My Take

Time to restore China's mahjong glory

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 6:16am

My fellow Chinese citizens, it brings me no pleasure to report to you this terrible news. A great calamity has befallen our nation. Our pride, our dignity, nay, the very integrity of our national soul is at stake.

The French have made a clean sweep of the top prizes at the Open French Championship for mahjong last week in the medieval city of Toulouse, in southwestern France. They won the gold, silver and bronze medals.

The Chinese players didn't even make it into the next three places, which were taken by two Italians and a Dutchman. Only one Chinese player was in the top 10, in the seventh place.

This is a national disgrace. Eleven Chinese players took part and not a single one distinguished themselves, unless you count Qin Zheyong, who had the distinction of landing at the very bottom of the field of 108 international players.

We Chinese are a nation of gamblers. It has been thus for centuries. How did we end up with these losers who are clearly not fit to play this glorious national game of ours?

The contest is run by the French Mahjong Federation, which is modelled on the European Mahjong Association. An official of the World Mahjong Organisation, Yao Xiaolei, tried to put in a good word by saying the Chinese players suffered from jet lag and that they weren't the very best to begin with.

Any Chinese should be able to win even when half asleep against foreigners. A phalanx of Hong Kong housewives ought to have cleaned out the top prizes with their eyes half-closed.

Mahjong has been recognised by the Chinese State Administration of Sports as a national sport at least since 1998. It's time for the central government to restore the national glory of this game.

It needs to use its newly found international clout to make it an Olympic event. The game is in our DNA. It should be promoted in the hundreds of Confucius institutes now teaching around the world.

To do our national duty, the Hong Kong government must make it a mandatory sport for schools in place of the ill-fated national education programme. It's time to make those kiddies from Scholarism play mahjong and instil in them a deep sense of pride in the nation.