Saturday, October 16, 2010

Revised: "If" poem in relation to Steven

Bumped up for readers interested in Steven, the man, encapsulated.
Somehow, the mention of Steven's weaknesses 2009AF discussion  AF post#1718#1720#1721; #1723 ; #1753 had me recalling Rudyard Kipling's IF poem on what a real man should be. So upon refreshing my memory of it, I was intrigued to see how it relates to Steven. Below is my naturally biased summation. (First penned in AF# 1726 8/22/2009   reposted here 10/16/2010; updated April 5 2014)

1st stanza
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

Those of us who follow Steven’s news know that his career path is anything but smooth, even now its ride is bumpy. From the onset, his first foray into the entertainment industry was launched from a negative starting point, unlike his peers' which took off from ‘ground zero’ as newbie. His company promotional slogan, "He’s not Hok-Yau (Jacky Cheung); he’s not Lai-Ming (Leon Lai); he’s not Hak Kan (Hacken Lee); he’s Ma Chun Wai (Steven)" backfired invoking instead the ire of the popular HK heavenly kings' fans respectively.   He was young then and innocent, only 22 years of age, full of ideas and ideals, and had yet to learn the true trade of a consummate entertainer; that of balancing the inner self vs the public persona. Thus his private self tussled with his public persona; his ideals struggled with the demands of reality; his innate integrity grappled with the hypocrisy of showbiz. During Steven’s 3 years of ‘initiation’, Doubt reigned supreme in him, having driven Confidence to the darkest recess of his being. It cast fears on Steven in his ability to perform as a  performer singer.  "A somber person like me standing on stage with fingers raised in victory, acting cute and naive; I would not be able to stand it,  neither, I believe, would the audience." With Confidence so imprisoned, Steven was at the mercy of Doubt’s insidious whisperings. He was ready to quit, until a helping hand rescued Confidence from its confinement, and subsequently lit a new path for it to discover new heights. To these days, Steven still feels indebted to his mentor, Catherine Tsang, and openly called himself Zhan Jie’s lead horse until the media arbitrarily put him in Stephen Chan party (2010), and that's that. (tn: SM: What party do I belong to?) When he had doubted himself, Ms. Tsang was there to inject him with confidence serum.

But make allowance for their doubting too
Actually, all along, I did understand Management’s point of view. It had to cultivate a newcomer in an intensely competitive environment. So naturally, it had to rack its brain to concoct a publicity stunt that could, in the shortest time, effect a break through in this rat-race. Conversely, I could also understand the public’s point of view: He’s only the new kid on the block, and yet dares to compare himself to the superstars? What arrogance! That kind of big talk was a big turn-off. Seeing each side’s point of view further depressed me to the very pits of despair. A person caught in a distressing situation, yet unable to even find a target on which to pin his grievances onto suffered all that more for lack of a venting outlet or a de-stressing retreat! (2002 memoir)

In early 2004, for various reasons, Steven took a respite from filming tvb series. And of course, fans including me have their own speculations on why. Steven’s official reason for this break was that he wanted to taste the freedom of freelancing being that his management contract had just ended with his manager, Frankie Fan. That might be so, but I think, right or wrong, is that he needed the break to re-define his real self from his myriad public personas. He was confused - he, a man who prided himself as a righteous and honorable man now had his name and reputation dragged through the mud. During this 'it never rains but pours' period, Steven was overwhelmed by rampaging rumors and negative press over his and Sonija Kwok's scandal, and his other personal problems including his Kinston Entertainment Company's huge debt of over  HK$3 millionhis alleged discord with Frankie Fan, his younger sister's stage 3 breast cancer,his beloved maternal grandmother's death in 2002(another link) and his older sister's pregnancy complications. (another link) So beset by the cumulative personal and work problems, and cash strapped to boot because of debt and his sister's and nephew's health problems, Steven was foundering in anxiety, consequently re-evoking his once subdued anxiety attacks. And just his bad luck, his tvb mentor, Catherine Tsang, who could have helped him ride over the negative press was herself ousted from her former position of Artists Management Department which Ms. Virginia took over from her.  So even as Steven suffered serious anxiety attacks and self-doubts, he had no one to turn to.  What was he? Who was he? Was he Vincent Ma Chi Wai or was he Steven Ma Chun Wai? Where was his real self? At the time, Steven was a celebrity, a rising star at that, the zenith star just within his reach. He lived in a fabricated, glittering world, where make-believes and excesses blended seamlessly into daily lives; where lies are interchangeable with truths, and rumors could take on lives of their own, summarily becoming facts. Where tabloids grew fat feeding on hapless celebrities. Where ‘friends’ alternated as foes, and foes never rest. Where thoughts got twisted, and paranoia was fanned into sporadic/frequent panic attacks. (Anxiety Attacks essay) During the 2004-2006 respite, Steven took refuge in writing. Through writing he kept his head fixed on his shoulders and above swirling waters, he reclaimed his true self from deep within, he cast out the demons of self-doubts and of excesses, respectively. He reveled in his independence and renewed self-confidence. With his soul and mind so cleansed, he fell in love, again. I also believe this was the period he turned to Christianity for spiritual guidance, even then it took many years of questioning and overcoming doubts before he became a true Christian. 

2006; his mentor, Zhan Jie beckoned. Steven had matured. He had somewhat conquered the debilitating self-doubts, and had cast out the lies, the scandals, the hatred, and the painful past. Did he want to face another set of similar experiences which he would should he return to tvbland? What about his relationship with Vivian, his return would affect it. He was torn for half a year. Finally, like what he did when Zhan Jie last beckoned, he listened and joined tvb for 3 years; this time as a managed tvb artiste.

2009 - Today, unlike the earlier days of his career, Steven has matured into a confident man, secure in his own worth and comfortable in his own skin. In an interview, he said actually his personality has not changed much just that unlike then, he now dares voice his opinions. For more than a year he negotiated on his contract, determined to get what he wanted put on it. No more self-doubts to cloud his thinking. He kept his cool when his reputation as an artiste was degraded by his superior and was gracious to the latter, giving her face, when he finally got the upper hand in the contract negotiation.

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

2009 - Three years have come and gone. His dreams were not realized, due to various reasons. He had aspired to receive the tvb best actor award not for itself but for what it symbolizes – official recognition of his acting. His dream was dashed year after year. He is an actor who takes pride in his acting, and the blow to his pride must be hard to take when he was not even nominated for either the best actor nor the favorite tv character last year 2008 (AJCL). It must have been hard indeed, very hard. But then again, maybe not, Steven knows the game – the mind game, the political game played in tvb world. Like his fans, he must have known it was neither his acting nor his performance per se that did not get him nominated. It was just a strategic move in tvb internal political game played by the powers that be.  Steven has learned to treat both Triumph and Disaster the same during the highs and lows of his career with TVB. He has also learned the arts of hear no evil, see no evil, and do evil towards the media but continues walking his own path.

He was ready to walk..away from his dream of getting tvb best actor award. Que sera sera, he will not make dreams his master. He will not restrict his dreams; he will cast his dreams elsewhere. Thoughts and dreams can be changed, for the positive, elsewhere. He is that confident and secure in himself. He is his own man.

But Zhan Jie held out her hand, imploring him to stay. She got Stephan Chan to intervene on his behalf and Steven stayed, again for various reasons. His official answer was because of Mr. Chan’s 3 words: Just you see! I love his answer because of its implication; it shouts out to me Steven’s integrity and his astuteness. What he was implying with that answer is that: He has the utmost confidence in Stephen's character as an honorable man of his word. Stephen’s verbal gentleman pledge is more binding to him than several pages of legality. Steven is giving lots of face to Stephen. It implies: "I accept the contract because I trust you as an honorable gentleman. But if these terms were not fulfilled, not only did you break our gentlemen’s agreement but that you also hurt your reputation and honor as a gentleman of his word." Well said! Steven.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

Steven had to start from behind when he rejoined TVB in 2006. Not surprisingly, his position would not be the same as was before he left it; he did not expect it to be, anyway. He took the bitter pills and swallowed them uncomplainingly and with much self-dignity. It was his choice to leave his lot behind, likewise, it was his choice two years later to reclaim his lot, and to play 'catch up', ultimately to make it even better than before. He played Alan Tam’s ‘Came From Behind’ to spur himself onto where he wants to be down the road. Now that he has signed another 3 years, he will “hold on” and will forge resolutely forward. Steven has always have perseverance in abundance so that whatever goals he set out to accomplish, he will in the end. It took him 43 attempts before he won the singing competition championship. Although he will still pursue the goal of winning the TVB best actor award, I think its priority has taken a backseat to his goal of being the best that he can be as an actor. Like he said: An award is just a symbolic recognition. What counts is the recognition from his peers and his audience, and the self satisfaction and enjoyment from a role well done.

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Today, Steven stays true to himself and remains uncorrupted by his immersion in the melting pot of the entertainment world. "The horror in entertainment circle is nothing worse than losing one’s own self identity. On this, Steven is very much aware of."  He has been out with the crowds but he remains his own man neither pandering nor dismissive, neither self-effacing nor arrogant but keeping intact his own principles, dignity and integrity.  

He never considers himself a star (ming sing) but a regular actor earning a livelihood through acting. He stays in touch with his fans and supporters on weibo with frequent updates and real time interactions.  He regularly encourages his weibo readers with his meaningful entries and come HK high school exam day or results day he never forgets to write a timely encouraging post to remind the students of what's truly important in life.  Steven makes effort to ensure himself not to lose touch with real life and regular people - be it scouting for materials and ideas for his social booksor shopping for produce and grocery for his Apprentice Chef (1) or just touch base with regular people like this incident: Say Huang Shao Qi of Steven during their Yuan Yang Pei filming collaboration: HSQ: I feel that he is very lively, very quick to get know people. [..]This is just personality. [..]Yeah, like even the sweeper, he would say to him, "I say, you know.. "

With the establishment of his own production studios, Steven is now out in the big league swimming with both the sharks and crowds. In the upcoming years, Steven will be sorely tested with new temptations and adversarial situations.  Good luck to you, Steven. God bless!

related materials:
memoir 2002
I don't bite
Experience life full flavor
Red wine
What time is it over there?
2009 contract renewal

source:asianfanatics 1726
Posted AF# 1726 22 August 2009

马仔的图文并谬《如果》让我连想到鲁德亚德•吉卜林(Rudyard Kipling)的《如果》. "《如果》是一首写给儿子的励志诗,曾被译成27国语言作为学习的教材,许多人特别是青少年常以此勉励自己,激发前进的动力。"


如果你能忍受 你曾讲过的事实




































credit 中文翻译/Chinese translation to:Winy@baidu which is now defunct,
purple text by verywin also defunct.


  1. Hi, I have tag you for the Liebster Award, if you have time could you please reply to my questions.
    Here is the link to my blog:
    Thank you.

    1. Will do when have time. Thanks for dropping in.

  2. Hi Tamaya, just wanna say a big thank you for doing all this work. As a fan of SM who doesn't read chinese, all your hard work is very much appreciated. I have enjoyed reading numerous articles here and look forward to reading more.

    1. You're welcome. It's my pleasure to share Steven's news with his fans. I appreciate your letting me know of your appreciation of my blog. Hehe!