Sat, Jan 17, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's News Watch: The Dharma of ‘hero to zero’ skits

By Johnny Neihu 強尼內湖

It was “in” with one sin, “out” with another this week.

Yes, our dear government banned smoking in most public places last Sunday to protect our health. Then it legalized gambling a couple days later to protect our economy. Nice one, guys.

I’m happy to report that this leaves our island’s karmic scorecard unchanged, with the net amount of vice now identical to that of a week ago.

Time magazine’s blog (the future of all journalism) reported: Religious groups in Taiwan protested the decision, arguing that casinos would have a negative effect on society.

Sheesh, lighten up, will you?

The magazine-slash-blog went on to report that South Korea and Singapore experienced similar protests. The solutions? South Korea bans locals from most casinos (in other words, they’re waiguoren-only), and Singapore charges a hefty US$68 entrance fee (but waiguoren enter free of charge — their fleecing comes later).

In Taiwan, my guess is that limiting casinos to the main island of Penghu will do the trick.

After all, only punters with serious time and money to waste are going to shell out the airfare to go to that barren, windswept rock to be parted with more of their cash.

In fact, let’s just go ahead and make Penghu Taiwan’s official vice capital. I call this development plan “Pimpin’ Penghu: Formosa’s Pescadorian Pot o’ Gold.”

We’ll legalize prostitution, recreational drugs, firearms, gangs and murder (within reasonable limits) within the confines of that sadsack archipelago. Basically, it will become Macau circa 1998.

Chinese lovers of vice will be ferried to Penghu free, and no papers required.

Then we’ll allow director John Woo (吳宇森) to film the whole thing and broadcast 24 hours a day on YouTube.

Speaking of justified murder, in Hsinchu this week it was ... The Dharma master, in the hotel room, with a lamppost.

No, this wasn’t some hippie, multicultural version of the classic boardgame Clue. We’re talking real-life, cold-blooded monk-on-monk mayhem between members of a tour group on a “goodwill exchange” from a Chinese temple.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) had the scoop. Chinese monk Chun Ru (純如), 53, killed fellow monk Jing Ran (淨然), 32, in their shared hotel room, according to Hsinchu police, then did himself in by pitching himself off the top story of the hotel.

Wrote DPA: “When they went to the 10th floor to call the pair, they found only Jing Ran, 36, in a pool of blood in his bed, having received blows to the head by the iron support of the table lamp, and Quan Ru [sic] was not around.”

I don’t know about you, but if this is the way Dharma masters go around treating each other, I’ll stay unenlightened, thanks very much.

What was the lamp-packing monk’s beef?

Said DPA: “Members of the Chinese delegation said Quan Ru, in charge of administration at [the monks’] temple, did not get along well with Jing Ran [you don’t say], who was promoted to be the abbot of the temple in November 2006.

“After arriving in Taiwan, they quarreled again because Quan Ru lost his entry permit and Jing Ran chided him.”

So the straw that broke the camel’s back was a stray bit of pesky paperwork. Don’t these guys do relaxation exercises?

Of course, murder’s no laughing matter, and we at NewsWatch mourn the tragedy. Actually, my gal Cathy Pacific alerts me — via e-mail from Green Island — that the monks must not have knocked and asked permission from the room’s spirits to enter, which, as all Taiwanese know, is de rigueur in such situations.

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