Of slanderers and liars

25 Sep 2019 / 10:39 H.


WHEN I was small, I used to listen to a ‘voice box’ or cable radio called Rediffusion where I had honed my language skill in Cantonese.

I particularly liked a character called Lee Tai Sor, who wove and spun tales so vividly that had me on the edge of my seat!

One of the Cantonese phrases I learnt was ‘hum heed phun yann’ (drawing in blood and spraying it on to other people).

I found the term interesting as it’s akin to staining the reputation of others. That usually happens at political ceramahs. But it also happens when ‘character assassinators’ are around.

Someone I know (let’s call him Panda) was in the eye of a storm after he was labelled as being dishonourable.

Panda was actually trying to help get a project off the ground, including assisting a jobless guy to hop back into the job market.

But the jobless guy was so full of himself that he tried to show off his knowledge. He said that Panda’s project paper was off the mark.

He went on to claim that Panda had made use of people in his dealings and had done a lot of bad things at his last place of employ.

Panda was completely taken aback. No one had ever told him such things before because, in all honesty, he was highly revered at his workplace.

Of course, Panda came home sad and dejected. He vowed he would not lift a finger to help anyone again although he had always gone by a maxim laid down by his dad.

His father had told him that “when you help someone, don’t expect that person to return the favour but good things will follow from other directions”.

That was why he always gave a helping hand. But after the latest skirmish, he’s a bit more wary now.

Ratty, his confidante (and sometimes foe when things go wrong) told him that he shouldn’t stick his nose out too often. Panda promised to keep his nose clean.

It pays to read what Suzy Kassem, an American thinker of Egyptian origin, said about ruining a person’s reputation.

She wrote: “Never judge someone’s character based on the words of another. Instead, study the motives behind the words of the person casting the bad judgment.

“An honest woman can sell tangerines all day and remain a good person until she dies, but there will always be naysayers who will try to convince you otherwise.

“Perhaps this woman did not give them something for free, or at a discount. Perhaps too, that she refused to stand with them when they were wrong – or just stood up for something she felt was right.

“And also, it could be that some bitter women are envious of her, or that she rejected the advances of some very proud men.

“Always trust your heart. If the Creator stood before a million men with the light of a million lamps, only a few would truly see him because truth is already alive in their hearts.

“Truth can only be seen by those with truth in them. He who does not have Truth in his heart, will always be blind to her.”

I found out that if you’re a dynamic, successful individual, a born leader, highly charismatic, popular, attractive, or all of the above, then at some point, you’re bound to be the target of character assassination due to jealousy and envy.

This is because character assassinators want to take you down before you rise even further.

So, what’s my advice to Panda?

I told him that character assassination has absolutely nothing to do with him; it has everything to do with the person who engaged in it.

As I come to the last paragraph of my column and in keeping with the saying of “all good things must come to an end”, this will also be my final Borak-Borak here because it’s time to welcome more exciting changes on this page.

It has been an enjoyable four-year journey with theSun team who made sure I always stayed sunny and cheery despite hazy and rainy days!

Jeff Yong, after making his mark in the twisty maze of mainstream journalism, has finally decided to enjoy what he does best – observing the unusual and recounting the gleeful. He can be contacted at

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