Monday, February 27, 2012

Overseas Chinese

The Chinese people have a long history of migrating overseas. The overseas Chinese of today can be dated back to the Ming dynasty. When Zheng He became the envoy of Ming, he sent people to explore and trade in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. Many of them were Cantonese and Hokkien. A large portion stayed and never returned to China. [2] Physical evidence such as Bukit Cina in Malaysia seems to indicate permanent settlements.

In 19th century, the age of colonialism was at its height and the great Chinese Diaspora began. Many colonies lacked a large pool of laborers. Meanwhile, in the provinces of Fujian and Guangdong in China, there was a labor surplus due to the relative peace in the Qing dynasty. The Qing government was forced to allow its subjects to work overseas under colony powers. Many Hokkien chose to work in Southeast Asia with their earlier links starting from the Ming era, as did the Cantonese. For the countries in North America and Australia, great numbers of laborers were needed in the dangerous tasks of gold mining and railway construction. With famine widespread in Guangdong, this attracted many Cantonese to work in these countries to improve the living conditions of their relatives. Some overseas Chinese were sold to South America during Punti-Hakka Clan Wars in the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong.

With the completion of railways, many overseas Chinese suffered from racial discrimination in Canada and the United States of America and they were barred from entering the country.

After World War II, the last years of the Chinese Civil War increased Chinese suffering. Some educated overseas Chinese did not return to the country as the condition deteriorated.

Punti-Hakka Clan Wars -

Conflicts between Two Chinese Ethnic Minorities

Punti-Hakka Clan Wars or Hakka-Punti Clan Wars (Chinese: 土客械斗) refers to battles or conflicts between the Hakka and the Punti in Guangdong, China, between 1855 and 1867, during the Qing Dynasty. The wars were particularly fierce in the area around Pearl River Delta, especially Taishan of Sze Yup. The war's estimated death toll was roughly a million, with many more fleeing for their lives.

Hakka literally means guest family, and Punti literally means original land. The Punti are also referred to by the dialect they speak, Cantonese. The basis of these bloody conflicts were the Punti's resentment against the Hakka that they were increasing dramatically in number, and encroaching on their land. From the Hakka's point of view, they were marginalized, discriminated against, and had to farm left-over or unwanted, hilly land.

Clan war

During the rebellion, the Hakka in the Pearl River Delta had helped the imperial army to suppress the rebellion; the imperial official decided to keep the area clear of rebellion participants and raided the Punti villages. This caused hostility between the Hakka and the Punti, and the Punti attacked Hakka villages in revenge.

Bloody battles raged, with both sides fortifying their villages with walls, and raising armies as best as they could. Of course, entire villages would be involved in the fighting, and all able-bodied men were called on to fight against the other side. For the Punti, money for armaments was forthcoming from their relatives in Hong Kong, and abroad.

The conflicts escalated into large-scale clan wars.

The clan war is related to the Chinese Diaspora in the 19th century. Some of those who lost in the clan wars were sold to Cuba and South America as coolies via Hong Kong and Macau, and some females were sold to Macau as prostitutes.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

THE NEW WOMAN OF CHINA.A Delightful Change.

The new woman movement is passing like a wave over the Far East, says Mr F. A. Mackenzie in a very interesting article in the "Daily Mail."

The life of the Chinese woman, under old conditions, was not a happy one. She was born unwanted. A son was a blessing, a daughter an encumbrance. Foot-binding inflicted incredible tortures on her. From her earliest years the Chines© woman is taught that hers must be a life of service. After marriage she exchanges the rule of her mother for th© domination of her mother-in-law, and in China the mother-in-law is ever depicted as a tyrant. The real state of affairs was brought home to me the first time I saw a Chinese wedding feast. These people love spectacular display, and never lose a chance of it. A marriage procession is always a great occasion. At this procession there were many musicians marching in front. Then followed banner-bearers and men carrying symbolical devices. The bride herself eat in a coach of state, in crimson, gold-spangled-. garments. Til ere was a gilt and jewelled crown on her head, with its hangings dropping over her face. But when I looked at the face of the little woman who was the centre of the procession, cowering in her seat, I forgot the gay trappings. Beneath the white-plastered cheeks, vermilion lips, and blackened eyelashes, one saw shrinking and fearful eye 6 and wavering cheeks that brought to mind memories of the roe deer when, breath- Less, it has Tun its last lap and sinks to the ground, palpitating, quivering, and; terrorised; awaiting the oncoming hounds. Little wonder. She was going to a husband she had never seen, and a mother-in-law who could, if sha pleased, make her life an inferno. THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH. That is the old condition of things, which still prevails ..over nearly all Now let me give a picture of the new. One afternoon when I was passing through one of the great cities of the north, a large envelope was left at my rooms. The envelope was prettily ornamented with gold dragons, and on.' opening it I found a visiting-card and an invitation in Chinese to dinner, eh famille, with the chief mandarin of the district. The letter was from the mandarin and hie wife, and told me that a high American offic. V would be present with his wife, and also another mandarin from/Pekin, and his wife. I opened my ©yes with amazement. Among Chinese gentry you never in former years mentioned or saw the -wife. Had I spoken to a high mandarin five yeai-s ago about his better half, or about one of the many, he would have regarded it as the height of insult. That evening when my rickshaw coolie wheeled me to the house I found yet another surprise. The home was two stories high, the only two-storied building in the oity. By building in I thie fashion the mandarin had proclaimed his defiance of the evil spirits of the air, who are supposed to be disturbed by a house of extra height. Had he attempted such a building ten years ago his bricks would have been torn down and his family would have been fortui nate to escape with their lives. My host was cf the usual type of high phinese officials; cultured, courteous, and showing by his every act that he desired me to be at my ease among novel .surroundings. But my attention was given mainly to my hostess, who stood ready to receive me, another Manchu lady by her ide. No mother-in-law crushed her, and she was her husband's only wife. Her dress was the typical attire of tho Manchus, the conquerors of China, who have since been almost absorbed in c the native stock. Her robe was ,of silk, beautifully embroidered. Her hair was done up high, on a large frame stretching eight or nine inches above her head. Her feet were unbound, and she could walk freely. Her face was frank and open, and would .have attracted attention in any London drawing-room. When dinner was served the ladies all sat together at one end of the table and the men at the other. At first the Chinese ladies were a little shy. Then it transpired that they knew a 1 Ite w words of English, and w© at once plunged into the inexhaustible language question. When tho first shyness had worn off, the talk was as free and as genial as in a gathering of friends at home. What did we talk about? My host had a hundred subjects of conversation, from the price of motor-cars to the newest educational schemes. He was keen on modern changes, and showed a minute knowledge or English affairs which left me surprised. The ladies took an interest in everything. CHINESE COURTESY REMAINS. It was to be- a European dinner that night, especially in my honour. At -the beginning, as in duty bound, the host expressed his regrets for the poverty of the meal. "lam sorry that I have nothing fit for you to eat," he said, My table is poor, as you see, and my fare is simple. But I tTust tKat the mental feast from your conversation will atone for the lack of good things." I glanced' at the table, and saw it weighed down with all manner of dainties. All the world knows the merits of the Chinese cook, and this evening, the Chinese cook surpassed himself. First came a succession of English dishes savouries, soup, fish, sausages, asparagus, fowl, and joint. Wise from former experience I ate very little of each, for the number of courses in a Chinese dinner is so great that it would be impossible otherwise to take them all. To leave a dish untasted is serious impoliteness. Then the European cutlery wais cleared away. "We thought you would like to taste some Chinese dishes," said my host. So silver-mounted chop-sticks came out, and the Chinese dishes arrived. The rarest Chinese delicacies, birds' nest soup and the like, could not be served as they take three days to prepare, and the cook only had four hours' notice of my coming. The Chinese chicken *was delicious, and the Chinese way of serving fish, fried crisply in small pieces and soaked, in soy (a kind of Worcester sauce), would be hard to beat. Bamboo shoots I found a sometwhat what tasteless delicacj. But the crowning

dish of all was sea slugs. A little thrill went through the guests as this royal dainty was brought on the table. My host heaped my plate, and politeness required me to eat. But I am not yet educated up to slugs.

Such is the menage of the Chinaman with the new-style wife. The barriers have been taken down from the hom»>. In place of a group of animated dollfi, kept in the background, he has a bright companion who shares his whole life. I do not claim that there are many such households yet, but their number is rapidly increasing, and the whole tendency to-day is towards their rapid growth. The schools for girls that are being started in many parts tell of the new era. Once the Chinese women open their minds, the men will not- be able to revert to medievalism, even if they would. Star , Issue 8820, 5 January 1907, Page 3


CFrom tbe Fowchow Herald.) A wedding ia high Chinese life occurred in the Ato neighborhood, when the eldest sou of Mr Chaog Akok was married to a daughter of a wealthy resident of the city. Elaborate preparations had been made for the event, and presents amounting in value to between £4000 and £6000 had been sent by the father of the groom to the bride. The bride's dowry was sent to the house of the groom's father. It consisted of costly gold bracelets, head ornaments of gold set with the blue feathers of the kingfisher, several trunks containing costly garments of silk and satin, elegantly embroidered, &c;. together with a Blave girl to be the special attendant of the bride. At about 10 o'clock a.m. the invited guests began to arrive. Not only Chinese friend 6, including several mandarins, bat a large number of foreign guests were present. The American and French Consuls, several gentlemen from tbe mercantile and missionary communities, and at least a dozen foreign ladies were among tbe interested spectators on the occasion. Tbe house, which is a new and very capacious edifice, was adorned throughout with elegant hangings, preaented by various mandarins and wealthy friends, and containing felicitous sentences in gilt or dark velvet characters, on silk or satin backgrounds. Some of the j hangings contained images embroidered iv gold thread. While the party were examining all this gorgeous array, tbe j execrable sounds of the inevitable Chinese band announced the approach of the red sedau chair, and as it entered the building the usual explosion of fire-crackers took place. The chair was borne into the reception room, where a bamboo sieve, on the centre of which was pasted a circular piece of red paper, was placed on top of the sedan. Pieces of red carpet were stretched from the door of the sedan to the bridal chamber. A fine-looking woman, 67 years old, who has five married sods and twelve grand-children stood before the chair and uttered some happy sentences. The chair was then opened by the fomale attendants of the bride, who was then led out, her head being covered with a heavy red veil; and she was conducted to the bridal chamber by her attendants, where she was seated by the side of the groom on the edge of the bedstead. Iv a few moments the groom took his station in the reception-room before & table on which two enormous red candles were burning, and which were also two miniature white cocka made of sugar, a bundle of chopsticks, a mirror, a pair of shears, a foot measure, a case containing money scales and two goblets connected by a red cord. Tbe bride was again led out, and took her position at the right of the groom. Both of them knelt four times towards tbe open heavens, after which they changed places, and again kuelt four times. One of the female assistants then took the goblets which were joined by a red cord, and poured back and forth, from one into the other, several times, a mixture of wine and honey, which she then held up to the mouths of the groom and bride alternately, but of which they did not actually partake. The sugar cocks were also held towards each ol the parties, while happy sentences were uttered. The same course was also taken with the chopsticks, scales, and ether articles after which the bride and groom were conducted to the bridal chamber, preceded by a pair of large red candles. Here the bride's head-dreea was removed, and the groom returned to the reception room. AH the foreign guests were then invited 10 see the bride. Heavy gold bracelets were upon her wrists, her finger-nails were hidden beneath long golden sheaths, her head waa wonderfully arrayed with gold and pearls, her garments were elegant and costly; and for tbe benefit of tbe guests the accommodating at'endants even lifted up her feet, which were encased in richly embroidered shoes, the soles of which just measured about two inches in length She is 19 years of age, and, some of the ladies say, more than usually good looking. The customary bowings and prostrations were observed by the groom and his father, with the frienda of the family. The two young sons of Mr Kawhoogtake attracted great attention on account of their hats, in Penang style, covered with golden images of animals and insects, tbe golden charms suspended about their necks, and the diamond rings on their fingers. Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XI, Issue 220, 7 September 1876, Page 4

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Chinese Mt Albert Connection

Chinese people have been in NZ for over 130 years since
1865, when the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce invited
them to rework the goldfields in Otago. There was much
dissension over this, the basic reason being the considerable
difference in race and culture from the Europeans. These
differences fostered recurring controversy on the advisability
of permitting Chinese immigration, out of which grew the
belief that Chinese and other Asians should be kept out of
NZ. On the whole though, NZ discrimination did not take
on the anti-Chinese extremes seen in Canada, the USA and
Australia. (i)
Sir George Grey at a public meeting in 1888 gave his opinion
of ‘the Chinese question.’ He was very much against Chinese
immigration “and what was more, he would if necessary
retire to private life rather than give up his conviction that
NZ should be a pure
Anglo Saxon country.”(ii)
(He does not seem to
have noticed the Maori
population already in
This intense feeling was
written into laws and
regulations and was
spoken of as the White
NZ Policy, though it
was never formally
documented as statute
or decree. The Chinese
Immigrations Act 1881
was passed to control the
immigration of Chinese
and included was a Poll
Tax of £10 to be paid by
each Chinese immigrant
regardless of place of
origin. Certifi cates of
exemption were available to Chinese already resident in NZ
and to Chinese who were leaving temporarily. In 1896 the Poll
Tax was increased from £10 to £100 under an amendment to
the existing legislation.
From 1881 the Chinese population fell, possibly as a result
of the poll tax. The 1891 Census shows a decrease of 16.49%
of Chinese in the colony (3711 against 4444) (iii) so one
wonders why the 1896 Chinese Immigration Amendment
Act of increasing the poll tax by 1000% was necessary. Was
it just to fi ll the government coffers or was it the White NZ
Policy? A bit of both I suspect.
Under the Immigration Restriction Amendment Act 1908,
Chinese leaving NZ to travel overseas temporarily were
required to fi ll in a certifi cate of registration in duplicate.
Thumb or fi ngerprints were added to the certifi cates and
the individuals also provided 2 photographs to the Collector
of Customs. On his return, once positively identifi ed, the
individual was allowed to enter. Fig 1 shows an example of
a registration with thumbprints and photo. (v) The absence
of this registration forms the basis for the following letter of
appeal to the Collector of Customs on behalf of Ah Leongformerly
of Mt Albert but then stranded in China.

The Collector of Customs Auckland June 9th 1911
Dear Sir,
We are acting for the friends of Ah Leong, a Chinaman formerly
of Mount Albert, Market Gardener, who left the Dominion for
China about the month of April 1909. He was accompanied by
his brother Ah Foo, Wong You and Wong Wei, all of whom have
returned to New Zealand. Ah Leong, however, omitted to register
his name and thumb-print in your offi ce before his departure,
and now, wishing to return, is of course refused by the steamship
companies trading from China.

We think that the Minister would perhaps consider his return
to New Zealand if satisfactory evidence of identifi cation were
produced. Ah Leong was well known to many people both here
and at Thames, and we are informed that there would be no
diffi culty in obtaining such evidence. Mr A.W. Page, Merchant, of
Kingsland, who met him in business frequently, is one who could
identify him.

We hold a photo of Ah Leong which was taken before he left New
Zealand. We might mention also that this is his third visit to his
native country, having been home and back twice previously.
Yours faithfully,

Nicholson & Gribbin, Barristers & Solicitors

Did Ah Leong make it back to NZ? At this point I don’t know
but I hope I can continue the search (or perhaps if anyone
knows the story, please let us know). We can take heart that
even then there were people in the Mt Albert area like Mr
Page of Kingsland, who could rise above racial prejudice and
the ‘White NZ Policy’ and support individuals such as Ah
The poll tax was fi nally abolished in 1944.
In February 2002, the then Prime Minister of NZ Helen
Clark made a formal apology to Chinese New Zealanders (iv)
who had paid a poll tax and suffered other discrimination
imposed by statute. Chinese people were deprived of their
right to naturalisation in 1908 and this was not rescinded
until 1951. No other ethnic group was deprived of this

Mary Inomata, January 2012.
Wong You Certificate of Registration 10th
April 1916. Archives New Zealand
Fig 1. BBAO 5575 7a 26/1917.
(i) Chinese Settlement in NZ Past & Present –James Ng, (ii) Auckland Star 16 May 1888 p.2, (iii) Bay of Plenty Times 25 Jan
1897 p 2, (iv) Helen Clark, Prime Minister 12 February 2002, (v) Customs Department Auckland. Immigration Restriction Act
1908 and Poll Tax Registrations. Archives New Zealand, (vi) Customs Department Auckland. Inwards letters. Archives New

Monday, February 6, 2012

Australia Day 2012 Address: Full Speech

The Canberra Times News

24 Jan, 2012 08:51 AM
This is a transcript of Charlie Teo's Australia Day speech

I had been in the USA for almost 10 years and was enjoying a blossoming career. I was an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and Chief of Paediatric Neurosurgery at the Arkansas Children's Hospital. The previous Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, had invested wisely in health infrastructure and the neurosurgical facilities at my hospital in Little Rock were world-class and represented one of the largest units of its kind in the world. I had been head-hunted around the continent and was in an enviable position of being able to navigate my academic future. Genevieve was pregnant with our fourth child and life was looking pretty good. Although Genevieve had been hinting at returning to Australia, she knew the academic track that I was on and with my ambition in full throttle, Genevieve and I were confident that a department chair was just around the corner. It was time we had an in-depth conversation about our future. It went like this: Genevieve to Charlie..."I'm going back to Australia. Are you coming?"

It was a done deal. We decided to return to Australia for lifestyle reasons and for our children's heritage. We both wished for our children to be Australian and to grow up in Australia. Our reasoning was as simple as that. The decision was made not because we didn't like Americans, or that we didn't like living in America. On the contrary, I found Americans to be gracious, diligent, positive and charitable people for whom a meritocratic workplace had paid generous dividends. My personality was not dissimilar to my American colleagues and I found my inquisitive nature and my challenging of neurosurgical dogma was encouraged and nurtured. I did express to Genevieve one note of caution. Did she understand that the academic road back in Australia would have its challenges and might be rocky?

So on a very simplistic level, what is it about Australia that makes it the greatest place on earth to live? Those of you who have lived overseas for any length of time will recall that it is very easy to reflect on your homeland with rose-coloured glasses. When in the US, I would recall Australia's magnificent beaches and national parks and sunny summer days with flawless blue skies. I would reminisce on the irreverent humour of Doug Mulray, the natural beauty of Australian girls, the fresh and bountiful seafood, my friends from childhood and university days with whom I could be at total ease and the relaxed quintessential Australian way of life. I conveniently forgot about the Sydney traffic, the tall-poppy-syndrome, the flies in summer, the geographical isolation and the hidden and sometimes overt racism.

My parents arrived in Australia in the early 1950s, my father to pursue a medical career and my mother a nursing one. They were given a warm welcome by many Aussies who adopted them into their families, giving them financial and emotional support. I was born in 1957 in a rented apartment in Mosman and soon moved to Picnic Point into the house in which I would live on and off for the next 20 years. Although both parents were Buddhists, my parents felt strongly that immigrants should assimilate with the local culture, adopt the local traditions, and be cognisant that we were "guests" and as such we should always be on our best behaviour. If a Chinese person were to fall on the wrong side of the law, it would be to the detriment of the entire Chinese community. It always made sense to me that if a country was attractive enough to uproot your family, leave your loved ones and friends, learn a new language, travel for weeks on a boat across an ocean, then why would you wish to change anything about the local culture.

You would embrace everything about that new country because every aspect surely might contribute to the very timbre of what you found so attractive in the first place. Consequently, Easter and Christmas were fun events. Every year at Easter, without fail, we would spend the day and night at my Italian God-mother's family farm in Leppington. The air was filled with the sound of a piano accordion, countless elderly men would chat to me in heavy Italian accents, and all the elderly women would squeeze my cheeks so hard they would be bruised by night's end. The food was fantastic and the feeling of "family" was overwhelming. At Christmas, joss sticks would sit alongside the Christmas tree, my dad would throw an extravagant party, and our Chinese family accountant would dress up as Santa....not a little confusing.... and hand out the best gifts ever to all the kids.

Racism was rife in those days. I can't remember a day that I wouldn't be jeered or mocked by some group of kids anytime I ventured into a public space. It made a child tough. In my case, not as tough as I should have been, given my sister, diminutive but ferocious, would take on the toughest lads and I would be left enthusiastically backing her up. My father was a rigid disciplinarian. I was beaten to a pulp by a school bully and returned home that afternoon in the hope I would get some sympathy from my parents. Instead my dad castigated me for not fighting back. I was instructed to return the next day to reciprocate. Australia has become multicultural and racism has certainly diminished over the last 50 years but it still disturbs me when I hear some of our politicians reassuring overseas governments that it doesn't exist at all.

I have not experienced overt racism since returning 11 years ago from the USA, but one of my visiting Indian neurosurgeons was spat on by an adult male who drove past him as he waited at a traffic light. It is incorrect and naive to say that there is no anti-Arab or no anti-Indian sentiment, just ask someone of Middle Eastern or Indian appearance. Unfortunately, racism still exists in Australian culture today. But if you think it's bad, you would've cringed if you had heard some of the things my mum said about you "white devils". In my case, the lessons I learnt as a child, to never give-in without a fight, the strength that I gained in order to overcome the insecurity of being in a minority, and the overwhelming sense of fairness I acquired by experiencing such unfairness, would influence how I would react to similar challenges in my professional life years later.

After an acrimonious divorce in 1969, my mum sacrificed any semblance of luxury in her own life to give me every opportunity to make mine better. I was schooled at the Scots College, travelled to Edinburgh to perform in the military tattoo, played rugby and cricket (...very poorly), debated and made lifelong friends. My mother made me work every school break and I have since found out, would ask the employer to reduce my pay to make me appreciate the value of money. I was paid $2.20 a day as a bowser boy and my lunch of a hamburger and soft drink would cost $ may explain why I was so conscientious with my studies!

My father provided no financial assistance, but I applied for and received assistance from the government to attend medical school at the University of New South Wales. I supplemented the government assistance by working as a barman and then, after offering assistance to the hotel manager during an altercation with a drunken patron, as a bouncer, which gave me a substantial boost in my salary. I am proud of the many jobs I had before neurosurgery, milk-run boy, bowser boy, gardener, apprentice mechanic, barman, bouncer, electrician's assistant. It was in fact during these times that I was exposed to and fell in love with the quintessential Aussie.

In those days, my view of an Aussie was someone who was hard working, unaffected, genuine, affable, relaxed, egalitarian, irreverent and charitable. I still believe most Aussies share these appealing qualities, although I am saddened by the increasing incidents of rage in our society. Once there was only road rage but now it seems to have spread into the workplace, the malls and even the last bastion of the laid-back, free spirited Aussie, the surf! I don't wish to trivialise the adversities of everyday life, but when a mother has just lost her son to brain cancer, or a husband his wife, or a daughter her father, and I see this 7 days a week, 365 days of the year, it makes the driver who overtakes on the left or the surfer who cuts in on your wave, seem so inconsequential. I am sure, if you are one of those angry people, if you could spend a day in my shoes, you would rapidly attain a more realistic perspective that the most important determinant of happiness is our health and the health of our loved ones.

Brain cancer kills more children than any other cancer, more women under the age of 35 than any other cancer and more men under the age of 44 than any other cancer. It is totally indiscriminate and accounts for more person years lost than any other cancer. I am forced to deal with these statistics on a very human level every day. But quite separate to giving me a balanced perspective on life, I am in awe of the dignity and courage that my patients consistently demonstrate in their struggle with cancer. Not that my overseas patients are that much different, but the Aussie spirit is as impressive in the living as it is in the dying. To raise money for my Foundation, the Cure for Life Foundation, I have had the honour of talking to people from many walks of life, from miners in Muswellbrook, to fisherman in Hervey Bay. I am constantly overwhelmed by the generosity of my fellow Australians who dig deep when made aware of the worth and importance of this cause.

My university years were full of fond memories. I was lucky enough to be financially secure with my job as a bouncer at Centrepoint Tavern and later the New Chevron Hotel. Dealing with the intoxicated Aussie wasn't quite the positive experience I had doing the milk run but once again, the trials of working in the service industry was a priceless lesson in life. I acquired a newfound respect for police officers. They have had and will always have my unconditional support. Indeed, the real heroes of our society are those who work diligently behind the scenes. I have also had the pleasure and honour of working closely with the tireless and self-sacrificing individuals in the medical world. They are the nurses, without whom I would be unable to offer my patients such quality care, the paramedics who are at the emotionally taxing coal-face, the hospital volunteers who are truly selfless and my fellow doctors, most of whom dedicate their lives to the betterment of their fellow man. The nobility of our profession is unparalleled.

I never cease to be amazed by the trust that my patients place in me, a total stranger, at a time when they are most vulnerable. The privilege of operating on the very organ that defines the essence of that person, their mobility, comprehension, communication, vision, motivation, sensations and even their vital functions is unique and humbling.

Spending nine years in the USA was an enlightening experience. Before I went to America I had an unresolved internal conflict on the issue of immigration. My parents were immigrants, my godparents were immigrants and many of their friends were immigrants. As a child growing up amongst immigrants and die-hard, true-blue Aussies in blue-collar Picnic Point, I feel I am somewhat qualified to offer comment on the issue of refugees. I was proud that Chinese never featured in the tabloids or the evening news. I wanted it to stay that way and I thought that limiting the number of Chinese entering the country would ensure the bad ones would be excluded. I felt Australia was such a great place to live, in no small part as a result of its isolation, not despite it. We appeared to be immune from world wars, border conflicts and dwindling natural resources. Why would you ruin this blissful isolation by allowing "queue jumpers", potential criminals, into our Utopia?

My time in the USA made me reflect on how a country that was not that much older or bigger than ours had achieved such a standing on the world stage. In general, Americans were not more intelligent, diligent or talented than Australians. They have natural resources, so do we. Their pioneers did it tough, so did ours. They had a national pride, so do we. Speak to most Americans and they will be the first to concede the dependence of their economy on the hard-working and fiercely loyal Mexicans. Speak to almost any taxi driver anywhere in the 50 states and you will be inspired by a story of tragedy and conflict followed by hope and opportunity and concluded by a statement of national America NOT their country of birth. I don't know for sure, and I don't think anyone knows for sure, but, having lived in the USA for 10 years, I would be hopeful that our country would benefit from immigration of peoples from countries of conflict, or those subjected to political persecution, who are simply seeking refuge from violence and a better life for their children. I believe Australia has a moral and social obligation to demonstrate a higher level of kindness to and acceptance of refugees. I don't know how this may be achieved but I certainly know that both sides of the political fence are floundering. I would humbly suggest that a bi-partisan approach would be one step closer to a solution and we need it now!

The USA does one other thing very well . . . it encourages scientific curiosity and innovation. After I completed my fellowship in paediatric neurosurgery and before I ended up in Arkansas, I wanted to return to my homeland. I wrote to every senior neurosurgeon in Australia whilst I was working in the USA in the hope that by sharing my dreams and relaying the magnificent experience I was getting in the USA, they would offer me a job back in Australia. Alas, the story was the same, only the names changed. . .". . . I am so pleased you are enjoying your time in Dallas. Unfortunately there are no opportunities now or in the foreseeable future. It would be better for you to make your future over there. Kindest regards". I was reassured that if I published at least three peer-reviewed articles every year, I would be so well qualified academically, they would be obliged to give me a job. So I worked tirelessly for the next nine years. I published 79 papers, wrote 27 book chapters, made over 200 presentations and pioneered minimally invasive neurosurgical approaches. I was courted by industry as well as many of the finest universities in the USA. I became a consultant for a German company that produces over 70 per cent of the world's surgical instruments who encouraged and rewarded my adaptation of precision technology to keyhole approaches. For my hard work I was promoted to Associate Professor and interviewed for "Chairman" positions at two acclaimed institutions. A senior Australian neurosurgeon, Dr Bernie Kwok, a man of rare vision and integrity, visited me in Little Rock and was impressed with what he saw. He suggested I return to Australia with his blessing and support.

However, it became rapidly obvious that others would not share his vision for Australian neurosurgery. Maybe it was the tall poppy syndrome, maybe it was the conservatism of the profession. When I was the only applicant for positions at two of the Children's hospitals in both Melbourne and Sydney, the positions were withdrawn. Since returning I have had obstacles placed in my way, but that hasn't lessened my resolve to offer the Australian public the latest and most innovative cancer treatment in the world. Don't get me wrong. The vast majority of doctors are caring and skilled, giving their patients the best treatments available. They are and should be held in high esteem. Unfortunately, a small number of doctors have forgotten the nobility of our profession, more concerned with their own empire building than patient care, confronted and insulted when patients request an explanation or a second opinion, unwilling to adapt to change and new treatment regimens and failing to continue self-education. This should never be allowed to happen. A selection system that identifies a caring nature and good communication and inter personal skills in medical school applicants would be one step in the right direction. This would be difficult but we shouldn't give up finding a better way of selecting doctors and then nurturing their compassionate side.

I am at an enviable stage of my professional life. With my international reputation I am fortunate enough to be invited to lecture, operate, direct courses and spend time in foreign neurosurgical programs as visiting professor. I see it as an opportunity to keep abreast of current trends in clinical medicine and basic science research and in so doing, ensure that Australian patients with neurosurgical conditions are getting the very best the world has to offer. An unexpected consequence is that it exposes me firsthand to the enormous disparity in scientific funding between Australia and the USA, Japan, Germany, Sweden and many of the other OECD countries. My good friend and colleague, Professor Mitch Berger was recently awarded a SPORE grant of $50 million a year for five years to be spent on brain cancer research only. He was so impressed with the volume and quality of work I was doing in Sydney, he sent his chief resident to spend six months learning my minimally invasive techniques. When he asked how much funding I received from my government, I was ashamed to say only $150,000 over three years. He was totally shocked.

The USA and California specifically has shown tremendous foresight in their approach to scientific research. A recent meeting I attended in California on stem cell research was the perfect illustration of this disparate approach to scientific excellence. I was impressed that the Australian scientists at the meeting could hold their own when it came to innovative ideas and universal knowledge of stem cell therapeutics. I was equally disappointed to hear that our funding of stem cell research, although not as dismal as brain cancer research, was poor. One of the greatest gifts given to humanity by a few socially responsible corporations and governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, maybe not on the same level as "I'll be back", was a $3 billion grant for stem cell research. Australia has a perfect opportunity to ensure our children and their children will see a bright future. The wealth generated by the current mining boom should be seen as an opportunity to build the foundations of the next boom, the mind boom. We have the scientists. We have some of the most inquisitive minds in the world. We clearly have the resources. All we need is the insight and foresight to put our resources to good use. Of course this has long term benefits in sustaining and growing our economy. As they say, you don't need to be a brain surgeon to know these things.

Since returning to Australia I have had the privilege of collaborating with some of the best scientific minds in the world. Dr Kerrie McDonald, who heads the brain cancer wing of the Lowy Cancer Institute, Professor Phil Hogg at the University of New South Wales, and many others, lead the world in their innovation and curiosity. They do so at times at the expense of their personal lives, with few accolades or acknowledgments and poor funding and remuneration. Many have left for greener pastures; many have been culled through lack of funding. These are the unsung heroes. These are the minds that will take Australia from being the greatest place to live, to being, simultaneously, the greatest place to work. We have a history of being able to identify talent, nurture it and reward it. We have done it so well in the sporting arena, there is no reason we can't do it in the scientific arena.

Steve Waugh is an iconic Australian. At an early stage his skills were identified and nurtured. He was rewarded by the Australian public as Australian of the Year and as an officer of the Order of Australia. He has inspired generations of Australian children and has given back to the world, through his charities, in innumerable ways. He is, on top of all of that, an incredibly humble man. He would be the first to acknowledge that he is no better an Australian than Kerrie McDonald or Phil Hogg. If we take this winning template that we use for talented sportsmen, and translate it to our talented scientists, Australians will benefit immeasurably now and in the future. One day we might have two AIS, one for sport and one for science. Indeed, with diminishing resources and a technological revolution, it may not simply be good for our country, it may be necessary for our country. And medicine is only one field in which Australians may lead the world.

Recently I have had the good fortune of being involved with Voiceless, an organisation that is campaigning to have animals treated with respect and compassion. Inspired by the passion of the Sherman family, Voiceless is working to ensure that animal protection is the next great social justice movement.

A few years ago, Barry Kelly, another Australian icon, one of the first RAAF fighter pilots ever to be invited to train at the Top Gun academy, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. Facing deadly forays was part of his daily routine but, with three beautiful young children and an unknown enemy, he was about to face his deadliest encounter. Supported by his wife Jill, he rejected the grim prognosis given to him by his doctors and asked if I could remove the tumour. Courageously, he chose the path less trod, had the tumour removed and is alive and tumour free today. In true Aussie spirit, not one to take and not give back, he has made the largest personal donation to the Cure for Life Foundation and continues to support brain cancer research passionately. But I am most indebted to Barry for asking me to join him in walking the Kokoda track. Initially I saw it as an exercise in male-bonding and a physical challenge. But having walked the track with Charlie Lynn who explains the military history and significance of the track, I honestly believe it is a necessary part of being Australian. Kokoda serves as a cogent reminder of our responsibility to fellow Australians and fellow human beings. Our forefathers sacrificed their lives for our current way of life. Young boys lied about their age to fight for this country. The track is full of stories that illustrate the sacrifice, courage, endurance and mateship that contributed to the success of the campaign and the freedoms that we enjoy today.

Australia is a great country. Although my professional career might have been smoother in the USA, my roots are here, the people with whom I relate best are here and my future is here. Generations of Aussies before gave us the foundations onto which we may construct an even greater nation. One that is both culturally and socially sensitive and tolerant, one that acknowledges a responsibility to our own people as well as our near and distant neighbours who are less fortunate than us and one that identifies, nurtures and rewards scientific, economic, technological and environmental curiosity and innovation. We have the potential to reverse the preconception that one needs to go elsewhere for the best medical care.

I have had the privilege of teaching neurosurgeons from all over the world, including the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and UCSF in America. Patients fly in from every continent to get the most minimally invasive neurosurgical procedures and I am able to disseminate that knowledge to surgeons from developing countries. I hope that I may serve as an example of what Australians may achieve with the support of fellow Australians. I reassure you that if we give our scientists the same support, emotionally and financially, Australia and the world will reap the benefits.

I would like to see this Australia Day as a turning point. I want my fellow Australians, those who were born here and those who have immigrated here, to pause and think of the lives that have been sacrificed for what we take for granted today. I want everyone who finds themselves angry and intolerant to think first about the misfortunes of those who are less fortunate . . . such as those with cancer. I want anyone who has come from another country to embrace the Australian way of life, it has served us well. I want all Australians to see how immigrants have contributed to our nation and to appreciate that a rich and prosperous country such as ours has a moral and global responsibility to share our resources. Finally, I want to thank Australians for giving me professional and personal fulfilment, for believing in me when some of my colleagues didn't, for seeing a Chinaman as an Aussie, not as a foreigner and for this wonderful opportunity to address the greatest nation in the world.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

New Zealand Chee Kung Tong Association


Photographer unidentified (Hardie Shaw Studios), Chee Kung Tong orchestra, 1925, Alexander Turnbull Library, Reference: 1/2-169302-F

Published in the Wellingtonian 10 August 2011

In the first half of last century Haining and Frederick Streets were Wellington’s Chinatown. It was a small community, just a few hundred people, living in the tightly-packed, often run-down cottages that then covered much of Te Aro. New Zealand’s repressive immigration laws meant that they were mainly men, although more women and children came after restrictions were eased during the Second World War.

The community had to cope with persistent racism. After a 1908 police raid on a pakapoo gambling den, for example, Truth warned of the danger posed by "the ugly, grinning, evil-spreading, leprous and lecherous Chinaman", in an article headlined "The Accursed Chow." There were many other examples. The writer Pat Lawlor remembered how, as a child "[w]e were all frightened of Haining Street. To many children it was forbidden territory." Those who lived there saw it differently, though. For them it was home, a place for meeting friends, supporting each other and working hard.

This 1925 photograph shows the orchestra of the newly-formed New Zealand Chee Kung Tong Association. It was a patriotic society dedicated to political change in China, as well as providing mutual aid for its members. For its members China, rather than New Zealand, was still seen as home. They had just built themselves a hall in Frederick Street and had wide support among residents.

By the 1960s the community had gone. Partly that was forced by Te Aro urban renewal, but mainly it was because old prejudices were disappearng. Younger Chinese felt more at home in New Zealand. Chee Kung Tong faded away, too, but their Frederick Street hall still stands, one of the few remnants left of the district’s rich Chinese history.

Take a closer look on Timeframes Photo

Photograph of a Chinese man standing in front of a wooden hut with a bark roof and a vegetable garden. his photo was taken circa 1900. State Library of Victoria Collections' photostream

On the way to the goldfields.

This photo was taken circa 1920. State Library of Victoria Collections' photostream

Auckland Lantern Festival 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


A good deal of interest has been ex- cited by the importation of Chinese la- bourers, by the Philip Laing, lately arrived at Geelong, The following par- ticulars respecting them, have been furnished us by an intelligent resident of that neighbourhood.

It appears that the Settlers on this side of the country, apprehensive of an increasing scarcity of labour for the present season, and in the absence of authentic information upon the prospect of an extensive government emigration, raised by subscription, amongst themselves, the amount necessary to import the batch per Philip Laing, and commissioned Mr. Johnston to proceed to Singapore to engage them —each settler putting down his name for the number of men he would receive. The number imported is 219 ; comprising 123 Chinamen, 81 Klings, (one female) 8 Malays, and the remainder natives of different parts of India.

I believe that Klings is the term in the Malay tongue, applied to the natives of the Malabar coast of India.

The men were all engaged for four years, at £14 a year with rations. The cost of their pas- sages which was estimated at £8, is to be paid from the wages of the first and second years. If they wish to leave the country at the expiration of their engagement, the same sum is to be reserved to defray the return voyage.

The cost of their passage here, has proved to be only £7 each, they are therefore to benefit by the difference. Only one Kling died on the passage. It appears that the natives of India and China resort to Singapore in vast numbers as to a sort of central labour market, and generally arrive in a state of extreme poverty. In such numbers were they, and so desirous to meet with engagements—that upon Mr. Johnston advertis- ing for 150, his residence was besieged by an assemblage of the unemployed, amounting to pro- bably a thousand men.

Those he engaged showed much shrewdness in their inquiries respecting their destination and intended employment, seemed quite able to judge for themselves, and understood the terms of their contract.

Many of them understand brickmaking, lime-burning, and other out of door employments. Some are miners, and have pronounced their opinions upon the relative values of some speci- mens of copper ore, shown to them here. But these men made it an express condition, that they were not to be employed in the mines, an employment which they seem to regard with particular aversion, and in truth, from their diminutive appearance and physical inferiority to Europeans,they do not appear calculated for so laborious n occupation.

The Klings are considered to be superior in intelligence to the Chinamen.

The Malay dialect is universally spoken at Singapore,and being understood by most of them is the one used among them. I was on the wharf when above one hundred of them were landed from the steamer, and a most novel and interesting sight it was. The Chinamen attracted attention the most; with their full moon, sallow faces and
flattened noses. Their heads were shaved with the exception of a path on the crown, about 6 inches in diameter, from which depended a tail 2 feet long—but nearly all of them disposed their tails round their heads, as a young lady would place a wreath, or the Queen her tiara. A very few of them had the large hats which we are acquainted with, capital substitutes for umbrellas, being nearly 3 feet in diameter. Their dress appeared invariably black, of coarse cotton, wide drawers, and an upper dress like a sailor's duck frock, but wide in the sleeves and rather longer. Square toed shoes, ornamented with silk on the uppers, and with soles an inch and a quarter thick, of a substance I could not make out. Their contenances indicated a stolid good
nature. Their vests or upper garments were closed with round brass buttons, and they had some little knicknackery dangling beneath it, probably a purse. The contrast was very great etween these men and the natives of India who were dressed in white, with very smart turbans of party colors. Many of them had trousers of coloured cotton, full above and close round the ankle, but the upper garments of all appeared to be something like a dressing gown, (without a collar,) closing tightly round the body from the breast to the hips—exposing the neck and only partially closed down the breast. I must except one old fellow, (there were several aged men amongst them) who had wound a yard or two of calico round his loins, and seemed to think he had done all that could be expected of him in the way of dress. The party comprised all shades of colour, some of them being as dark as Australian natives.

They presented a very gay appearance with their spotless white dress, and gaudy coloured turbans. They seemed very little impressed with the novelty of their position—but rather shewed the self possession of experienced travellers, elbowed us out of their way, wrangled with each other, and took especial care of their luggage. I after- wards saw many of them leaving town upon the drays, and they seemed to be in a high state of delight and excitement.

The whole party looked very puny in stature, and many of them ridiculously small. I was not fortunate enough to see the she Kling. A considerable quantity of rice and curry arrived in the vessel—of the latter it is intended to allow them a bottle a month, in lieu of tea and sugar. The morning they landed was providentially warm and sunny, and their airy costume was not inappropriate; as a protection against the weather it was of no more use than mtuta, would be.

It is understood that the Philip Laing, will return to India, being unable to obtain a cargo of wool. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. Tuesday 26 December 1848


The sketch by our artist, represents the arrival of a batch of Chinese immigrants, gives a graphic impression of a scene which, since it has become a matter of such frequent occurrence, has long ceased to be a novelty to colonial residents. Some years ago, and more especially during the height of the gold fever,the Chinese element constituted a pretty, large item of the colonial population, there being then between 40,000 and 60,000 of them who had found their way to Victoria, attracted hither by the same cause as led to such an extensive immigration from various parts of Europe. The subsequent reaction, however, tended to check the streamcof immigration from China, as it did that from other sources, and the
Chinese population in the colony is now estimated at from 20,000 to 25,000. The district of Kwung Tong seems to be the source of supply, and they arrive in the colony at the rate of about 2000 per annum. The majority of them pay their own passage to the colony, and with regard to those who are not in a position to do so, an arrangement is effected with merchants and shippers by which the cost of thoir introduction into the colony is defrayed out of their earnings en the gold-fields, or by what ever means a livelihood is obtained. The residents in the metropolis, exclusive of those finding employment in the Bay as fishermen, number about 200. It will thus be seen that by far the greater number is absorbed by tho gold-fields, which afford a lucrative employment. In addition to gold digging, at which, from their patient plodding, habits, the Chinese are remarkably successful; a considerable number of them are engaged in agricultural and horticultural pur suits, some of them having taken up land under the 42nd clause' of the Amending Land Act, which they have turned to good account.In addition to miners and market-gardeners, a number obtain a livelihood as hawkers of all sorts of conceivable commodities. The expense of living among thorn is small compared with that even of the poorer class of Europeans, being commonly rather under than above £80 per annum for eaoh adult ; not that a Chinaman is indifferent to the value of good living and display, for with prosperity comes a change, and the food of which European would rather not think, i« discarded for pork, game,poultry, while the outward person is adorned with a display of jewellery and trink«t a which are not nilsham. There is no recognised medium of exchange, between the residents in the colony and China. On returning home they carry the gold with them. The mercantile portion remit gold or sovereigns ; so that the only exchange is by drafts on account of shipments. During the last eighteen months the immigration from China to Victoria has greatly increased ; and from advices lately received we are warranted in believing that it is likely to do so for some time.

Looking at the matter from a moral point of view, it is questionable whether on addition to the Chinese population of the colony be desirable. It is undeniable that their residence amongst us has tended to the increase of crime, and that, too, of a nature which more than any other ends to weaken the moral tone of a country, and is sure to lead to the physical deterioration of races.
The Australian News for Home Readers Thursday 20 September 1866