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Pyongyang’s lonely path


Pakistan’s nonMuslim women


Game of love, China style


APRI L 20 -MAY 3, 2012

Myanmar’s New Era
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20 newspapers in 17 countries—covering Asia for 10 years W e K n o w A s i a B e t t e r

April 20-M a y 3, 2012 • V o l 7 N o 8


COVER STORY Myanmar In Transition  8

The wind of change is blowing and big things are in store. But others choose to be cautious while many are hopeful this will usher in a new era

VIEW  7


The US Is The New India Unlike with India, Pakistan’s relationship with the US is fraught with much uncertainty

Living On The Fringes Being a woman in Pakistan presents a myriad of challenges, let alone for non-Muslims


ARTS  34

Taking Pyongyang Down Lonely Path The global community will have to play the same old waiting game for North Korea to either implode or effect a change of heart

An Uneasy Alliance The escalating brutality at the border sparks tension between Bangladesh and India
LIFE  28

Guerillas For Art A group of Filipino ‘revolutionaries’ provoke and inspire through street art

The Great Wall Of Deception In Chinese showbiz, there is a prevalence of presenting a harmonious facade even when competition is cut-throat

Do You Have A Gambling Habit? Online guide also has tips on how to avoid temptation, limit cash access

The Good Old Movie Days Moving towards the new era and breakneck developments, cinemas have taken on a more splendid and professional look

All Quiet On The Eastern Front Tranquil and pristine, Koh Kood is ideal for anyone wanting nothing more than to sit on the beach with a book


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As one Umno insider said: “The RCI can’t be an excuse for a witch hunt. Sabah is a complex patchAs one observer explained: “This work of loyalties. At the same time. Muslim Sabahans over past decOf course. They want to concerning illegal immigration has know what’s been happening over once again risen to the fore. the years.The View By Karim raslan The Star MALAYSIA Illegals In Sabah ❖ Kota Kinabalu Illegal immigration has risen to the fore in the state K ampung Putaton is deep in the heart of Penampang. or only increase it? Whatever the case. the terms of refer—an integral part of the coalition’s ence on any potential RCI remain East Malaysian “fixed deposit”.” Dompok has himself been among the most straight-forward on the issue—much as he’s been on matters of religious freedom. bamboo groves. the Kadazan. lems in Sabah.Sabah. he’s more than aware of both the sensitivities and the complexities of the issue. of how the issue of illegal immigration is often tangled with that of undocumented citizenship. six are majority KDM in the KDM communities are waiting composition and seven either major.” As I leave the Dewan.anxiously to see when Prime Minity Chinese or mixed with non. and shophouses have started nibThe issue strikes at the core of bling at the edge of this rural idyll. what it means to be Malaysian. housing developments Below the Wind.ister Najib Razak will make an anMuslim majorities. Indeed. not Dompok is expected to arrive at to mention the intrinsic value of our any moment to officiate at the an. ethnicities and has become the mother of all probreligious affiliations. April 20-May 3. “I will support all efforts by the government in registering Malaysians and for them to get the necessary documents that they are entitled to as Malaysians.” 6• However. The RCI mustn’t be seen as window dressing. many in Of these. 2012 PH OTO BY T EN GkU BAHA R /A FP . Barisan is broadan increasingly important part of the ly in agreement about the need for a ruling Barisan Nasional’s Parlia. What is our collective identity? Dusun and Murut communities (colWhile nothing has been anlectively dubbed KDM) have become nounced officially. nual meeting of the Penampang It also raises other questions: Can Cocoa Planters Association.ency. In a separate speech to the Upko party congress last month Dompok had said: “We must welcome registration of Malaysian citizens who have not received identification documents. It’s all about transparThe KDM and Chinese communi. I can’t help wondering whether the KDM communities are just another embattled minority pushed increasingly into the periphery? Will the RCI serve to reverse this sense of alienation.citizenship. nouncement on this issue. political developments in Sabah will have implications for Malaysia as a whole.Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) mentary calculations. a long-running issue ties want the RCI. unclear. mentary seats are held by Barisan Nonetheless. 22 of Sabah’s 26 parlia. As a consequence. He said: “It’s important that the announcement on the RCI should come be fore the dissolution of parliament.the power equation in the Land ment blocks. there’s no doubt that a full-on inquiry might well unearth extremely compromising material on what’s been happening under previous administrations and there’s a degree of uncertainty in Barisan circles. some 10km from Kota Kinabalu. religious affiliations. integrity and sincerity. streams. fruit ties have been questioning the orchards and houses on incredibly dramatic rise in the number of tall stilts. This is Kadazan country: It’s sleepy and bucolic with small hills. on alleged illegal immigrants in Currently. ethnicities and smallholders. we be Malaysian and Christian? Can With the 13th general election we be Malaysian and Kadazan? around the corner. The KDM communiHowever. The people appointed should be seen as credible. over the years the rustic ades—an increase that has altered atmosphere has changed as apart. I’m waiting in the village’s community hall—just opposite the home of Upko chief and Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Bernard Dompok’s father—along with a few Sabah is a complex patchwork hundred deeply tanned cocoa of loyalties.

on Pakistani intelligence input. system’s capacity was up to For just as we start to apnearly a dozen strikes a month A Pakistani protester holds a burning US flag as they shout proach the relationship with slogans during a protest in Multan in February against the and didn’t have to rely as much India more rationally. the Foreign Office to yield results. MI R z A /AF P .such an old adversary. Realising Uncertainty causes the security lines with the US—on drones. the So that’s the difference. becomes the new India and we An acceptance here behind plunge that relationship into the scenes of the inevitability yet more incoherence and uncer. the civilians neither have the resolve the army leadership last year created that Pakistan can be confident nor the understanding to push for a small window of opportunity here. so guesswork will have to suffice. in the past. ties while a damaging clash over red curity prism was changing. cles agrees that the relationship cantablishment hasn’t suddenly unPerhaps key to it all is that India not be allowed to break down. and foreign-policy experts who help spectrum dialogue” has meandered Unlike the relationship with Inshape policy.can quickly respond. The AmeriThe trajectories of Pakistan’s cans themselves are figuring two critical relationships— out the potential of the rapidly with India and the US—in reevolving technology. With the US. tours of disagreement and avenues variables in play at the moment. Trade dia. S. he’d probably there’s so much more room for ask. what it’s agreeing to.cantly behind India in economic fensive position and treat with great ing where a vital trade and security terms and that strategic competition suspicion anything that could blow relationship is headed? with India will be more and more up on their face. It’s army is filled with uncertainty about about Indian policymakers and war.nable to new ideas. The first cent months suggest that we strike in 2004 already seems like to keep things complicatlike another era. expensive in the years and decades is well understood. the army is also more ame. 2012 •7 PH OTO BY S . about what will happen even two or gets deepening trade and investment It helped that the army’s own se.ziristan agencies. the relationship with the US is What’s causing them to collec. there was a fear and uncertainty.PAKISTAN By Cyril almeida Dawn The US Is The New India ❖ Islamabad Unlike with India. the US US drone attacks in the tribal region.tage of them. there are too many riors for decades.establishment here to go into a deexample—leaves everyone wonder. where relations.knowns and too much uncertainty where the decades-old Enemy No. This time. but nobody to take advan. an overwhelming majority of cal government. If potentially game-changing options. very complicated. The security es. There have been similar moments quent public denunciation of the It’s the same set of principals here. April 20-May 3. the learned all that it believed to be true is a well-understood problem. What Pamore amenable to being convinced thinking would be that Pakistan kistan wants is to feel like it knows to do things it may have been reluc. stan want?” Take the drones. and But the series of crises that rocked for conflict so well understood. 1 throughs.tant to green-light before. the army was India tries anything funny. Pakistan’s relationship with the US is fraught with much uncertainty I f there were a Sigmund Contrast this with the relaFreud of international tionship with the US.while everyone in policymaking cirStart with India. Notice how virtually the strikes have occurred in the Waand a loose-knit group of security every other subject in the “full. there are few surprises in store. more characterised by too many untively choose such different paths. the con. the ed.and investment got a bigger. “What does Pakiuncertainty and doubt. for that Pakistan had fallen signifi.strikes is an approach borne out of so why are they producing such dif. What if a strike ferent outcomes? tenacious and committed commerce every other day became the norm? The army still dominates the na. Uncertain and unsure.three years down the to proceed. The India problem There’s no Freud to help out here. expand the area of operation. along without much progress. ahead. of some strikes combined with fretainty. concerted push and hence the break.secretary and a political government The Americans could then press to tional security and foreign policy eager to improve ties with India. To domains but there is also the politiSo they pushed hard and it started date. By 2008.


2012 •9 .April 20-May 3.

While there will be no change in who controls 10 • the parliament. older men in the traditional Burmese sarong called longyi engaged in more serious political talk. But long-time residents. led by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. while at a roadside kiosk. “Infrastructure is not only the hardware but also the software such as putting in place a capable workforce. Before foreign investment can start to flow. to overhauling the country’s decrepit telecommunications and power infrastructure and rebuilding the tattered civil service. tne NLD’s strong performance boosts the party’s presence in Myanmar politics. Outside. young men and women traded giggles over cold beers. the managing director of luxury travel group Orient Express.” said a Western diplomat. Asian businesses reckon they have an edge over their Western counterparts. A Yangon resident had expressed confidence that the National League for Democracy (NLD) will win “because the people want change”.” said Philippe Bissig. That will be the major challenge not just for the country but also our industry.” said a young man who wanted to be identified only as Thant Min just before the April 1 by-elections. referring to the great gold rush in Alaska’s Yukon region in the late 1890s. International business delegations have flocked to Myanmar over the past year eager to seize opportunities as the country embraces capitalism to rebuild its collapsing but resource-rich economy. The 45 seats in this month’s by-elections were vacancies created by the promotion of parliamentarians to the Cabinet and other posts last year. The NLD. Myanmar’s legislature has 664 seats with more than 80 per cent held by members of the Union Solidarity and Development Party backed by the military. street vendors pushed colourful T-shirts printed with the picture of opposition leader and Noble Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. In smoky roadside kiosks. Not like before when you cannot talk about anything. With the victory of NLD. “Myanmar can have all the reApril 20-May 3. Then there are the bloody conflicts between the military and ethnic populations who live in resourcerich regions. won 43 of the 44 seats in the by-elections.” That is only part of the problem. while watching a Thai television soap opera.COVER STORY YE AU NG TH U/AFP PH OTO O ❖ Yangon n a recent hot and dusty Sunday afternoon. a crumbling neighbourhood in downtown Yangon was heaving with local pop music. Myanmar will need to put in place basic building blocks for a functioning economy. the local currency. “This is no Klondike. an air of optimism has swept through the Southeast Asian country. diplomats and business executives caution that the optimism needs to be tempered and that Myanmar’s fron- tier economy carries equal amounts of promise and pitfalls. 2012 . These range from establishing a formal exchange rate for the kyat. “Myanmar is better now. which has a regional office in Yangon. “A lot of people will be disappointed because those in government and the military don’t like being rushed. “Our governments weren’t imposing sanctions against Myanmar and we are more comfortable with the way business is done.” said a Singaporean businessman who spent two weeks in Myanmar’s capital scouring for opportunities.

” said a local businessman who asked not to be named. International financial institutions estimate that the local economy expanded by 5. a thumbsup from Suu Kyi for the polls will jump-start the rollback of sanctions imposed by Western governments. it is bad. “The government and the military realise that she (Suu Kyi) is the best asset that they have to push ahead with developing the country. then it is okay. Myanmar is rich in minerals such as copper and has huge deposits of gas and oil.” he added.” said Andrew Heyn. the reform plan won’t be sustainable. There were also surprising developments on the political front. Its commercial capital Yangon can easily re-establish itself as one of the region’s more strategic international ports. the editor would have been summoned and slapped so hard for an offence like this. If it is bad. a long-time Myanmar resident and country representative of the Canadabased HOPE International Development Agency. “The problem for Myanmar and the government is that Western countries look at us through the Suu Kyi lens. But if there is no stability. The central bank issued money exchange licences to 17 local private banks in November last year and granted licences to 11 banks to carry out foreign banking services. “But this election will also show her supporters whether she can deliver as a politician and has the country’s interests at heart. the Union Ministry of Mines took the unprecedented step of initiating legal action against a local newspaper. there is no denying that Myanmar is turning the corner. Recently.5 per cent last year and will grow at the same clip this year. ∞∞RiCh in RESOuRCES ith a population of 55 million people. who notes that several local newspapers are actively testing the limits of reporting political and economic development in the country. Resource-rich Myanmar produces more than 90 per cent of the world’s jade and rubies while 60 per cent of the world’s teak grows in the upper and western regions. Foreign visitors are taking advantage of relaxed travel rules and hotels are running at peak occupancy rates. The renewed confidence has resulted in property prices more than tripling in value in parts of Yangon over the past 18 months. More immediately. “In the past. • 11 W . When construction of a huge pipeline from the Bay of Bengal to China’s Yunnan province is completed. with most of it going to Thailand. which promotes development programmes in troubled regions.” said David Tegenfeldt. April 20-May 3.” said a Southeast Asian diplomat. the British Ambassador in Myanmar. particularly with regard to ethnic conflicts. 2012 and the newspaper would shut down after that. for defamation over a report alleging misappropriation of funds and graft by ministry officials. Gas is its biggest and most lucrative export. If she says it is okay. Myanmar shares borders with five countries: Bangladesh. The results of the by-elections have also turned Suu Kyi from a dissident outsider to an active partner of the civilian government in national development. Still. India.PHOTO BY C HRISTO PHE A RC HA MBAULT/A F P sources and make the right noises about reform. China. The Voice. gas and oil exports are expected to surge. Laos and Thailand.

But visitors arriving in Naypyidaw. For now. And the pace at which Myanmar integrates with the international community after 49 years of isolation will be dictated by the military. Myanmar. which counts the commander-inchief of the armed forces and the defence minister as members. a country of 55 million people. the reform process will continue. according to diplomats. 2012 . Unless its role is clearly defined soon. peeling wall paint and water-stained ceilings are commonplace at ministry buildings. the surreal administrative capital located more than 300km from Yangon. completed only five years ago. democratic change is sweeping through Myanmar. has a 400. The military controls 25 per cent of the seats in both Houses of the Union Parliament and the regional assemblies. the architecture is drab Soviet-era with a distinct army feel.” said a local businessman who enjoys close ties with the civilian government. has a military zone that is off-limits to ordinary citizens. 12 • The most impressive structure is the National Parliament. As long as the military feels comfortable. with its largely deserted boulevards. The city. Built from scratch under the watchful eyes of the army’s top brass at an estimated cost of US$5 billion. have the final say on national issues. the military is backing April 20-May 3. which has the constitutional right to seize power during an emergency. overlooked by the Shan hills in central Myanmar. The 11-member powerful National Defence and Security Council. Myanmar will be a two-bit player in the region. There is also a 20-lane highway that can be converted into runways for fighter jets.” said a long-time foreign aid worker who visits the country regularly. “The key will be to assure the military of its place and assurances that there will be no witch-hunt for the past. are quickly reminded of who is really in charge: Myanmar’s men in green. “The elephant in the middle of the room is the military.000-strong military. The fact is that the military will continue to cast a shadow over Myanmar for years to come. the country’s generals watch the reforms being carried out by the civilian government headed by President Thein Sein. This political clout gives it a veto over constitutional amendments.COVER STORY PHOTO BY S O E THA N W IN/A F P Men In Green ❖ Naypyidaw O n the surface. Shoddy workmanship. which require the support of more than 75 per cent of Parliament. From this bunkered city.

The public debate in parliament over government spending and budget cuts for the military has lent greater legitimacy to the reform movement. including the Chinese-led US$3.PHOTO BY Y E AUNG THU/ A F P the reform agenda. 2012 Asian diplomat who monitors closely developments in Myanmar. defended the military’s continued role in national politics and declared that the armed forces would “support the functions of government” in Myanmar’s march towards democracy. “The government can’t unilaterally suspend the project because this isn’t international business practice. “The real movers here aren’t the military but the President (Thein Sein) and (opposition leader Aung San) Suu Kyi. which has caused unease among hardline elements in the military. foreign diplomats and lo- cal businessmen argue that the military must urgently confront the protracted conflicts in the border regions. Perhaps the biggest boost for the junta’s tattered image is Suu Kyi’s decision to participate in mainstream politics. But to resolve this. “The military is aware that with economic development. locked in a bloody struggle for greater autonomy in the border regions. “The key to this issue is the military. the Commanderin-Chief. While the ongoing reform process will take the heat off the country’s generals. who have a very strong partnership.” said a Western diplomat. Two weeks ago. the ethnic problem needs to be resolved first. would join such an uprising. Ethnic groups fighting for greater autonomy have accused the military of widespread abuses because it wants to exploit large deposits of jade and gold through its crony corporations. Consider the problems in resource-rich Kachin state. which borders China. General Min Aung Hlaing. Several analysts suggest that Myanmar’s collapsing economy is a key driving force. The reasons behind the military’s move to loosen political control are not clear. the political and ethnic tensions can be reduced. Thein Sein.6 billion Myitsone Dam. The government suspended the project in October last year on environmental grounds. What particularly worried the generals is the prospect that Myanmar’s ethnic groups.” said a Bangkok-based Southeast April 20-May 3. a former general who took power in March last year.” said a human rights activist who has regular contacts with Kachin leaders. Other ventures have also raised tensions in the northern state. has surprised long-time Myanmar watchers with the pace of reforms. Another is the fear that deepening hardship for most of its people could raise the spectre of unrest similar to the uprisings racking the Middle East. a move that is likely to jumpstart the process for the gradual removal of sanctions against Myanmar.” — LesLie Lopez/The sTraiTs Times • 13 .

Britney Spears and Lady Gaga as influences. “Someone asked me if I saw the change in the government and the change in the girls as a parallel process. Now.” The members list Shakira. Above all. Property prices are soaring in Yangon. Myanmar conjures an image of a slim woman draped in a tunic and traditional Burmese sarong—Aung San Suu Kyi. referring to their transformation from being soft-spoken women to singers with an attitude. “First. “All they hear about Myanmar is that it is a poor. But 24-year-old band member Cha-Cha still has an 8pm curfew. called Me N Ma Girls. 2012 PH OTO BY SOE TH AN WI N/ AFP . she placed advertisements in the local press and radio stations. she noticed a lack of “really strong female role models in the entertainment industry”. They earn between US$200 and $300 a month from their concerts. the band members want their would-be fans to know they are just like young musicians everywhere. After releasing one album under the name Tiger Girls.COVER STORY By Mark Fenn The Straits Times Playing To Myanmar’s New Beat ❖ Yangon F 14 • or the world outside. April 20-May 3. have since come around. who were initially apprehensive. we want to be famous in Myanmar. military-run country. We have the same dreams. “We just want them to know that we are the same. Outside the monsoon season. The lyrics on its next album—due for release in July—will be mainly in English as it reaches out to an international audience. “And I said yes!” May. As Myanmar opens up after decades of isolation and military rule. fell in love with Myanmar after arriving three years ago to volunteer in orphanages. 21. making them well-off in a country where the average monthly salary is less than $28. and the members—university graduates in their early to mid-20s—know exactly what they want. the band seems to have picked up on the air of optimism that is sweeping the country. the band changed its name and released another album last year. 23. vendors sell posters and T-shirts bearing the image of democracy icon Suu Kyi. and their music has won them a solid fan base. prepare for a new ideal of M y a n m a r w o m a n h o o d — a fi v e member all-girl band in jeans and T-shirts. In all. so two years ago.” said member Ah Moon.” said their Australian manager Nikki May.000 people around the country. Their families. closed. However. 34.” said singer Wai Hnin. and then we want to be famous in other countries—and then go to Hollywood. 120 young women turned up for the auditions and five made the final cut. The moniker is a pun on the name of their homeland. and throughout the streets. who enters parliament for the first time on April 23. they play at least one concert a week to crowds of between 400 and 2.

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were roasted rather than toasted.The chestnuts. not unexpectedly.” The five permanent members of the United Nations Security CouncilBritain. Pyongyang—to its credit—admitted that the launch failed. In 1998 and 2009. Even Russia. a long-time ally of North April 20-May 3. was being played on state television at the time of the launch. has said that the launch was in breach of UN resolutions which imposed sanctions after Pyongyang’s first two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. For the first time. the journalists were told. Pyongyang has the right to launch a peaceful satellite. an Associated Press journalist tweeted from Pyongyang that a traditional Korean folk song. So this will decrease the efficiency of their blackmail diplomacy. Ironically. has sought to sell them two hoary chestnuts. France.SPEcIAL REPORT By William Choong The Straits Times NORTH KOREA Taking Pyongyang Down A Lonely Path The global community will have to play the same old waiting game for north Korea to either implode or effect a change of heart N ❖ Singapore orth Korea.” Dr Andrei Lankov. 2012 . and the council is expected to issue a statement to condemn the North’s latest act. China. which has been seeking to manage its missile and nuclear programmes for more than two decades. The Unha-3 rocket splashed into the Yellow Sea after a minute of powered flight on April 13. China. Pyongyang’s insistence on pushing through with the launch has rallied the global community. “It has not happened. Japan and South Korea to build missile defences. however. which stressed that it was a cover for a ballistic missile test. The US. hosting nearly three dozen foreign journalists on a rare media visit last week. South Korea and Japan called the launch a “provocative act”. and a successful launch will further its aim of becoming a “strong and prosperous” nation. drew strong condemnation from many 16 • countries. This would blunt the North’s missile threat and impact China’s relatively small arsenal of nuclear weapons. The Friday the 13th launch— Pyongyang’s third test of a space rocket since 1998—would accelerate joint efforts by the US. The launch. “They want to show the world that they are capable of developing a longrange ballistic missile. Russia and the United States have held informal talks. told Bloomberg News. it insisted that satellites had been lofted into orbit when in fact they had not. according to an Agence France-Presse report. “Roasted Chestnuts”. an old ally of North Korea. an associate professor at Kookmin University in Seoul.

said the failed flight would still provide North Korea with information necessary for missile development. an easing of tensions on the Korean peninsula would come about only when the North. says the global community might have to wait for new administrations to be installed in South Korea and the US before any new policies are put in place.. But even Beijing would be hardpressed to maintain its support for Pyongyang. A growing gulf between the state and the North Korean people will “cause a crisis of governance and uproot the foundations of the regime”. Both countries are holding presidential polls at the end of the year. News reports said the North might proceed with a third nuclear test to make up for the humiliation.A F P PHOTO/ kC NA V IA kNS FIRST PUBLIC ADDRESS: This picture. Taken together. taken by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on April 15.” he said. is truly a land of lousy options. too. The Americans call this “strategic patience”. In his latest book. in the words of President Barack Obama. or stand firm and be accused of being too inflexible. this looks unlikely. “Unless the North Koreans are deterred or otherwise dissuaded. shows Kim Jong-Un reviewing a military parade commemorating the 100th birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung at the Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang. Bush. from the University of Sydney. or waiting for North Korea to either implode or effect a change of heart. Pyongyang under new leader Kim Jong Un seems to be on a path that will leave it increasingly isolated. Korea. Mark Fitzpatrick. More importantly. and the deployment of US troops near the Korea-China border.. For now. Obama is in a fix: He can seek to reconcile with the North and be accused of appeasement. unclenches its fist. In the long term. Dr Victor Cha says that a growing contradiction in North Korea would only accelerate under its youthful new leader. a third nuclear test and the development of long-range missiles would only ac- centuate Pyongyang’s isolation. China. however. the global community will have to play the same old waiting game. a non-proliferApril 20-May 3. who served as Asia director at the National Security Council under former US president George W. 2012. will continue to worry whether any softening of Pyongyang’s hardline position would lead to a historic reunification of the two Koreas. they probably will eventually meet their goal of developing a long-range missile. As Dr Cha says: “I can tell you that North Korea. given Kim’s need to stage a show of strength to bolster his currency at home. Ultimately.” • 17 . 2012 ation expert at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. said it was “very concerned” by the launch and that all efforts should be made to defuse tensions. This is why South Korea will continue to be wary of further provocations by the North. Korea watcher Leonid Petrov. writes Dr Cha. “The Impossible State”.

The commemorations came just two days after a satellite launch timed to mark the centenary fizzled out embarrassingly when the rocket apparently exploded within minutes of blastoff and plunged into the sea. Kim Il-sung (portrait below).SPEcIAL REPORT By Song Sang-ho The Korea Herald NORTH KOREA PHOTO BY PE D RO UGA RTE /A F P IN GRANDFATHER’S FOOTSTEPS: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un (top left) waves at the end of a major military parade to mark 100 years since the birth of the country’s founder and his grandfather. in Pyongyang on April 15. 18 • April 20-May 3. 2012. 2012 .

“Kim Jong-un looked like a man wearing someone else’s clothes. possibly to avoid blame for possible policy flip-flops. Then people might believe that they can start anew with the new leader from scratch though all social. whom the grassroots still have considerable nostalgia for. He has yet to be fully trained for the national public speech and thus looked nervous. indicated that he would uphold his father’s military-first policy. With Jong-un focused on enhancing the military in line with his father’s military-centred policy. he doesn’t look as if he has already held a strong leadership control. To his people.Little Kim And His Grandfather’s Legacy A ❖ Seoul n aura of strong leadership was hardly sensed when North Korea’s young head of state Kim Jong-un delivered his first public speech on April 15 to mark the centennial of the birth of the communist state’s founder Kim Il-sung. still needs more time to establish firm leadership.” By trying to project an image as a leader communicating and caring more about his people. Unlike his father.2-million-strong military. looked down and fidgeted while reading the script in an unenthusiastic. appearing uneasy with his (leadership) role yet. which has apparently been eroded due to his father’s lack of efforts to reach out to his people. who was groomed for about two decades to April 20-May 3. he was the subject of fear and awe as he did not reach out to the people. He appeared to imitate Kim Il-sung. though he might have practised a lot. the outside audience cast doubts over whether he would be able to maintain the delicate mix of coercion and forced public consent—the key elements his family’s dynastic rule is based on. Experts said that Kim Kyong-hui. They have been told and educated to idolise and honour him as an eternal leader. however. Observers said his relatively weak appearance indicates that Jong-un.” said Kim Heung-kwang.” said Cheong Seongchang.” said Ahn. head of the North Korean Intellectual Solidarity. director of the World North Korea Research Centre. Jong-un appears to strengthen public support for the regime. a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute.” The content of the speech. 2012 officially take power in 1998. he made it to the fivemember standing committee of the ruling party’s Politburo and also was given the post of a vicechairman of the Central Military Commission at the party. Jong-un’s aunt. • 19 . “Kim Jong-il was negligent of politics based on communication. which analysts said has made it easy to mobilise the military manpower in state projects and others at a time of economic travails. “Unlike his father. economic conditions are bad. In stark contrast to the autocratic image of his late father Kim Jong-il. “North Koreans still harbour nostalgia for the Kim Il-sung era when economic conditions were quite good. but was lacking confidence and energy.” said Ahn.” Palpable during Sunday’s speech was what analysts called an “imitation” of Kim Il-sung. Although the speech went smoothly given his lack of experience. “As he looked shy when he received cheers at a parliamentary session rather than showing an image of his wielding a formidable power. Kim Jong-un appears to take more care in communicating with the public through his on-site guidance and direct contacts with his people.” said Ahn Chan-il. “He looked somewhat daunted by the fact that it was his first time to deliver the speech to a gathering of tens of thousands of people. thought to be in his late 20s. and her husband Jang Song-thaek still hold considerable power without bringing themselves to the fore. who gained top posts in the ruling Workers’ Party and the National Defence Commission last week. Jong-un can ride on the revived loyalty and respect for the national founder. monotonous voice. Last week. His gestures and appearance were apparently designed to conjure up the image of the beloved leader. “The most important heavyweights do not appear at the vanguard. His aunt and uncle are behind the scenes and appear to have strong influence in the decision-making process in the North. the fledgling leader. Jong-un has conducted a leadership reshuffle in the ruling party and the 1. “By imitating his grandfather. experts said that the communist state may continue to resort to aggressive foreign policy and could conduct a third nuclear test in the near future. What drew much attention is the rise of Choe Ryong-hae. In apparent efforts to make power elites coalesce around him. a longtime aide to the Kim dynasty. Jongun rose to power only after a few years of preparation.

As in Indonesia. “If that is the case. Looking at the state’s inability to defend its women. 2012 ∞∞SELf-dEfEnCE TipS . PRAY. The journalist seems to have plenty of solid reasons to arm herself in such a way. The mother of two said she April 20-May 3. The National Commission on Violence against Woman recorded a 13 per cent increase in the number of cases reported in 2011 with 119. encouraging her to take matters into her own hands. Being in a profession that requires her to be mobile all the time. blamed the escalation on the ignorance of law enforcers in dealing with such cases. girl more prone to many types of crimes. makes the The increasing cases of violence against women from year to year have actually shown how unreliable Indonesian law enforcers are when it comes to protecting female citizens. In Indonesia. it is no surprise that some brave female figures decided to act to defend themselves. for example. snatching her wallet without giving her a chance to fight back. who recently bought pepper spray online to arm herself against 20 • the bad guys on the street. Famega and perhaps other Indonesian women know that they cannot always rely on the authorities to defend them all the time. these women’s battles now include kicking. attacking and pepper spraying any men who threaten their safety.” Famega explains. Th e s ex u a l a b u s e o n p u bl i c transportation that has occurred lately has added to her concerns over her safety. The 26-year-old decided to purchase the spray following an incident when her wallet was stolen. women arm themselves in a society that fails to defend them. These courageous figures include 37-year-old Winta Dewi.107 cases from 105. they tend to corner the victims and blame them for dressing inappropriately. Yustina Rostiawati.103 the previous year.SOCIETY INDONESIA By Ika Krismantari The Jakarta Post Aikido students fight each other during a class in Senayan. FIGHT bAck In a society unable to protect them. A group of pickpockets cornered Famega on a bus last year.” Yustina says. The commission collected the data from 395 centres for women scattered in 33 provinces in Indonesia. Her diminutive figure and innocent look have made her an easy target for criminals. mostly to protect herself from criminals on the streets of Jakarta. Indonesian women learn self-defence I ❖ Jakarta t’s not easy being a woman. “I bought the device so I can give these guys a lesson in the future. And. the rising c a s e s o f v i o l e n c e a ga i n s t women in public places and in the home have left women with no choice but to fight back to protect themselves. But that doesn’t mean women can’t cut it in this tough world. The commissioner. a petite woman who works as a secretary in Jakarta. One of the women joining this band of sisters is Famega Syavira Putri. it will be difficult for women to get protection (from the authorities). ∞∞LaCK Of pROTECTiOn EAT. Instead of offering assistance. hitting. including late at night. She referred to the way the authorities handle rape cases.

Pane has acknowledged the police’s “wrong approach” in handling these cases. considered to have failed to pro.” says kristi Poerwandari. Aikido. as Self-defence is considered a last resort for women who have victims are prone undergone or fear abuse in Indonesia. violence take their crimes lightly Looking at the problem. a psychologist focusing on gender and women’s studies from the University of Indonesia (UI). 2012 . sociologists and other experts on women’s issues doubt its effectiveness. • 21 April 20-May 3. explains that the goal of learning aikido. he adds. almost half of Emilia’s 400 students are women. however. it is better to safety. that’s where the t e c t i t s wo m e n . kristi says.90) for pepper spray. is not solely to learn good fighting skills but also to maintain alertness of the surroundings.rogation sessions as law enforcers tives. they tend to seek reconciliation between the victims and perpetrators. However. In fact. a Japanese martial art. As the need for self-protection for women is increasing. One example showing the government’s indifference is the small number of female police officers. Lany says. an aikido training centre in Senayan. seek help from your surroundThese female forces are a reings. trains people to increase their self-awareness and use the enemies’ power to beat them. fo r i n s t a n c e. she adds.” says Emilia kusuma. “Most of the women in my class learn aikido for self-defence. who is still 4 months old.” she proudly shares. believing the personal fight is only a short-term solution that does not resolve the root of the problem. and the most realistic solution is to fight. minder of the men’s saying that a The reason why Indonesia is women’s place is in the kitchen.” Neta says. but have also triggered a new trend of b uy i n g p e r s o n a l s e l f. The law enforcer’s lack of gender sensitivity has also worsened the situation. “I once beat a guy trying to harass me at a crossing bridge in Sudirman. Winta. “We also plan to buy a taser gun for our child. “We must remember that most abuse of women happens at home ∞∞ROOT Of pRObLEm Psychologists consider this a woman’s last resort to protect herself. “This means that the feeling of being threatened has culminated UNFPA national programme officer on gender Lany Harijanti. “In domestic violence cases. to b e v i c t i m i s e d again during interby family members and close rela.000 rupiah (US$10. i n stead of processing the report. accusing them of instigating Fund (UNFPA) says. the founder of Sakura Dojo. Luckily. Things can get worse. Winta has been in aikido class for two years so criminals really should not underestimate the small woman of only 151 centimetres tall. become more sensitive and be on But these culprits may have to guard to women’s safety.Just remember.” Martha Santoso Ismail of also place the blame on the womthe United Nations Population an. is that women have never been its priority. Women need to react actively. a c c o rd i n g t o knives are kept. which doesn’t promote violence. it is not only women who are interested in buying. Indonesia Police Watch coordinator Neta S. She estimated that currently female police officers only account for 3 per cent of the total.frequently received threats from unknown men who harassed her on the street. beware of the existence of a group “Wh en the country and law of women who aren’t afraid of enforcers cannot be relied on to turning violent to fight for their protect women. UI soci.d e fe n c e weapons like pepper spray and handheld stun guns.” she says. Denny Armandhanu plans to buy one for his wife so she can protect herself when she goes home late at night. a figure that is deemed far from enough to give assistance to female victims in cases of violence. the fact that more than 70 per cent This kind of approach has made of cases of violence against women perpetrators of rape and sexual are domestic violence. under conditions in which the country has failed to defend them. The cases of violence have not only increased women’s insecurity about their own safety and prompted the swarming of Indonesian women to martial arts classes. Women can easily get these devices on the Internet at affordable prices of less than they may go unharmed in the ologist Purnianti urged society to legal process.” the 26-year-old says jokingly. referring to the crime.

A Pakistani nomad woman carries a bucket of camel milk on her head for sale along a street in Peshawar on the eve of International Women’s Day. “Women in general are discriminated by men of their own families because they are considered to be carrying the responsibility of safe- guarding their honour. Inaccessibility to appropriate health facilities.” says Brohi.4 per cent of non-Muslim women have no political participation which according to April 20-May 3. Women are then subjected to discrimination because of the fact that they profess other faiths. educational institutions and neighbourhoods. education and other essentials of life have transf o r m e d m a ny P a k i s t a n i s i n t o “weaker beings”. non-Muslim women are subjected to more discriminated behaviour on different stages and level which increase the magnitude of their ordeal. killings and abductions for ransom of non-Muslims living in Pakistan puts the democratic governance of the country in question. is the only way to prove our stance towards a secular country. whereas 43 per cent complained about facing religious discrimination at workplaces. where male section of the society 22 • is predominantly overpowering. MAJEED/AFP I ❖ Islamabad f being a woman in Pakistan presents a myriad of challenges. women generally face an “unequal” share of hatred and discrimination. we will not be able to exercise the true power of democracy. And then the never-ending discrimination goes on.” said Nazish Brohi. “Unless we protect and strengthen the weak. with non-Muslim factions topping the list. Pakistani women are more susceptible to violence and other violations of human and civil rights. “A vast population of Pakistani women suffer from effects of double jeopardy as they are discriminated because of multiple reasons. According to a report published by National Commission for Justice and Peace.SOCIETY By Faiza Mirza Dawn PAKISTAN LIvING ON THE FRINGES Being a non-Muslim woman in Pakistan is very challenging and difficult PH OTO BY A. ∞∞dOubLE jEOpaRdY In a country such as Pakistan.” added Brohi. more so for a nonMuslim Pakistani woman. respectively. 2012 . The recent spate of forced conversions. Moreover the report also proved that 68. an independent research professional and a human rights activist. It is consequential to understand that protection of the suppressed and marginalised population of Pakistan indeed. 74 per cent of minority women living in Pakistan faced sexual harassment during 2010 and 2011. However.

Razvi is of the view that fighting for justice is perhaps the only solution to end the injustices carried out against minority women in Pakistan. Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Catholic Archdiocese karachi says. “This has more to do with our cultural values and traditions and we see this happening everywhere regardless of women’s religious orientations. 80 per cent of the women in Pakistan are marginalised because they do not have complete access to education.PHOTO BY FA RO O G NA E E M/A F P B ro h i ev i d e n t ly s i g n i f i e s t h e mistrust of minority women in the political system primarily because it does not offer significant assistance to them.” According to Justice Majida Razvi. Saleem khurshid khokhar. lack of awareness and education. It is important to identify collective issues and then formulate groups to voice them. however. many non-Muslims have fled Pakistan to seek refuge abroad. it is important to educate the youth of Pakistan. member of the Provincial Assembly and April 20-May 3. chairman of the Standing Committee on Minorities Affairs in Sindh says. Mangla Sharma. • 23 .” “Proper committees. However. Hindus. “Most of the people we live with are unaware of the problems we are facing as other religious groups which is why it is very important to reach out to the masses and share our plight with them. Chairperson of Pak-Hindu Welfare Association said. “Laws are for people and they should not serve religions. representing people from minority.” comments Sharma. “Tolerance is almost nonexistent because our curriculum is designed in a way which encourages young minds to harbour animosity towards other religions.” adds Razvi. civil and judicial groups. According to Sharma.” ∞∞KnOwing OnE’S RighTS Ernestine Christaline Pinto. Muslims in Pakistan do not consider the rights of non-Muslims and treat them as third-grade citizens.” said Razvi.” adds Archbishop Coutts. Hundreds of female health workers working on temporary contracts demanded the government for permanent jobs. should be established to assess various cases pertaining to blasphemy law and forced conversion. With forced conversions and kidnappings for ransom on the rise. “victims of forced conversions” should be provided counselling opportunities so that it can be evaluated if the conversion was their personal choice or external influence was involved. justice and other primary resources whereas 66 per cent of the women are not given the right to choose their own spouse. “Discrimination is carried out against all Pakistani women and the primary reason why this happens is because a major chunk of our women are unaware of their rights and privileges. “Do not misjudge our intentions because we do not oppose conversions. According to Sharma. Sharma is of the view that the judiciary does not counter-question the “newly converted” people or ask them about Islam in detail which is why most of the “brainwashed” girls are then sent to shelters. ∞∞TEaChing TOLERanCE In order to nurture and spread the ideology of coexistence.” adds Razvi. 2012.” “Unless our society admits the issues pertaining to women abductions and forced conversions. khokhar is of the opinion that Christians. our success to demand justice from the system will remain incomplete. “There are two major shortcomings in our group namely. “forced conversions and blasphemy laws affect non-Muslims of Pakistan at every level.” adds Sharma. Unless we work united towards our mutual cause we will remain unable to exercise our rights. “We have requested the Punjab assembly to change the curriculum and introduce other religious books in the academia to ensure r e l i g i o u s e q u a l i t y. 2012 ∞∞fORCEd COnVERSiOnS Pakistani health workers protest in front of the Parliament House in Islamabad on March 26. “The constitution of Pakistan discriminates us as women. ” a d d e d khokhar. Parsis and students professing other religions should be given the liberty to study their respective religions in schools and colleges. we will not be able to address them so it is essential to ‘activate’ the silent majority. In fact it will not be unwise to say that legislation and laws are manipulated to favour the majority. the constitution also empowers us by clearly outlining our rights and unless we fully understand them. we demand to end the conversions which are carried out under the influence of guns and threats. a practicing advocate says.” says Sharma.

and sharing of information by the two frontiers on movement of smugglers and other criminals during “hours of darkness”. Certainly. The BGB chief said they did not believe in curfew as every citizen of a country has an equal right to movement within the boundary of the country. The number of deaths is an uncomfortable thorn between two countries that have no ongoing war. raised placards in the gallery of a jam-packed stadium with “STOP BSF BRUTALITY” written on them. They cheered when the Tigers were bowling and fielding well. They had taken a three-point initiative. BSF chief U K Bansal said they would avoid.POLITICS BANGLADESH PHOTO BY D IP TE NDU DUTTA /A F P By Probir Kumar Sarker The Daily Star Indian Border Security Force personnel patrol the border with Bangladesh. it was a special match to celebrate. The photo was quickly shared by hundreds and several comments were made. who in the inaugural match of the World Cup at the same venue last February defeated the host team. outside the Fulbari Border post. ∞∞STEpS TO CuRb ViOLEnCE The Indian Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) chiefs have regularly sat together in Delhi and discussed ways in which casualties can be reduced. Both governments try to cash in on the April 20-May 3. Border killing has become a burning issue among the common people of Bangladesh as well as to many politicians other than those with the ruling government. The number was 74 in 2010 and 98 in 2009. expressing solidarity with the call. and thrashed the Indian team bowlers. there was something else not related to cricket. Amnesty International has also protested this human rights violation. spurred on by the spirit of nationality. they intended to tell the spectators in the stadium and those around the world watching the match on television the outrage they felt at the “excessive use of force” by the Indian frontiers along the Bangladesh border. they seemed to be students. which denotes deployment of additional security forces on both sides at the “vulnerable patches”. After the match they uploaded a photograph of their group standing at the top of a gallery holding several posters that had the slogan written. Mostly teenagers and youths. Protesters are asking why there should be any “exttrajudicial” death—a violation of human rights—despite repeated promises by the Indian top authorities. Besides enjoying the high-voltage match. There were some 10 fans of the Tigers. But within the cricket match. increasing people’s awareness on not crossing the border without documents. who. It was a victory against the world champions. An Uneasy Alliance The escalating brutality at the border sparks tension between bangladesh and india M ❖ Dhaka illions of Bangladeshis in home and abroad greeted the national cricket team for bringing them joy after beating India in the Asia Cup at Mirpur cricket stadium last March. the use of lethal force against unarmed people and those “inadvertently” crossing the border. at all costs. Rights group Odhikar in its 2011 repor t said BSF killed 31 Bangladeshi nationals last year when the killing of 15-year-old Felani was a much talked about incident. Dhaka also strongly rejected India’s suggestion to impose night curfew along its areas very close to the border to check illegal crossborder movement. 2012 . The band of demonstrators who regularly watch the Tigers’ matches in stadiums is also active on Face24 • book.

India categorically regretted the deaths in December. South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. the killings continue despite repeated pledges.” ∞∞nO End in SighT statistics mentioning that it is on the decline. and the people protested Bansal’s remark. are happening now and will also happen in the future…The state is not too concerned about it. since such killings are not new. firstly NDTV in early February. media reports suggest. The BGB chief in response told a local news agency that the members of his force do not shoot at Indian trespassers. the bodies of those missing at the borders were found to be flowing with the river current. the BSF chief invited the ire of Bangladeshis after saying in a BBC Bangla interview that they were unable to totally stop firing along the border. “These horrific images of torture on video show what rights groups have long documented: that India’s Border Security Force is out of control. the BSF will have to prevent those offences and it is the duty of the force”. This video provides a clear test case of whether the security forces are above the law in India. On January 21. in no way. but has never prosecuted the troops responsible. demanding that the force’s members be prosecuted for such extralegal offences. • 25 April 20-May 3. They were heat-waves blown in both the countries following the revelation of a video footage showing a Bangladeshi cattle smuggler being stripped and tortured by the Indian border guards in Murshidabad aired by Indian TV channels. The victim alleged that BSF men in uniform tortured him on December 9 last year as he refused to pay them a bribe. This is nothing These statements were heavily criticised by the opposition political parties as well as the people. ∞∞bORdER KiLLingS On February 28. He explained that “so long criminal activities continue to take place along the India-Bangladesh border. The Indian approach is. The Bangladeshi foreign minister. National Human Rights Commission chairman. Local Government Minister Syed Ashraful Islam in Dhaka said the government was not worried at all over the incidents of torture and killing of Bangladeshi nationals along the border. Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Kolkata echoed Ashraf. perhaps because the directives from Delhi do not reach the outposts. “The Indian government is well aware of killings and torture at the border. drug smuggling and many other things. Earlier. a term used by Bangladesh’s elite force Rab while publicising reports of deaths of “criminals” in so-called “crossfires”. former diplomats. who also said. who are now reportedly kidnapping Bangladeshis from the border areas. It was a part of the continuous suppression by the BSF men. Moreover. So. acceptable since they have been carrying out the murders without any provocation since the number of Indians killed at the hands of the BGB for intrusion or smuggling is nominal. BGB chief. These happened in the past. academicians. leaving aside all other businesses.” said Meenakshi Ganguly. the number of deaths is an uncomfortable thorn between two countries that have no ongoing war between them and are both striving for peace and regional cooperation. 2012 . but defended its barbaric behaviour by saying that the BSF sometimes shoots for “selfdefence”.new. “Many such incidents are taking place in the bordering areas of the countries— cattle lifting. It is not right that the state shall focus only on these issues.” he said. but arrest and try them under the laws of the land and in line with the International Human Rights Convention.

after assault rifles and explosives were found in his house. who won as an independent. has played a crucial role in helping the young Chief Minister garner votes from his Kunda constituency in western Uttar Pradesh. ranging from murder to extortion. He maintained that his prison stint made him the right person for the job. April 20-May 3. Popularly known as Raja Bhaiyya. Perhaps the most controversial is the appointment of the infamous Raghuraj Pratap Singh as prisons minister. strongmen and criminals have always been prominent in Indian politics ❖ New Delhi I 26 • n February. Singh spent 26 months behind bars some years ago on charges of terrorism. saying it was the anti-corruption crusaders who were a den of criminals. Eleven of the 47 ministers in the new Cabinet have criminal cases pending. 2012 . inviting criticism of 38-year-old Akhilesh Yadav. Yadav’s son Akhilesh has reignited the debate by appointing politicians with criminal records as ministers in his Samajwadi Party government in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Politicians erupted with fury. Singh. Mulayam Singh Yadav. He also has eight other criminal cases pending against him.POLITICS INDIA By Nirmala Ganapathy The Straits Times Heavy Mix Of CriMe & POlitiCs in india Local mafia dons. with one MP. Indian anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal stirred up a hornet’s nest by calling the country’s parliamentarians criminals. Now. who swept to power a month ago promising to rid the state of crime.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda. who also heads the Vigilance. Local mafia dons.” Milan Vaishnav from the University of Pennsylvania wrote in a recent article on Uttar Pradesh: “Voters are not ignorant or uninformed. there is Moloy Ghatak from the eastern state of West Bengal.” he said.. Their wealth and influence have served political parties looking for support across multiple castes and religions. maintain that they have been framed by their political rivals. you will see a change in the state. Then there is the southern state of Kerala’s Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Most of them. justice and prisons. asking one prison chief to improve the quality of jail food. 2011. who took pains to change the image of his Samajwadi Party from a party of goons to a progressive one. For example. given to candidates with muscle power or money. and attacking and holding journalists hostage. who heads the Department of Criminal Justice and Vigilance. 2012 India’s civil society member Arvind Kejriwal burns a copy of the Lokpal Bill during a protest on the outskirts of New Delhi on August 4.” In many remote areas. it is the local mafia dons and strongmen whose influence remains the strongest. an advocacy group: “I don’t think people want this type of candidate to represent them. national coordinator for the Association for Democratic Reforms. Akhilesh Yadav. and has one criminal case against him. There are so many allegations that tickets (for contesting elections) are April 20-May 3. The Indian government on August 4 introduced a new anti-corruption bill in parliament. illegal tax collection.. which activists have panned for exempting the prime minister from the scrutiny of a powerful new ombudsman. firing guns in the air in celebration. is facing six criminal charges. Singh has started work on improving the lives of prisoners. 143 members of the 403-seat assembly have criminal backgrounds. In the past month alone. Uttar Pradesh is not the only state with the dubious distinction of having Cabinet-ranked ministers with criminal records or facing criminal charges. In India’s Lower House of Parliament. Since taking office about two weeks ago. strongmen and criminals have always been prominent in Indian politics. A s t u d y b y the Zee Resear ch Group found that in four out of seven states that got new governments in the past year. • 27 . In two to three months. Spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary said the party is taking action in all the cases. compared with 128 in the previous parliament.PHOTO BY SAJJA D HUSSA IN / A F P “My first-hand experience will help me usher in jail reforms. 162 of the 545 members are facing criminal charges. Law and Justice Department. After the recently concluded elections in Uttar Pradesh. they just don’t have a choice. Analysts said the problem is that political parties choose candidates with criminal backgrounds because they have influence in their areas and can get votes from their communities. like Singh.” the 42-year-old told an Indian newspaper. They are simply looking for candidates who can best fill a perceived representational vacuum. has himself struggled since taking power. politicians facing criminal charges have control over the departments of law. where he is in charge of the Law and Judicial Department. “Some 25 people have been kicked out of the party for these incidents. These include incidents of party workers shooting at government officials. He has six criminal cases against him. more than two dozen violent incidents involving his own party workers have been recorded. Said Anil Bairwal.

2012 . in February last year.LIFE A dealer stands by a table at the opening of Singapore’s first casino. The site features a do-it-yourself checklist to help alert people at risk of problem gambling. By Cheryl Ong The Straits Times PH OTO BY RO S LA N RAHM AN/AF P P DO YOu HAvE A GAmblING HAbIT? An online guide offers tips on how to avoid temptation. The workbook was released earlier this month by the Institute of Mental Health’s National AddicApril 20-May 3. It also gives them tips on how to stay away from temptation and restrict their access to cash. limit cash access 28 • ❖ Singapore lacing bets I can’t afford? Check. the Resorts World Sentosa complex. Spending all my family’s money on gambling? Check. A new online g uide could prove the best bet for those who like a flutter but are worried they might be getting addicted.

” Nams is also officially launching its outreach programme for relatives of problem gamblers. Ang Mo kio FSC. and whether they have financial and emotional problems.” A recovering problem gambler. “But the g uide is useful for families to prompt the gambler to get treatment. “Gamblers will not get help until they’ve hit rock bottom.tions Management Service (Nams) in Singapore. Four family service centres (FSCs)—Tanjong Pagar FSC. • 29 .” But Tan added that online help schemes like these are “not meant to replace traditional modes of treatment”.” he said. “Having the website will be good because many people still don’t know where to get help. MANAGING HIGHRISK SITUATIONS Visitors are asked how they should react when faced with temptation to gamble. Tampines FSC and Hougang Sheng Hong FSC—will provide them with financial and legal advice. up from 217 the year before. and that’s when they’ve run out of money and feel helpless. to see whether they are spending beyond their means. said the guide will help make people more aware of where they can go to for workbook—could provide a first step for those who have yet to come to terms with their gambling problems. The National Council on Problem Gambling has been stepping up its efforts to make help availa- ble to addicts’ families. dO YOu haVE a pRObLEm? The website asks visitors questions designed to assess whether or not they have a gambling problem. and how to control their expenses. they are urged to call the national problem gambling helpline: 1800-6-668-668. UNDERSTANDING HIGH-RISK SITUATIONS This section explains why the person chooses to gamble in certain social settings.nams. “When that happens. Any help they can get is good. Its five main sections are: WHAT IS GAMBLING? This spells out the difference between social and problem gambling. At the end of the guide. Most would turn to their family. and asks visitors if they have ever bet more than they can afford. and tells them where they can go for help.” he said. Nams psychologist Lawrence Tan said the site—www.” he said. like illegal moneylenders. Chan Boon Huat. The 64-yearold technician said he spent nearly a decade struggling with an addiction to 4-D before turning to Nams for help after a relapse three years ago. IDENTIFYING HIGHRISK SITUATIONS Visitors are asked to think about why they gamble. In 2010. who wanted to be known only as Tan. AM I GAMBLING MORE THAN I CAN AFFORD? This section calculates how much money they have left after monthly expenses. Pilot sessions held from May 2010 to January this year were attended by 195 people. they won’t go online to look for answers. believes the online guide will be of more use to concerned family members than to gamblers themselves. “For people who use gambling as a way to cope with diff icult emotions. “These are people who seem satisfied with April 20-May 3. it could be frightening to admit they have a ga m b l i n g p ro b l e m b e c a u s e i t would mean that they have to give up gambling. “They turn to illegal places to solve their money problems. 259 new patients turned up seeking treatment. and that’s very dangerous. It has a calculator that balances gamblers’ salaries against their expenses. 2012 maintaining status quo and who would usually not proactively seek help unless coerced. who heads volunteer management and programmes at One Hope Centre. Nams has been dealing with a rising number of gambling addiction cases. called Families in Recovery through Education and Empowerment. the sort of games they tend to play and whether they do so because of the company they keep. which they are not ready to do.

2012 .LIFE CHINA By Chen Nan China Daily ON THE ROAD TO INNER PEAcE An actress and a photographer go on a pilgrimage in search of true self PH OTO S PROV ID E D TO CH INA DA ILY 30 • April 20-May 3.

I loved the uncertainty of everything. immersed in sunlight. When you are happy. Wei is known for taking celebrity pictures for fashion magazines. Hao wanders the forest. most of them black-and-white.” “However. Th is rep re se nt s. With her back to the camera in the photo.” • 31 . and my personal troubles also disturbed me. Hao stands at the front of the wooden boat. and you frown when you are sad. I didn’t know what I could get from her. I knew who and where I was going to shoot. while the 44-year-old photographer spent a similar amount of time learning how to follow instructions.” Shortly after they arrived in Nepal and India. “Thus”. But I had no facial expressions in those photos. “ We w e r e g l a d t h a t w e stepped out of our comfort zones. Wei was bored of taking celebrity photos in the studio. I n t h e s u m m e r o f 2 0 1 0. Wei and Hao were amazed by the landscape and its connection to Buddha. t h e 34-year-old actress spent 16 days learning to take control. to search for the truth of self. Hao gained international attention by starring in director Lou Ye’s film Summer Palace in 2006. one of the first great universities in recorded history. I started with changing my appearance. The journey was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. The theme of those pictures I was going to take was clear in my mind.F ❖ Beijing ling. The pair made pilgrimages to Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal. her long white robe drifting and one arm rising toward the sky. She is not simply a model in those pictures.” Hao says. “The glamour of showbiz blinded my eyes during the past 10 years. At the time. you laugh. “The journey was very.” Hao says at the exhibit i o n’s o p e n i n g ce re m o ny. S h e shaved her head before travelling. rather than the actress Hao Lei.” Hao says. the story of Hao Lei and Wei Bing will be compel- Wearing a hand-embroidered headscarf and a long robe.” Wei says: “Hao is known for be- ing brutally honest. such as the Chinese editions of Marie Claire and Vogue. which inspired me. “I wanted to be a symbol in these pictures. They spent half of June 2010 working together and created 26 photos and a documentary for an exhibition. I also didn’t know what the journey could bring me. with Hao. I used to think that facial expressions were the best way to communicate.” she continues. “We sought to find a way to refresh ourselves and find truths about our lives. 2012 or anyone who wants to try something radically different or challenging. “I regained my inner peace through the journey. she stands in front of a picture called Ganges River. In other pictures. very personal. the Ganges River and the site of Nalanda. a radical rethink of who they used to be. staring at the camera without makeup and covering her face with a large piece of white cloth. which had been twisted and covered by the chaotic world. while Hao was dealing with the fallout from a break-up. “We wanted to do something different. She also came up with ideas and provided direction. the B o d h i Tr e e w h e r e B u d d h a achieved enlightenment. and it’s true.” she says. “To get the sense of pureness. t hey say.” April 20-May 3.

The family brings chicken. Overcome with remorse. but “we’re practical people”. Massachusetts. ‘We provide you with certain objects and representations of objects. and a third-generation immigrant. you’ll have bad luck in the next year. families in China gather at the graves of deceased relatives. wine. or Tomb-sweeping Day. ∞∞COnTinuing TRadiTiOn “It is incredibly important to us that we honour our ancestors. Later. just outside the vision of your eyes. both when you arrive and when you leave.” The negative connotations of this superstitious aspect of the holiday may be a contributory factor to why younger generations of April 20-May 3. who are both buried in Boston. and you can provide them with what they need. but when his previously loyal companion refused to accede to the request. The holiday originated with the story of Prince Chonger (697-628 BC). Each member of the family bows three times before the gravestone. the king designated a day on which Jie’s memory would be honoured. “There is an exchange taking place. Jie died in the fire. It’s really bad luck. and you don’t want spirits to follow you. your ancestors will follow you when you leave. Lee and his family pay tribute to their deceased relatives ahead of Tombsweeping Day at Mt. the holiday bears little resemblance to its origins. Accompanied by a loyal government official called Jie zitui. with a laugh. and we are asking you to provide us with your support and good fortune. so if you don’t do everything you’re required to do. an urban planner and former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. food might have been left at the graves. the prince lived in exile for three years before eventually ascending to the throne.” said Tunney F. also happen on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. the Chinese honour those who came before us and made life possible ❖ New York O 32 • nce a year. i n ce n s e a n d pa p e r money. Terry Abraham. They’re shadows around the corner. as the long-standing commitment to tradition continues among Chinese Americans.” For some families. Lee’s family visits the graves of his grandfather and mother. SWEEP TOmbS IN SPRING SuNSHINE Wherever they are.” said Silvia Pan. a young royal forced out of the imperial court by a conniving concubine. Lee said. there is a deeply superstitious element to the ritual. “There is a feeling that if you leave without paying. there is an elaborate process of burni ng joss sticks and bank notes. and the common sentiment is that people who have died and have gone beyond to the next world are not really very far away at all. But the sentiment remains unchanged: To honour those who came before us and made life possible. lighting incense in honour of the deceased and pouring wine on the ground. The celebrations of Qingming Festival. “In my family. Hope Cemetery in Boston. he summoned Jie to his side. Thousands of years later. On Qingming. bearing food. joss sticks and paper replicas of worldly delights that their loved ones left behind. a student at Macaulay honours College at the City University of New York. “In a sense. former head of the Special Collections library at the University of Idaho. Lee. the king burned down the mountain on which Jie lived to force him out.LIFE By Kelly Chung Dawson China Daily Tunney F. i ce d w i n e. 2012 PHOTO PROV ID E D TO C HINA DA ILY . described the ritual as an exchange between the living and the dead. In the past. as king.’” said Abraham. the families are saying.

“But the most important thing is that the offspring still choose to dedicate the day to (honouring) their ancestors’ memory. said Sue Fawn Chung. Participants would be able to watch a s p r i n g d a n ce p e rfo r mance. In most cases.” Pan believes that the holiday will change over time: “I don’t think Qingming will fade completely. “It’s very superstitious. do you really think your ancestors can eat the food. in an essay t i t l e d “ W h a t We D i d n ’ t Understand: A History of Chinese Death Ritual in China and California. But Chinese immig rants are combating the distance by shipping the burial remains from China to the US.” she said. “There is a belief that the spirit stays with the ashes. so I think that over time it will be more about celebrating life. the festival is becoming more public-oriented in the US.Chinese in the US are less interested in the holiday. the sense of connection with the past mortuary directors in the Bay Area have noticed a substantial increase in cases of remains arriving from China for burial in the US. approximately 10. In addition to this practise.” one anecdote tells the story of a Caucasian man mocking a Chinese man for placing food and money at a grave site. reversing the previous custom. paying respect to our ancestors. the remains of loved ones overseas are reunited with the present generation. instead of focusing on death. but for many. may be weaker. professor of history.” Mak said.” PH OTO BY WANG JI NG SH U / CH I NA DAI LY PH OTO PROVI D ED TO CH I NA DAI LY • 33 .” In “The Chinese Mortuary Tradition in San Francisco’s Chinatown”. Crowder said. the memorial tablet isn’t sufficient and the bones of the ancestors must be honoured directly. so I’m not really sure if the younger generations will want to continue celebrating the holiday.” Chung said. Skylawn Memorial Park in San Francisco. Pan said. owner of Fook On Sing. “I think that because the holiday is centred around the belief that ancestors will give you bad luck if you don’t worship them. which has seen a rapid increase in Chinese funerals in recent years. and the bones shipped home in tin boxes. hosts various perform a n ce s i n h o n o u r o f Qingming. Rouse. Linda Sun Crowder reported that April 20-May 3. the bodies were Skylawn Memorial Park in the San Francisco Bay Area hosts performances of lion and folk dances to observe Tombsweeping Day.000 embalmed bodies were shipped from the US to China at the close of the 1850s. their ancestors may be buried on the Chinese mainland or Hong kong. but maybe it will take on a new meaning. Las Vegas. “Some families will accept a memorial tablet. According to Wendy L.” said karen Lew. and the chair of Asian studies at the University of Nevada. “It happens during spring. a funeral supply store located in New York’s Chinatown. although the practice was later discontinued.” Vincent Mak. This practice of shipping the remains from China to the US is a reversal of a common practice during the 1800s.” she writes. there’s a negative feeling. Dorothy and her husband Joe choose shirts made of paper for their grandparents who have gone for long time basket at a funeral supply store in New York’s Chinatown. and spend the money?” The Chinese man replied. drink the wine. 2012 exhumed several years after death.” ∞∞a TiE wiTh ThE dEad For many third-generation immigrants. education director at the Museum of Chinese in America. learn about the origins of the holiday and make kites in honour of spring. when the bodies of Chinese railroad workers who died in the US were shipped home to ensure burial near their families. although some details changed. “We’re hoping to bring it more into the public sphere. “The process of celebrating has been simplified somewhat because some of the grave sites here do not allow fire-related activities.” she admitted. So for them. said that celebrating has been steady in recent years. “Come now. from an American point of view. “Qingming is ultimately about family. I believe it will be more positive in the future. to be reburied closer to the family. Crowder said. “As much as your ancestors can sniff your flowers.” While it is generally a private affair in China. “As more Chinese immigrants make their homes in America. ∞∞Changing COnnOTaTiOn T h e Q i n g m i n g Fe s t iva l wa s among the death rituals celebrated by Chinese immigrants to the US from the very beginning. and also as an awakening for spring.

” says Zapanta. and Ralph Lum34 • bres. Naruto. the “Gerilya Komiks”. The series borrows the concept of the famous Power Rangers. a medium that reaches a wider audience—and gave birth to “Pinoy Rangers: Mandirigmang Kabataan. Tanod ng Kasarinlan”. and connect the old and the young. Nico Zapanta and Nico Villarete. who call themselves “Gerilya”. such as the birthday of Filipino hero Andres Bonifacio. 2012 . To make their work more recognisable and relevant. became an instant hit at the university. it’s a tribute to Katipuneros (revolutionaries). San Gouku. communicated a different meaning. “We do street art to inspire storytelling and initiate public discussion.” says Lumbres. a wall art made up of wheat paste showed faces of guerillas covered with red f lags. “In some ways. Collegian’s former Kultura (culture) editor. mythological and underworld creatures like aswang and tikbalang. Tagalog indie comics about the everyday life of a Filipino. and Myxkaella Villalon. In this case.By Jodee Agoncillo Philippine Daily Inquirer GUERILLAS FOR ART A group of filipino ‘revolutionAries’ provoke And inspire through street Art The artists (from left): Ralph Lumbres. mostly seen as an eyesore. Their first collective project. But five street artists. the university’s official publication. It decorated a side of an overpass. the thieves. all graphic artists of Philippine Collegian. Nico Villarete. Gerilya would post graffiti during historic events. comprise Gerilya. They are the bad guys. t h e i r f o r m a t i o n re s e m b l i ng t h e popular stances of Power Rangers. people engaged in or experienced in warfare. gave the word n e w m e a n i ng a s t h e y r e c e n t l y launched a graffiti exhibit in Kanto Gallery at The Collective in Makati in Metro Manila. University of the Philippines (UP) College of Fine Arts students Janno Gonzales. Janno Gonzales and Nico Zapanta ❖ Manila Rangers volt in T PH OTO S COURTE SY O F G E RILYA he Filipino dictiona r y defines gerilya as an irregular armed force. Gerilya aims to preserve culture April 20-May 3. Their first graffiti dealt with legendar y. the graffiti. and the rebels for a cause. and Eugene of “Ghost Fighter”. First seen in 2011. They soon found inspiration on the streets—a place closer to ordinary people.

more natural. April 20-May 3. When Gerilya did the Pinoy Rangers collection. The message just comes out naturally. Lum- Graffiti tribute to the rangers Fusion dance of soldiers into Shonen manga and Super Sentai. They tried to play up symbolism. specialises in promotions.” In this way. c an r uin their work. but their motivation mainly is to enjoy what they do. ∫∫ ViSiOn TO CREaTE Villarete says they don’t have any vision or mission. without neglecting depth and content. does the anatomy. A setup without hierarchy and imposition—a setup that is free— works for Gerilya. subtle and irrelevant as some people think.and instill awareness by being attractive to kids. the colours. thanks to a youthful attack. from rain or weather to a cleanup by authorities. What binds them. Lumbres says their effort is part of a consc iousness. Open up and enjoy. they claim. “Working with images and symbolism is something we learned in the Collegian. 2012 skills. wearing capes and imagining himself as Superman. “One must ask. but the f lagheads would point to the real focus. a Japanese superhero genre. an expert on comics and cartoons. however. the reason we are free?” Gonzales explains. he says. “We just enjoy what we do. Gonzales recounts play ing ninja. G e r i l ya b e l i e ve s t h e s t re e t i s their place. Each artist has his own role. who does studio art. ∫∫ ChiLdhOOd ExpERiEnCE Gerilya’s artwork was born from a collective childhood experience.” adds Lumbres. sug gestion. Villarete.” • 35 . who works in a PR agency. no intention to explain the evolution of the flags. either. Their work. aside from painting. enemies of their artistry. Gerilya’s members usually work during their free hours on weekends. eh (We’re like a band but we don’t disband. even if there’s no assurance that their work will be intact in the next few days. Growing up in the ’90s. The audience may be captivated by the popular stances. spontaneous. is the joy they experience ever y time they are about to do something they think is “cool”. Never stop believing and never hesitate to seek help—from your family. But Gerilya says they will not stop. Zapanta. your teammates and co-artists. and what could have happened in history had the two groups teamed up.” jokes Zapanta. There is a vision to create.” Gonzales says. for the accuracy of the flag details. “We didn’t start out with a similar cause. T hough composed of artists with different expertise. “Hangga’t may idea. The artwork involved ample research. more than their authentic and personal. the group is considered one. is not even for profit. editorial artworks. Street art might not be that aggressive compared to other popular media. though their graffiti art is for sale. he adds. focuses on exploration and mounting. Gonzales. The group claimed they are not in the business of spoonfeeding. We sealed it with a blood compact). Let the image be striking and allow the audience to decipher the meaning. who are the real Filipino superheroes here? Aren’t they the Katipuneros who fought for us. They even studied the dynamics of the pieces: What goes together. But their artwork goes beyond the mere popular anime stances. we will continue creating). it’s part of a lifestyle. The group was very much like the potential fusion of the “Magdiwang and Magdalo”. but Gerilya believes it’s not as tame. who spec ialises in conceptual. not forced. Tomorrow. There was. they researched on the Katipunan. bres. Gerilya claims that their artwork is more free. like a typical organisation does. “Para kaming banda. does the rendering. a common goal. kami naka-blood compact. tuloy pa rin ang paggawa (So long as we have an idea. pero ang banda nagdi-disband. While some are already working and one is finishing his thesis. Villalon is in charge of writing.

Cinemas were almost always full and scenes of people grabbing for movie tickets were still vividly remembered until this day. Rex and seven others theatres used to be perfect companions for local residents. Re x . ertheless. Capitol. All of the old movie theatres have either been closed down. Golden City and Ruby. O d e o n . Capitol. C a t h ay. As for the youngsters. scalped tickets were often sold near the ticketing counters. ∏∏ naTiOnaL anThEm bEfORE ShOw Some of the old folks could still recall that the audience could only be seated after the national anthem was played before every show.CULTURE MALAYSIA By Sin Chew Daily The Good old days of Movie TheaTres ❖ Seremban Moving towards the new era and breakneck developments in the entertainment industry. cinemas have taken on a more splendid and professional look T P HOTO S BY SI N CH EW DAI LY he recent demolition and refurbishment of two old building s in Seremban town centre in Malaysia was reminiscent of the good old days of movie-watching among local residents. Moving towards the new era and bre akneck developments in the showbiz industr y. demolished or redeveloped into shophouses or converted to other businesses. Among the cinemas that used to thrive in town were Sapphire. While old cinemas have died out. Metropole (later c al led Plaza Theatre). smokers could indulge in their addiction as no-smoking ruling was not implemented back then. Nev- ∏∏ OLd ThEaTRES Sapphire Theatre was the earliest cinema in Seremban built more than 70 years ago. cinemas have taken on a more splendid and professional look. 2012 . Most of the cinemas today are attached to shopping malls or commercial centres to provide higher quality of visual and audio enjoyment to the movie goers.25). they still remain in our memories.60) to 13 ringgit ($4. During the olden days when there were not much entertainment around. but they are all gone today. watching movies was the only pastime for most Seremban residents. A movie ticket cost only 25 cents in the 1950s but now a movie ticket would cost anything from 8 ringgit (US$2. The cinema began to lose some of its patrons after the 36 • April 20-May 3. Ying Wu Lu o .

the business had dwindled and the club was subsequently converted into a movie theatre. also known as Tai Hwa Cinema. However. A year after it was converted to a hawker centre. Metropole is stil l fondly remembered by many Seremban residents. although the original structure and signage still remained. Ruby cinema had thrived before the opening of commercial centres and mini cinemas. 2012 • 37 . Cathay used to show Western movies in the 1950s. Ruby became a part of the collective memory of many local residents. Capitol Theatre screened mostly Shaw Brothers productions along with some Western movies. Cathay was closed down in the 1980s and refurbished into a threestorey shophouse. Rex theatre used to cast Shaw Brother’s films including the hottest film One-Armed Swordsman starred by Wang Yu.opening of other cinemas in town. Following the change of name to Plaza Theatre later. One of the earliest cinemas in town. Opening for business in the 1960s. Built in 1964. Odeon used to be Paramount night club. used to be a hive of activity with opera performances at the beginning. Famous for the screening of black and white “Wong Fei Hung” movies in the 1960s. Sapphire was later converted to a discount store and now redeveloped into a modern furniture shop. The most popular films during its heyday were Come Drink With Me and New Dragon Gate Inn. Golden City had to close dow n and be transformed into home living centre. the premises were rented to a private college and a karaoke lounge. The dance f loor was blown up by a bomb blast with many patrons suffering serious injuries and dance g irls esc aping barefooted. customers began to drain away and the owner decided to let it out to a community care centre for missionary purposes. Rex was turned into a shopping complex after it ceased operation. Even the porn stars on stage continued to lure some patrons after the blast. T he premises were recently taken over by a businessman who converted it to a restaurant after massive renovation. T he incident is still vividly remembered by the town’s older residents until this day. With almost 60 years of history. — TransLaTed by Winnie Chooi April 20-May 3. such as the top-selling The Ten Commandments and award winning 1959 classic Ben-Hur. Conversion to shopping complex was carried on until recently when it was glutted by fire. Ying Wu Luo was reduced to a porno cinema frequented by foreign workers. Owing to the intense competition from other cinemas. Golden City Theatre. The new owner demolished the old building this January to make way for three-storey commercial centre. Due to the severe loss of audience and tough competition in the film industry. Ying Wu Luo Cinema start to screen mostly Western movies from the 1950s. a fire destroyed the building and it has since been reconstructed into a shoe store. Stage performances after the screening of “Survivor Island” by Petrina Fung Bo Bo made sensational headlines in Seremban back in those days. and later Chinese titles were introduced. After Ruby ceased operation.

On a weekend. in a packed studio at the Jiangsu TV station in Nanjing. If all the lights go out.ENTERTAINMENT By Ho Ai Li The Straits Times CHINA GAME FOR LOvE. I asked the same question again as I sat on a blue plastic stool. Paired couples get prizes ranging from holidays in Hawaii to crystals. 2012 . which I was watching during my workout. I felt tired and hungry but pondered a more pressing concern: Which girl would the guy choose? The question drives many a romantic-comedy programme and is at the heart of China’s top-rated TV show. size him up and mull over what his friends say before deciding if he is the one. the guy gets his choice of prospective bride. If You Are The One. A Singapore friend who knows a producer of the show had helped another friend and me get muchcoveted tickets to watch the male contestants appear one by one before 24 female ones. April 20-May 3. The ladies quiz the guy. cHINA STYLE top-rAted mAtch-mAking tv show provides entertAining insights into love And mArriAge W 38 • ❖ Beijing hile jogging at the gym recently. where an episode of the show was being filmed. It is a match-making game that millions here are hooked on. If more than one woman leaves the light on for him. off the show he goes. the knees of the boy behind jutting into my back.

is a wonderful window into what young Chinese think about love and marriage. 2012 east to the south for me?” As the show unfolds. there is no time to layer in the details and convince viewers that A and B will fall for each other. “You look like someone from a different era. Fellow baldie Le Jia asks all the hard questions. Really? I think No 11 is better.” You can go on and on. it is love China-style. only one couple from the show have tied the knot since its premiere two years ago. Bald and bespectacled Meng Fei. the first man up is a plump Beijing bloke in traditional garb. which literally means “Don’t disturb if insincere”. Like the former American Idol judge. We clap as he clears the cruellest round--first impressions. isn’t that guy sweet?” “Wow. During my up close and personal look at the show. So besides its mix of the strange and the beautiful.. I had expected to be entertained. Or No. at super high speed: The women run through five suitors in one hour and make snap decisions.” he says in the pre-recorded self introduction shown on studio screens. D o ra e m o n s e e m s way m o re childish than his 27 years of age. no doubt along with millions of other viewers all round China. who was also in the studio. Unlike a romantic comedy. she is ever ready with smiles and encouragement. cue tragic opera music. the ladies snuffed out their lights in quick succession when it was revealed that the handsome dude before them was a tennis coach—in other words. not to mention t h e i n s ig h t f u l .. It used to be worse. Next! They could not have scripted it better. When all go. The show has already tried to tone down any hint of materialism. casually curses as he fluffs a line about a sponsor before the cameras roll. The second guy is the total opposite of Mr Beijing. Once. “I speak the best Japanese among all the Chinese in the school. t h e s h ow h a s a heart. The lights slowly go out one by one. The show’s Paula Abdul is Huang Han. My social skills are fantastic. Dilbert.” one of the women says. viewers all round China are asking questions too--of each other: “Why did she go off with that guy?” “Aww. there is no getting round the fact that city slickers with high-paying jobs tend to be more of a hit with the women than small-town guys with dead-end jobs. What’s not to love about it? • 39 . If Beijing bloke is grandfatherly at 3 1 . he did not earn much money. But then there was a 27-year-old corn farmer with a degree in agriculture from Gansu province in the north-west who moved the audience when he talked of taking care of his blind childhood pal. the women often have to decide if they would move to another city to be with a guy. but to come across people with strong convictions who want more out of life than money is a real bonus. 22. Instead. He even got his pal to go on stage to appeal to potential spouses. a straw hat and a white backpack with colourful spikes. who bears an unfortunate resemblance to the pointy-haired lady in the American comic strip. Female Guest No 2 is hot. with his love of gardening and Chinese paper cutting.But so far. the men on the show often ask: “Do you mind if my parents live with us after we get married?” In a country as big as China. bursts his bubble: “Where does your unwarranted superiority complex come from?” Where do the producers find such experts in cutting male egos down to size? Or attractions such as Female Guest No. who looks Korean and sports a 1980s wavy hairdo. As befits a society where filial piety is a big deal. As for the contestants themselves. None rejects him based on his looks. called Fei Cheng Wu Rao in Chinese. Many viewers tune in each week more for the three hosts than to see if the guests are good-looking. for example. Female Guest No. 24. about life at the office. however. 8. Let us call him Doraemon because he was apparently so inspired by the blue and cuddly Japanese cartoon character that he went to Osaka to work and study. But he seems a tad old-fashioned. So the man might ask: “Would you move from the northApril 20-May 3. the main man. The popular programme. My eyes moistened. who wears a Cyclopslike visor.

In a sense. There was not a trace of discord even though both of them are in a position to succeed the older generation of head honchos who are retiring. W h a t ’ s u n i q u e i s C h i n a’ s culture of presenting a h a r m o n i o u s f a c a d e e ve n wh e n competition is cut-throat. testifying to the dangerous obsession with hushing up disputes and putting on smiley faces. and it exploded before filming was finished—in a way totally beyond the control of any producer. On reality television.ENTERTAINMENT By Raymond Zhou China Daily CHINA/HONG KONG The Great Wall Of Deception In Chinese showbiz. But the public is divided. Jackie Chan and Jet Li are getting old for ass-kicking fight sequences. he said he risked never working again in the profession. Vociferous condemnation from both camps 40 • lingered on for a long time. 2012 . contestants are so chummy. calling each other brothers and sisters and giving unremitting hugs. entered in the early 1990s. Donnie Yen and Zhao Wenzhuo. 48. 40. Think of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in Hollywood’s golden age. B ❖ Beijing ad blood between two public figures spills over to the general populace. smiling and waving their fists in unison. Of course. that one may assume they are all competing for the title of Mr or Miss Congeniality. one of them was kicked out of the core group. The other retorted tersely. Truth is. Then. By doing so. Even though they never faced off in their prime. but both were eclipsed by their forerunners—until now. Zhao Wenzhuo. He attempted to make a direct plea to the public. showbiz is more competitive than most professions. T hey said they were going to work for the common good. there is a prevalence of presenting a harmonious facade even when competition is cut-throat Kung fu supertars Zhao Wenzhou (left) and Donnie Yen before their public falling out. it is an ingenious idea to pit Yen and Zhao against each other in a project that has them playing opposite roles. They made a public appearance together. Zhao had more luck than Yen in the initial phase. they did attempt a token gesture of reconciliation in the form of The Forbidden Kingdom. their reign as kung fu emperors of Chinese c inema is gliding to a smooth end. the 2008 Hollywood action fantasy that served to tantalise more than satisfy with a definite answer as to who ruled Chinese kung fu. At 60 and 48 respectively. Although there is no stipulated quota for the A-list. Showbiz rivalries are common. Most of his peers took his side without openly denouncing the ousted guy. An attempt to blur onscreen hostility with off-screen rivalry is difficult to pull off. started his film career in Hong Kong in the early 1980s. (What? You thought I was referring to something else?) You see. Donnie Yen. only a handful of positions are available for a given April 20-May 3. I’m talking about the volcanic feud between two kung fu superstars. Both were groomed to follow in the footsteps of Chan and Li.

the industry would go out of its way to fawn on power players. has nowhere to hide. we go to such great lengths to save face that. To n o t b r u i s e g i a n t e g os i n volved. as was the fate of Donnie Yen and Zhao Wenzhuo. a t l e a s t t o m e . who never apologises for his hot temper on the set—but never denies it either. It’s not that other countries have pristine showbiz but that China’s is hampered by an overemphasis on outward unanimity and a lack of channels for normal debates. But everyone knows fame begets fortune. Compare it with James Cameron. the action hero. On record. and hiring anonymous agents to attack opponents is even more unsettling. who are despotic by necessity if not by temperament. but those who aligned themselves to one or the other will find it hard to be under the same roof with the opposing camp. Casting couch scandals are no longer novelties. his behaviour would be sold as “strict discipline” and “pursuit of perfection”. such as films slated for the same period. It is quite natural that those with varying interests clash. which are not exactly incorrect but add a thick gloss of virtuousness. once the face is broken. or the lack thereof. A black comedy ensued when three major releases. Over here. they invariably cite the love of acting as their only raison d’etre for being in showbiz. too. Well. In China. say. But in China’s film industr y. US has that. found themselves in the same time slot at the 2010 year-end holiday season. ne wcomers would have to wait for a decade or two. one should promote t h o s e f i l m s i n wh i c h o n e h a s vested interests. all starring Ge You. you may see those in different films struggling for exposure at screenings. What started as regular bickering for kung fu supremacy has evolved to be a litmus test for loyalty—loyalty that is based more on guanxi (network) than on knowledge about the stars in the brawl. No t o n l y w i l l Ye n a n d Z h a o never work together again. And a select few can have their sugar daddies underwrite big-budget projects and surround t h e m s e l ve s w i t h b ig names. The effort to conceal normal competition creates a false impression of harmony and unity. but his staying power is much longer than his equivalent in Hollywood because the Chinese public tends to cling to the old and is notoriously risk-averse for the young. It is the hypocrisy that poisons the public mind. Some actually pay big money to be in certain productions. And you do not unseat the “king” by guerilla tactics. Not only do actors battle for roles. I dare say the kind of outbursts of acrimony as seen bet ween Donnie Yen and Zhao Wenzhuo is not bad—at least not as harmful as sweeping every hint of disagreement under the rug.genre. The reigning king or emperor in the genre may flop disastrously. • 41 . T here is nothing wrong with the desire to get ahead. it would be get-even time. but also. but usually agitated from the base. Once it is dominated by a few e xisting superst a rs. the outcome is irreversibly disastrous. espec i a l l y t h e c re d u l o u s and the young. these celebrities assume an almost condescendingly endearing persona to the public. The trick is to create platforms where people clash over issues but maintain respect for each other. Since superstars have far more choices for plum roles and a significant majority of Chinese filmgoers are magnetised by star power. those who have different roles in the same production fight for more screen time. and the stakes are so high that people are willing to do everything to get into the envious coterie April 20-May 3. Pay ing for positive reviews is destroying the credibility of film criticism. Of course. Eve n t h e e t h i c a l l y dubious practices in the process do not rea l l y t h re a t e n p u b l i c order because onscreen talent. 2012 of top earners. i s t h e g ra c i o u s s p e e c h o f d e f e a t by t h e l os i ng party. Had his image been handled by a Chinese publicity machine. a star who has gained the top-tier status may never fear losing work again. Stepping back further. some have stepped over the line and launched clandestine smear c ampaig ns ag ainst competitors. though. usually playing supporting roles. That is why the most striking thing in a US presidential election. At the risk of being accused of schadenfreude. All the while.

I stood. 2012 . rectangular red clay was baked hundreds of ye a rs a go to pave ro a d s . I found myself standing at the gate of the Ayutthaya Historical Park. Remnants Of A Kingdom deteriorating towers and destroyed statues are proof of ayutthaya’s last lingering breath ❖ Ayutthaya The main Grand Hall of Wat Ratchaburana. My heart flipped at the sight of an immense wine-coloured brick sea. p i l e shrines. eve r y l i n e sharp. They drew up so high as if an invisible magnet was stretching the steeples they built toward the sky. Each of the solid. April 20-May 3. construct spires and celeb rate g ra n d n e ss . Th ey m ad e every aspect of the old Buddhist s te e pl e s exq u i s i te. every detail distinct. 42 • A fter two and half hours’ bus trip from Bangkok.TRAVEL THAILAND By Hou Weiping Asia News Network Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relics) at sunset.

” However.Asia at the time. I stopped before a statue with almost 4/5 of its torso chopped off.ruled large parts of present day lations of red brick buildings glow. I realised they were not common rocks but discarded Buddha statues. of the park for a while. They sat straight-backed and cross-legged. France. After 14 months of siege. had left a fresh wild flower on the one of the Buddha’s remaining palms. Today. Ratchaburana. the Netherlands. coveting Ayutthaya’s rich trade sources and also seeking revenge for its supporting of the rebels in the Burmese border regions. the young kingdom was one of the huge brick towers with a proud and enthusiastic fighter. the kingdom of Siam the k hmer empire. and ended in war. But after I approached. Ayutthaya had more T h e k i n g d o m o f Ay u t t h aya than one million population. A 40. Japan. was became a new rising power in recorded saying: “Among the Asian Southeast Asia. Founded traders from China. Ay utthaya met i ts doom in 1765. but hands were still there on the thighs. as if eager to get intimate with any human. Someone. buildings and historical records were utterly wiped. it dia. • 43 . Art treasures. Monks would pray and sing. a then British explorer. to its north. It was finally defeated by AyutI lingered outside the iron fence thaya in 1431. sailing between the ancient monuments of Ayutthaya. one of the temples. kingdom. But history took everything away. Britain. ing its heyday. and and destroyed statues were the controlling more trade ports. and. Few people Thriving on the land of red soil. A white-and. Its arms were gone. it was courted by did historical episodes. amidst the huge constel. were inside. Their heads The main gate of Wat Buddha statue in had been chopped off. Camboby king Ramathibodi I in 1350. ing in the sunset. was already in decline. wildly ran to me. It admirable vigour. probably a tourist. but no longer smiled. which had (Ayutthaya) is the greatest. The deteriorating towers conquering new kingdoms. Maybe in numerous days between the two wars. crowds of residents would gather in the grand capital city and bring flowers to offer the Buddha.Thailand. As (1350-1767) was a Siamese dynasty one of the wealthiest countries in and one of Thailand’s most splen.fought numerous wars with differbrown dog saw me. a tourist’s having fish in the water and rice in lone figure could be seen ascending the fields. Only bricks and rocks remained. flapped ears and wagged tail. Occasionally. 2012 magnif icence of the Ayutthaya Court is incomparable. too. Behind the dog was a sparse lawn scattering with grey rocks. Headless Buddha statues at Wat Mahathat. Portugal and absorbed a short-lived kingdom. a tourist needs a stretch of imagination to recognise the old capital of Siam. The April 20-May 3. Durkingdom’s last lingering breath. Suddenly I realised I was treading on the ruins of wars—the burial place of a dead ent purposes: crushing rebellions.000-strong force of Burmese invaded its territories. It rose from war. amazed. peddlers would sell food outside the temple and children would scream on the street. Engelbert CamSukhothai.The ruins of Wat Mahathat. nations. the capital of Ayutthaya fell. and soon pher. At the same period.

once totally unpopulated. largely unexplored island awaits discovery ❖ Koh Kood Koh Kood is a paradise to those who enjoy a quiet getaway. I had a flashback to Phuket more than 20 years ago. once a thriving commercial seaport. koh Chang and other is- lands in Thailand. The island is almost a two-hour ride by boat from Trat. Looking at Had klong Chao’s long stretch of white sand and azure sea. I felt like I was dreaming. it is called koh kong and is part of Cambodia. king Rama V. I was reluctant to write about koh kood for fear of what the publicity might mean for this pristine paradise. Back then. who frequented islands in Trat province. itself more than 350 kilometres from Bangkok. has kept it safe. koh kood has remained relatively unscathed from developers’ bulldozers thanks to its distance from the mainland and a lack of convenient means of transportation. Samui. That and the fact that most people in Thailand do not take long vacations inside the country. A peaceful clean beach dotted with just a handful of swimmers and without unsightly parasols and beach recliners is such a rare sight. Today.EXPLORE THAILAND By Sirin P Wongpanit The Nation All QuIET ON THE EASTERN FRONT A beautiful. stopped by koh kood on at least two occasions to enjoy its unbeatable beauty. koh kood has been part of Thailand’s border dispute with neighbouring Cambodia for centuries. Its remoteness is the reason why koh kood has so far escaped an invasion by busloads of tourists and investors. Ferry and speedboat services operate only twice a day. was named Panjakirikhet. But koh kood is too pretty not too praise. was found accidentally by a young Vietnamese prince who took refuge in Thailand during the reign of king Rama I. the easternmost part of Trat. one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. T 44 • ranquil and pristine. Having witnessed how the tourism industry has treated Phuket. koh kood is ideal for anyone wanting nothing more than to sit on the beach with a book. hiSTORY Legend has it that the island. 2012 . The fourth largest of the kingdom’s islands and located right at the end of Thailand’s eastern marine territory. April 20-May 3.

One dining experience not to miss is khun Benz restaurant. This is where most the tropical forest. the third Sonevacharted steep slopes and cliffs: if branded resort introduced the you want to explore.many people seem to eat at the noname noodle place where the owner plants her own bean sprouts. go to If you cherish nature. freshly If you have a little cash to baked banana cake and homemade yoghurt by the beach. however. offering spanorth is the island’s centre and the cious villas tucked neatly amidst oldest village. khun Benz showcases Thai cooking at its best. 2012 Explore villas hidden deep in the forests ExpLORE Go kayaking around the island and explore its mangroves and waterfalls lazing around the casuarinas trees with f ine powdery white sand under your feet and nothing on the horizon but the sea? Just pray the developers don’t find a way of building here too. you’ll need to concept of “intelligent luxury” to hire a boat.SixSenses. Many local families of the island. plan ahead because they only operate twice a day (morning and afternoon). tourists can access live and run their own restaurants many the beautiful beaches lining by the rivers so visitors can inthe coastal side. work.pleted in 2009. • 45 . For a good view from above. local people live. Comthe island. Next to her stall is a nondescript som tam place offering pa paya sa l ad w i t h f re s hwate r black-and-white crab called Manorah that’s abundant in the nearby mangrove swamps. Enjoy Vietnamese-style filtered coffees. But koh kood has more than beautiful beaches. is mostly un. The east side of dulge in a home-cooked meal and delightful company. river or the wider klong Yai river Thanks to the narrow concrete can be a peaceful and exhilarating road running along the west side experience. The vast and unspoiled klong Chao beach is a perfect place to chill out and swim during the day. stay for a few nights at Soneva kiri koh kood. Its lush tropical ChiLL forests boast waterfalls and abunThe best way to explore koh dant mang roves and kayaking kood is to rent a chauffeured along the peaceful klong Yai kee pickup truck or a motorcycle. BangkokAirways. who hails from Phang Nga. spare. There is a real paradise on earth. Visit www. Most resorts on the island will help you with ferry or speedboat ticketing and operates flights from Bangkok to Trat. which is a part of Soneva kiri on the north of the island. Promotions are available for Thai residents through September. offers no m e n u b ut c re a te s a d a i ly multi-course dinner based on what’s available. climb up to the hilltop Dick and Wan café at the southern end of the beach a n d e n j oy t h e i r a ro m at i c a n d strong Vietnamese-style filtered freshly baked banana cake and home-made yoghurt. If you are taking a speedboat or ferry to Koh Kood. if YOu gO T rat is less than 400 kilometres from Bangkok and takes about four or five hours by car along Highway 3 or 344. What are some local restaurants though could possibly be better than April 20-May 3. koh kood school or consult a doctor. Tucked away at the back of klong Yai kee river. koh kood. Soneva kiri defines that klong Mad community in the luxury is nature itself. Bangkok Airways (www. Private cars can be parked at the Laem Sok pier. Soneva Kiri Koh Kood operates its own daily flights on an 8-seater Cessna Grand Caravan from Suvannabhumi Airport to its landing strip on nearby Koh Mai See. Benz. index_en 46 • BEI J I N G STRAWbERRY MUSIc FESTIvAL The Strawberry Music Festival shows how huge the Chinese indie music scene is right now. 2012 .com April 20-May 3. as well as culinary arts. Orchestras from around the country visit to perform alongside the national Korean Symphony Orchestra. Fashion power houses from across the world showcase their latest designs at the shows. cinema.DATEBOOK SEOU L ORcHESTRA FESTIvAL Top soloists. Browse the creative talent on display in the booths and catch live entertainment in the performance and music areas. The buzzing runway shows and red carpet after-parties on Orchard Road are open to the public. contemporary dance.frenchmay. When: April to May Info: www. Singapore’s Fashion Festival bucks the trend. When: Until April 29 Info: www. multi-arts performances to fashion. When: May to June Info: www. Exquisite programmes ranging from visual arts. SI N GAPORE FASHION FESTIvAL While many catwalk shows across the world are open solely for industry insiders and style journalists. rising stars and up-and-coming conductors are all on the programme at Seoul Arts Centre’s Concert Hall during the spring Orchestra Festival. classical and modern music. Beijing’s Haidian Park is packed with fans eager to catch well-known international acts and local bands giving their own distinct take on the genre. ballet. When: May Info: www.audifashionfestival.sac. When: May Info: TO KYO DESIGN FESTA Design Festa at Tokyo Big Sight sees artists from across the world come together and showcase their works under one H ONG KO NG LE FRENcH MAY Some of the world’s biggest French-speaking stars perform at Le French May Arts Festival. opera.modernsky.

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