Tag Archives: 2011

I’m proud…

…that we can change our government without dumping the constitution whole.

Thanks to this civilized invention called an election.

The one thing that makes me super-happy to be Swiss: the government has given us this thing called “a ballot” that gets sent out to registered expat Swiss voters every so often (basically once per quarter). And unlike Aussies who are required to vote, we can legally toss the ballot into the shredder (as in not vote at all) without this hidden fear that government might be breathing down our neck, wondering why we were so civilly disobedient. (Sole Swiss exception: the Canton of Schaffhausen, up north, requires people to vote.)

The upcoming Swiss elections take place on 23 October 2011. I’m sending my ballot back the next few days to be doubly sure that my votes count. I’ve decided to give the SVP (the Swiss People’s Party) Dumpster treatment after its discriminatory “minaret ban” got Switzerland some seriously bad publicity. Worse still, it allowed the Swiss to do something un-Swiss: to eat upon the freedoms the Constitution gave this land. You thought China had “human rights issues”? Have a gander at just how bad the situation is in Switzerland, especially post-ban. Communist China has a minaret right by the new Tianjin West Railway Station (and it looks pretty new — both structures, that is). That kind of architecture (the minaret, not railway stations) are now hors la loi in this supposedly “neutral” country.

I don’t want to get into politics — especially not as a politician. But now, post-ban, whenever there’s a vote about stuff that’s Swiss, that’s like — it sets off an auto reaction my end. I posted a whole slew of commentary regarding the whole election on Facebook. I’ve reposted this on my blog so that most of you get to know my political views on this matter:

  • The best thing about a democracy is you can expel those idiot politicians and unsightly parties screwing the whole country up. Thank you God!!
    Now voting as an expat Swiss as the Swiss national elections loom large and clear. For one thing, the SVP is finished. You gave us the crap minarets ban, ookie… we are voting you suckers out of office!!
  • Of course, all politicians ultimately (will) stink. There is nothing you can do once you get your nose shoved into this trade…
    But the good thing is this: I have not chosen a soul who wants to let the Swiss keep doing nuclear power plans, especially after Fukushima. Nuclear power has always been this kind of hidden bomb that could feed on humanity — and it has, as Chernobyl and Fukushima have shown us…
  • The one “mediated event” of Swiss politics that has completely blown me off is the crazy minarets ban 2 years back. I basically made a huge anti-ban campaign over social media. I told every last living human, algae, cockroach and Swiss-citizen-to-be NOT to vote for that short-sighted bill.
    Which was passed “anyway”.
    And which got me bat-fr*ck-insane when that DID happen.
  • Once upon a time an election was a mere election. Now, it is no more. And while it’s not some kind of crusade or “to save the minarets” (if you can call it that at all), I did find the so-called “minaret ban” most absurd, most unsightly and most anti-humanity.
    I don’t know much about the Muslim world. It kind of fascinates me, though, in all ways. I wouldn’t convert religiously, of course, but having said that, I don’t think a minaret should be something that you should have a cow over or stuff like that.
    Yes, women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. But instead of making a huge propaganda campaign against that and by calling that “backward and undemocratic”, the best we can do as outsiders is to merely foster a “live and let live” attitude. I don’t think the entirety of any accepted, established religion is problematic, perverted or anything like that.
    The thing that totally pisses me off about the minaret ban is, of course, discrimination, but also this latent and real fear that the Swiss constitution is being eaten alive, bit by bit, by its citizenry. When you start modding the constitution to feed upon itself, when that thing starts taking away the very principles on which it was established, that sure is one hell of a scary development. You think China’s human rights issue is scary? Just you wait until Switzerland comes out with stupider still mods to its constitution. A bigger human rights issue in the making…

And while I think the odds that the Swiss People’s Party will be politically nixed or humiliated are by no means guaranteed, what I can do with my ballot is to show my disapproval. Of course, the vote will be a secret vote, but Bern will have one less ballot in favour of the Swiss People’s Party this time. They’ve sinned and stuff’s got to happen to right that one very big wrong.

Autumn 2011 + David Feng = …

It’s autumnal equinox — autumn is now with us.

There are many reasons to hate autumn (or “fall”, if you must, if you hail from destinations State-side). To photographers, this is the season to hate: the days are getting shorter and shorter and 50+% of the day is spent in darkness. To those who are without a partner, the days of the howling winds and falling trees are dreadful to even think of, while those with someone by their side gets treated to a mid-autumn mountain hike.

But to yours truly, to David Feng, autumns are the season where much action has taken place. Except for the worst autumn ever — that of 2004 — the past ten years have seen a lot of good things happen over autumn. Good stuff, even a few good schticks. Like…

  • Autumn 2001: I started doing the old Mac site right and started conceiving what would later be the Beijing Mac user group
  • Autumn 2002: I return in front of the microphone by doing a whole load of presentations, especially in classes in university
  • Autumn 2003: I pulled off a class act by co-hosting the Dyned English Cup Finals. Not a big-namer, but to me, keeping 600 seated was no easy task. It also meant I had to voluntarily starve (before this, I was 88.5 kgs — and this was before Fatburger came to Beijing)
  • Autumn 2005: Former BeiMac group members, including an able secretary and active members working for a good cause, push the Mac community for Beijing into the stratosphere; media events, hosting visitors from outside the mainland, everything
  • Autumn 2006: I’ve basic plans figured out to keep me busy; I was especially proud of the summer that immediately preceded it, where I figured out my career path for the next few years
  • Autumn 2007: I land a lot of commitments, including a three-year schtick with City Weekend Beijing, blogging about the Beijing Subway
  • Autumn 2008: My efforts at hosting overseas groups at the Beijing City Planning Exhibition Museum is recognized by an Olympics-related public/government organization; also, I joined tech geeks on a tour around China
  • Autumn 2009: I spoke at TEDxGuangzhou (which then became with Lonnie Hodge the greater magic that was TEDxCanton) about Twitter; I was all about Twitter then (as I still am now)
  • Autumn 2010: I launched the Dear Passengers blog and seal a book contract, which would give birth to my Chinglish book (in Chinese) in spring 2011

So it’s little wonder why I’m pretty happy autumn is with us again. Let me let you in on a few personal goals I’ve set myself this autumn. Ain’t a freightload, but then again, there’s no big fat incentive out there awarding those who bite off more than they just might want to chew…

  • More time online: I am working out a brand new approach to the online world. The idea is to be online more while not working myself out with the thing too much. I used to be stuck aimlessly online, but that’s no longer my goal. The idea is more like getting more done online in a mobile environment. More tweets with information and commentary. Quality over quantity. Less of those crazy Subway tweets and more meaningful convos. Also, a much more active blog and website my end.
  • More rail and Chinglish content: I am working to get Dear Passengers to be, in English, an accessible-for-all, informative website for all those in and outside China. It’d be a rail (especially HSR) info hub in English about A-to-B-ing in China, whereas the Chinese version would get riders more informed in Chinese about Swiss travel. The Chinglish site, Jionglish would have more frequent updates as well as a little more info about why Chinglish is here at all.
  • More time in front of the mic: You need that for a class of 50, but also for media programmes. I’m hoping for a few new media commitments, but more importantly, I might be heading outside Beijing to build upon my Chinglish book. Details are sketchy but apparently a few in the edu world are happy with my Chinglish book and they’re thinking of doing good stuff with it. Like — the idea of a few lectures and classes, and so on and so forth…
  • More rail mileage: Despite Wenzhou, me being Swiss means I’ll stay on the rails. I’ll be travelling a heck of a lot more in the last few months of this year. If you tweet, I’d love to see you…
  • More communities: I am thinking of getting the beimac circle group run much better and have not excluded a few more community commitments.
  • Even more time with Tracy and family: You just don’t do it any other way: you have a family to belong to and I’m very happy with Tracy. So we’re looking ahead to a sunny and happy autumn…

Meanwhile, here’s Happy Autumnal Equinox to you. Autumn is all about harvesting good stuff. I’m sure there’s good stuff waiting for you all!