We were tempted to link to Despair Inc’s Motivational Poster Generator in our daily links, but decided against it as it was not really Asian content.
We hope the below posters rectify that problem.
A Reader’s Digest survey conducted in 35 various cities across the globe analysed and tested the politeness and helpfulness of people in each urban centre. More than 2000 separate tests of behaviour were conducted to try and find the world’s most courteous place….
Researchers awarded the cities points for various tests such as holding doors open for other people, assisting in picking up dropped documents and whether shop assistants said “Thank you” to customers after they paid…
Asian cities featured highly on the survey’s least courteous list. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok and Seoul were all ranked in the bottom ten. Other unhelpful cities included Sydney, Moscow, Milan and Amsterdam.
The bottom of the list is a who’s-who of great Asian cities including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Taipei, Singapore, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai. No mainland China or Japanese cities are mentioned in the list.
AsiaPundit is actually shocked by this, in no small part because New York captured the number one position as the most courteous. The Big Apple is a favorite city, but it does not have a reputation for politeness.
AP’s immediate reaction is to disregard the survey as a vacuous marketing gimmick, but he will briefly entertain the possibility that it is an accurate measure.
This article suggests there has been a change in NY since 9/11 and Rudy Giuliani’s politeness bylaws — noting a $50 fine for putting feet on subway seats. It the latter is the case, Singapore’s government should ask why its creation of a Fine City and it’s 37-year long courtesy campaign have been such a failure.
(Image of Singapore’s Courtesy Lion, ubiquitous in the City State, stolen from the Singapore Kindness Movement website.)
The last time AsiaPundit was in Malaysian Borneo he ordered a large coffee at Poring Hot Springs … it came served in a three liter jug and was far too much caffeine for one person to handle.
Friskodude points to an item noting that one of the island’s coffee makers has developed another method for perking up its customers (NSFW).:
Kota Kinabalu: The Health Ministry has uncovered a coffee company’s ploy of mixing its coffee powder products with Viagra just to make the coffee extra special.
Deputy Health Minister, Datuk Dr Haji Abd. Latiff Ahmad, said they found this after doing clinical tests on a sample of the ’special’ coffee powder known as “Kopi Kuat” (strong coffee) sold in the market at RM14 per packet.
“We suspected something amiss upon finding out the price of this coffee powder. We then took a sample and sent it to our laboratory for testing and we found it contains ViagraÆhat’s why it was called Kopi Kuat (strong coffee)’,” he said.
“This particular case arose after the product was registered under the Food Regulations Act. Probably due to strong competition, the company involved put in other additional elements into its coffee powder as to make its coffee more tastier or special. This is what we call a post registration issue,” he said.
AsiaPundit is pleased to announce the commencement of the new round of Asia Blog Awards. The awards are based on the Japanese financial year, which ends on March 31, and nominations are now open for the April 1-June 30 period, full-year awards are to be based on the quarterly contests.
Details are below, nominations for the below categories can be made on the individual pages linked below until the end of June 16 (Samoan time).
Awards are at present limited to English-language or dual-language sites.
Region/Country Specific Blogs:
Non-region specific awards:
Some categories may be deleted or combined if they lack a full slate nominations - and some may be added should it be warranted.
Winners will be judged in equal parts on: (a) votes, (b) technorati ranking and (c) judges’ selection.
While judges will naturally have biases, they will hopefully offset imbalances in other areas (such as inevitable cheating in the voting and inflationary blogroll alliances in the Technorati ranks).
The names or sites of the judges will be public.
Judges will be ineligible for nomination. As the awards largely intend on providing exposure to lesser-known sites of merit, we are hopeful that authors of ‘A-list’ sites that tend to dominate such contests will disqualify themselves by being judges.
The contest has been endorsed by previous ABA host Simon who is also serving as a judge (thereby disqualifying Simon World).
Traffic — the most telling and accurate measure of a site’s populatity — may be a consideration in future awards. However, at present, there is no clear or universal way to accurately measure and contrast traffic (sites such as Sitemeter, Statcounter offer results that cannot be compared, while services such as Alexa.com do not work for sites that are not hosted on independent domains).
This is all imperfect and will be tweaked in future events (with transparency, of course).
Most importantly, this is intended to be fun.
After 22-years of strong-arming the press as prime minister of Malaysia, former prime minister Mahathir Mohammad is finding it hard to get any attention. Moreover, he is being denied access to the state-censored press is is now turning to the online news outlet that has long been the subject of scorn from himself and the ruling IMNO party.:
Mahathir muzzled? Malaysian ex-PM vents on the Web
(Reuters) - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, never the warmest friend of a free press, has suddenly found a use for it now that he is out of power.
In an irony that escaped no one in Malaysia’s pro-government mainstream media, Mahathir turned to a small independent Web site, Malaysiakini.com, to criticise the government on Tuesday.
“He’s been complaining about being isolated from the mainstream media,” Malaysiakini.com boss Premesh Chandran told Reuters, explaining that the major dailies that once hung on Mahathir’s every word now didn’t have much time for him.
That might be because he recently accused the administration of his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawai, of selling out sovereignty and lacking “guts” over its recent decision to scrap a project to build a bridge to neighbouring Singapore.
Jeff Ooi speaks with the editor of Malaysiakini who conducted the interview.:
Malaysiakini editor Steven Gan who led his team of journalists to interview Dr Mahathir on May 16, a request denied for six long years and postponed three times after a consent was given in March this year, came home with two unmistaken conclusions.
One, it was a reluctant interview, and Mahathir has not changed his view of Malaysiakini. In fact, says Steven, Mahathir had strongly hinted that he made a mistake in granting Malaysiakini the interview. Mahathir, apparently, has been persuaded to do so by one of his advisors.
Two, the interview confirmed something many had long known, that Mahathir is not someone who would accept his shortcomings easily. He remains “combative, sarcastic, and at times, bellicose” when asked about the mistakes he had made in his 22 years in power.
After 22 years of Mahathir, we should use Steven’s quotation on our leaders of the present and the future all the same.
While the space programs of India and China have received some international attention, other Asian nations are also reaching for the stars — and overcoming unique challenges.
Ahead of the first space flight for one of the nation’s astronauts — hitching a ride with the Russians — Malaysia is seeking to establish how Muslim astronauts will pray facing Mecca.:
Muslims wash before they pray but not only is water a precious commodity in space, but it is also impractical in weightlessness.
Likewise, the faithful face Mecca. However, that will mean pin-pointing a moving location while in zero gravity.
And Muslim prayer times are linked to those of the sunrise and sunset, but in orbit the sun appears to rise and set more than a dozen times a day.
As well, the South Korean space program is seeking to develop space kimchi..:
In a move that’s sure to excite current and future astronauts, South Korea is developing space kimchi:
April 2008 will see the first kimchi in space when Korea’s first astronaut journeys to the final frontier. With the help of cutting-edge technology, the national delicacy acclaimed for its taste as much as its healthful properties will become “space food.”
Generally, Korean’s eat kimchi as regularly as Malaysian Muslims pray facing Mecca (perhaps even moreso, but the Malaysians I knew weren’t exceptionally devout). And you wouldn’t want an open bowl of kimchi in a zero-gravity environment.
(Astronaut food picture stolen from NASA.)
Now is the moment at AsiaPundit when we enjoy our feeling of schadenfreude. After a long career that included maintaining control by silencing independent media and internet critics, Malaysia’s former prime minister is complaining that the country’s mainstream press is ignoring him and that he has to independently publish on the internet to get attention.:
With his comments increasingly ‘censored’ in the pro-government mainstream media, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad has now resorted to air his hard-hitting arguments in cyberspace, says Malaysiakini.
Yesterday, Malaysiakini carried a story that summarises, in English, Dr Mahathir’s open letter that was gagged by the mainstream media though some of them maintained that they practised a ‘deliberate policy of openness’ under the Abdullah administration.
In his seven-page letter published in a pro-Umno website called Kelab Maya Umno, Mahathir reiterated that the government had failed to defend the nation’s sovereignty.Quote:
“I must publicise the facts in this manner because not many of my statements are being published by the mass media, although they send representatives to attend my press conferences,” he lamented.
Malaysia’s press is largely state-controlled and the current administration doesn’t care to hear from Dr M. But Dr M may want to consider the following: just because the press doesn’t print your comments doesn’t mean you are being censored, it may just mean that you are irrelevant.
The Dark Lord of the Sith is not faring well in Asia, getting bested twice by Tokyo’s Finest.
While in Malaysia Darth becomes a towel rack.:
Once I was the most feared man in the Galactic Empire.
I ruled the Imperial Army with an iron fist.
I was an evil and ruthless war criminal.
A mass murderer.
Now, I’m nothing more than a towel holder.
And Darth Made-in-China is long gone, after being sold on December 22.
As if further proof were needed that telecom monopolies are never good for the customer.:
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A Malaysian man said he nearly fainted when he received a U.S. $218 trillion phone bill and was ordered to pay up within 10 days or face prosecution, a newspaper reported Monday.
Yahaya Wahab said he disconnected his late father’s phone line in January after he died and settled the 84-ringgit (U.S. $23) bill, the New Straits Times reported.
But Telekom Malaysia later sent him a 806,400,000,000,000.01-ringgit (U.S. $218 trillion) bill for recent telephone calls along with orders to settle within 10 days or face legal proceedings, the newspaper reported.
It wasn’t clear whether the bill was a mistake, or if Yahaya’s father’s phone line was used illegally after his death.
If the bill wasn’t a mistake, that would be charges of roughly $2.56 billion per minute, assuming constant usage for February and March.
Malaysia’s Works Minister has announced a new government-sponsored roadside massage program, the BBC reports.:
Malaysia has opened a motorway drive-in massage centre, with the aim of reducing road accidents by relaxing stressed-out drivers.
Drivers have to realise “the importance of stopping to have a rest”, Works Minister Samy Vellu told Malaysia’s Bernama news agency.
The new centre is on the North-South Highway, which stretches the length of Peninsular Malaysia.
The government confirmed a second centre will open in a few months’ time.
Hundreds of thousands of Malaysians commute along a web of highways daily, but accidents - and deaths - typically rise during extended holidays when millions leave the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and other major cities.
It was not immediately clear whether road users would have to pay for services at the massage centre.
Via Variety’s Asian film blog Kaiju Shakedown, a fascinating look at Malaysia’s censors at work.:
No one really plans on becoming a movie censor. Maggie (not her real name) left Malaysia to attend graduate school in the U.K. She returned to Malaysia to become a university professor but unable to find work she wound up at one of Malaysia’s few private television companies, sitting in a windowless room and watching movies. She’s not the official in-house censor, but her job is to make sure that Muslims in these films are not shown doing “haram” things: drinking, smoking, or encountering pork products. She has generated hundreds of pages of notes that read: “Scene in which the Koran is discussed in relation to belief in the supernatural needs to be further looked into.” When she started she was promised some training, but a year later none has materialized. It’s just her and a VCR locked away in a tiny office.
This is an entirely voluntary project by her television network, which wants to preemptively remove anything that might upset government agencies. This kind of self-imposed sensitivity is crucial in Muslim-majority, multi-ethnic Malaysia, but, at times, it can seem a bit over-zealous. If a movie shows a Muslim girl walking into a restaurant with roast pork hanging in the window the scene is cut in order to avoid offending Muslims.
Curzon at Coming Anarchy is running a series of maps illustrating the gap countries, those are not within the globalized core. Not surprisingly, most of Asia is part of the globalized core while the Middle East and Africa are dominate the gap countries.
Curiously, by one measure, the highly globalized Singapore and Malaysia lie among the gap countries. Both states still retain anti-sodomy laws, although Malaysia is far more likely to enforce them.
In a 2000 speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Robert D. Kaplan said that in evaluating a developing nation’s government, we should focus not on elections but freedoms. Hasty elections in impoverished nations often results in anti-democratic totalitarians taking power, whether it be Germany in the 1930s or Algeria in the 1990s. He listed China as one example of an authoritarian state that is liberalizing in a good way. “It may not be a democracy, but it’s got a predictable tax system, gay and unmarried couples can live together, and so on.” He’s right—China repealed its sodomy laws in the early 1990s.
Tolerance of homosexuality is a side effect of modernization. England repealed anti-homosexual laws in 1967; France in 1982; Germany in 1994; and in the United States, 46 out of 50 states repealed anti-homosexual conduct laws and 36 repealed sodomy laws before the remaining were invalidated by the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas.
What countries still have laws outlawing homosexual conduct? It turns out those countries are almost the same thing as Barnett’s gap.
Curiously, the map on war risk insurance premiums also puts Southeast Asia amid the gap (though this is almost entirely due to piracy risk around Indonesian waters).
For more details see Curzon’s prelude.
Loren Coleman reports that the Bigfoot-type creatures reportedly spotted by locals in the Endau-Rompin National Park, Malaysia, seem to represent several kinds of hairy hominids. (The news media here and abroad have been all over this story. Link, Link, and Link.) At Cryptomundo, Loren puts the various reports in context and lays out the three "sizes" of giants that are thought by some to be running around in the Malaysian forest. (Ilustration of a "Typical True Giant" by Harry Trumbore.)
While the behavior of Malaysia Muslim’s has been exemplary throughout the crisis over the Mohammad cartoons, Malaysia’s government has shown that it retains its authoritarian view of press freedoms. Although milder means of censure were available, the state has decided to shut down the Sarawak Tribune for reprinting one of the controversial cartoons.:
Indefinite suspension for 61-year-old Sarawak Tribune
KUCHING: The 61-year-old Sarawak Tribune may not hit the streets anymore even after the suspension order has been rescinded, said the newspaper’s editorial advisor Senator Datuk Idris Buang.
He said the daily’s board of directors had decided to self-impose an indefinite suspension on publication at their meeting in Sibu yesterday morning, before the Government issued the suspension order.
“There may not be a Sarawak Tribune anymore,” he told a press conference at the newspaper’s office in Jalan Abell last night.
Idris said the board fully supported the Federal Government’s stand to suspend the licence of the Sarawak Tribune.
“We fully uphold the views and sentiments expressed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,” he said.
“We are extremely ashamed of the damage and hurt caused to all Malaysians and the country due to the gross insensitivity and lack of responsibility on the part of whosoever involved among the staff in question, particularly the editor-on-duty.
“We join all Malaysians in condemning this act (reproduction of the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad),” he added.
300 people out of job….
300 people, including the toilet cleaner, the office boy, the security guard, the general cleaner, the accounts clerk… who would have nothing to do with the cartoons caricatures…
… these 300 people who are… er… were staff of the sarawak tribune, where the cabinet had made its decision to suspend it’s publication permit.
the information minister, abdul kadir had said that the absence of sarawak tribune in sarawak did not man there would be less news in the state because the public could obtain news from the other newspapers, radio and teleivsion.
yeah right… why highlight such a trivial matter? what does it matter anyway? what about the absence of sarawak tribune means 300 people would be out of job? obviously they (cabinet) didn’t realise that. obviously they were not sensitive enough to realise through their action, innocent people suffered.
well if sarawak tribune had been suspended for a week or two only, at least the staff would have hope of working again but i doubt it. the suspension might be over a very long period
UPDATE: Kenny Sia’s take is worth reading.
China has shown a sharp downward trend in press freedoms last year, while the Philippines remains dangerous and North Korea abysmal.:
While some countries in Asia have remained stable with regard to media freedom, there have been sharp downward trends in several Asian countries, particularly China, Nepal, the Philippines and Thailand.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Freedom House, a non-governmental organization that monitors press freedoms around the world, assessed the levels of press freedom in countries based on the prevailing legal environment, political and economic situation and the overall attitudes of authorities towards the media.
The surveys were generally concordant in their results, with China, Nepal, North Korea and the Philippines remaining the biggest causes of concern for journalists in Asia.
"Compared to last year, there really aren’t many positives in Asia," said Karin Karlekar, Managing Editor of the Freedom House survey. "While some countries have remained steady [Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong], we can see downward trends in many countries in the region."
North Korea was found to be the worst country in all surveys, showing no signs of improvement over the past couple of years. All media in North Korea continue to remain tools of Kim Jong-il’s state, while all foreign media are repeatedly portrayed by the regime as "liars" seeking to destabilize the government, according to the Freedom House report. However, the report also suggests that an increase in international trade has resulted in greater contact with foreigners, which might allow for greater access to international news reports in the near future.
China has also shown a sharp downward trend in 2005, said Karlekar, which can be attributed to increased censorship of newspapers and radio stations, and greater Internet surveillance.
According to RSF, the so-called "broadcasting Great Wall" in China has been growing over the past year: The Voice of Tibet, the BBC and Radio Free Asia are among the radio stations jammed by the government in 2005.
AsiaPundit is no fan of ‘black metal,’ a ridiculous heavy-metal subgenre featuring men in leather and heavy makeup often singing in falsetto. However, AP objects to Malaysia’s move to ban all things black metal.
Black Metal culture has been declared as a deviation from Islamic teachings and those found practising it could be penalised under syariah law. The National Fatwa Council ruled that Black Metal culture was totally against the syariat (Islamic principles) and could lead its followers to being murtad (apostate). The council issued the decree after deliberating on the matter at its bi-monthly meeting yesterday.
“We discussed the issue at length to understand what Black Metal is all about and its effect on our culture,” council chairman Prof Datuk Shukor Husin told newsmen after the meeting. “It has been established that Black Metal practices are way against the syariat and every effort must be taken to stop its spread.”
First they came for the headbangers, and I didn’t speak up,: because I wasn’t a headbanger…
Via Jeff Ooi, a Malaysian newspaper juxtaposes photos of bomb squads in Malaysia and China.:
AsiaPundit wouldn’t consider this indicative of the relative strengths of workplace safety in the two countries - not by a long shot - but he does agree with Jeff that the New Straits Times has gotten much better at photo placement.
Via Brand New Malaysian, Centre for Independant Journalism (CIJ) has started a blog (in Bahasa) tracking how Black metal is covered by the Malaysian media.:
AsiaPundit knew that China’s stock markets would end 2005 at the bottom of the barrel, and that Bursa Malaysia would also rank low. Great gains by South Korean and Japanese markets have been well documented. Still, even for someone who keeps abreast of these things, this chart showing the 2005 performance of global stock markets in local-currency terms contains a few shocks. Not the least of which is that Zimbabwe topped the list.
click to enlarge
There are, of course structural reasons for the odd performances of some markets - China’s are well described here but AsiaPundit admits total ignorance on Zimbabwean equities.
That said, if a booming economy like China can produce negative returns on equity while a basket-case like Zimbabwe produces such stellar results, AsiaPundit would strongly recommend that Pyongyang establish a bourse.
(And if anyone can provide direction to a good article on Zimbabwe stocks it would be appreciated.)
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)
Malaysia’s bigfoot has been captured on film with pencil and paper (Via Boing Boing).:
The sketch appears to illustrate the more distinctive Malaysian unknown hairy hominid, which technically is a more humanlike cryptid, and very different that the classic, stocky Pacific Northwest USA’s Bigfoot or Sasquatch. I have previously discussed in my and Patrick Huyghe’s field guide, as has Mark A. Hall in his books, how the Malaysian unknown hairy hominoid reports divide into two quite separate types: those of the True Giant and the accounts of the more humanoid, Erectus Hominid variety.
This drawing, if it actually does originate from eyewitness sightings in Malaysia - and there’s no guarantee that this is the case - clearly shows one of the latter. If this is an image that we are to definitely now associate with the new wave of Malaysian encounters, it does reinforce the diversity of unknown hairy hominoids, and adds weight to calling this something other than "Bigfoot."
One year ago today roughly a quarter of a million lives were washed away:
Sculptures are displayed on Patong beach during a ceremony to mark the one year anniversary of the tsunami in Phuket southern of Thailand. (AFP/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)
The blogosphere played an important part in disseminating information, collating resources, and offering avenues for fund raising. The team that brought you the SEA-EAT blog has now joined forces and rebanded to form the World Wide Help blog [disclaimer: I am also one of the contributors]. On the dark anniversary of the tsunami tragedy, we refocus the need to keep the relief work going and keeping hope alive for those who are still waiting for our help.
The Worldwide Help Blog has sent out a call for observing the Tsunami Remembrance Week from December 26th-January 1st. Write about it on your blogs. List your favorite charities or better still, make that last year-end donation. Use the Technorati tag - Disaster Remembrance Week [HTML code:
rel=”tag” rel=”tag”>Disaster Remembrance Week]
While some in Japan and China have reacted with outrage over Chinese women portraying Japanese women in Geisha, more disturbing is that Malaysians are having a serious debate over whether the woman forced to do ‘nude ear squats’ by Malaysian police in detention was Malay or Chinese. As far as AsiaPundit is concerned, it would not be acceptable in either case.:
Personally I have my doubts that the raw truth of the situation will ever be known given the magnitude of the media and political storm this case has caused.
One of my readers (nick of Weng) posted this in comments.
still in doubt over the identity of the so-called lokap-girl despite ‘positive identification’ by Teresa Kok’s lawyer?
The first time we heard about this woman Teresa Kok told us that the woman was a Chinese woman of Chinese nationality. Weng, if all you have this time is Teresa Kok’s say so that this woman is Malay then I will pass on using that as infallible proof. After all she is either wrong this time or she is wrong the first time.
Which one is it? Other evidence includes that the government says so. So far the government position has been one of trooping out the woman in court (sutiably concealed with a judicial ban on publishing details) like a certain stained matress of all. Whenever the government side of the court room keeps on trooping out tired evidence and the newspapers keep on harping about it, we probably have a red herring they are trying to feed the public. At least this prime minister, unlike the last one, isn’t going to appear on national TV miming the act of masturbation, which is I guess something to be thankful for.
What we should be asking ourselves at this point is whether it matters whether the woman was Chinese or Malay.
Rajan has come upon a preliminary draft of the proposed constitution for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean):
7. Freedom of movement of people and goods shall be guaranteed except
a) When there is a national monopoly or well-connected corporation like Proton and PT Tri Polyta that needs to be protected.
b) When there is a pointless, wasteful, inefficient national industry that needs to be protected
c) For Jews…err, Israelis, in Malaysia and Indonesia.
d) For Filipinos and Indonesians going to Malaysia and Singapore, where in Malaysia they shall be placed in humiliating, delapidated camps where their rights shall not be protected.
e) To Acheh, Papua or occasionally, parts of the Spice Islands in Indonesia, the mountains of Vietnam, most states of Myanmar and the entirety of Laos, God-forbid any reporter sees anything there.
[powered by WordPress.]
28 queries. 1.130 seconds