TODAY I came across an old article I wrote of an interview with a young blind Chinese pianist who performed in Kuala Lumpur. That was 20 years ago.
Out of curiosity, I googled him. Lo and behold, he went on to become the pianist who was given the honour to perform at the Paralympics Opening Ceremony held at Beijing National Stadium (the Bird’s Nest) on 6th September 2008!
The following article was published in The Star on 21st April 1993. ____________________________________________________________________
Blind Yuanhui aims to be a Beethoven
KUALA LUMPUR: Nine-year old keyboardist Jin Yuanhui may have brought music to thousands who have heard him play, but he has not been able to see the joy on their faces.
He was born blind.
Yuanhui is the youngest member of the 49-member China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe which arrived here on Monday.
The “baby” of the troupe aims “to be a great musician like Beethoven”.
Having a good ear for music and a strong sense of rhythm, he learned to play the electric keyboard at three and gave his first performance at six.
He plays more than 100 Chinese and foreign pieces and has travelled to Holland, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Hong Kong and Singapore before coming here.
Recently, he narrated a story on TV of a happy blind boy growing up under the care of the society – the story of himself.
Yuanhui, whose father is a mechanic and mother a factory worker in Rizhao City, Shandong Province, practices two hours a day and also jogs for exercise.
Two similar accidents brought farmers Sun Jishu, 29, and Chen Yiqian, 25, together. Both had their right legs amputated as a result at ages 15 and 11 respectively.
They first met in 1987 and a year later, disco-danced to the first prize of the Second National Art Festival for the Disabled Persons. And they have been dancing ever since.
Both are from farming families in Zibo City, Shandong Province.
Recalling the incident that left him crippled, Sun said he thought it was the end of life for him.
“My family kept encouraging me and, after a while, I became determined to challenge the odds,” said the eldest in a family of four.
It was also the same for Chen, the third in a family of five.
“We want to show the world that we are also capable of what the able-bodied can do, and even better,” he said.
Their performance at a charity premier at the Putra World Trade Centre last night left a deep impression on the audience. The troupe will be performing again tonight and tomorrow.
Organised by the Malaysian Confederation of the Disable (MCD) in co-operation with the National Unity and Social Development Ministry, proceeds from the shows will go to the MCD.
HARRIET TUNG, WIFE of the HC of Monaco hosted lunch for the ladies group on this date three years ago, at the Tung’s family home in Deep Water Bay, HK.
She took us on a tour through the residence and provided some historical background of the home as well as some artifacts and family heirlooms on display at the residence. The tour ended with lunch held at an enclosed gazebo that overlooks the sea.
(Harriet’s husband is shipping magnate and entrepreneur Mr Tung Chee Chen, and brother of HKSAR first Chief Executive Mr Tung Chee Hwa.)
WE WENT ON a familiarisation trip to Zhaoqing City, China on April 15-17 back in 2010. The trip for Heads of Mission accredited to the Macao SAR was organised by the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC in the Macao SAR.
What I remember about the three-day trip were the wonders of nature Zhaoqing has to offer – lakes, mountains, caves and cliffs, waterfalls; while its industrial development is fast booming too. I also remember on our final day, I experienced the ride of my life at the newly-opened Guangdong International Circuit!
Our journey from Hong Kong that Thursday began with a ferry ride to Macao. From there, some 30-odd of us packed into two buses, made a brief stop at the Macao-Zhuhai border for immigration and health inspection procedures.
Three hours later, we arrived in Zhaoqing and checked into OYC Hotel. The hotel is set against the famous Seven Star Crags Lake, Qi Xing Yan Park and Ding Hu Mountain; together they form a beautiful backdrop and offer picturesque views.
After lunch, we headed to the nearby Seven Star Crags Scenic Spot. The rain was a little dampening to our sightseeing so I could only imagine the scenic lake on nice clear sunny day. The Star Lake is famed for its cliffs and caves and in particular a group of seven limestone peaks known as the Seven Star Crags. They are named as such due to their natural formations which resemble the seven stars of the Big Dipper constellation.
Another major attractions here are the cliffside inscriptions. There are some 523 stone inscriptions that had been carved since the Tang Dynasty, as well as recent ones by famous calligraphers. It was said that visiting scholars were so inspired by the sceneries and poured their feelings out into poetry, travel notes and even paintings onto the cliffs. We saw the ones mainly written in Chinese but there were reportedly inscriptions in other foreign languages too.
The chinadaily.com.cn wrote that “the cliffside inscription group in the Seven Star Crags is the best in South China in terms of the quantity, density and quality of stone inscriptions. It records… (among others) major historical events and dynasty changes of Zhaoqing. Because of its rich history, the government of Guangdong province listed it as a cultural heritage site under provincial protection in l962.”
Interestingly, there was a site where foreign countries had each planted a tree (to commemorate a prior special event). I found one from Malaysia. It says “michelia macclurei dandy” which is a tropical plant belonging to the Magnolia family.
That evening, the delegation had a meeting with the leaders of Municipal Government of Zhaoqing, including the Mayor of People’s Government of Zhaoqing Municipality Mr. Guo Feng and Vice-Mayor Ms. Huang Ling. Also present was Ms. Lin Jie, Director of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs Bureau of Zhaoqing. This was followed by a 12-course sumptuous dinner.
The next day, we took a 1 hour 15 minutes bus journey to Panlong Gorge in Deqing county. Panlong Gorge is home to more than 100 waterfalls which have been described as rare beauties and acknowledged as some of the region’s most impressive. Opened in 2001, its leisure activities include rafting, hiking, boardwalk and rope gliding. The largest group of waterwheels in the country is also found here.
For us, the visit was literally a breath of fresh air, indulging in pure oxygen as we hiked on the designated path and relished the many wonderful waterfalls along the way.
During the bus journey through the countryside, we saw prevalent farming activities with padi fields and vegetable farms, while the city was a lively one with foreign brands like Nike, KFC and Wal-mart shopping mall.
On our final day, we visited the Zhaoqing Hi-tech Zone and the Asia Aluminium Industrial City.
Then we made a brief stop at the newly-opened Guangdong International Circuit (located within the Zhaoqing Hi-tech Zone) where we also took a tour of the site. The circuit, the second motor sport facility in Guangdong after Zhuhai International Circuit, was completed in 2009 and relatively new when we visited.
When the host asked if anyone wanted to go for a ride, my hand shot up without thinking, without even consulting hubby. Hubby was even surprised! I was one of the four in the whole group. So the four of us (two ladies and two men) were taken to the control room area and there we waited for our turns, I was to be third. I recall the waiting was unnerving. By the time my turn came, I was literally shaking (part nervousness and part excitement). I put on the safety helmet and got into the passenger seat. CG Pakistan took a picture of me with the car but I never got a copy of it. I buckled up as the driver explained that the car would reach a speed of 200kmph at one stretch (the circuit is 2.8 km long with a straight stretch of 718m). Reality hit me then, and I meekly requested him to slow it down a bit! He obliged, we took off, picked up speed, screeched past a few corners and within minutes, it was all over. Still, I came out of it with wobbly legs, and I wasn’t even driving!
Past 2pm, we left Zhaoqing city for Zhuhai. After a 3-hour journey we were back in Macao for dinner hosted by the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC in the Macao SAR.