolution to intercultural and non-verbal communication and China’s economy and culture, but only a crash course on Tai Chi.

Referring to a philosophy of the forces of yin and yang in relation to its movements, Tai Chi is an internal Chinese martial art 武術 practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. And we are lucky enough to have Master Fan Yanwei as our teacher.

Master Fan is a professor of Physical Education in Jinan University and the chief coach in the Chinese martial arts dancing training base. Since 1984 when the Martial Arts Team of Jinan University was founded, Prof. Fan has made significant progress with her team and gained more than 500 medals (including more than 200 gold medals). She is continuously gaining rich international experience through her visits to many countries such as the United States, Germany, France, Japan, and Singapore, among others.

In the four days of morning reflection and Tai Chi exercises, Master Fan would introduce us to the philosophy of the martial art and the meanings of each movement.

At the end of the crash course, what I learn in Tai Chi is that I know nothing about it. It’s an ocean, nay a universe in itself.

Categories: Ethics and Mysticism, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

On the Security Dimension of ASEAN-China Relations

GUANGZHOU CITY (17 July) – Shortly before boarding the aircraft for my early morning flight to China last week, I made my last Facebook post, thus: “FB Hibernation. I’m about to undergo a few days of Facebook hibernation. Keep in touch by email then. Logging out now…”

This I posted without stating the reason – that I was then about to enter a country wherein Facebook, Instagram, Google (Gmail, Play Store, etc.) and some other accounts cannot be accessed. In particular, I refer to the official invitation to participate in two academic events, viz. (1) a two-day International Conference and Ceremony to mark the 90th anniversary of Southeast Asian Studies and Overseas Chinese Studies at Jinan University and the 50th founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and (2) an eight-day Asia-China Peace and Leadership Workshop (Economic Development, Regional Cooperation, and Conflict Transformation) organized by Jinan University’s Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Both events were or are being held in Jinan University, which is one of the oldest universities established in mainland China tracing back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Mandated to spread Chinese learning and culture from North to South and from Chinese overseas, the university was the first in this country to recruit foreign students and is currently the Chinese university with the largest number of international students.

The conference panels such as “Current Studies on Southeast Asia,” “Studies on Vietnamese History,” “Studies on Myanmar Politics,” “Overseas Chinese Studies,” “Language and Translation,” “Studies on Other Southeast Asian Countries,” “Studies on Malaysian Politics,” “Ethnic Chinese Business Network and Overseas Chinese,” “International Relations in Southeast Asia,” and “Studies on Chinese Malaysians” are interspersed with a keynote speech, a forum on Overseas Chinese Research, giving of awards, and a roundtable on ASEAN-China Relations.

The keynote speech was given by Prof. Anthony Reid of the Australian National University while awards were given to best papers published in Jinan University’s Journal of Southeast Asian Studies and the Yao Nan Translation Prize.

Apart from meeting presenters from the Philippines such as Prof. Rommel Banlaoi of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, Prof. Aileen Baviera of the University of the Philippine Diliman, and two fellow workshop participants from Ateneo de Manila University and Dela Salle University, the most interesting for me was the roundtable on ASEAN-China Relations on the first day, being attended by the consul-generals of the Southeast Asian countries in China.

The Philippines being the current Chairman of the ASEAN, the Filipino consul-general in China, Marie Charlotte G. Tang, delivered the Opening Address to the roundtable. In our personal conversation after the roundtable, it was equally fulfilling to realize that Ms. Tang was then my direct supervisor when I was undergoing practicum in the China Section, East Asian Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs in the summer of 1995.

The roundtable discussants included Prof. Reid of Australia, Prof. Baviera of the Philippines, and four Chinese scholars headed by Zhang Zhenjiang, Dean of Jinan University’s School of International Studies and the Academy of Overseas Chinese Studies.

For almost two hours, the roundtable discussion significantly centered around the ASEAN’s degree of success or failure, various obstacles to ASEAN integration, and current challenges and prospects of ASEAN-China relations.

In the open forum, I raised the following question:

“Throughout this two hours Roundtable, I was expecting to hear – even a bit – about regional security from a non-conventional framework. By non-conventional framework, I refer to security threats not coming from a neighboring state or states, and a global or regional hegemon, but rather coming from transnational violent actors such as the ISIS.

“As the ISIS is recently losing territorial ground in both Syria and Iraq, the possibility for this group to look for Southeast Asia whose Muslim population is more than those of Arab countries combined together is becoming more palpable. As we all know, a city in an ASEAN country – I’m referring to Marawi City in the Philippines’ southern island of Mindanao – has been captured by ISIS-linked groups, and the alleged reports of participation of some Indonesians and Malaysians in the siege must bring a toll of alarm to the region.

“My question is: Is it not high time now to include this security concern to the main agenda of the ASEAN-China relations?”

One of the discussants responded by saying, among others, that there have been already many ASEAN meetings about transnational issues including security threats coming from transnational non-state actors, but in the end she confessed that “But as to whether this concern will become part of the main agenda in the ASEAN-China relations or not, I don’t know.”

This confession, I think, is worth contemplating now, considering the existence of Uyghur Muslim minority issues in China and the threat to the Chinese government as expressed in ISIS media outlets.

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