March 28, 2013

Unity Youth Camp

Date: 20-21 April 2013
Venue: Eastwood Valley Golf & Country Club, Miri
Organizers: Yayasan Perpaduan Sarawak & Sarawak Development Institute

This camp is aimed to provide a platform for youth to voice their opinions, views and ideas on confluence of cultures and unity; to encourage youth to be proactive and actively involved in intercultural bonding activities; and to enhance the understanding and appreciation of Sarawak’s cultures among the young and future generations. Participation is only through invitation.

Further details please contact SDI's office.

Contact Info.
Name: Ms. Evelette / Ms. Arina
Tel: 082-415484/416484
Fax: 082-412799/419799
Websites: /

February 8, 2013

Wishing everyone happiness and prosperity in the coming year! Happy Chinese New Year!!

February 4, 2013

Hissing into the Year of the Snake

Hissing into the Year of the Snake


Potent symbol: ‘The Chinese fear and respect the Snake. Some even revere it as the Dragon God,’ says Simon Chan. Potent symbol: ‘The Chinese fear and respect the Snake. Some even revere it as the Dragon God,’ says Simon Chan.
Here’s a look at some of the Chinese idioms and folklore associated with the Snake as it slithers in at 12.31am today to take its reign as the Chinese zodiac for the year.
THE Snake or Serpent is feared and worshipped in both eastern and western cultures. As the Snake sheds its skin, it has also come to symbolise death and rebirth.
The Snake is distinct from the Dragon, and both have opposite characteristics.
According to The Asian Animal Zodiac by Ruth Q. Sun, “the Dragon symbolises the positive, benevolent, constructive forces of the universe. The Snake is associated with the negative, malevolent and destructive forces.” It also represents deceit and cunning.
Together with the tiger, lizard, centipede and three-legged toad, these creatures are said to represent the Five Poisons.
The author says people born under this zodiac sign are wise and compassionate, but can be vain. They are believed to be fortunate when it comes to finances. Determined and persistent, they hate to fail.
Most Chinese associate any reference to the Snake as bad news. This is made worse by Chinese idioms of the Snake which carry negative connotations.
A person who is hated is labelled a “snake”, a monicker for someone who is unscrupulous. “This person is out to get what he wants by hook or by crook,” explains sinologist Dr Lai Kuan Fook, 70.
“It’s very insulting to accuse a person of having a ‘Buddha’s mouth, heart of snake’ (fo kou she xing). The idiom refers to a hypocrite,” says Lai.
Another spiteful description, she tou su yan (snake’s head, rat’s eyes), is used in character assassination.
“Rat’s eyes refer to the scurrying Rat whose eyes dart about, looking out for the enemy, while foraging for food to steal. Snake’s head describes the Snake which eyes its target and attack. This idiom refers to a person of ill repute.”
A grouping of snakes and rats should be shunned. The idiom, she su yi wo (snake, rat in same hole) warns us of a dangerous liaison of bad hats.
“That’s because the Snake harms and the Rat steals,” says Lai.
The Chinese idiom, long she hun chu (dragon, snake, mingle together), tells of “a mix of good and bad elements; not a pure place.” One has to be wary when this idiom is used.
Then there are well-loved folklore of the Snake.
The most famous and popular Chinese folklore with reference to a Snake is The Legend of the White Snake or Madam White Snake. The tale has been told and retold in Chinese operas, movies and television series.
(According to Wikipedia, a White Snake spirit lives in the West Lake in Hangzhou and practises Taoist magical arts to become an inmmortal after centuries of training. One day, the White Snake eats the immortal pills vomited out by Xu Xian, a youth, into the lake. The White Snake gains 500 years of magic powers and transforms into a young, beautiful maiden.)
Madam White Snake is a tragic love story of Bai Suzhen (Madam White Snake) who is faithful and devoted to her husband but has to suffer the consequence of her wrongdoing, says Lai.
“It tells of a Snake which tries to do good and observe Buddha’s teachings for hundreds of years to free itself and take on the human form of a young woman, Madam White Snake or Bai Suzhen. She then falls in love with Xu Xian, a youth, and gets married,” he says.
“But it is against the law of nature for a Snake to transform into a human. Actually, the Snake has to wait out its time through reincarnation and not practise magical arts as an easy way out. A Buddhist monk (Fahai) goes after Madam White Snake, and catches and imprisons her. ”
The original story is about the Buddhist monk Fahai who sets out to save Xu Xian from the White Snake spirit, an evil demon. However, the horror tale has evolved into a romantic story over the centuries and tells of the forbidden love of Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian.
Lai says the Chinese love this legend which reminds them that true love is not easy as there are obstacles to conquer.
“They admire Madam White Snake’s bravery and her struggles to stay true to her love despite the many hurdles in life.”
The tale also tells of the Green Snake, Xiaoqing, who was grateful to White Snake for saving her life. Green Snake later transformed into a young woman and became the “sister” and assistant of White Snake.
Green Snake stands by Madam White Snake, right until the end despite trials and tribulations. It is a tale of true friendship, Lai adds.
Another legend tells of the Snake which became a Dragon.
“Buddha is said to admonish a huge Snake, saying: ‘Thou shall not kill. If you keep on killing, you will go to Hell.’ The Snake which had been on a killing spree for his meal was advised by Buddha to feed on grass. The Snake asked: ‘How can I go on living without meat?’ Buddha gave the Snake a pearl to put in its mouth and said: ‘Every time you have the urge to kill, the pearl will remind you not to do so’,” recounts Lai.
After 800 years of abstaining from killing, there was a thunderstorm one day. The Snake flew up to heaven and midway, it transformed into the Dragon. The moral of the story is that even the Snake can become the Dragon, says Lai.
“No matter how incorrigible a person is, there is hope of being a better person,” he says of the Snake that has redeemed itself.
Another famous story revolves around Buddha and the divine king serpent.
During the sixth week, while seeking Enlightenment, Buddha was meditating under the Mucalinda tree. It began to rain heavily. A divine king serpent named Mucalinda, coiled around Buddha to protect him from the wind and rain. After the rain stopped, the snake changed into a young man and recited poems to pay his respects to Buddha.
Buddhist scriptures say it was the Naga King Muchalinda (the divine king serpent) who shielded Buddha from the rain.
The Snake Temple in Sungai Kluang, Bayan Lepas, Penang, is believed to be the only temple of its kind in the world. These snakes are said to have been de-venomed but still have their fangs intact.
“It is a mystery how the snakes (a variety of pit vipers) came to dwell in the temple after it was built. These snakes have never harmed anyone,” says Lai.
The temple was built by a Buddhist monk around 1850 in memory of Chor Soo Kong (or Cheng Shui).
Legend says Cheng Shui (who lived during the Song Dynasty [960-1279]) was ordained at a young age. He was also a healer who gave refuge to snakes.
“He was from Fukien province, China, and had supernatural powers. A disciple brought a bottle of water and built the temple in Penang. Soon after its construction, the snakes came to live there,” Lai says.
The I Ching or Book of Changes has a positive reference to the Snake.
Chinese brush painter Simon Chan, 62, says the Chinese fear and respect the Snake. Some even revere it as the Dragon God.
Of the negative association of the Snake in Chinese idioms, Chan says there is a phrase in I Ching about the Snake which has a positive connotation:
che hug zhi qu (the one-foot-long Snake arched its body), yi qiu shen ye (to move forward),
long she zhi zhe (dragon, snake hibernate), yi qiu cun ye (in order to survive).
The first line tells us that a person who wants to gain someone’s trust must practise humility (like a snake which archs its body to move forward).
The second line reminds us to keep calm in the face of crisis and assess the situation; that’s the best way to survive.
On the other extreme, the idiom, ren xin bu zhu, she tun xiang, (a person is not contented, (like) the snake that wants to swallow the elephant) tells of a very greedy person who is never contented.
The idiom, da cao jing she, (beat grass, scare snake) tells one not to alert others before an important plan or mission (as in a police raid).
The idiom, ba cao xin she (pluck grass, search for snake) speaks of an idle person who courts trouble.
The idiom, hua she tian zu (draw snake, add legs), refers to a foolish act in doing something irrelevant. It tells the story of a man who could have won the contest for being the fastest to draw a snake. However, he decided to draw legs for the snake and lost the contest. This is obviously a foolish and irrelevant act.
Then there is this funny idiom: da she da qi cun (beat snake, beat seven inches [from its head]).
Chan says: “It tells you to strike the enemy as its weakest point. But the real message is to ask someone to get straight to the point and set their priorities right.”
To flush out the enemy, there’s the idiom: ying she chu dong (lure snake out of its hole).
To describe a person who is anxious about his plans but whose interest fizzles out, the Chinese say: hu tou she wei (tiger’s head, snake’s tail).
The idiom, jiang long ya bu zhu di tou she (active dragon cannot suppress local snake), tells of how outside forces cannot quell a local uprising.
“One can say that the new outsider cannot topple the existing local leader who is more influential,” Chan says.
To describe a motley crew of characters (like in a jail), there’s the idiom, niu gui she shen (cows, ghosts, snakes and gods).
The idiom, gui you gui lu, she you she dao (tortoise has its own route, snake has its own path), tells of how everyone has his own opportunity and approach to survival.
“Ancient Chinese medical text regard the Snake as the most highly prized for its medicinal value.
“The Snake was used in folk medicine for all kinds of ailments such as leprosy, rheumatism and tumours. Its meat can provide energy and is warming, while snake soup is said to cool down the body system,” Chan adds.

October 8, 2012

Youth NGOs Urged to Reach Out to Youths

The Borneo Post. October 8, 2012, Monday

KUCHING: Youth non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the state have been urged to reach out to youths to understand their needs, hear out their opinions and provide a platform to fulfill their aspirations.

Assistant Minister of Youth Development Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah who made this call yesterday, highlighted the need for youth NGOs to keep in touch with the younger generation so that their activities and programmes could attract youths.

He said even though there were various programmes held by the government, which were good, there were instances where the programmes and activities did not meet the expectations of the youth, simply because the organisers had left out their requirements.

October 2, 2012

Get right education to match state’s policy, Taib tells youths

KUCHING: Chief Minister Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud yesterday called on youths to equip themselves with the right kind of education to blend with the state’s development policy and strategy. He said the development policy and strategy that the state was undertaking was meant to provide job opportunities to the locals, which must be grabbed.

“The picture of our development policy and strategy looks quite good for the growth of our state and Asia, and for that reason our youths must be prepared to equip themselves with right kind of education,” Taib said at the launching of a portal- – at a leading hotel.

September 28, 2012

Taib asks bloggers to protect Sarawak’s, nation’s interests

Kuching: Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has called on bloggers to play their part in protecting both state and national interests.

He pointed out bloggers have an important role to play in the face of the constant propaganda being churned out against the state and its development programmes.

“I’d love to see more bloggers who are not someone who repeat what the international people say. To me, blogger are not a nuisance. They are part of our development to protect our interests. If you (blogger) can do that, we are safe,” he said.