Wee Kek Koon

Wee Kek Koon

Latest from Wee Kek Koon

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
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 - 10:45AM

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.

15 Nov 2018 - 10:41PM

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