A dream to realise a dream

Dr Lily Sun Sui Fong never met her grandfather, Chinese nationalist Dr Sun Yat Sen, but she is determined to fulfil his dream of bringing peace to the world. She tells WONG LI ZA about her work of love and passion. 


HAVING been up and about since 6.30am to do radio interviews, Dr Lily Sun Sui Fong looked slightly tired as she walked into the hotel lobby lounge for this 11.30am meeting.  

But she was a picture of energetic elegance in her floral blouse teamed with a white skirt and a bold strand of pearls. 

Madam Sun is driven by the zeal to realise her Chinese nationalist grandfather’s wish for world peace and she was in Petaling Jaya recently to give a lecture titled “International Economic Cooperation Towards World Peace”. 

The lecture, which highlighted changes in the global socio-political order and changing political ideologies worldwide and their effects on world peace, was jointly organised by the BestBrands Council, the Federation of Malaysian Hakka Association and the Women SME Association of Malaysia.  

Madam Sun, who also visited Penang, was the recipient of BestBrands’ “International Personality” award. 

“In China, my grandfather’s teaching is coming back. They are using his Three Principles of the People –Nationalism, Democracy and People's Livelihood, which is not officially recognised yet, but it’s a matter of time,” said Madam Sun, 69, in a gentle yet firm voice.  

(People’s Livelihood protects the economic rights of a nation.) 

“My grandfather’s concept of peace is not only for China but for the whole world,” she stressed.  

PROUD GRANDDAUGHTER: Sun with books on her grandfather Dr Sun Yat Sen whom she described as 'the world's first statesman to advocate international economic cooperation as the key to world peace'.

Dr Sun’s Three Principles is a combination of traditional Chinese culture and moral values with the best of contemporary European and American social, political and economic ideas.  

His idea was to use capitalism to build socialism.  

In her lecture, Madam Sun described her grandfather as “the world's first statesman to advocate international economic cooperation as the key to world peace”. 

“His idea and revolution was a great inspiration and influence to many Asian revolutionary leaders,” she said. 

An architect by training – she graduated from Shanghai Tongji University – Madam Sun turned her back on a booming real estate business in Hawaii almost overnight to focus on getting China to recognise Dr Sun as the founding father of modern China. 

“My grandfather is the national hero, the symbol of the Chinese nation's pride and dignity. Even the whole world says he is a world-class hero. The Chinese should recognise their own hero, their national father,” she said. 

In 1940, amid the war against Japan and the Chinese Civil War, Dr Sun was officially recognised as the Father of the Modern Chinese Nation. 

Dr Sun was known for his role in overthrowing the Ch'ing Dynasty and the imperial system. The goal of his revolution was to transform China into a modern nation by absorbing and merging the best ideas from around the world and combining them with the best of China’s ancient moral culture. 

“I hope that in two years’ time, my grandfather will get the recognition and honour he deserves for liberating China in 1911,” she said at a press conference at the Dr Sun Yat Sen Museum Research Centre in Penang. 

Madam Sun’s goal is also to propagate the thousand-year-old Asian moral culture, which comprises loyalty, filial piety, kindness, love, faithfulness, justice, harmony and peace.  

“Chinese culture is the humanistic philosophy as taught by Confucius, in which each member of society has a duty towards other members, and it is the responsibility of the strong to help the weak so that the whole society can mutually progress,” she explained. 

Madam Sun is currently president of the Hawaii-based Sun Yat Sen Foundation for Peace and Education. She is also president of the Chinese Women’s Benevolent Association of Hawaii and honorary president of the Sun Yat Sen Foundation for Culture, Education and Welfare (Hong Kong).  

She has written two books, Dr Sun Yat-Sen My Grandfather (1995) and An Album in Memory of Dr Sun Yat-Sen (2000). 

A native of Zhongshan, Guangdong province, Madam Sun was born in Shanghai on March 19, 1936, 11 years after the death of her grandfather. She has been collecting photographs and information about him since she was nine. 

It was in 1981 that she began to spread his message of peace. That year, her grandmother had passed away and she had found some tapes of the Three Principles that had belonged to her grandfather. 

“Then grandfather came to me in a dream asking me carry on his work, to ask China to use and execute his teachings. That’s the reason I’ve studied his ideas day and night, working 15 to 16 hours a day,” she said.  

One major outcome of her 30 years’ of hard work was the building of statues and monuments around China to honour Dr Sun as the symbol of China’s new nationalism. A statue of Dr Sun was unveiled in Guilin, China in November last year. 

“This restores his historical position as the national father. That’s my effort for the last 30 years,” said Madam Sun. 

More statues will be built all over China this year, she said. Malaysia has also expressed interest in doing the same in future, as Dr Sun had visited Malaysia and Singapore seven times to raise funds for the revolution.” 

“I am going to be 70. In Chinese age, I need to retire!” she said with a small laugh. 

“But the result is now finally showing so I need to continue working.” 

After three decades, Madam Sun, who lives in Honolulu, said her mission to get people to accept Dr Sun as the national father is getting easier. 

But a lot of work still needs to be done, she said. 

The official history of the Kuomintang emphasised Dr Sun’s role as the first provisional president of the Republic of China. 

However, many historians have questioned the importance of his role in the 1911 revolution, saying he had played no direct part in it as he was out of the country at that time. 

“My grandfather was abroad in the United States but he gave direction and was the main figure in bringing this revolution to the people. 

“In many revolutions he was there but not necessarily in everyone because he was out of the country to raise funds, buy the necessary supplies and talk with foreign governments to accept the new (China) government,” Madam Sun contended. 

Dr Sun also advocated international morality, saying it was the duty of the stronger country to take care of the weak, instead of taking advantage of them. His two favourite sayings were “International Love” and “All Under Heaven Are Equal”. 

“Since the 9/11 incident, the US government has pursued aggressive military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. This has not helped resolve the root cause of terrorism but only deepened Islamic resentment and hatred against the US,” Madam Sun said.  

“The root cause of Islamic terrorism is sympathy for the suffering of the oppressed Palestinian people. 

“During my grandfather's time, he was known to have been sympathetic to the Jewish people because at that time they were an oppressed people. 

“It’s my hope that my grandfather’s call for international morality to aid the suffering and oppressed peoples of the world, such as the Palestinians, will help to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict and to bring an end to the root cause of terrorism and ensure world peace.” 

Madam Sun also firmly believes that China and Taiwan will be united under the vision of the Three Principles of the People

“What I know is in three years, they will restore my grandfather’s historical position. In 2012, they will execute in full scale my grandfather’s Three Principles of the People,” she said  

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