Part II – Bear Referendum
Chapter 2 – Behold, Lam Bun
February 8, 1996, Thursday.
What happened during the open-line interview at the 11pm-to-midnight late-show on Chinese talk-radio CHMB AM-1320 frightened Seeu-Sung’s mother so much that she pleaded with him to abandon his enemy-making pursuit, and she didn’t even know what he had to do to escape unscathed, which he concealed from her to prevent a total impasse.
This was the third time in as many months when he was invited to go on the popular talk-show – considering that CHMB was the leading Chinese language radio station, and that there are hundreds of thousands of Chinese living in the Vancouver area. And with every succeeding interview, it got hotter than the one before. In this third interview, a dozen calls came in, of which eight were openly hostile, including: “What is more important – people or animals? Why are you working for animals against people?”, “Our glorious culture dates back five thousand years. Who are you to try to wipe it out or even change it, much less overnight?”, “You’re a Chinese person yourself. Why are you trying to blacken the Chinese reputation?”, “How much are your white cronies paying you?”, and the label, “You’re a traitor.”, and the not-so-veiled threat: “Remember what happened to Lam Bun?”
In 1960, Lam Bun was a 30-year-old radio personality in Hong Kong who starred in a prime time radio satire-sitcom as Tseew Jai, a quick-witted and sharp-tongued teenager who was constantly needling the old traditional culture and jabbing the new Communist Chinese government – a more than irritating thorn in the sides of both. He wrote his own script, and by acting Tseew Jai, Lam Bun was being himself. Lam Bun and Tseew Jai were one. Both being well loved, even revered, as well as being openly hated, not without deadly intent. His fans numbered well over a million, one of whom being the then 16 year-old Seeu-Sung. Though it had never been thought of as such, Lam Bun was in essence very much Seeu-Sung’s role model.
In 1965, Seeu-Sung took his one way flight from Hong Kong to Canada in pursuit of his higher education and, without anyone’s knowing including his own, his higher destiny, while Lam Bun had developed into a towering social activist.
In 1967, Seeu-Sung received one of the worst shocks in his life. If you search Wikipedia for Lam Bun, you will come across the following passage:
[Lam was a radio commentator at Commercial Radio Hong Kong in the 1960s who was fiercely critical of leftists (*Communists). During the 1967 riots, he criticised the leftist agitators on his own radio programmes. He created a programme called *”Can’t Stop If You Wanted To” (欲罷不能) to satirise the leftist agitators. Some leftist newspapers at the time labelled him an anti-China spy.
[On 24 August 1967, whilst on his way to work, men posing as road maintenance workers stopped his vehicle (*a VW Beetle as Anthony recalls it) at the end of the street where he lived. They blocked his car doors and doused Lam and his cousin with petrol. They were both then set on fire and burned alive. Lam died later that day in a hospital; his cousin died several days later. A leftist group reportedly claimed responsibility for the assassination. No one was ever captured…]
During the last commercial break, Anthony excused himself, looked out the front window, and saw a few men loitering around the building entrance. There was a ghetto-blaster on the ground, next to a red gasoline can. He looked down the street, and his black CBR600 F2 motorcycle was half a block away at the street corner. He returned to the studio, and formed an impromptu plan with the host.
Three minutes before the end of the show, Anthony emerged from the rear exit of the building, black motorcycle helmet on, walked the half block down the alley, rounded two corners, mounted his motorcycle and calmly rode away.
In spite of his deep love for his mother, he felt a tinge of deep resentment. He had worked hard to overcome his fears, and to a large extent had succeeded, but as long as he bore his love for her, he would have to take her fear upon himself, and there was no getting away from that. It was annoying to him as an isolated incident on this night, but infuriating as a pattern. He hated the feeling of guilt for denying her of her well-meant wish, but most of all, he hated the feeling of fear, the very existence of it within him making him feel like a coward, and told himself repeatedly to confront it. All Anthony could do was to reassure her that he would be as careful as possible. His mother was not a slow learner. Before long, she gave up on trying to get him to give up.
He used to equate the presence of fear to cowardice, and once said to me, “My species is filled with fear. I’m ashamed to say that I belong to a species of cowards.”
I asked him what most humans live in fear of.
“Disease, loss, accidents, violence, murder, war, death…”
“Do you think that a tiger had less fear than a human.”
He thought about it, but did not answer. I became a little more specific. “Is a tiger in fear of disease? Is he afraid of getting cancer?”
“Uh, no. Because he doesn’t understand what disease or cancer is.”
“How about death? Is a tiger in fear of his own death?”
“No. Same reason.”
“How about war?”
“If I ask you to form a sentence containing the words ‘fear’ and ‘courage’, what would you say?”
He thought at length, then said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but action in the face of fear.”
“Now tell me, does it involve any fear for a bully to beat up a kid?”
“No, not at all.”
“And yet, everybody knows that a bully is a coward.”
“So, considering the number of bullies in this world, you were right, at least in part.”
“That yours is a species of cowards.”
And I hastened to add, “Though, at least in part, yours is also a species of heroes. Behold, Lam Bun.”
I am Raminothna
The Fortunate and the Called Upon
at your service
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)