Wee Kek Koon

Wee Kek Koon

Latest from Wee Kek Koon

Reflections | In times like these, it is important to choose friends, and enemies, wisely

Acts of violence have gripped Hong Kong in recent months, but neither side involved is willing to condemn their own. Historically, aligning with the enemy of one’s enemy does not always end well.

1 hour ago

Acts of violence have gripped Hong Kong in recent months, but neither side involved is willing to condemn their own. Historically, aligning with the enemy of one’s enemy does not always end well.

In times like these, it is important to choose friends, and enemies, wisely
Reflections | No good can come when a leader neglects their duty, whether in Hong Kong or imperial China

For almost 30 years during the Ming dynasty, the Chinese government was almost brought to a standstill by an absent emperor, whose misrule hastened the demise of the once prosperous era.

15 Aug 2019 - 11:55AM

For almost 30 years during the Ming dynasty, the Chinese government was almost brought to a standstill by an absent emperor, whose misrule hastened the demise of the once prosperous era.

No good can come when a leader neglects their duty, whether in Hong Kong or imperial China
Reflections | Vandalising the graves of enemies was once commonplace in China, today it shows extreme polarisation of Hong Kong

One of the most famous attacks on ancestral shrines in ancient China dates back to 506BC.

9 Aug 2019 - 10:52AM

One of the most famous attacks on ancestral shrines in ancient China dates back to 506BC.

Vandalising the graves of enemies was once commonplace in China, today it shows extreme polarisation of Hong Kong
Reflections | Disney has not ‘butchered’ Mulan – the Chinese tale of filial love has been subject to many interpretations

The story of the courageous female soldier, who fought so that her father wouldn’t have to, was first told in a poem, and has been subject to many interpretations since it was written during the Northern Wei dynasty.

1 Aug 2019 - 8:57AM

The story of the courageous female soldier, who fought so that her father wouldn’t have to, was first told in a poem, and has been subject to many interpretations since it was written during the Northern Wei dynasty.

Disney has not ‘butchered’ Mulan – the Chinese tale of filial love has been subject to many interpretations
Reflections | Where the short names of Chinese provinces, regions and cities came from

Much like US states are abbreviated to two letters, so too are China’s administrative divisions represented by a shortened, single character. Often, that comes from the longer name of the area, but some reference the region’s distant past.

28 Jul 2019 - 1:20PM

Much like US states are abbreviated to two letters, so too are China’s administrative divisions represented by a shortened, single character. Often, that comes from the longer name of the area, but some reference the region’s distant past.

Where the short names of Chinese provinces, regions and cities came from
Reflections | US gun laws: disarming a nation can be done, Japan took all the swords from its samurai

Weapons-confiscations programmes, known as ‘sword hunts’, occurred throughout Japanese history.

18 Jul 2019 - 5:25AM

Weapons-confiscations programmes, known as ‘sword hunts’, occurred throughout Japanese history.

US gun laws: disarming a nation can be done, Japan took all the swords from its samurai
Reflections | As Indonesia eyes a new capital city, ancient China’s shifting seats of government can offer inspiration

The island nation is considering relocating governance from a sinking Jakarta. In China, the capital city shifted north, south, east and west according to a variety of factors.

11 Jul 2019 - 8:46AM

The island nation is considering relocating governance from a sinking Jakarta. In China, the capital city shifted north, south, east and west according to a variety of factors.

As Indonesia eyes a new capital city, ancient China’s shifting seats of government can offer inspiration
Reflections | How Asians embraced the chilli pepper

Brought from the Americas by Europeans, the spread of the chilli plant was slow but by the 19th century it had conquered cuisines across the region

4 Jul 2019 - 2:10PM

Brought from the Americas by Europeans, the spread of the chilli plant was slow but by the 19th century it had conquered cuisines across the region

How Asians embraced the chilli pepper
Reflections | If the US-China trade war continues, what will become of Singapore? Historically, small states haven’t fared well

Jingnan, a diminutive territory in imperial China, prospered despite its size and military weakness, until the inevitable happened.

27 Jun 2019 - 8:40AM

Jingnan, a diminutive territory in imperial China, prospered despite its size and military weakness, until the inevitable happened.

If the US-China trade war continues, what will become of Singapore? Historically, small states haven’t fared well
Reflections | As Xi calls Trump his ‘friend’, can poetry top politics in the US-China trade war?

The Chinese president recently referenced an ancient love poem when discussing the relationship between his country and the United States. Are the two heads of state preparing to kiss and make up?

20 Jun 2019 - 8:00AM

The Chinese president recently referenced an ancient love poem when discussing the relationship between his country and the United States. Are the two heads of state preparing to kiss and make up?

As Xi calls Trump his ‘friend’, can poetry top politics in the US-China trade war?
Reflections | How goddess myth gave divine justification to imperial elites

Also known as the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, along with China’s Nü Wa deity, are suggestive of a matriarchal ancient past. When creating mankind, the goddess fashioned the elites in the image, then flicked mud from a branch, with each spatter becoming the commonfolk

15 Jun 2019 - 10:37AM

Also known as the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, along with China’s Nü Wa deity, are suggestive of a matriarchal ancient past. When creating mankind, the goddess fashioned the elites in the image, then flicked mud from a branch, with each spatter becoming the commonfolk

How goddess myth gave divine justification to imperial elites
Reflections | Shinzo Abe or Abe Shinzo? The complex cultural politics of Asian names

After Japan’s foreign minister requested the Western world follow Japanese naming convention, a look back at the ‘civilised’ associations of a surname.

6 Jun 2019 - 7:53AM

After Japan’s foreign minister requested the Western world follow Japanese naming convention, a look back at the ‘civilised’ associations of a surname.

Shinzo Abe or Abe Shinzo? The complex cultural politics of Asian names
Reflections | The Chinese invented firearms but others improved them – why creators and copycats should collaborate

There are many instances in history of inventions being improved by those who did not come up with them, and of those tweaks being adopted by the original creators. Firearms is just one example.

31 May 2019 - 9:00AM

There are many instances in history of inventions being improved by those who did not come up with them, and of those tweaks being adopted by the original creators. Firearms is just one example.

The Chinese invented firearms but others improved them – why creators and copycats should collaborate
Reflections | Cathay Pacific’s link to once powerful people of northern China – how the mighty have fallen

The Liao dynasty was ruled by the Khitan people, a great and mighty nomadic group whose name was passed on to medieval Europe as Cathay.

25 May 2019 - 10:15AM

The Liao dynasty was ruled by the Khitan people, a great and mighty nomadic group whose name was passed on to medieval Europe as Cathay.

Cathay Pacific’s link to once powerful people of northern China – how the mighty have fallen
Reflections | Is Japan’s refusal to put a female on the throne a plot to keep imperial line unbroken?

Unlike in Europe, where the names of royal families can change with each generation, in Asia such a move would be considered the death of a dynasty.

16 May 2019 - 8:00AM

Unlike in Europe, where the names of royal families can change with each generation, in Asia such a move would be considered the death of a dynasty.

Is Japan’s refusal to put a female on the throne a plot to keep imperial line unbroken?
Reflections | How China’s Shaolin Temple survived multiple attempts to destroy it – by the Chinese themselves

Much like France’s Notre Dame Cathedral, the venerated complex has been razed and rebuilt numerous times.

9 May 2019 - 4:39AM

Much like France’s Notre Dame Cathedral, the venerated complex has been razed and rebuilt numerous times.

How China’s Shaolin Temple survived multiple attempts to destroy it – by the Chinese themselves
Reflections | Anpan – the Japanese red-bean bun that brought a Singaporean widow comfort in her later years

In ancient China, red beans were called ‘seeds of longing’, and, according to legend, one widow’s grief turned her into a red bean plant. The same cannot be said for this writer’s grandmother, who also lost her husband, but she did have a fondness for anpan.

4 May 2019 - 10:45AM

In ancient China, red beans were called ‘seeds of longing’, and, according to legend, one widow’s grief turned her into a red bean plant. The same cannot be said for this writer’s grandmother, who also lost her husband, but she did have a fondness for anpan.

Anpan – the Japanese red-bean bun that brought a Singaporean widow comfort in her later years
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.

26 Apr 2019 - 2:38PM

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