First published in Chung Wah News, Western Australia, May 199


Sun Zi: "Wars, events of National importance, arenas of life and death, paths leading to existence or demise, matters that we cannot afford not to note".

So said Sun Zi, the Chinese Military author and strategist, who enunciated his "The Art of War" some two thousand four hundred years ago. As Australia enters into an uncertain, rather protracted, non-military "War" between sectors of the community over the race issue, Sun Zi's teaching remind us that, knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly, we are drawn into this polarised socio-political warfare.

Indeed the outcome of this "War" permeates all facets of Australian life. It dictates Australian dignity, moral authority and standing in the world, particularly in its engagement in Asia, countries which sustain the very economic well-being of all Australians. Its importance cannot be underestimated, and is certainly not easily quantified or qualified. On a more personal level, the outcome of this "War" could be felt in the communal relations, security at school for our children and workplace, as well as good-will and understanding towards neighbours, friends, work-mates, clients and the general community.

True to his doctrines, the outcome of the present "War" would depend on five fundamental criteria, that of (Dao, ethics, moral), (Tian, heaven, signifying weather conditions and timing), (Di, earth or battle ground conditions), (Jiang, military generals or leadership ) and (Fa, law). Of all the five factors above, by far the most important is Dao, the rational and politics of why a battle is fought. Many a battle throughout the world have been fought and won with the correct Dao, even though he immediate odds against them seemed over-whelming. The triumph over racial discrimination in South Africa is a classic example. The order of importance of the other four is relatively minor.

No war could or should be fought with indecisive or weak leadership. A laissez faire attitude, or non commitment and participation in this issue only results in the race agenda being set by instigators and provocateurs. Ethnic communities wonder whether those who are being looked upon to for leadership are actually being led; whether they are unwilling, unable or incapable of setting the pace of direction. Their belated reaction to events, rather than proactive initiatives, is easily construed as naive, immature and unimaginative.

The Mabo and Wik decisions, as well as "Stolen Generation" episode remind us of inalienable realities in Australian history and politics. Indeed, race issues can and should be settled in an amicable manner, in a spirit of mutual respect, tolerance and coexistence. Recent incidents only confirm that mistrusts breeds mistrusts, hatred is responded to with more hatred, contempt towards another race only yields in more contempt from other races. On the other hand, love and compassion begets mutual trusts and good-will.

Misunderstandings need to be resolved in a matured, cool and rational manner, rather than being muddled up in emotions. Restriction on unskilled migrants to alleviate unemployment is distinctly different from restriction from specific countries or races. Lost of jobs to Asian or East European countries has nothing to do with the Asians and East Europeans who call Australia home.

The mainstream Australians still cherish the harmonious and tolerant Australian way of life. People with deep-rooted inferiority complex, (occasionally personified by a sense of racial superiority) need to be helped! It is certainly not too late for Australia to pride itself as a country of racial tolerance, rather than a continent of racial hatred and communal mistrust, a place of social instability where the migrants are unable to reconcile with the original inhabitants and neighbours!

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