Sydney’s mayor, Clover Moore, and her Melbourne counterpart, Robert Doyle, are being petitioned about September town hall concerts next month to honor the late Mao Zedong. China’s late leader, perhaps the greatest mass murderer since Ghengis Khan, will be so honoured to mark the 40th anniversary of his death on September 9, 1976.
The concerts’ promotional material says that Mao led China’s democratic revolution and brought 76 years of peace and development to his nation, recovering its international status as a great country: “The concert will commemorate the great leader, as well as (inspire us) to further glorify the Chinese spirit, and expand our dreams. It will illustrate Mao Zedong’s humanitarian personality.”
The two cities’ councils each insist they are doing no more than hiring out their town halls, which they swear are available to all comers. If people don’t like them being used for Mao-worship, they can just suck it up.[i]
The Mao concerts are sponsored by developer Peter Zhu, who came to Australia from China in 1989. He would doubtless argue that Mao was truly loved by his subjects, as proved by contemporary records from the Chinese media. I have a sample from China Reconstructs, published somewhere around October, 1968, which certainly suggests that all criticism of Mao is misplaced.
The first-hand report is by Mr Liu Jun-Hua, a layman who enabled a deaf-mute boy not only to hear but to shout, “Long live Chairman Mao!” The full story is heart-warming. Mr Liu was leading a village in the singing of a Chairman Mao quotation set to music when he noticed a 14-year-old boy staring straight ahead without opening his mouth.
“The meeting started and everybody was talking enthusiastically about what they had learned in studying Chairman Mao’s works. But I just couldn’t get this boy out of my mind. How he must feel! How he must long to sing Chairman Mao’s quotations and cheer, ‘Long live Chairman Mao!’ with everyone else!”
Mr Liu was determined to cure the unfortunate lad. The chief problem was that he didn’t know anything about deafness. So he turned to a relevant “thought” of Chairman Mao for inspiration, and discovered thereby, “We can learn what we did not know.”
He rushed off to the doctors who did acupuncture. He found there was a tiny spot in the ear worth jabbing, but it could only be found by trial and error. But deaf-mutes wouldn’t be able to tell him he’d found the right spot. It looked like he’d have to experiment on his own ear. That would hurt!
“Did I have the proletarian feelings to undergo all this for my class brother? This was a test for me,” Mr Liu wrote. Gritting his teeth, he got a friendly comrade to wield the needle.
“I felt a sharp pain, my head seemed to burn like fire, and I broke into a sweat. He chose another point, and a third, without success. By then I was in such pain that everything was going dark before my eyes. I knew my body couldn’t take it much longer, so I stopped.”
He arranged another jabbing session next day, and the next, but his hearing seemed unaffected and his ear was getting mighty sore. Should he give up? Did he have the ear-marks of a quitter? But then he thought of that deaf boy, staring straight ahead while all the swingers at the commune were crooning numbers such as Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman. The lyrics of Helmsman go,
Fish can’t leave the water,
Nor melons leave the vines.
The revolutionary masses can’t do without the Communist Party.
Mao Zedong Thought is the sun that forever shines.
Alas, those few lines don’t convey the loving gusto with which the communards toom up their hymn to the Helmsman. The clip below might better convey their adoration.
But back to the story of Mr Lui’s unique approach to Mao-inspired medical research. Thirty more ear-raids followed, until poor Mr Liu’s ear was looking like a cheese grater. Then…
“A comrade stuck in the needle. I felt a sudden numbness, a sharp tingling, an ache and a swelling sensation. I had found the right point. I was so happy, I forgot all the pain of the tests completely.”
He seized the deaf boy, Chiang Pao-chuan, by the ear and without hesitation got in four jabs.
“A smile suddenly lit up his face as I put my watch beside his ear. He gestured happily – he could hear for the first time!”
The reader will now be inclined to sit back, bathed in a warm glow and imbued with hope for the betterment of all mankind. But this is premature. Worse agonies are in store. To make a newly-cured deaf person speak, you have to also jab at the right spot in his neck.
“If the needle is not administered correctly, or if it goes a fraction of an inch too deep, it could kill a person. Faced with this, I suddenly thought of the rotten revisionist philosophy of China’s Khruschev – ‘Save your own skin, think only of your own life’.[ii] But Chairman Mao’s words broke through: ‘Whereever there is struggle there is sacrifice, and death is a common occurrence’.
If I were in Mr Liu’s shoes, I’d settle for the rotten revisionist philosophy of China’s Khrushchev, and lay down the needle while my neck was still whole, even at the expense of being labeled “Melbourne’s Khrushchev”. But back to the story as Mr Liu experiments on his own neck…
“The needle in one hand, feeling for the right acupuncture point with the other, I inserted the sharp point. I kept pushing it slowly. Nothing happened at the ‘danger’ point. I pushed it deeper and deeper. All the while, I kept repeating to myself Chairman Mao’s quotation: ‘Be resolute, fear no sacrifice and surmount every difficulty to win victory’. I administered the needle two more times at the back of my neck.”
Mr Liu spares us an account of his agonies on these occasions. Enough that his self-experiment succeeded and then he needle-necked the 14-year-old mute. Here’s the climax of Mr Liu’s tale:
Chiang Pao-chuan looked up one day at the portrait of Chairman Mao on the wall and with a thumbs-up gesture, cried, ‘Long live Chairman Mao!’ Peasants and other patients all crowded around, tears of joy in their eyes. An elderly woman exclaimed, ‘I’ve lived for over sixty years but I’ve never heard of a deaf-mute being able to speak! It is our beloved Chairman Mao who has given such happiness! Only an army led by Chairman Mao could serve us former poor and lower-middle peasants so whole-heartedly!”
But a terrible thought strikes me. What if young Chiang Pao-chuan was merely feigning deafness to get out of singing Our Hope is Placed on You and other catchy Maoist anthems? In that case, would his famous ‘thumbs-up gesture’ to the portrait on the wall have been a complimentary one? If so, and were he to have found his way in the interim to Sydney or Melbourne, we can only imagine the curses and imprecations he will be carolling with other disgusted protesters outside those town hall galas.
Tony Thomas’s new book That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here
[i] Strange, but when Dutch anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders came to Australia in 2013 and 2015 for speaking tours – Wilders himself being long subject to Islamist death fatwas – councils and state governments fell over themselves to deny him civic halls for meetings. In Melbourne he was able to speak in 2013 only at the privately-owned Mirage Reception Centre at Somerton, 30km north of the city.
[ii] “Liu Shao-chi, the Number 1 capitalist reader in China until he was yanked down from his throne during the great storms of the Cultural Revolution. Saboteur of socialist revolution and socialist construction. Mortal enemy of Chairman Mao Tsetung and everything he stood for and fought for.”