Hyphen Lynks: Bad Stereotype! Edition

April 7, 2009


Ahhh, for the good old days, when we didn't know our house was built on sand. (You know, there's nothing inherently wrong with building on sand, as long as there are no earthquakes or floods or landslides or nothin'. So, you know ... don't build in California. Or Louisiana. Or ... anywhere you'd actually want to build. Then it's a sound policy.)

Anyway, to bludgeon an already dead metaphor, our government built our house on a sand landfill in the San Andreas Fault, installing our gas and water mains across the crack. So it's no wonder that the faucets keep exploding and little jets of methane-fueled flame keep erupting from every mousehole. The only real question is if the whole thing's gonna blow.

And, of course, wherever there's a moneymaking scheme gone awry, there's an Asian American slinking around. Right? Am I right?

And the nominees for this week's Reinforce a Negative Stereotype Award are:

  • Sanjay Jha, the CEO of Motorola, who is America's most overcompensated CEO at, wait for it, $104 million. Or should the nominee be Vikram Pandit, who was the top paid CEO inside the bailout at $38.2 million? Do I need to comment? The jokes just tell themselves.


  • Weichen Tang, the "Chinese Warren Buffett", who will soon become the Chinese Jimmy Buffett if he ain't careful. ("But I know ... it's my own damn fault.") Tang is accused of running
    a Ponzi scheme that bilked the Chinese-American community out of $75 million, the SEC said. Weizhen Tang admitted in February to misusing client cash. The SEC has hit Tang, 50, with an asset freeze.

    The best part is, he has a blog.


  • Quang-Sheng Shu, the Chinese American rocket scientist (yes indeedy) who sold defense sekrits to da Chinese Chinese. He'll probably get only two years for being so damn cooperative to the po-lice.
    "Dr. Shu would even go home at night, tasked by the agents to work on certain items, and Dr. Shu would always return to the next meeting having completed his assignments," [Shu's lawyer] Broccoletti said.

Gorsh! Did he do the FBI agents' assignments too?

Best part?: he did it for money. The defense sekrits were part of a bribe to the Chinese Chinese gubbermint as part of a sweetheart deal with a French firm that contracted Shu's American firm. Shu's firm got nearly $400k in commissions out of it, not to mention the 2 mill in contracts. But his lawyer sez we shouldn't worry about Shu getting off two lightly:

"In the Chinese culture, the notions of shame and dishonor are more of a penalty and punishment than in the West," Broccoletti said. Though the court has a duty to impose prison time on the case, Broccoletti said, "Dr. Shu has, by his own actions, subjected himself and his family to a greater form of punishment."

Chingchingchingching chongchong chingching choooong ... well in that case ...

  • The Korean and Bangladeshi communities of Los Angeles, who failed to demonstrate possession of kindergarten-level skillsets such as playing nice together, sharing, and not screaming "mine!" The 1700-strong Bangladeshi community has filed a petition to name their district "Little Bangladesh." The only problem is, that district is already unofficially known as "Koreatown," and is home to some 50,000 Koreans. Koreans have responded by -- 30 years later -- filing to name Koreatown Koreatown. Come on now, people, this isn't Land & Freedom we're talking about here. It's urban toponymy. Talk about enclaviness!


  • Ramiele Malubay, the Fil-Am "American Idol" finalist, who snubbed a fellow Pinay while out in public with her "American" (read: white) boyfriend. This isn't really news, but I thought I'd throw it in. Bad almost famous! Bad!


  • Jiverly Wong, the Vietnamese/Chinese American gunman who killed thirteen people in New York before killing himself. I have no snappy language for this one, I just want to point out that this is new Asian American stereotype, but one that's been gaining ground very recently: the crazy, hate-filled Asian male killer. We started off long ago with serial killer Andrew Cunanan; had a questionably crazy (or was it self defense?) episode with Hmong mass-murderer Chai Vang; moved up to the current worst school-shooting in US history with Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech killer; had a premonition with Kenneth Eng (who is, thankfully, now getting help); and have now officially become a stereotype with this latest tragetrocity. I have nothing to say beyond: how about us working a little harder on getting mental healthcare accepted in immigrant communities? It seems our women kill themselves, but our men take others with them.


  • In the same category as above, Devan Kalathat, aka, Raghavan Devarajan, who used two automatic weapons to kill his own two children, his brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and their child, himself, and leave his wife critically injured in a family altercation last week. No one will know what really happened unless and until his wife wakes up, but the couple were IT professionals who are rumored to have been suffering from financial woes, but were actually celebrating the purchase of a new house that night.

It's okay, folks, you don't have to choose. We're all winners tonight.




I don't understand why you write that Sanjay Jha is "overcompensated" or why he belongs with the rest of the list. Motorola isn't receiving a bailout nor is it laying off masses of people. Is he just guilty of making a lot of money? For being successful? It just seems kind of stupid and incorrect to say he's reinforcing a negative stereotype by making a lot of money by being the CEO of a global company.
Dang, RV, you don't think $100,000,000 is overcompensation? He's guilty of GREED, as are all the other big business leaders in our culture. (By the way, greed and insidious power-hunger IS an old Asian stereotype.)Stop and think for a minute: do you really think it's okay for Motorola to be paying its CEOs $100 million and its janitors $17,000 (if that)? How do you think our economy got into this mess? It's not just the banks that are fucking us up. It's an entire culture of greed, where CEOs horse trade around ridiculously high salaries, and have no loyalty to their employers.Show me a successful CEO who's making $10 million a year (there are quite a few) and I'll praise him. Show me one who's making $1 million a year and I'll anoint him a hero. But $100 million? Seriously? What is the extra $90 million buying you that you can't get for $10 million? What it's buying you is status. There are a few handsful of "top" executives everyone recognizes as "the best" and trade around amongst themselves. And because these execs can be bought, the prices for them go up and up and up.Then the other execs see that the "top" execs get paid this much, and they threaten to leave if their salaries aren't raised to match. In the meantime, the REAL best execs aren't seen because they come up through their companies and stay with them for life. They're not on the market so no one pays attention to how much they're being paid.Go read "Good to Great" by Jim Collins, which talks about the difference between good companies and great companies, i.e. between companies that make a lot of money for a while and then don't, and companies that become solid earners on a permanent upward curve. The latter always have quiet, loyal, low-status CEOs, who don't demand huge salaries and aren't motivated by greed.
Thanks for your reply. OK, I understand where you're coming from. I just think the word "overcompensated" implied that he did something wrong (other than making a ridiculous amount of money) or illegal, *especially in the context of the rest of the list*. I never said I thought it was ok for him to be making $100M vs $17K for a janitor. I think you have to ask the Motorola board of directors and shareholders what that extra $90 million is buying... they're the ones that approved it in the first place.