A tyrannical government is more fierce than a tiger 苛政猛于虎


This is a borrowed metaphor, which uses the object, a tiger, to convey a message. This differs from the standard Chinese proverbs is that it is made up of five words.  This proverb is to criticise tyrannical politicians and leaders. It is a straight forward proverb. However, It was originated from the sayings of Confucius, (770-476 B.C.), who is the most respected philosopher of the China history, which makes it more important.

Background苛政猛于虎 (kē zhèng měng yú hǔ) which literal means a tyrannical government is more fierce than a tiger.

At the time known as Spring and Autumn Era, China was under the reign of a tyrannical government. The livelihood of the people was threatened by harsh taxations imposed by the government. Some of the families had to live in the mountain. There was one family, the grandfather, the father and the son were killed by tigers at different times while working or searching for foods in the mountain. One day, Confucius passed by the  cemetery while the mother of the family was weeping for the loss of her son. Confucius asked the woman why she was weeping and the woman told the whole story to Confucius who then asked her why did she not leave the mountain and found a safer place. The woman said the people in the area would rather face the threat of tigers than be suppressed by the tyrannical government. Confucius then turned to his students, who were with him, and taught them that “A tyrannical government is more fierce than a tiger”

Meaning

A tyrannical government is more fierce  than a tiger

Examples

  • In politics (Some North Koreans, under the rule of the tyrant, Kim Chun il,  would rather risk their lives by sneaking into foreign consulates of other countries with a view to seeking asylums in foreign countries than living in their own country)
  • Again in politics (the Mynamar junta ruler’s consistent negliect of the livelihood of its people caused the loss of 20,000 lives to the killer cyclone in the beginning of May 2008) 
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