Category Archives: EZ 45 – Mind Philosophy

Connecting Captains Capturing Contemporaries Beijing 捕捉现代典雅掠影北京

When I first stepped foot in Beijing 20 years ago, it was a big city with a perfect blue sky and most of its inhabitants did not know how to drive. Traffic was pleasant with the exception of thousands of bicycles either on roads or parked like sardines in open spaces near offices or metro stations.

I still remember my customer then Mr. Jia Wujun (贾武军) who had come to pick me up from the airport. While it was a perfectly normal day for me, it was his first day behind the wheels. He was as stiff as a stick as he handled the steering wheel with full concentration moving at the speed of a snail. He and his five brothers were farmers before but decided to take a leap of faith to dabble in a small seafood business when China opened its doors to the international market.



Mr. Jia Wujun (left), Ch’ng Huck Theng (right)

Today, Jia is one of the leading seafood importers in China who owns a factory in Thailand importing big volumes from all over the world in order to satisfy huge local demands. Not remotely a surprise, considering his connection with Thailand, he took me to one of the three Thai restaurants he now proudly owns. Thai Mei (泰美) is a new venture that serves authentic yet not-too-spicy Thai cuisine.

The Chinese have become a lot more well-off although the capital of China today is choke up with traffic jams and hazardous environment where sometimes one will find it difficult to see and breathe. If one would prefer to spend some quality time with fresh air and a ‘peace’ of mind, then award winning hotel Sunrise Kempinski Beijing where I was invited to speak in the China’s Business Family Heritage Forum 2016 (2016中国家族企业传承) would definitely be a good choice to stay. Although the Chinese wealth is exploding and with the expectation of its second generation to continue this fairy tale, many families are facing issues of successions as children inheriting the family business face difficulties in differing cultural upbringing and being raised in a total comfort and well-protected environment. The forum’s primary focus was to bring together foreign companies that have succeeded in passing the baton through generations; to share researches done by local academics; and to explore the success stories of Chinese companies that have performed well in both domestic and international platforms.

如今,作为中国领先的海产进口商之一,他在泰国拥有一家工厂,从世界各地进口产品以应对大量需求,因他与泰国间拥有的商业关系,因此他领我去参观其拥有的3家泰国餐馆之一泰美(Thai Mei)时,我并不感到意外。这是家全新餐厅,提供口味正宗却没那么辣的泰餐。


Hotel Sunrice Kempinski Beijing

Although distantly located away from the city, the hotel offers a near perfect environment for those who wanted to be free from noise and air pollution as described by hotel manager Sebastian Thomas. Its interior has an impressive architectural design served with immaculate facilities especially the fitness centre and the hotel pool. The breakfast menu provides a delicious spread of choice ranging from the East to the West. The hot Chinese soup noodles and healthy yogurt were simply my choice to start the day. One should also try the signature in-house grilled fish and the braised sea cucumber with rice (小米煮辽参) in the Magnolia Chinese restaurant. The double-boiled hasma in papaya (木瓜炖雪蛤) dessert would be an excellent choice to call it a day. The welcoming dessert presentation in my room, I must say, was the best I have seen so far.

酒店虽然远离城区,但不具噪音和空气污染,犹如酒店经理Sebastian Thomas描述-已接近完美,有令人留下印象深刻的建筑设计与完善的设施,尤其是健身中心和泳池。早饭菜单中西餐点兼具,而温热中式汤面和健康酸奶是我开始新一天的选择,还有兰香阁中餐厅著名的烤鱼和特色菜“小米煮辽参”,接着来一碗甜点“木瓜炖雪蛤”更是令人心满意足。至于送到房间的迎宾甜点,对我来说是至今最好的美食体验。

Beijing is a big city conveniently connected by its subway system taking away most travellers’ nightmare of being stuck in traffic. Walking around Wangfujing, this famous shopping area no longer gave me the feeling of old China that it once used to be, but rather disappointingly modern Western brand outlets now occupy the traditional Chinese buildings. Perhaps one of the most interesting scenes for tourists is the street food where exotic creatures such as live scorpions, sea horses, centipedes and worms are offered as snacks to those with strong stomachs. There is also another pedestrian shopping area in close proximity to Tiananmen Square: Beijing Qianmen Street located directly behind Zhenyangmen offers visitors a glimpse of buildings from the late Qing dynasty. Although the main street is filled with typical big brands one could find in any city, restaurants located at the side lanes provide an interesting selection of, said to be, old, traditional and authentic Chinese food.

身为首都大城市,北京交通方便且有完善的地铁系统,使大部分游客免除困在道路交通的恶梦。走入王府井,这个著名购物区浓浓的怀旧感已消失,取而代之的是现代西方名牌占据了传统的中国建筑物,让人有点失望。或许对于游客来说,比较有趣的场景是街头小食包括 : 活蝎子,海马,蜈蚣和虫子等猎奇小吃。至于天安门广场附近的另外一个购物区:正阳门后的北京前门大街景区,也有许多清朝末期的建筑物。主街道充斥着一般餐饮大品牌,但侧边小巷的小餐馆倒是有着传统与老式的中餐。

Beijing Qianmen Street
Mary Goh (left)

Mary Goh, manager of the hotel and also a Singaporean, is not only capable but also full of experience from spending most of her adult life in the hospitality industry in China. When we met for lunch, I must admit that I was a little sceptical when the restaurant served us Peking duck especially after tasting the Signature Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant (全聚德)the night before. However I was pleased to congratulate Mary that the roast duck served at her restaurant was nothing but exceptional. The duck meat was not fatty and the crispy skin was simply delicious especially when the meat is wrapped with freshly made soft pancakes. Another interesting dish immaculately presented and nicely cooked was their God Mother’s Traditional Fried Rice (老干妈炒饭).

北京新侨诺富特酒店的蓬莱阁中餐厅以北京烤鸭而闻名。酒店经理Mary Goh是新加坡人,但她已经在中国酒店业中度过大部分生活时光。午饭的聚餐,当酒店餐厅奉上名菜北京烤鸭时,我是有点质疑的,特别是前一晚品尝过不负盛名的全聚德餐馆之后。可是,尝过才发现这个烤鸭肉无丝毫油腻脂肪,酥脆外皮是纯粹的美味,特别是鸭肉还裹上新鲜软薄煎饼。另一道有趣的主食是现在享誉国外的老干妈辣酱炮制的“老干妈炒饭”,香喷喷的嗅觉诱惑。

Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant

Although the Temple of Confucius located on Guozijian Street may not be as popular as the other sites such as the Imperial Palace, nonetheless, it is a well preserved heritage site that pays tribute to the greatest scholar and philosopher of China – Confucius. It is interesting to know a little more on how Confucius influenced the world through his teachings and are still very much respected to this very day. Furthermore, one can just walk over to the Beijing Imperial Academy located next to the temple where some of the top officials were educated in the olden days. Wu Dao Ying Hu Tong (五道营胡同) nearby, typically known for its small lane is popular for its interesting curio and coffee shops.


Temple of Confucius
Wu Dao Ying Hu Tong

Within walking distance is the newly built Overseas Chinese History Museum of China. It is a museum dedicated to collecting and showcasing the history and current status of Chinese immigrants. The museum provides important information about the Chinese people who are scattered all over the world contributing to the politics and economies in countries where they now live in.


Overseas Chinese History Museum of China

Hunting for antiques in China used to be an exciting affair. Nowadays, genuine Chinese antique pieces are scarce and predominantly either too common or new reproductions that are purposely made to look old. Beijing Curio City (北京古玩城), covering an area of 5.8 acres, is Asia’s largest antique trading centre and also probably the best place to venture if you are looking to add to your antique collection. Within walking distance is the famous Panjiayuan Antique Market where most sellers display items for sale on the ground. A typical Chinese visitor will not only have certain knowledge of what he/she is buying but also exceptional skills in bargaining. Nevertheless, this is an interesting place to be where one will find life-sized Buddha, porcelain, books, paintings, stones, jade and many more. Don’t be anxious or stressed if you’ve bought pieces that are not within the period claimed by the sellers. One must remember the saying of ‘Good things do not come cheap!’

The 798 Art District would be a perfect choice if one wishes to dab in modern and contemporary creations and innovations. Formerly an industrial site that housed many state-owned factories, this area was eventually converted into a place for artists and cultural organisations in 2002. Today, 798 is a holy place for art and cultural lovers where museums, art galleries, cultural centres, themed cafes and boutique restaurants are housed under one single roof.

Beijing is a large city with limitless attractions. While its biggest attraction such as the Great Wall and the Imperial Palace remain the stars of the city, there is a sense that the original attitude, experience and culture of the Chinese people are gradually diminishing. Hopefully it will not end up as a Chinese body with Western souls.




Swedish Artist Showcases the Art of Words 递送艺术箴言

ModernMantra Hermes Home_5.jpg

Swedish-born contemporary artist Thomas Broomé has been actively exhibiting his three-dimensional text art since 2006. Using 3D printing technology and power of calligrams to create drawings and sculptures, text is transformed into key furniture pieces from Hermès. His installation at Hermès Liat Towers, Singapore, connecting the visual and visceral, is inspired from the concept of ‘home’ and objects from the Hermès home universe. Viewers get to engage in a cosy apartment consists wholly of words that draw, shape and describe in rather deranged repetitive detail of each object.

 Hermès’ signature Pippa folding chair has the word “CHAIR” repeatedly printed on it, while the Hermès home valet has the word “VALET” encircling its outline – creating an atmospheric between the real and the false and multi-layered visual play with the eye. Other items including the steps and carpets are divided into two and three dimensions. ModernMantra (Hermès Home) turns our observation into fine line tickling the visual sense between words, visual engagement and reality.

ModernMantra Hermes Home_7.jpg

 “It is about the perception and the difference between what we know and what we see – and how sometimes the two are confused in our perception of things,” – Broomé.

ModernMantra (Hermès Home) continues the series of windows specially commissioned from guest artists around the world, which will be on display at Hermès store at 541 Orchard Road, Liat Towers, Singapore.

ModernMantra Hermes Home_9.jpg

Thomas Broomé,这名瑞典的当代艺术家,以3D文字展现流动婉转的艺术。自2006年开始,他利用3D打印技术和图形诗的优美成像力量创作图纸和雕塑,使文字箴言转化为爱马仕(Hermès)的家具配件主导设计。而灵感来自“家”的概念和爱马仕万有家园定义,他在新加坡 Liat Towers的爱马仕精品店内独具匠心的创作,撼动人们观感与内心。参观者可从舒适的空间观赏到由文字单词绘制、塑造和描述的每个物件,显得繁琐且重复细节。

爱马仕著名的Pippa折叠椅上反复印有“CHAIR”字样,家居多功能衣架上则以“VALET”单词围绕其轮廓,这也在真假映照多层视觉效果之间酝酿了一种氛围。其他物件包括台阶和地毯也分为平面与立体。 单词作画形式(Modern Mantra)将我们的观察扭转为浮动的视觉接触,陷入了虚实相间、亦真亦幻的意境。

“这是关于认知与视觉感受之区别-这两者有时会对我们在看法和判断上形成困惑。” Broomé表示。

Modern Mantra(爱马仕之家)将继续推出特别委托世界各地客座艺术家制作的设计橱窗系列,在新加坡乌节路541号的Liat Towers爱马仕店展出。

Seeing Perfection through IMPerfection- Bronze Sculptures Exhibition 透过不完美端量完美

Rupert Myer (left), Ch’ng Huck Theng (right)

When the moon and stars are aligned, the perfect night is created and in this case, an IMPerfect night of art, wine and friends.

The ‘IMPerfect Creation’ was held in Melbourne’s SpACE@Collins gallery recently featuring award-winning Asian contemporary sculptor Ch’ng Huck Theng’s bronze sculpture creations. Pronounced as “I am perfect”, it was his first solo exhibition in Australia and successfully sold seven out of the 11 pieces on display. The 11 interesting artwork pieces carries its unique story, meaning and philosophy inspired by different people and happenings around the artist.

The opening night was officiated by Rupert Myer, Chair of the Australian Council of the Arts and was attended by more than 150 people, all who were the artist’s close network of friends.

In Myer’s speech, he said:  “This new perspective that Ch’ng introduces is the concept of beauty and ugly – in which beauty cannot be seen if one cannot see ugliness. Ch’ng strikes me as not just a business man, he’s an artist and editor with an inquisitive mind. I know this as he interviewed me for his magazine, Essenze, where he seemed to understand my full story even though the interview was just a short one. Rupert continued by comparing Ch’ng’s concepts and philosophy with Australia’s great including artist Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker. He is a brilliant and talented man.”     





The evening was catered by Humbling Eats, one of Melbourne’s finest caterers for fine cocktails.

“The sculptures show us social behaviour that we encounter daily, or that we ourselves act out consciously or unconsciously. Each piece tells a deep story and most are from my experience too,” said Ch’ng.

Some of the pieces are more personal to him. “Princess Liberty for example, depicts the time when my daughter went to study in university in Australia. So she’s riding a horse which also represents the plane, but I named it Princess Liberty because even though she’s away from home and grown up, she’s still daddy’s little princess.

I hope that my art will make us look deeper into our own hearts when faced with issues and problems,” Ch’ng said.

It takes Ch’ng almost six months to create one sculpture and the heaviest piece named “Angel of Love”, weighs more than 100kg.

Ch’ng is currently one of the leading artists and sculptors in Malaysia as this year marks the artist’s 22 years in art. His works are collected not only in Malaysia but around the world by respected institutions that include the National Visual Art Gallery Malaysia, Singapore Art Museum, Hong Kong University Museum & Gallery, Shanghai Art Museum and Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA) in Paris. 

The Collectors


“IMPerfect 创作”在墨尔本的SpACE @ Collins艺术画廊举行,这是屡获殊荣的亚洲当代雕塑家庄学腾的青铜雕塑作品展览会。这是他在澳大利亚首次个展,名称发音为“我很完美”,并在11件展品中成功卖出其中7件。而全部 11件的趣味艺术作品带有环绕着创作者身边人与事的独特故事,意义和哲学灵感。

开幕仪式由澳大利亚艺术委员会主席Rupert Myer主持,逾150人出席参与,显现艺术家丰富绵密的人际网络。揭幕礼贵宾Rupert Myer表示, 庄学腾的作品以新视角解析美丽和丑陋的概念 – 如果一个人看不到丑陋,同样看不见美丽。


墨尔本最佳精品鸡尾酒供应商之一 Humbling Eats 也承担晚会餐饮。





An appreciation dinner with all the collectors from the IMPerfect Creation Exhibition.

Ostarrichislam Islam in Austria


By Adline Abdul Ghani

Maria Theresia, the only female ruler of the Habsburg wore a Turkish costume while holding a facemask.

When we think of Austria, instantly visions of classical music, the alps and good coffee come to mind. But in order to introduce the Malaysian public to a lesser-known part of Austrian cultural history, the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM) and the Austrian Embassy in Malaysia, alongside the IRPA (Hochschulstudiengang für das Lehramt für Islamische Religion an Pflichtschulen) and Al Hamra Publication presented a unique exhibition entitled ‘OstarrichIslam: Islam in Austria.’

Rebab is one of the oldest instruments introduced by Muslims.
The Yunus Emre Fountain, a fountain in Ottoman design given to the Austians as a gift in 1991 by the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey.

The exhibition is a historical documentary inspired by the distinctive yet controversial history of Islam in Austria. Its storyline is based on the book Ostarrichislam: Fragmente Achthundertjähriger Gemeinsamer Geschichte (Ostarrichislam: Fragments of 800 Years of Shared History), published by Al Hamra and edited by Amena Shakir, Gernot Galib Stanfel and Martin M. Weinberger of IRPA.

First tracing the arrival of the Pechenegs (a semi-nomadic Turkic people from Central Asia) in Austria in 996 AD, who resided in the Hungarian plain, the exhibition then follows the Ottoman-Habsburg Wars. Finally, it addresses the ruling of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the immigration of Muslims from other countries, especially from the Balkans.

The Habsburg Empire, which was nominally Catholic, dealt with several religions during its rule. Since 1867, respective religious groups had the right to join public religious practice, as well as the independent administration of relevant internal affairs. However, they were all subject to state law. In order for the different religious groups to maintain equilibrium, without discriminating Islam, the Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph introduced the Islamgesetz (Islamic Law), which guaranteed the equal treatment of Muslims and Islam within an “Austrian System”.  It succeeded in dividing the Islamic Dschemat (Islamic Society) into different administrative units (Dschamija), which presided over a total of eight muftiates and the chief scholar (Reis-ul-Ulema). The law also enabled the foundation of the Islamic Religious Community in 1979. Thus, the legal model of a modern European society was created, which gives Islam its place, recognises its value and is aware of its contributions.

Stanfel expressed his delight for this exhibition, saying, “Austria is primarily seen as a country that has no connection with Islam other than the history of the siege of Vienna by the Ottomans. Moreover, the connection between Islam and Austria is less known to the general public including those in Austria. Hence, we hope this will educate people on the story of Islam in Austria. We also would like to show how much Islam has influenced the Austrian culture, the fact that this history is not really known in Austria too.”

The harmonious after-effect of clashes between Islam and Austria has significantly infused Islamic tradition into Austrian culture. Therefore, influences of Islamic art and aesthetics can be seen through the architecture, with the use of domes and geometric designs.

There are 805 out of 1233 graves at Lebring in Styria, belongs to the Bosnian Muslims soldier who fought for Austria during the Firsr World War.

There are 805 out of 1233 graves at Lebring in Styria, belongs to the Bosnian Muslims soldier who fought for Austria during the First World War.

Stanfel explains, “Something that starts as unfamiliar has become something close to home and become part of our own. The Islamic element in Austrian culture does not happen in one way, but various ways such as immigration, trade, cultural contacts and also violent ways like war.”

Through the exhibition, Stanfel wishes to show how a religion influences a culture even though both are not connected – a fact that is very important in this globalised world, where cultures and religions constantly come together in many ways and are not fixed to geographic locations.

The exhibition, OsterrichIslam: Islam in Austria, was displayed at the IAMM from 13 October to 31 December 2016.

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