CHEN HUI HAI: I don’t remember when it was, but once I dreamt that I went to the labour bureau to talk to the people there. I told them: “You work in the labour bureau, you should be helping workers assert their rights! Why do you always help the factory owners do bad things to workers?” I even spoke to the director of the labour bureau. He was very arrogant. He said I should have done what the company told me to do. He said: “You must obey the company’s orders even if they are illegal!” That made me furious. I filed a complaint right then and there, but they didn’t pay any attention to it. At that moment in my dream, I was suddenly holding a cup of tea in my hand and I smashed it on the director’s desk. That scared him. I said: “Go ahead and call the police if you dare!” But he was too intimidated. He took his briefcase and dashed out of the office. It must have been very embarrassing for him because all the people in the office were watching us and he didn’t have the guts to call the police. So he ran away.
At first I thought I should follow him. But he actually left the building and drove away in his car. So I sat down outside and waited because I thought it was quite unlikely that he had gone to do some business. He had left because of our fight, so maybe he would come back soon. And really, after about ten minutes he came back. I saw him entering the building and followed him to his office. But when he saw me, he grabbed his briefcase and rushed out again! I thought that was very strange and kind of funny. I wanted to ask him: “You are a leader, why are you scared of me? If you haven’t done anything wrong, why are you running away from me?” I followed him but he didn’t pay any attention to me. The whole situation was very funny, I started laughing in the dream and then I woke up. I actually woke up laughing.
That was one dream. Here is another one. I don’t really have any hobbies. I don’t smoke, I don’t gamble, I don’t even play Mah-jong. Sometimes I have a glass of wine with some friends in the evening and we play drinking games. One morning after such an evening, my wife told me that I had been talking in my sleep, saying “three times three” or “four times six” and things like that. Seems I had continued playing with my friends in my dream. That was funny. But that doesn’t happen very often.
I think I had the dream about the labour bureau because I’ve had some pretty nasty experiences with them. I’ve been to several labour bureaus in different towns of Panyu because I’ve helped many workers negotiate with them. What I saw and heard there made a deep impression on me. I used to be chairman of the board of directors of Panyu Worker’s Home, but I now only have a part-time position. Sometimes I take a day off and go there. It makes me very angry to see how the people at the labour bureaus treat workers. I wish I had the power to tell these people what to do, or to fire them if they don’t take responsibility for their position. Sometimes you dream what you think about during the day; maybe that’s why I had the dream.
I had an idea, which I told the new director of the Worker’s Home. I told him we should buy a few of those pencils that have a camera and sound recorder inside of them, one for each workers’ residence. I’d like to go there to work with people on weekends or whenever I have some spare time. I want to prepare them for their visits to the labour bureau. Many of them go there to apply for industrial injury benefit. What makes me angry is not so much that the factories still don’t have good protective measures even after many workers have had accidents, nor even that the workers themselves still aren’t very aware of this issue and don’t protect themselves. In a way that’s understandable. But it really drives me mad that those people at the labour bureaus aren’t doing what they are supposed to do. They are supposed to help workers in these matters. Why aren’t they doing their job?
I’ve seen many workers with industrial injuries go to the labour bureau for advice. For example, one day there were some workers who had lost a hand and wanted to apply for compensation. And the only thing that the people at the bureau told them was to go home and wait. “Don’t sit around here, go home and we will call you if there’s anything we can do.
”That’s what they told the workers! I didn’t know those workers, they weren’t the ones I was accompanying that day. But when I saw that scene it made me very sad and angry. How could these people do that? I couldn’t act like that towards another person. I think that’s why I had that dream.
Whenever I can spare some time, I go to the workers’ residence to visit the workers who have industrial injuries. Now we’re focusing on the labour bureau. We want to put some images and sound recordings on the Internet. I’ve been working in many different institutions that help workers. I’m always trying to bring more workers to these institutions so we can help them. I’ve been doing this for many years now and I really feel deep in my heart that that’s what I need to do.
Personally I don’t have a difficult life. My children are already grown up; they have satisfying jobs and make a living for themselves. I basically try to stay healthy and do my best to help the workers. That makes me happy. I don’t dream much usually. The night I had the dream about the dice, I was happy because I had been drinking with my friends. The other dream I had because I was angry and wanted to help. Whenever I can spare some time, I do something for the workers, like writing something or doing other simple things.