Thursday, 24 March 2011

David Cameron's Big Society & its British Born Chinese Architect

Big Society Tsar Lord Wei, Nat Ming Yan Wei 韋鳴恩勳爵
Ben Chu’s Independent article is a poignant story about the Chinese Housing Association 'Tung Sing' and Chinese charity 'Wai Yin' and their role in resettling his Chinese grandmother (who cannot speak English) in Manchester.
Non-profit organisations such as Tung Sing, Wai Yin and the Chinese London Law Centre (CLLC) rely heavily on government funding to provide services for the British Chinese Community, however they have become the latest to be hit by the governments cost-cutting 'Big society.'

"Tung Sing is grappling with the consequences of reductions to the "Supporting People" budget, a central government grant to local authorities designed to help vulnerable people, such as the infirm elderly, the disabled and people with learning difficulties, to live independent lives.”
But there is more to the ‘Big Society’ than merely austerity cuts, there is a darker ideological side, as Ben Chu explains...
“Some have a different objection to organisations such as Tung Sing and Wai Yin. By providing translators for people whose grasp of English is shaky, these bodies promote cultural segregation, discourages beneficiaries from ever learning English and fosters ghettoisation."
"Right-wing pressure group the TaxPayers' Alliance, wrote on the ConservativeHome website last year: "It's time we stopped spending taxpayers' money on a policy which keeps the different elements of our society separate rather than bringing us together." Proponents of this "translation-bad" view have had the wind in their sails since Cameron proclaimed an end to "the doctrine of state multiculturalism."
Little Englander’s have a natural aversion to these ethnic associations, any inkling of a person's ethnic heritage isn’t palatable to British society unless they have assimilated and show fluency in English. For example, look at how white washed the ethnic Tory MP's are, that is what it means to be British. Thus, the ghettoisation blame game is heavily ladened on immigrants for their failure to integrate as opposed to the indigenous population for not wanting to live next door to them. 
What is amiss about this story is that the architect behind the Tory ' Big Society' is not Caucasian Prime Minister David Cameron, but a Chinese, to be more exact a British Born Chinese - Lord Wei, (Nat Ming Yan Wei 韋鳴恩勳爵) the youngest and the first BBC peer in the House of Lords and the third Chinese peer in total (after Baronness Dunn who resigned to avoid paying domicile tax on her global income and the late Baron Michael Chan)

Lord Wei explains the 'Big Society'  is about giving, not taking, philanthropic capital as he calls it. At face value, there are similarities with Hong Kong, in economic textbooks, Hong Kong is defined as the archetypal free market economy with small government and a strong emphasis on charity fundraising, donation and community. Indeed, Lord Wei’s ethnic heritage is Hong Kong Chinese, but that is where the similarities end. His influences are not Chinese but American, he admires George Bush's theory of Faith and the Community. Again, the UK draws inspiration from the USA, rather like Anthony Gidden's and the Third Way, the precursor of which was American Communitarianism.
He explains, “Faith is important to me, and being part of the church meant that unlike other Chinese children I was exposed to lots of people from different backgrounds,"
His background is not exactly orthodox BBC, Oxbridge alumni, his father is a pastor from Hong Kong, his wife is Chinese (on Facebook), however for some reason, one cannot stop making comparisons with those types of FOB Chinese Christian women who usually marry White men and then try to convert their local Chinese Association Chinese female friends (who are Taoist Buddhist) into joining the local Christian group. 
Chinese Confucianism doesn't just revolve around duties to your immediate family but also your extended family, but the west doesn't follow this model of thinking, it’s grandiose to expect westerners to help the community if they are unwilling to help their extended family first. Modernity demands individuals adhere to the nuclear family model and that 'career must come first.' For example, why doesn't Ben Chu himself with a cushy job as a lead writer for the independent newspaper, spare a few hours or offer financial aid to help re-house his own grandmother? Why doesn’t she just live with him instead? Why does she need to rely on the Housing Association for housing or local charity for language translation? It is because modernism demands the state or private or non-profit sector should assume responsibility for care for the elderly rather than their own family. It is also the consequence of miscegenation. The difference between having grandchildren who are pureblood Chinese and having mixed race grandchildren such as Ben Chu, the latter cannot speak Chinese, therefore cannot help their elders with translation duties. His father should have considered his grandparents needs before embarking on an interracial marriage that ultimately failed.
Its normal for many BBC's to  have parents and/or grandparents who cannot read or speak English, many parents of traditional confucian thinking reproduced children with the expectation  and a filial duty placed on them that they will care for them when they're old. BBC’s have to perform regular translation duties  accompanying elders to dentists, doctors, interviews , filling in forms etc, all manner of tasks that involve the English language. The status is technically a part time carer, yet many BBC's never consider themselves as that, it is not just a responsibility to look after elders, it is in fact a filial duty. 

The process of translation is far from easy not knowing medical technical terms in Cantonese, quite often one encounters condescending White doctor’s who say...
“How long have they been in the UK.  Why they can’t speak English after all that time? Do you have to translate everything for them?”
 Their eyes are awash with a sea of disgust when encountering patients that cannot speak English and haven’t fully assimilated to the required standards of what it means to be British.  
Many BBC’s perform these tasks that other people take for granted, BBC’s receive no credit, no accolades, no peerages, they are already performing the role of the state by providing unpaid translation. If people looked after their elders rather than dumping them on the state, that would relieve the pressure on the state, but of course nobody wants to follow the traditional extended family model, it is incompatible with modernity, that is why these ethnic Associations play such an important 'filling' role for the British Chinese Community.
Sources: Lord Wei Blog Big Society:"


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. You mixed the content of this article of politics with Chinese family duty tradition. Then it got confused bringing Nat Wei into the mix without a solid conclusion. I think this article should be split into 3 parts respectively. Sorry im only criticising because your other articles are so well written.

    Anyway to address the Lord Nat Wei part: hes basically a white guy playing the political game. We should acknowledge by now that Chinese wont go into any industry unless theres big money attached and in this case its not about political change its about kissing imperialist butt.

    Actually Lord Nat Wei has all the credentials of a typical Chinese sellout yet he ticks all the boxes you would count as being a full blooded Chinese. ( Chinese wife, from HK, etc etc). Which goes to show that the fundamental problem is in the oh so elusive Chinese consciousness itself. On a wider note id call it the East Asian global consciousness . The solution is simple: DESTROY WHITEYS IMPERIALIST CULTURAL ENSLAVEMENT

    1. Except for the Dole Office, of course!