Monthly Archives: July 2011

Kobe and CP3 in the PI

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Editorial: Getting involved in politics should not be limited by state borders

Originally published in the July 23-29 edition of the NW Asian Weekly

A controversy is stirring in Oregon as United States Congressman David Wu is receiving criticism for out of state donations for his reelection campaign. Wu, a Democrat, is the first Taiwanese American to be elected to the United States House of Representatives. As he heads into a tough season of campaigning to retain his seat in Congress, he has received a heavy amount of donations from Asians, mostly out of state.

“His latest financial disclosure report reveals that about three-quarters of the $230,000 he raised in the last three months came from donors with Asian surnames,” reports the Oregonian.”It’s friends helping friends,” stated Cupertino, California councilman Barry Chang in the Oregonian article, “that’s about it.”

Chang was one of those that helped Wu with fund raising for his campaign in Northern California.  Wu’s list of donors also includes many residents of New York.

One of Wu’s supporters, Howard Li, owner of the New York-based Waitex Group of Companies, reports company revenues exceeding $110 million a year.

Opponents of Wu argue that his donations are coming from outside of Oregon.

Thus, the argument is that Wu is lacking support inside Oregon. The most recent campaign financial disclosure report indicates that only eight percent of Wu’s campaign donations came from Oregon donors. Meanwhile, Wu’s chief opponent, Brad Avakian, has raised $195,000 between April 1 and June 30 with most coming from Oregonians.

While opponents may make the argument that Wu is seeking favor from friends outside the borders of the state of Oregon, he is not breaking any campaign laws.

The fact that donors have “Asian surnames” should not have negative meaning. In fact, it should be seen as a source of pride and community. Notably, Wu’s opponent, Avakian, an Armenian-American, has received donations from the Armenian-American community. But, not as much as Wu. This does not mean that just because you are Asian or Mexican or Italian that you should write out a check to a politician with the same ethnic background. But Wu’s donors show that Asian Americans are increasing its involvement in politics. It also means that they are making a political statement with their checkbooks.

The modern political campaign demands cash and its necessary to seek out campaign funding where you can find it. Out of state contributions does not stop Wu’s opponents from doing the same.

Wu is not the only politician receiving out of state contributions. In the state of South Carolina, Republican Governor Nikki Haley brought in $52,210 in campaign contributions in the past three months. Nearly 88 percent of the money came from out-of-state businesses, political action groups and individuals.

Asian American candidates from Hawaii and California have come to Seattle to raise funds for their campaigns back home. The practice goes back to the 1980s (and maybe farther) to former Delaware Lieutenant Governor Shien Biau (“S.B.”) Woo. He sought help from outside the state of Delaware seeking contributions to his senate campaign.

Race is not only a factor when political candidates seek contributions outside their state. Women candidates have sought funding from outside women’s groups to fund their campaigns.

The amount of money raised by Wu from Asians is a positive sign that Asians are becoming more involved in politics. Contributing to campaigns should know no state boundaries.

It is likely that opponents facing Wu this year may argue to Oregon residents that Wu raised money beyond the borders of Oregon and therefore is not representative of the voters in his district. However, soliciting contributions and serving your constituents are two separate things. The fact that Wu is receiving donations from other states does not mean he would neglect the voters that would reelect him. ♦

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Yao Ming for NBA Hall of Fame

Originally published in July 16-22 edition of NW Asian Weekly

Many National Basketball Association (NBA) fans were stunned when news came down that Houston Rockets Center Yao Ming would retire from basketball. Although he spent just eight seasons in the NBA, his legacy will extend much farther than his massive wingspan and last longer than his time playing basketball. Although Yao may not have had as long of a career as most NBA Hall of Famers, his impact on the game of basketball has been great.

As the top pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, many Americans did not know much about this 7′6″ man from China. Many thought that this was a grand experiment and that he would fizzle out of the league. Some thought his success was based on taking advantage of lesser competition in China and that he would fall apart under the pressure of playing at the highest level. However, Yao flourished. Many found out that Yao was more than just tall. He was athletic. He had nice footwork and a nice shooting touch. In his first season, he was voted to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. He finished second for Rookie of the Year honors. He later became an eight-time all-star.

Yao was a force off the court as much as he was on the court. He was a pitchman for such major companies as Visa, Apple, and McDonald’s. Yao became one of the most recognizable NBA players in the world. His success in the NBA gave the league the opportunity to market the game in China and other countries in Asia. Yao’s presence (and success) in the league fostered the globalization of the NBA. Without Yao, the NBA’s popularity in China would not be as high as it is today. He has become an icon in his homeland and a hero to many aspiring basketball players. He also became widely popular in the United States. Yao’s teammate Chuck Hayes best described the uniqueness of being around Yao, “Michael Jackson was before my time. Elvis was before my time, but if I had to guess, it was like being around Yao Ming.”

In addition, Yao donated $2 million to the relief efforts after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and created a foundation to rebuild schools in the area. He also participated in various charity endeavors including the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program, which conducted events in countries in Asia promoting positive social change, education, and health.

Despite a demanding NBA schedule, Yao continued his commitment to play for the Chinese National team. Unfortunately, the constant play took a toll on Yao’s body. The same feet that allowed him to move with such grace hobbled him. Yao’s last seasons with the Rockets were filled with injuries due to issues with his feet.

Yao’s NBA statistics were impressive. He averaged 19 points and almost 10 rebounds per game. Prior to his NBA career, he averaged 32 points and 15 rebounds in five seasons with his Chinese Basketball team in Shanghai.

It’s unlikely that we will see anyone as important to the global reach of the sport of basketball as Yao Ming. At the early age of 30, Yao’s career in professional basketball is over. Still, his legacy will live on much longer and his popularity will remain. He is truly an ambassador of the game and should be rewarded with the honor of being in the NBA’s Hall of Fame. ♦

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