Singer-songwriter Chet Lam is an advocate of green living and marine conservation. Here, he challenges young people to reject the tradition of shark's fin soup at Chinese banquets Oh, the ultimate hypocritical luxury, the famous-turned infamous dish found at all Chinese wedding banquets.
The fin itself is indeed tasteless; it is the chicken soup that gives the dish its flavor. I know you know that. It's one of the most prestigious offerings for guests at a Chinese banquet. I know you know that too. What you might not have noticed, or wanted to confront yet, is that people will still choose to eat it or offer it at a ridiculously high market price just to have 'face', the most mysterious attribute in Chinese culture. In other words, eating it is like blindfolding our minds, demonstrating our ignorance - how much 'face' could we have by doing that?
We, the younger generation, can be liberal, forward thinking, making our own decisions based on our own judgment every day. Yet, when something is tied to tradition, our ground is so shaken that we want to play safe, to please our parents and relatives. We argue that if there's no shark's fin soup offered at a wedding, the host family might be thought of as cheap.
I saw an anti-shark's fin ad from Singapore years ago. There was this nicely dressed newly-wed couple standing among the tables, smiling so sweetly to the camera, while slaughtered finless sharks were plied on the floor, all bloody and brutal. That says it all. That's the cost of shallow love. It's greed. Pure greed. It's worse than being cheap.
Some Hello Kitty-loving girls might find the finning of sharks a bit too cruel and decide not to have the dish any more. Stopping all of mankind's violence against one group of creatures because they are 'too cute' is very superficial thinking. Well, if that kind of mentality could stop shark massacres in one fell swoop, so be it. But the truth be told, it's actually not about the killing of creatures for food, clothing, byproducts or whatever. It's about unnecessary killing based on greed. It's about our ability to learn to have a sustainable world that we can enjoy for generations to come.