Wee Kek Koon

Wee Kek Koon

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Reflections | As Japan prepares to mark end of an era, a look back at how China started the system

Era names were first adopted by emperors in ancient China, later by the countries that came under the nation’s sphere of influence, including Korea, Vietnam and Japan.

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Era names were first adopted by emperors in ancient China, later by the countries that came under the nation’s sphere of influence, including Korea, Vietnam and Japan.

As Japan prepares to mark end of an era, a look back at how China started the system
Reflections | Was Japan’s first emperor an ancient Chinese alchemist? Like many legends, flashes of truth penetrate foggy details

Xu Fu is said to have sailed east in search of the elixir of life for China’s first emperor. Accounts of his adventures vary greatly, but most agree on one thing – that he never ultimately returned to his homeland. So, where did he end up?

18 Apr 2019 - 10:50AM

Xu Fu is said to have sailed east in search of the elixir of life for China’s first emperor. Accounts of his adventures vary greatly, but most agree on one thing – that he never ultimately returned to his homeland. So, where did he end up?

Was Japan’s first emperor an ancient Chinese alchemist? Like many legends, flashes of truth penetrate foggy details
Reflections | In ancient China, an emperor enforced the Chinese language to strengthen his state, what is Singapore’s reasoning?

In Singapore, Chinese Singaporean schoolchildren must learn Mandarin as a second language.

12 Apr 2019 - 10:35AM

In Singapore, Chinese Singaporean schoolchildren must learn Mandarin as a second language.

In ancient China, an emperor enforced the Chinese language to strengthen his state, what is Singapore’s reasoning?
Reflections | Korea under Japanese rule: the violent killing of a queen that led to a century of animosity

Queen Min was fiercely opposed to Japan’s designs on her country. Her brutal murder galvanised a nation against its oppressors, a sentiment that continues to this day

4 Apr 2019 - 8:36AM

Queen Min was fiercely opposed to Japan’s designs on her country. Her brutal murder galvanised a nation against its oppressors, a sentiment that continues to this day

Korea under Japanese rule: the violent killing of a queen that led to a century of animosity
Reflections | How folk religions took root in ancient China, and why some were never destined to endure

From Singapore’s nameless German Girl Shrine to Tin Hau in Hong Kong, religious followings began when the faithful found their prayers answered. But what about China’s Dried Fish Lord-Deity?

28 Mar 2019 - 7:25PM

From Singapore’s nameless German Girl Shrine to Tin Hau in Hong Kong, religious followings began when the faithful found their prayers answered. But what about China’s Dried Fish Lord-Deity?

How folk religions took root in ancient China, and why some were never destined to endure
Reflections | Like Duterte, imperial China believed a country’s name conveyed a sense of national identity

As the Philippine president considers a name change, a look back at the national naming conventions

21 Mar 2019 - 8:32AM

As the Philippine president considers a name change, a look back at the national naming conventions

Like Duterte, imperial China believed a country’s name conveyed a sense of national identity
Reflections | How ancient China took its tea: as a soup or with salt, tea-drinking traditions have evolved through the ages

Bubble tea has proliferated from Taiwan to Instagram feeds across the globe, but it is not the first example of a brewed beverage with added ingredients

13 Mar 2019 - 7:45PM

Bubble tea has proliferated from Taiwan to Instagram feeds across the globe, but it is not the first example of a brewed beverage with added ingredients

How ancient China took its tea: as a soup or with salt, tea-drinking traditions have evolved through the ages
Reflections | Unlike in Game of Thrones, incest was considered a crime in ancient China – unless it was between certain first cousins

Although the Chinese word for incest literally means ‘to bring disorder to normal human relationships’, there were instances when it occurred, some legally

11 Apr 2019 - 2:51AM

Although the Chinese word for incest literally means ‘to bring disorder to normal human relationships’, there were instances when it occurred, some legally

Unlike in Game of Thrones, incest was considered a crime in ancient China – unless it was between certain first cousins
Reflections | Shoes on or off inside? The Chinese haven’t always been in agreement, especially when there are chairs involved

Removing one’s footwear upon entering a house is often perceived as a pan-Asian custom. But it wasn’t always the case for the imperial Chinese

28 Feb 2019 - 2:48PM

Removing one’s footwear upon entering a house is often perceived as a pan-Asian custom. But it wasn’t always the case for the imperial Chinese

Shoes on or off inside? The Chinese haven’t always been in agreement, especially when there are chairs involved
Reflections | Is ancient Chinese clothing fad more cosplay than nod to cultural heritage

Hanfu clothing, worn in pre-Manchu China, has enjoyed a recent revival among hobbyists who believe Chinese should have a national dress, but which style is appropriate from a dynastic history going back 3,500 years?

22 Feb 2019 - 1:48PM

Hanfu clothing, worn in pre-Manchu China, has enjoyed a recent revival among hobbyists who believe Chinese should have a national dress, but which style is appropriate from a dynastic history going back 3,500 years?

Is ancient Chinese clothing fad  more cosplay than nod to cultural heritage
Reflections | Why ignore Naomi Osaka’s Haitian heritage? Identity has long been a product of mixed marriages, just look at China

In imperial China, the Han Chinese assimilated with rulers and subjects through intermarrying, a history that is largely ignored by labels that overlook the complexities of what came before.

14 Feb 2019 - 12:02PM

In imperial China, the Han Chinese assimilated with rulers and subjects through intermarrying, a history that is largely ignored by labels that overlook the complexities of what came before.

Why ignore Naomi Osaka’s Haitian heritage? Identity has long been a product of mixed marriages, just look at China
Reflections | Disrespecting the Chinese national anthem in Hong Kong not only lacks manners, it also provokes Beijing

Our columnist recalls how even foreign pupils at his school in Singapore showed basic courtesy when Majulah Singapura was played

31 Jan 2019 - 10:15AM

Our columnist recalls how even foreign pupils at his school in Singapore showed basic courtesy when Majulah Singapura was played

Disrespecting the Chinese national anthem in Hong Kong not only lacks manners, it also provokes Beijing
Reflections | As Malaysia elects new king, a look back at abdications in imperial China – voluntary, cowardly, or at sword-point

Malaysians were surprised by the sudden resignation of Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan as their 15th king, but Chinese history is peppered with emperors who abdicated, voluntarily and otherwise.

25 Jan 2019 - 10:55AM

Malaysians were surprised by the sudden resignation of Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan as their 15th king, but Chinese history is peppered with emperors who abdicated, voluntarily and otherwise.

As Malaysia elects new king, a look back at abdications in imperial China – voluntary, cowardly, or at sword-point
Reflections | Hotpot lacks ‘cultural significance’? The convivial dish has been bringing people together for some 900 years in China

The popular winter dish, recently slammed by Hong Kong food critic Chua Lam for requiring little skill in its preparation, has been bringing people together over its boiling broth from some 900 years in China

17 Jan 2019 - 1:07PM

The popular winter dish, recently slammed by Hong Kong food critic Chua Lam for requiring little skill in its preparation, has been bringing people together over its boiling broth from some 900 years in China

Hotpot lacks ‘cultural significance’? The convivial dish has been bringing people together for some 900 years in China
Reflections | From foot-binding to big hair, in imperial China, beauty trends began in the palace

The Palace Museum in Beijing recently released a line of lipsticks, recalling how fashion and cosmetic trends were started by the ladies of the Forbidden Palace.

10 Jan 2019 - 11:33AM

The Palace Museum in Beijing recently released a line of lipsticks, recalling how fashion and cosmetic trends were started by the ladies of the Forbidden Palace.

From foot-binding to big hair, in imperial China, beauty trends began in the palace
Reflections | African swine flu threatens China’s long and storied love affair with pork ahead of the Year of the Pig
  • Pigs have played an important cultural and culinary role in China for 8,000 years
30 Jan 2019 - 11:54AM
  • Pigs have played an important cultural and culinary role in China for 8,000 years
African swine flu threatens China’s long and storied love affair with pork ahead of the Year of the Pig
Reflections | The Chinese Bible: how it was translated, and the phrases it introduced to the Chinese language

The 19th century Christians who produced a definitive Mandarin translation of the Bible, the Chinese Union Version, introduced to China phrases such as sacrificial lamb and a tooth for a tooth whose biblical origins are forgotten today.

22 Dec 2018 - 7:17AM

The 19th century Christians who produced a definitive Mandarin translation of the Bible, the Chinese Union Version, introduced to China phrases such as sacrificial lamb and a tooth for a tooth whose biblical origins are forgotten today.

The Chinese Bible: how it was translated, and the phrases it introduced to the Chinese language
Reflections | Imperial ceremony in Japan angers taxpayers, but it’s got nothing on the pomp of ancient Chinese rituals

The Japanese government is being sued by plaintiffs who argue that the enthronement ceremony planned for the new emperor is ‘highly religious’ and goes against the separation of church and state. What would they have said about the elaborate annual Jitian ritual in imperial China?

14 Dec 2018 - 1:20PM

The Japanese government is being sued by plaintiffs who argue that the enthronement ceremony planned for the new emperor is ‘highly religious’ and goes against the separation of church and state. What would they have said about the elaborate annual Jitian ritual in imperial China?

Imperial ceremony in Japan angers taxpayers, but it’s got nothing on the pomp of ancient Chinese rituals
Reflections | Chopsticks are one of China’s most important cultural exports, a fact devalued by Dolce & Gabbana’s ad

The utensils at the centre of a fashion firestorm are an integral part of Chinese culture and cuisine, but how did they get their name?

7 Dec 2018 - 10:42AM

The utensils at the centre of a fashion firestorm are an integral part of Chinese culture and cuisine, but how did they get their name?

Chopsticks are one of China’s most important cultural exports, a fact devalued by Dolce & Gabbana’s ad
Reflections | As Neo-Nazi couple who named baby after Adolf Hitler show, naming a child can be a potential minefield

In ancient China, naming conventions were even more complex, with the titles of emperors and elders to be avoided at all costs

29 Nov 2018 - 10:38AM

In ancient China, naming conventions were even more complex, with the titles of emperors and elders to be avoided at all costs

As Neo-Nazi couple who named baby after Adolf Hitler show, naming a child can be a potential minefield
Reflections | Forget Singapore’s hawker culture, China has more than 2,000 years of history when it comes to street sellers

There is no denying that hawker centres play an integral role in Singapore’s national identity, but they are not singular to the city state

22 Nov 2018 - 8:35AM

There is no denying that hawker centres play an integral role in Singapore’s national identity, but they are not singular to the city state

Forget Singapore’s hawker culture, China has more than 2,000 years of history when it comes to street sellers
Reflections | International trade in ancient China and the surprisingly brief existence of the Silk Road

The exchange of goods and capital across international borders is not a new phenomenon, but it has never been without complications, whether in the ancient or modern world.

17 Nov 2018 - 5:25AM

The exchange of goods and capital across international borders is not a new phenomenon, but it has never been without complications, whether in the ancient or modern world.

International trade in ancient China and the surprisingly brief existence of the Silk Road
Reflections | The 2,000 year history of China’s ‘national liquor’ Maotai: truthful tale or myth to help market it to the masses?

Produced in the town of Maotai, Kweichow Moutai is the best known brand of baijiu and one of the most valuable liquor companies in the world. But less is understood about the tipple’s ancient origins, which some claim can be traced back two millennia.

8 Nov 2018 - 12:06PM

Produced in the town of Maotai, Kweichow Moutai is the best known brand of baijiu and one of the most valuable liquor companies in the world. But less is understood about the tipple’s ancient origins, which some claim can be traced back two millennia.

The 2,000 year history of China’s ‘national liquor’ Maotai: truthful tale or myth to help market it to the masses?
Reflections | Why Cantonese spoken in Malaysia sounds different to Hong Kong Cantonese, and no it’s not ‘wrong’

Malaysia’s ethnic and linguistic diversity has had an impact on how the Cantonese language has evolved in the country

1 Nov 2018 - 11:44AM

Malaysia’s ethnic and linguistic diversity has had an impact on how the Cantonese language has evolved in the country

Why Cantonese spoken in Malaysia sounds different to Hong Kong Cantonese, and no it’s not ‘wrong’
Reflections | Hong Kong’s Cantonese speakers have long had to code switch, but is that a disadvantage?

For Cantonese speakers, writing and reading Modern Standard Chinese requires additional effort

1 Nov 2018 - 10:29AM

For Cantonese speakers, writing and reading Modern Standard Chinese requires additional effort

Hong Kong’s Cantonese speakers have long had to code switch, but is that a disadvantage?
Ancient Chinese tale of friendship emphasises the importance of kindness

The story of Guan Zhong and Bao Shuya, two of China’s most famous friends, illustrates how we are better when we work together

17 Oct 2018 - 8:03PM

The story of Guan Zhong and Bao Shuya, two of China’s most famous friends, illustrates how we are better when we work together

Ancient Chinese tale of friendship emphasises the importance of kindness
Reflections | In imperial China, hopeless leaders inherited power. Today, they are elected

Leading a nation is no easy task, and nor is everyone suited to it, as certain US presidents and Chinese emperors have showed

11 Oct 2018 - 7:18AM

Leading a nation is no easy task, and nor is everyone suited to it, as certain US presidents and Chinese emperors have showed

In imperial China, hopeless leaders inherited power. Today, they are elected
Reflections | The Catholic Church in China: a complex history of controversies, conflicts and unwavering conviction

For centuries, Catholics in China have been dogged by disputes with Confucian rites and Communist beliefs, as well as issues of infighting, imperial opposition and politics

4 Oct 2018 - 12:28PM

For centuries, Catholics in China have been dogged by disputes with Confucian rites and Communist beliefs, as well as issues of infighting, imperial opposition and politics

The Catholic Church in China: a complex history of controversies, conflicts and unwavering conviction
Reflections | In pre-modern China, typhoons inspired tales of love, now viral video clips spread shock and fear

Powerful winds are nothing new, but the way that we respond to them has changed

29 Sep 2018 - 2:36PM

Powerful winds are nothing new, but the way that we respond to them has changed

In pre-modern China, typhoons inspired tales of love, now viral video clips spread shock and fear
Reflections | Gweilo: the violent and racially charged history of the controversial word

The great ‘gweilo’ debate continues – a look at China’s history reveals how bloody battles led to its application

29 Sep 2018 - 2:36PM

The great ‘gweilo’ debate continues – a look at China’s history reveals how bloody battles led to its application

Gweilo: the violent and racially charged history of the controversial word