After a series of denied by our politicians and police chief over the past years about the existence of racism in Australia, the Gillard Government has finally found the political courage to confront the issue head on by announcing that the government will launch a nationwide campaign against racism and will restore the multiculturalism portfolio after dumping it following the 2010 election. (Daily Telegraph, 17 Feb 2011)
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen outlined his concepts of multiculturalism (Brisbane Times, 17 Feb 2011) with the following key points:
1) Our multiculturalism is underpinned by respect for traditional Australian values.
2) Australia will respect different cultures, however, if there is any inconsistency between these values and individual freedom and the rule of law, then these Australian values win out. They must.
3) Secondly, to enjoy the full benefits of Australian society, it is necessary to take a pledge of commitment.
4) Australian governments do not defend cultural practices and ideas inconsistent with our values of democracy, justice, equality and tolerance. Nor should we.
5) Intolerant interpretations of religion do not align with Australia's values, principles or laws.
From the outset, the above listed 5 points seem to be reasonable, however, when the term ‘Australian values’ is repeatedly used in a vague and undefined manner, the whole problem with racism is back to square one. The logics are very simple:
What is “Australian values” or “traditional Australian values”?
From the above 5 points mentioned by Mr. Bowen, we may pick up the following key words as Australian values:
b) Individual freedom
c) The rule of law and Justice
The hollowness of the term “Australian values”
The above 5 objectives are the dream of every mankind. Anybody who is familiar with Confucius philosophy dated back 2,500 years ago know that the above 5 principles has been a part of his teaching. The only different is that, he defined them in a different manner base on the political, economic and social culture at that time. Unlike the way our politicians talk about “Australian values” in a vague and ambiguous manner, Confucius has a very precise and clever way of promoting a series of values between leaders and peoples to maintain an orderly society, and also a series of principles between people and people to maintain social harmony. Just to name two examples,
1) 人民如水 (People like water)，水能载舟(water can carry boat),亦能覆舟(can also sunk boat).
This is about people power. The world first concept of democracy whereby Confucius urges leaders to respect and care for the well being of the people. This is perhaps the reason why throughout Chinese history dating back thousands of year, governments are genuinely concerned about the well being of the people whenever there is a natural disasters. Government also involved intensively in the building of dams, water irrigation system to ensure agriculture production to feed the population. In fact, if you visit Sichuan next time, ask your tour guide about the 2000 year old ancient irrigation water way, they will tell you that its has survived the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake.
This 2 part series Video show us the speed and quality of reconstruction two years after Wenchuan Earthquake in China.
This 3 part series Video show us the rebuilding progress in one of the minority village and the amount of subsidise and assistance the Chinese government provided to the villagers.
British Journalist, Peter Foster, after being transfer from India to Beijing by The Telegraph, was surprised at “how sensitive the country’s autocratic leadership is to public opinion.” The reason Mr. Foster used the term ‘autocratic’ is because he, like many westerners do not understand China. This is the link to the content of his full article: China v India: two kinds of people power.
If you are interested to make further comparison about government caring for the people in needs, do a simple research yourself base on the following questions:
a) What kind of assistance the Australian government provided to the 2009 bush fire victims in Victoria over the last 2 years?
b) How many homes have been rebuilt so far and how many still sitting in the Council office waiting for approval?
c) What happen to the 700 families without insurance at the time of the bush fire?
If democracy is about government listening to and caring for the people in needs, Confucius has definitely doing a better job than the so-called “Australian values”.
2) 己所不欲，勿施於人 (Don’t do to other if you do not want them to do to you)
This principle regulates the relationship between people. Confucius want people to think first before doing anything to inconvenience or harm others. Anything that we do not like other to do to us, don’t do to other. The Confucius message is simple and easy to understand. This principle can only be successful if we respect other as equal. It also help to build a tolerance society as one has to always consider one own feeling if place under the same circumstances before doing any silly thing against other.
In fact, if we can apply this same principle to regulate the relationship between countries, I believe that the world will have fewer wars.
Now, let’s examine the concept of so-called ‘Australian values’ in practice:
In order not to make this article too lengthy, I will use only one example for each of the above 5 listed values to prove that, the term “Australian values” is nothing more than a hollow political slogan and an expression of culture superiority of one culture over the others. For examples:
Aren’t we just witnessed the overthrown of an elected Prime Minister 8 months ago by a handful of privilege people within the ALP in a political coup ? (Herald Sun, 25 June 2010)
b) Individual freedom:
Aren’t our government in the process to censorship the Internet? (The Australian, 21 Jan 2011).
c) The rule of law and Justice:
54 year old Australian born Mamdouh Habib was arrested in Pakistan after the Sept 11th attacks. He was tortured while held in Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay before finally being released in January 2005 without charged.
Over the last six years, he sued the Australian government for aiding and abetting his torture by foreign agents. The government denied their involvement and refused to compensate him over his ordeals.
However, 2 weeks ago, the government suddenly decided to pay him an undisclosed amount under a secret deal to keep his mouth shut and withdrawn his lawsuit. (detail in News Limited, 8 Jan 2011)
However, the Australian government still refused to return him his passport and allow him the freedom to travel. Few days ago, Mr. Habib decided to make public the background story that lead to the Australian government sudden decision to settle the compensation with him. (detail in WA Today, 13 Feb 2011).
Note: This story tell us the following information: The final payout of an undisclosed amount to Mr. Habib after 6 years is the result of the rule of law; the torture without charge for 3 and a half years under the present of Australia government official, and the subsequent 6 years of covering up and lying about the existence of torture of an innocent citizen to prevent compensation is an indication that our government fail to respect the rule of law, justice and basic human rights.
The continue deprivation of Mr. Habib the freedom to travel without any evidence of his wrong doing is the deprivation of basic human rights, civil liberty, and justice. It also represent the gross abuse of power by the government.
All these incidents demonstrated the deficiency in our legal framework and the lack of respect for the concept of the rule of law.
It is worth noting that Nelson Mandela (former South Africa President) has once been listed as a terrorist as well.
This story is about how some of our judges using their special position to discriminate against our FIRST Australian. Please read this report: Kirby's last blast: my fellow judges racially biased (WA Today, 2 Feb 2009) for detail. As this story is only the opinion of a retire judge, I therefore provide one actual example to proof that Judge Kirby observation may be accurate: please click on ‘Black and white justice’ (NINE MSN).
We tolerated publicly held race-hate music festival to go ahead on the Gold Coast, we also allow organised racially motivated race hate rally against immigrants and Islam to go ahead on the street of Melbourne. We even allow the drive by shooter of a mosque in Perth using an illegal fire arm to walk free with just a few thousand dollar fine.
However, when a mother of two with an un-specify ‘extreme religious view’ living with her two children age five and seven in Yemen, our government suddenly withdrawn her passport, and allow the notorious Yemeni security officials to detain her and held both her children on house arrest and been left to fend for themselves. The story is here. There is apparently, no following up report by our media about the well being of this family.
The concept of “Australian values” need to define in Confucius way
As demonstrated above with examples, the concept of the so-called “Australian values” has not been upheld in practices. Therefore, it is a hollow concept. Our politicians have the responsibility to define them with examples or at least using Confucius method to describe those values so that, our leaders themselves and law enforcers understand the actual meaning of our “Australian values”, and are able to apply them equally and fairly to all in our society to prevent the appearance of double standard in practices.
Migrants are second class citizens with an inferior culture under the new multiculturalism campaign
The problem with the Australian politicians is that, whenever they talk about “Australian values”, they seems to assume in general that, migrants don’t respect the concept of democracy, personal freedom, human rights, etc.
The reality is, when one was unable to uphold and practice the so-called “Australian values” listed by Mr. Bowen, the term itself has become nothing more than a racist slur with the purpose to demonstrate a hollow sense of superiority of one culture over all others.
As a result, when there is a conflict in opinion, the superior culture view regardless of how hollow and ambiguous they might be should always prevail. Using Mr. Bowen own words: “If there is any inconsistency between these values and individual freedom and the rule of law, then these Australian values win out. They must.”
The only way to uphold a value is through the rule of law and the mechanism to monitor and enforce those laws
I have been living in, studying in, working in or simply travelling to as a tourist to around 20 countries over the last 30 years. I only came across the concept of who is right and who is wrong under what circumstances whenever a dispute taken place. This kind of dispute can be resolved through sound reasoning and logic. Common sense can easily prevails as parties involved can use normal heart to put one shoes into the other. Nobody has attempted to expressed superiority over the other.
Every country has its own set of written law and court system. If anyone violated any of those written law, they will be subjected to the jurisdiction of that country. It is a simple, straight forward, fair and transparent matter. Regardless of who you are, where you come from, under the law, all men are equal.
The problem with those so-called “mainstream” in Australia (as they like to call themselves) is that, through their own act, they have consistently demonstrated time and against that, they are having difficulties in upholding and practicing the very ‘values’ they preaches, and yet, they still keep using the term “Australian values” to lecture others.
Therefore, as long as we continue to use the hollow term “Australian values” to express the superiority of one culture over the others, this artificially imposed concept of ‘US and THEM’ will always be there and there will never be any sense of ‘EQUAL’ in this society.
The best and most effective way to eliminate racism is to put in place a legal frame work to ban race hate music festivals, rallies, websites, leaflets and whatever publications that incite racial and religious hatred like the Singaporean government did, and also the examples of Germany and Austria did to Nazism after the Second World War.
For those who are interested to learn more about how racial and religious harmony is maintained in Singapore, and as a result of those government policies, Singaporeans of all ethnic groups enjoy a kind of freedom and human right not found in Australia, please read my earlier article: Culture of bigotry hindered Australia ability to integrate with its Asian neighbour.
Australia government censorship news: Few months ago I read on the internet that Indian film maker produced a movie “Crook” telling the story of racism in Australia. As a result, I visited a nearby Indian DVD shop asking for a copy of the DVD, I was told that the Australian government has banned the movie.
I have no objection with this kind of censorship. My only question is, why didn’t our government ban all other materials, music and rally that incite racial and religious hatred against migrants as well?
Apparently, the rule of law need to be monitored and enforced as well to uphold our “Australian Values” of equality, fairness, justice and tolerance.
Outlaw the use of “Mainstream” and “Australian Values”
By the way, I would like to propose to the government to outlaw the use of “Mainstream” and “Australian Values” as a first step towards a fair and equal society. The “US and THEM” mentality must first be removed to solve our die hard racism problem.
Written on 22 Feb 2011