I am a pure Hakka Chinese. The Hakka people migrated southwards in China several times because of various undesirable stuff happening – such as foreign invaders coming a-slaughtering.
The locals didn’t like their turf being stepped on, and called these people ‘Hakka’ or ‘outsiders. The name stuck, and the outsiders started referring to themselves as Hakka.
With a large presence among the Overseas Chinese, the Hakka with their long acquaintance with persecution, exile and forced migration represent an epitome of Chinese hardiness and survival.
Now, the Hainanese are known for their cooking and opening of restaurants and coffee-shops.
The Hokkien are famous for bak kut teh (pork ribs soup) and char kway teow dishes. And also for songs and parodies that somehow aren’t as funny in any other dialect. Case in point: Ah Long Bukit Beruntung.
What about the Hakka, what are they well known for? Apparently, the Hakka are famous trouble-makers! (They even have a set of martial arts, the better to wreak vengeance upon their enemies).
I found out from my dad that Hakkas have produced a lot of great and famous men, including a lot of ‘outsiders’ who were controversial and noisy enough to get themselves kicked even further out! It seems like even after migrating once or more, prominent Hakkas these days still have to ‘migrate’ the way their proto-Hakka ancestors did!
Even the Wikipedia entry’s introduction says it! - The Hakka have had a significant influence on the course of Chinese and overseas Chinese history: in particular, they have been a source of revolutionary and political leaders.
And so, here I present to you some great Hakkas – many of whom were unceremoniously kicked out of their places, yet managed to thrive nonetheless.
Lee Kuan Yew, who had a Hakka great-grandfather, had his resourceless Singapore kicked out of Malaysia just 2 years after joining it to gain independence from the British. Singapore today has overtaken Malaysia, with a currency more than 2 times as strong.
Thaksin Shinawatra (there’s a surprise!), also with a Hakka great-grandfather, was ousted in a bloodless military coup while he was overseas. After which he went to London and bought the Manchester City Football Club.
Sun Yat-sen (likely a Hakka), the Father of Modern China who helped overthrow the Qing dynasty, and co-founded the Kuomintang was the first provisional President of the Republic of China, but was later repeatedly rebelled against and was repeatedly exiled.
Deng Xiaoping, a leader of Communist China, who brought the nation out of the vagaries of the Cultural Revolution into prosperity, but was also the one who cracked down on the infamous Tiananmen Square protests. Hakkas were also among otehr top posts in the echelons of Communist power.
Yap Ah Loy, Kapitan Cina whose leadership through unrest and violent clashes and later development of Kuala Lumpur helped it become the capital city of Malaya.
And of course, that most looked-up to Hakka, Hong Xiuquan, leader of the Taiping Rebellion. Hong Xiuquan took control of large areas of Central and Southern China and set up a Christian-based theocracy – the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace. The exams for officials were even based on Bible knowledge!
Ironically, his Qing opponents got help from the ostensibly Christian French and British to defeat the Heavenly Kingdom and restore the status quo (namely Confucianism, which 100 years later would replaced by atheistic Communism).
Then again, Hong Xiuquan had quite the unique doctrines… Such as that Jesus was not divine but merely God’s first son, and Hong Xiuquan was God’s second son and thus Jesus’ literal younger brother! But apart from that, the Heavenly Kingdom strove for some pretty admirable reformations – if badly carried out and brutally enforced (and I’m not saying that just because I’m a Hakka).
In fact, what with the classlessness and socialization, the later Communists would definitely have approved of the Heavenly Kingdom – just replacing Hong with Mao, and God with man.
Throw in the Hai San of the Larut Wars, and it looks like Hakkas pretty much stir up trouble wherever they go! Hey, I’m blogging controversial aren’t I? Need any more proof of Hakka meddlesomeness and mischief making? :p
Anyway, Hakka leader Chung Keng Quee later was a signatory of the Pangkor Treaty that ended the fighting (and gave the British a foot/strangle hold in Perak). And from that treaty, the town of Larut was renamed – Hakka drum roll please – Taiping !
PS. If you read Hakka – I mean, Chinese, you can check out www.hakkaonline.com