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Chinese Whispers: The True Story Behind Britain's Hidden Army of Labour, 30 April 2008
In 2004, John Pilger edited a book of articles by investigative journalists Gellhorn, Fisk, Hersh and Foot, written over recent decades. Pilger's underlying point is that there are very few people determined to report the world according to facts rather than shoring up the mendacity of the status quo. Instead, most of our news is written and presented as episodic entertainment ensuring confusion and support for those who are determined to control our lives.
Penguin Books has just published `Chinese Whispers: The True Story Behind Britain's Hidden Army of Labour' a book by Hsiao-Hung Pai, and now we all can become aware of another writer determined to expose what passes for civilisation in our voracious people-consuming world.
Wars certainly define our time, but the vast movement of people from rural areas of the world to towns and cities is also profound. According to the United Nations, for the first time in all history, there are now more people in the world living in towns than in the countryside. Why has this happened and who are the people migrating in this epoch?
In Britain, one of the world's economic heartlands, Pai relentlessly tracks down those responsible for and vividly writes about a world occupied by victims of a vicious system. It is a system that requires the degradation, often the death, of people to further enrich that extraordinarily narrow slice of wealthy humanity.
Pai exposes a decaying economic system that requires people to leave familiar homes and villages, and be shunted, at great personal expense, thousands of kilometers to foreign Britain. These undocumented workers never see the statutory minimum wage. In fact, their super-exploitation is nurtured by the very laws that many outside the agency system of supplying labour think are just and protective. Many migrant people expect the stereotypical land of opportunity, but they quickly see for themselves the lies perpetrated to ensure money is accumulated, not for them, but for all those around them who prosper because of their devastating exploitation.
Hsiao-Hung Pai is certainly among that small band of journalists who say: no further will I go down the same road of all those angst-ridden journalists who wearily acquiesce, who willfully obey all that's required of them to sustain the status quo. Hsiao-Hung Pai comes from the other side, from a different and laudable tradition.