9 January, 2006

zahari’s 17 years

Via Singabloodypore, Martin See is making yet another film. the release date depends on how long the Singapore authorities jail him for the previous one.:


In the early hours of 2nd February 1963, security police in Singapore launched Operation Coldstore - the mass arrests and detention of more than a hundred leaders and activists of political parties, trade unions and student movements, for their alleged involvement in “leftist” or “communist” activities. One of those arrested was former newspaper editor Said Zahari, who had been appointed the leader of an opposition party just three hours earlier.

A staunch anti-colonialist, Zahari had assumed that the mass arrests, set against the backdrop of Singapore’s struggle for independence, was no more than yet another turn of event in a politically volatile era. Freedom for him and the others, it seemed, would be secured once Singapore gained full independence.

On 9th of August 1965, by way of its separation from Malaysia, Singapore finally gained full independence and sovereignty. And as the republic embarked on a determined quest for economic prosperity, it dawned on Zahari that his new-found Singaporean citizenship did not accord him freedom.

By the time he was released in 1979, he had spent a total of 17 years in detention without trial. He now holds the distinction of being the second longest-serving political detainee in Singapore after Chia Thye Poh.

The total box office numbers for the previous film, , haven’t been released - although the Singapore government stands to gross S$100,000 from fines collected from See, which is actually a fair chunk of change for a 26 minute independent film.

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by @ 10:34 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Censorship, Film


Via the Committee to Protect Bloggers:

Spirit of America has launched the BlogSafer wiki, available at http://www.blogsafer.org. BlogSafer contains a series of guides on how to blog under difficult conditions in countries that discourage free speech.

LOS ANGELES, California - January 7, 2006 – Spirit of America’s BlogSafer wiki hosts a series of targeted guides to anonymous blogging, each of which outline steps a blogger in a repressive regime can take, and tools to use, to avoid identification and arrest. These range from common sense actions such as not providing identifying details on a blog to the technical, such as the use of proxy servers.

“A repressive regime trying to still free speech first goes after and shuts down independent print and broadcast media,” said Curt Hopkins, project director of Spirit of America’s Anonymous Blogging Campaign. “Once that is done, it turns its attentions to online news sites. As these outlets disappear, dissent migrates to blogs, which are increasing geometrically in number and are simple to set up and operate.”

In past several years at least 30 people have been arrested, many of whom have been tortured, for criticizing their governments. This trend is likely to increase in the coming year.

The five guides that are currently on the wiki serve bloggers in the following countries:

* Iran (in Persian)

* China (Chinese)

* Saudi Arabia (in Arabic—also useful for other Arabic-speaking regimes such as Bahrain, Egypt, Syria and Tunisia)

* Malaysia (in English—also applicable to neighboring Indonesia and Singapore)

* Zimbabwe (in English—applicable to English-speaking Africans as well as aid workers)

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by @ 10:20 pm. Filed under Blogs, Singapore, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Censorship

talking head on imelda marcos

Via Carlos Celdran, AsiaPundit is alerted to a great travelogue by former Talking Head fromtman David Byrne in the Philippines, doing research for a musical on Imelda.

ImeldaSol Vanzi joins us — she lives on the same floor. She informally handles Imelda’s relations with local and international media. She runs a website that collates Philippine news: http://www.newsflash.org. She’s 61, she tells us, and she immediately sits down, opens a beer and launches into a tirade during which she disputes all the conventional wisdom about the Marcos regime and Imelda. She just naturally assumes (rightly, I suspect) that she’s not addressing a group of loyalists.

She says, for example, that she instructed a video cameraman to hide in the basement of the palace when it was being overrun — after the Marcoses fled — with instructions to videotape the state of things as they were the moment the family left. She claims that this video shows that the various stories of half-eaten tubs of caviar and other evidence of excess were “urban myths”, as she referred to them. Proof that these things were planted — by Cory Aquino and others, so she claims.

She also claims the Americans most likely killed Aquino (I thought Marcos said it was the Commies?) and that Imelda was never poor as a child. This latter claim is relative; she certainly wasn’t as poor as the people living in the shanties squeezed along the riverbanks.

— but, well, by all accounts she did live in a garage while children of the fist wife lived in the house, and then things went downhill from there. As someone from an important local family she was relatively poor.

Sol segues into a riff on the very limited class mobility in the Philippines. How, if you are from a provincial town you are handicapped, even if you are from a “good” family there (this mirrors Imelda’s situation.) Anyway, she implies, as do others, that it is almost impossible to rise above your station — your accent will give you away, and even if it doesn’t folks will ask you where you’re from and then the game’s up. Shades of the UK.

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by @ 12:23 am. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines

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