Inward, Outward And Upward Looking

By P Chong

Tuesday, 6 July 1999

Of the nations in the world today, China stands out progressively tall and strong. It is as though the sleeping dragon is finally awakened. This appears to be the fear of the West, though an economically strong China is good commercially for all the trading nations in the West, politically China is deemed as great threat. It is feared that “once China stands up, it won’t topple or be toppled.”

In retrospect, China is undoubtedly the world’s greatest civilised nation over a continuous period of thousands of years – a civilisation undiminished & unbroken, unlike past civilisations like Egypt, Greece or the Romans. By any reckoning, China should have by now be far more advanced & superior than the rest of the world. Why not?

Of the many reasons why China did not progress beyond its initial lead in technology & discovery, the main cause of which can largely be attributed to its inward looking policy . . . viewing all territories beyond the Great Wall of China & its boundaries as barbarian nature. This nationalistic pride & closed door policy led to its seclusion, totally depriving itself from from the interchange of ideas and exposure to new scientific developments & industrial growth. While China lavished in its culture, philosophy & essentially non-materialistic form of development, it began to lag behind the West in terms of economic industrial growth. In preserving its civilisation from being tainted by corruption, disruption & deterioration, it never knew new growth, developments & discoveries elsewhere in the whole wide world. The “Middle Kingdom” realised too late the encroachment of other nations upon its shores & territories. Countries like Britain, Portugal & Japan were making inroads into China through modern superior arms of war instead of its age-old “kung-fu”.

To grow, to progress is to change. Sentiment must give way to progress. There is no room for inhibition to changes. Change needs to take place before growth ^& progress can be attained. It’s attitude more than aptitude that scales the altitude. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the great former prime minister of Singapore, is credited for the great strides achieved by the City State. His visionary ideas have no room for inhibition to change or any hindrance.

Now, what a change has come about as a result of Deng XiaoPing‘s visionary concept of “Xiang Qian Zou”. In Mandarin, it means “Forward Move”, but by replacing the middle word with similar pronunciation, it becomes “Moving Forward with Money”. This started a great frenzy for the Chinese striving for monetary progress in all spheres of work & life.

Capitalistic way of life does have its price. Greed always breed a profound loss of goodness in mankind. Simple honesty, truth, kindness & compassion are lost in the process. The dollar sign etched prominently on the foreheads of goal-getters. It is evident to an outside observer that the whole civilisation is transforming overnight. China, in its forward economic stride, has done away with its traditional large families, and its door is wide open to the corrupt western way of life. There is a price to be paid, for consequential results cannot be avoided.

We are not about to discuss the forward march of China & the loss of a whole generation of tradition, custom, simple courtesy & good manners, which come about as a result of its Cultural Revolution.

We want however, to draw a comparative study between China and the United States of America, which has only a history of some 200 odd years, and yet progressively more advanced. Why is this so? The irony of this is even more profound when we compare US with Great Britain – the tag of British “greatness” pales in significance. And to think America started as a colony of Britain! What then is the significant attributable factor?

This factor is spelt out very clearly when we look at the green bag note. It says very clearly: “In God We Trust”. It is this upward and outward attitudinal outlook that made all the difference between Britain & the US, and China & the US. The American look upward to God for all its needs & provisions since the first Pilgrim Fathers stepped on the shore of the new continent. Because of its explicit trusting the Lord, America has been greatly blessed and it prospered beyond the realms of the other nations with similar history or longer history.

Apart from this upward attitudinal outlook, it practises an outward outlook beyond its shore and adopt an open door policy in the many aspects of its economy. In so doing, it was to absorb and gain both from within and without the world the wealth of knowledge towards its rapid advancement.

On the personal front, the individual musty avoid being inward looking. The classic example is drawn from the Pharisees, the elite Jewish ruling council, highbrowed, stiff-necked & self-centred in character. They rejected Jesus as the Messiah (the Jews’ promised deliverer) and till today they are still awaiting His coming. Ever wonder re the p,light of the “wandering Jews”? Being persecuted and hated wherever they are? It is without doubt God’s punishment of the Jews for crucifying Christ on the cross! Not until the Jews find their roots in the Messiah Jesus, will their wandering stop!!

In Matthew 23:13, it reads: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

Verse 27:Woe to you, teachers of the law & Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs,which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones & everything unclean. In the same way,on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

Verse 39 concludes with this: “For I tell you,you will not see me again until you say “Blessed is he who comers in the name of the Lord.”

How prophetically true what Jesus said. Until & unless the Jews find repose in Jesus, their perils will not be over!!

In John 14:6, the terminology is always on the personal basis: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Jesus has given us the road map guiding us upward to heaven, and to stay in the centre of God’s will. You need not worry about tomorrow and trust Jesus to guide you one day at a time, and to follow him even though you don’t know the way. No other road map is required.

Abram followed one day at a time. He walked by faith and not by sight. As in genesis 12: 1 -5, we read:

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country,

your people and your father’s household and go to

the land I will show you.”

“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless

you. I will make your name great, and you will be

a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on earth will be a blessed through you.”

So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan and they arrived there.”

Abram (whose name was changed by God to Abraham) is the classic example of the principle of “walking by faith, rather than by sight . . . one day at a time”. In walking with the LORD, ourselves must be erased, the LORD must be raised. There is a definite attitudinal shift from self-centrednerss to God-cent redness.

In John 15:5 it says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and in him, he will bear much ruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Thus the way to be is: inwardness to upwardness. Amen.

The above account is in essence the salient points of a religious message

first delivered in a Sunday church gathering in July 1999.


The Great Wall of China

By P Chong                                                                                                     Saturday, 26 December 2009

"Wan Li Chang Cheng" 1989

Wan Li Chang Cheng” – literally means “Ten Thousand Miles Wall.” It’s not one great wall but a monumental series of wall that constitute The Great Wall of China. They were erected over the centuries to thwart & deter the barbaric invaders from encroaching upon the Middle Kingdom. The Wall twists through Chinese dynastic history. Today the nation welcomes visitors near & far together with their wallets. What the visitors, more than a million a year, really see is the impressive gleaming stretch of wall at Juyongguan near Beijing. Such commercialisation is marring an archaeological treasure as claimed by preservationists.

Teaming crowd of visitors

It’s been more than a fifth of a century since I first stepped & climbed The Great Wall of China. To tell you the truth, the feeling & excitement were simply beyond me! I had led a party of ten to China, all of them virgins in this world of ancient civilisation. Coincidentally, May/June 1989, saw the Tiananmen political debacle undertaken by the students.

In all the years since the landing on the moon, Western writers declared, with absolutely no evidence that the Great Wall could be seen from there. But what Deng Xiaoping, the small & yet most dynamic of a man, proclaimed “Let us love our China, let us restore our Great Wall” has become a well-known slogan.

In the passage of time, I have seen great growth, progress & changes:

From Friendship Stores to Departmental Stores

From virtually no phone to modern convenient cell phones

From million bicycles to million vehicles.

This is truly representative of a complete transformation & material revolution unseen & unheard of in the history of mankind! All within one lifetime, one generation!!

However, there are walls which tourists seldom get to see or visit in the outer reaches where there are crumbling sections of the Wall awaiting attention & preservation.The crumbling walls were never far away, a companion piece to the halfway stage of China’s rush to progress.

Visibly, there are signal towers & walls that stretched out for miles in ruins & villages entirely contained by high-walled forts for security purposes in the ancient days. Some homes carved out from the Walls have 20-foot-thick walls – “Very warm in the winter, cool in the summer”.

"With courtesy of Richard Chiang who purchased it from the Wushipu Oil Painting Village of Xiamen in May 2008.”

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It is truly amazing! Now that the smoke signals are replaced by cell phones, what is there in store for the ruined parts of the Wall where even certain sections have disappeared. Will modernity bury archaeology? Will a history of more than 2,000 years be lost in a time vault or capsule?

Kalgoorlie-Boulder: The City That Gold Built

By P Chong                   Thursday, 24 December 2009

Perth to Kalgoorlie Route Map

A place revisited somehow reveals quite different nostalgia & expectations of your earlier perception. It can never be quite the same thing, especially with the passage of time & circumstances. Kalgoorlie-Boulder, the City that gold built, has grown & changed. Thinking that you might still be familiar with the environment, you begin to feel like a stranger once again.

Statue of "Paddy" Hannan

This business-cum-pleasure trip in the Toyota Hiace business van of Darren, my son-in-law, to Kalgoorlie, was really unplanned. I conveniently tagged along together with Matti, still on school holidays, is thoroughly enjoying every moment of it.

AHG Wangara
Nissan Wangara

Darren is in the business. He’s always just a phone call away 0408673524. His clients are largely drawn from the car yards in & around Perth. But he does cover extensively down south to Albany and to the east up to Kalgoorlie. Every few months he would undertake a trip to these far away places, serving existing clients, taking new orders & making new contracts.

In Wangara, the AHG (Automotive Holding Group) conglomerate of car dealerships is one of his biggest clients. AHG has its major operations in Western Australia, New South Wales & Queensland. offers prominent colourful visual display to attract attention.

Along the way, Darren serviced some clients in Midland, Northam & Merridin and ultimately Kalgoorlie.

in Midland

Business aside, we had a fun time pitching up our tent for our night’s accommodation at Discovery Holiday Parks. Strangely enough and especially at this time of the year, Kalgoorlie-Boulder experienced some light showers which persisted through the night & early morning.

Father & Son Camping at Discovery Holiday Parks

A kaleidoscope of sights seen & pictures taken in Kalgoorlie-Boulder:

Kalgoorlie Town Hall 1908
Kalgoorlie Hotel
Silo in Tammin
Ned Kelly Atop the Service Station in Coolgardie
The Oldest Brothel in Kalgoorlie - Questa Casa
The Super Pit
The Sheer Size ...Be Amazed!

The Super Pit or Fimiston Open Pit produces up to 800,000 ounces of gold a year  together with the underground operation at Mount Charlotte. A lot of gold indeed . . .

You can still see the old miner’s working with old shafts  visible in the Super Pit. But a tour of Australia’s largest gold producing mine is a must on your first visit to Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

Here lies the historic City of Kalgoorlie, the centre of Australia’s gold rush, still having its roads paved with gold – some 600km’s east of Perth in the Australian Goldfields.

A visit to Kalgoorlie wouldn’t be complete without having a drive along Hay Street past the infamous “Red Light” District with the world’s oldest profession. This is reminiscent of Germany’s Hamburg or Hannover or even Holland’s Amsterdam or Rotterdam – all famous for the one same trade.

I find Kalgoorlie more vibrant than Perth & a City as diverse as it is cultural. Magnificent architecture galore displayed by its many hotels, its Town Hall, relaxing cafes, lively night life & bars . . . all thriving in making Kalgoorlie a major service hub for the active resource industry.

Kalgoorlie retains its pride & traditions. It is without doubt that as gold is its beginning, golden will be its future.

Zhouzhuang – “The Venice of China”

Zhouzhuang – “The Venice of China”

912508-Zhouchuang_entrance-ZhouzhuangEntrance to Zhouzhuang


Hailing from Jiangsu area in southern China among as host of ancient water towns, Zhouzhuang is undoubtedly the better known among the tourists. Like Xitang or the others, it’s only a small place with inter-crossing canals, so no motor vehicles. You can easily cover this interesting place known as “Venice of China” by foot. It’s within reach 30 km from Suzhou & 90 km from Shanghai – serving well as a week-end retreat even for the Shanghainese. It is a photographic paradise for both the amateur or professional. It’s stupendous for its sights in architecture, history & culture.

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