Tuesday, December 23, 2008

今年の漢字 - Chinese Character of 2008

Customary, the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation would choose a single Chinese character (Kanji) that best represents Japan of the past year every December. The submissions are actually sent in by people from around Japan. The chosen Chinese Character that aptly describe of the year’s happening is revealed by the head priest of a temple in Kyoto.

The chosen character that best describe year 2008 is:

Chinese pronunciation as “Bian (4)” Meaning change. Yes, it was influenced by US’ President election campaign, Obama’s slogan - Changes that we can believe in.

Over in Taiwan, they too have similar Chinese character of the year selection. The Taiwanese selected:

Read as “Luan(4)” meaning chaotic. Taiwan ex-president Chen Shui Bian’s money laundering case gathered most attention for the year. All sort of speculations were raised on who is right and what is wrong. It has been quite a chaotic year.

Well, I have been thinking, which of the chinese character would aptly describe Singapore’s happening in 2008. I must say it is not easy. It is very difficult to summarise a whole year’s happening into a paragraph and imagine you can only chosen one character. It took me a few days when I finally found the suitable character just now which is:

Pronounced as “Wu (4)” – meaning “realize”. Like many countries, there are many happenings in Singapore for the past year. Be it good things or bad one, to think in a positive way, these happenings are learning points. While we realized that we cannot take things for granted or that our small country can also shine in International arena, we should learn from all these experiences so that we can improve and be better. Realization in my opinion is better than ignorant. Instead of harping on why, I am glad that at least we “realized” at this point where improvements can be still made.

Strange as it might have sound, but like many others, I was expecting an auspicious year ahead because of number 8. Little did I expect that, it was one of the worst year we ever had. To explain, the character that aptly describes my year would be:

Read as “Xu (1)” Meaning – void, emptiness, false, fake. I was very disappointed with myself this year. Every year during my birthday, I will set some goals for myself to achieve in the coming year. Sadly, this year I had nothing to hand up. I am not sure if I have not been hardworking enough or that I have been deluding myself with a false sense of contentment, nothing runs smoothly this year and many things are not quite of what it seems.

I had a bad start of the year and it deteriorated further downstream. Though superstitious, I am not someone who would just give up and let luck affect my life. However, I am not prepared that lies and honeyed words could sway people’s impression and trust in me that easily. It is all in the mind of perception...

I am not good with my words and perhaps my tone would sometimes offend people, I am and still is a firmly grounded person. Sadly like the Chinese character, perhaps all the things we are seeing now are just part of a mirage in which one cannot tell whether they are real or not. Sometimes, being alone is not the saddest thing, but rather surrounded by people who do not know you is.

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