25 May, 2006

Anti-Porn Law Threatens Indonesia Democracy

The SCMP argues, in an editorial reprinted by Asia Media, that Indonesia’s proposed anti-porn law is a threat to the country’s democracy.:

Playboy-IndonesiaIndonesia’s secular identity is under threat from a proposed, Islamic-inspired anti-pornography law that would satisfy increasingly militant Muslims but begin curtailing the rights of the majority moderate followers of the faith. There is no room for such legislation in a country fighting to maintain the democratic freedoms it won so boldly by forcing dictator Suharto’s resignation eight years ago.

The overwhelmingly Muslim-majority nation of 210 million already has laws curtailing pornography; implementation is difficult, though — the rule of law is weak due to corrupt judges and police used to the ways of autocrats rather than democrats.

For conservative Indonesians, the result is the exploitation of women and children and the everyday prospect of being exposed to offensive images on news-stands and through the media.

But the bill before parliament goes much further than the law that exists, banning kissing in public and erotica of all forms. Be it erotic dancing or poetry, it would be illegal if the new law was passed.

There is no universal measure of standards of decency; each society has its own customs, traditions and beliefs. The Muslim faith is conservative by nature, but not all Indonesians follow the religion — the country has significant populations of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.

(Image stolen from the Telegraph)

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by @ 11:34 pm. Filed under Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Media

Animal Farm and Burmese Banknotes

Via Far Outliers, a anecdote on the parallels between the leadership of Burma/Myanmar and the cast of Orwell’s Animal Farm — plus an interesting explanation for the odd denominations for Burma’s banknotes.:

Animal Farm was unpopular in Burma when it was first published there in the 1950s. Many of the leading intellectuals at the time had leftist leanings and read it as a criticism of the socialism they admired. When the US Embassy printed excerpts as anti-Communist propaganda, the book’s fate was sealed. The society which had sponsored the translation had to give away remaindered copies. But years later, when people began to reread it, they saw similarities to their own history. I met one university lecturer who told me she had tried to put Animal Farm on the syllabus for English-literature students, but the authorities had warned her off: the text was just too similar to what was going on in Burma. A few years ago Animal Farm was serialized on the BBC’s Burmese radio service. For weeks afterwards, Tun Lin told me, Mandalay tea shops were abuzz with attempts to match the animal characters to Burma’s own leaders. Could you compare ‘the Lady’, as democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is known, to the exiled porcine revolutionary Snowball? And which pig was General Ne Win? Was he Major, the imperious old pig with a vision who died so suddenly? (Hopefully.) Or was he Napoleon, the grotesque ruler who grew stronger and more deranged each day? (Probably.)
456KhatNe Win was perhaps a bit of both. He was a famously reclusive leader, known for his foul mouth, many marriages and obsessive superstition. It was his dabblings with numerology that had the most dramatic consequences for Burma. In 1987 Ne Win demonetized certain banknotes, replacing them with new notes with denominations of 45 kyat and 90 kyat – each value neatly divisible by nine (an astrologically auspicious number, and the general’s favourite). People’s already paltry savings were wiped out overnight and, with little to lose, a year later they took to the streets in the 1988 uprising.

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by @ 11:06 pm. Filed under Asia, Myanmar/Burma, Southeast Asia

Bush Buggered in Beijing?

AsiaPundit does not in any way endorse the below Open Source Intelligence report, provided via China Matters, but as this site has tabloid aspirations it would be irresponsible not to repeat this.:

OSS Note: A major European intelligence service is absolutely convinced that when George Bush was a drunken teen-ager in Beijing with his father the Ambassador, the Chinese were able to arrange extraordinarily compromising photographs, including homosexual photographs with his Chinese male tennis teacher (the boy may have been so drunk he had no idea was what happending) (sic).

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by @ 10:50 pm. Filed under China, East Asia, Northeast Asia

Asia’s Most Annoying Busker

Although Singapore has restriction on street performers, during AsiaPundit’s 2000-2005 residence in the Lion City he on several occasions had the misfortune to run across Asia’s most annoying busker. How he ever received a license to ‘perform’ in the city state still amazes.


AP first sited this amazingly annoying man in an underground tunnel at the Orchard Road MRT stop, scaring small children and accosting pedestrians. In early 2005, he was again sited at the eastern station of Tampines. Singaporeans can be thankful that the lunatic finally made it all the way to Changi Airport…

As AP plans on making a brief return to Singapore, he is pleased to discover that this talentless freak is no longer in the country and is now haunting Taipei’s trendy Ximending shopping district. Via Anarchy in Taiwan, a video and comment:

Ok, I have to start this by saying that I am trying to keep an open mind about performance art and abstract art, but has anyone else seen this guy at Ximending with the moose hat? He is a foreign guy and kind of appears homeless, so I’m trying not to be harsh. BUT, he is either crazy or just plain the weirdest man I have ever seen trying to pan for a few dollars.

He puts on his moosehat, covers his face a bit, and has a couple of cat dolls around his hands. He proceeds to meow and fudgeall that I know through a microphone. Just animal noises and crap. I honestly can say I don’t get it, but it looks plenty retarded, so perhaps I’m not supposed to get it. Literally he just goes…..meow, meow..mea , meo, meeee, meows for hours!!!!

The above clip doesn’t quite capture the true nature of the man. Firstly, he has either lost the ’squeaking’ bunny slippers or the sound isn’t coming through on video, Secondly, he isn’t deliberately terrorizing small children — possibly due to the time of day, but it was something he used to do regularly.

AP has assumed that this lunatic was distinctly Singaporean, but is now suspecting that he may actually be raising enough cash from his ‘art’ to travel the region. Has his madman appeared elsewhere in the region?

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by @ 10:00 pm. Filed under Singapore, Taiwan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia

Associated Press Pyongyang

This is an intriguing experiment, but to suggest that a highly controlled Pyongyang bureau will make the Associated Press the envy of other news organizations is very much overstating things.:

NkflagAPTN, the television arm of the Associated Press news agency, has become the first western media organisation to open a bureau in Pyongyang.

This is a remarkable coup and will make AP the envy of other international news organisations which have been trying without success to open an office in North Korea, which generally bans journalists from the country, especially Americans.

APTN’s director of marketing, Toby Hartwell, told NK Zone that the bureau will be manned by three local North Koreans who “will adhere to the AP’s reporting standards.”

Negotiations had taken four or five years, and the AP had received guarantees from North Korean officials that they would allow regular visits by their journalists and news executives.

“We will be robust in what kind of cover we expect” from the three North Korean staff, a producer, a cameraman and an office assistant, said Hartwell.

Opening the bureau was “a first step, but a significant one,” he added.

If AsiaPundit’s memory serves him correctly, the only two foreign news organizations permitted to have bureaus in North Korea have been China’s Xinhua and Russia’s Tass. Both are state news agencies, and don’t stray too far from their own state positions. But they are staffed by Chinese and Russian journalists who would unlikely face much in the way of reprisals from North Korea itself.

It will be interesting to see what sort of copy the local staff will produce for AP. But as this is a country that jails cheerleaders, AsiaPundit is not expecting it to be be of much news value.

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by @ 12:17 am. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, North Korea

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