8 December, 2005

misbehaving monks

AsiaPundit has decided against joining that Cambodian monastery he was accepted at earlier this year. Being a monk no longer sounds like any fun.:

Wayward, womanizing monks face arrest and expulsion

By Sam Rith

Regulations announced jointly by the Ministry of Cults and Religion and the Supreme Patriarch of the majority Mahanikaya Order have restricted the activities of Phnom Penh’s more than 3,000 Buddhist monks.

From December 1, monks may not beg for food in crowded places such as markets. Nor are they allowed to solicit donations with loudspeakers or stroll with women along the riverside. Violators face arrest and re-education for a first offense, and expulsion from the monkhood for a second.

According to the new guidelines issued on September 13 the directives will guide monks to behave as the Buddha intended

Chhoeng Bunchhea, cabinet chief for Patriarch (Sangharaja) Tep Vong of Wat Ounalom, said the regulations were aimed at the small number of monks observed during the past four or five years whose unacceptable behavior was bringing Buddhism into disrepute….

Among those critical of some monks’ behavior is 47-year-old Chea Chamroeun who lives under a banyan tree on the riverside in front of Wat Ounalom. He said he respects only those monks who have good Buddhist discipline - and reckons that would be only 10 percent of the monks currently in Phnom Penh.

“Since I was born [in Kampong Chhnang province], I never saw monks tickling girls, and climbing trees to whistle and wave at girls as the monks in Phnom Penh do,” he said.

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by @ 8:27 pm. Filed under Cambodia, Asia, Southeast Asia, Religion

13 September, 2005

short tuesday links


First they came for the dog lovers, and I did not speak out because I am a cat owner.

The Singapore blogosphere is reacting strongly to the sedition charges against the two Singaporeans who made racist comments on bulletin boards and blogs. There are good roundups at From a Singapore Angle, commentary and trackbacks at Tomorrow.sg, a truly awe-inspiring list of links from Elia Diodati.  Outside of the Lion City, former Singapore resident A.M. Mora y Leon muses at Publius Pundit and the story has hit Slashdot.

Regardless of whether or not racism is punishable under the terms of the Singapore sedition act (and it does seem to be) it is disturbing that the government has chosen this particular rule to punish someone for posting messages on a dog-lovers forum. That’s especially so given that the law hasn’t been used in a decade.

Those jailed under the Internal Security Act for plotting to blow up a Singaporean mass-transit station were seeking maximum fatalities and, in the long run, to bring the island into an extended caliphate. Still, the PAP decided to save the sedition charge for the ignorant potty-mouth poster at doggielover.com.

If the government thinks a few posts at a dog-lovers forum will "upset racial harmony" more than an Islamist terrorist bomb plot, I fear the PAP is more paranoid and out of touch than I had thought.

Double Yellow notes:

Not Everyone needs be Charged:
Arguing that other people at various forums made worse racist
comments is no defence. The Attorney General I guess has the power to
choose who he wants to haul into court and on what charge.

AsiaPundit counters:

Laws that are enforced arbitrarily are not just laws.  If the state does not prosecute those who’ve similarly violated the law, then the judicial system in the state is arbitrary and possibly corrupt. This happens everywhere for small crimes (such as drug possession in the US or Canada), and should be corrected. But for the big ones like sedition, sticking to precedent is especially important. Laws that are not enforced should be scrapped or adjusted. Else, it is arbitrary justice. . .  and arbitrary justice is injustice.

Usually I’m a defender of Singapore and, believe it or not, the PAP. The latter has, again, embarrassed me.

For those who come here for cheesecake, instead we offer a little beef… Hard Gay vs Yahoo! Japan.:


The story-line of this sketch is as follows: A character called “Hard Gay” (by comedian Masaki Sumitani
aka “Lazer Ramon”) thinks that the “Hoo!” in Yahoo! is stolen from his
often used exclamation and goes to visit Yahoo! headquarters to try to
get a deal. He wants to be in their ads, even goes to prove that he’s
popular by auctioning off his hat to Yahoo! online auction site.

On Yahoo, ACB provides a link to download the Shi Tao verdict.

On Japan, AsiaPundit welcomed the LDP’s victory, Curzon explains why the rout of the Democrats was not such a bad thing.:

Remember that Koizumi’s crushing victory is compounded by the fact that
it all began with him expelling no fewer than 30 members of his own
party, and replacing many of the old politicians with reform-minded
youngsters. The LDP will,
for the forseeable future, be a party of center-right reformists with a
mild nationalist streak. Koizumi is expected to push through an agenda
to clean up Japan’s appalling public sector. But this shift is not a
permanent entrenchment of LDP power, and the rebuke to the opposition has taught the opposition that
they can’t get away with vague promises to “change Japan by changing
the party in power.” In the long term, this is welcome news for
Japanese democracy: prune the orchard and the best trees survive.

They keep the stolen money, and their wives are shipped back to China. How long it will take to bring over their mistresses?:

Two former Bank of China officials who fled with their families to the
United States to escape embezzlement charges have rejected a plea
bargain jointly arranged by Chinese and American authorities,
co-operation which could pave the way for further such deals.
The US State Department, working with the central government, offered
Xu Guojun and Xu Chaofan, two former managers at the Bank of China’s
Kaiping branch in Guangdong, a deal whereby if they returned to the
mainland to plead guilty, their wives would not be deported for
immigration violations.

AsiaPundit has sampled ’second-beer’ happoshu and found it revolting. Like Far Outliers, AsiaPundit will be sticking with ‘first beers.’:

ThirdbeersThis summer, the major Japanese brewers have all been pushing their new "third beer"
products. I was motivated to sample them by the relative price–about
¥600 for a six-pack, as opposed to at least ¥1200 for malt beer.

"third beer" boom was sparked by Sapporo, which launched a beverage
called Draft One in February 2004. Made with protein extracted from
peas, Draft One’s selling point is its light taste and drinkability.
Meanwhile, Kirin’s Nodogoshi Nama, made with soybean protein, touts its
good flavor and crispness. Asahi’s Shin Nama, which uses soy peptide
and a yeast that the company also employs in beer making, offers a dry
finish. And Suntory’s Super Blue, which contains low-malt beer mixed
with liquor distilled from wheat, has a crisp, refreshing taste.

I’ve now sampled all of the above-listed "third beers"–plus Sapporo’s new low-calorie, "high fiber" Slims–and
the only six-packs I could finish were Sapporo’s Draft One and Asahi’s
Shin Nama. And if the weather hadn’t been so hot and muggy, I’m not
sure I could have accomplished even that much.

Mainland tourists vs Mickey Mouse:

GothminimouIt was hot yesterday, and so some mainland
  Chinese male tourists pulled up their shirts to display their flesh.
  Some people pulled up their long pants to turn them into shorts just to cool
  down.  Others squat by the roadside to chat.  Still others take off
  their shoes and put their feet on another chair to rest.  But the Disney
  employees did not interfere with their behavior.  There was a SUV on
  exhibit outside Tomorrow’s World, and a mainland Chinese male just climbed
  right inside to get his photograph taken.
A Disneyland cleaner told the reporter that
  the place was obviously filthier than the rehearsal days before, including
  when 30,000 people showed up for the Community Chest day.  There were
  cigarette stubs, water bottles, tissue papers and chewing gum
  everywhere.  He said that yesterday, he even saw a mainland tourist about
  to throw a lit cigarette butt into the garbage can.  Fortunately, an
  employee stopped him in time or else a fire might have been started.
A local tourist named Mr. Chan works in the
  tourism industry.  He said that mainland tourist do not mind their
  manners and they may affect the image of Disneyland, causing even more
  negative news for the beleaguered theme park.  Ms. Wong from Hong Kong
  said that Disneyland must have "figured out that they would be invaded by
  mainland tourists," so she anticipated to see mainlanders spitting and
  smoking everywhere inside the theme park.

Photo via Worth1000.

AsiaPundit agrees with Indaus, though he finds it awkward to say… save the swastika! In East Asia it’s commonly reversed, but it has no real association with Nazism for those who consider it a religious symbol.:

Hinduswastik27ujThe furore created by Prince Harry’s latest act of stupidity, ie: dressing up in a Nazi party costume, has led to calls for the outright ban on all displays of the Swastika symbol. This would be an extremely ignorant act, because most people dont realise the fact that the Swastika is actually a ancient Vedic Hindu symbol of wellbeing that Adolf Hitler hijacked to serve his own cause of Aryan supremacy.

Finally, if you’re driving through Tianjin in a minivan, please remember that it’s illegal to transport giraffes.


AsiaPundit should be a group blog, but most of the co-pundits are MIA, and aside from Manuel (with the excellent Philippine roundups) and the recent adddition from Gordon, this has been pretty much a solo effort lately.

Again, this is a sick day, and I should be in bed. But there are more than 10 co-pundits and none have bothered to post so I feel obligated.

There will be a short change of author status and a small cull of non-contributing pundits. Few are getting booted, but promotions and demotions are in order. Other contributors are still welcome ( contact: asiapundit @ gmail . com).

by @ 11:33 pm. Filed under Japan, Blogs, Singapore, China, India, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, South Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship, Religion

1 September, 2005

thursday links

Shanghai is a great place to shop! If you buy your DVD player at Shanghai Carrefour - even a cheap one - you may get a free DVD.:

Carrefour…so, on our usual weekly/fortnightly/we have no food trip to the Wuning Lu Carrefour, we purchased a new DVD player. All RMB400 worth (about AUD$60). We bought an Oritron-branded DVD player, it looked sweet. It was a lemon. We took it home, hooked it up, and our problems started.
My major gripes were as follows. It wouldn’t turn on. Well, you would
plug it in, and the player power button wouldn’t work - most of the
time. Unplug, wait for 5-10 minutes, and then it would work. Strange.
The converse was also true, you couldn’t turn the thing off. Unplugging
it was the main way we got around this. No worries right? Nah. The
discs we put into the machine would stall, cause the player to crash,
and other such petulant behaviour. Annoying.
But the crux of our decision was the fact that a lovely
surprise was included inside the player. To our delight, we were given
the added bonus of the ‘Adult Tempt‘ DVD. Lovely. It had several, suspicious, greasy fingerprints on the bottom side of the disc. I think ‘the playa’, as it will now be known, had seen some action.



How does Jiang Zemin want to be seen by the world and more importantly China. His state-sanctioned bio may give some indication (NYT via Imagethief)

ManwhochangedTo write his biography, Mao Zedong chose Edgar Snow, a member of the
U.S. Communist Party; Jiang chose Kuhn, a member of the U.S. business
elite. An investment banker with a zeal for science, high culture, and
business, Kuhn personifies the new ideology that has swept through
China since 1989. China’s state propaganda team even chose to leave the
name of Kuhn’s Chinese collaborator out of the book to emphasize the
American financier’s authorship. Nothing better symbolizes Jiang and
his cohort’s transition to a right-wing developmental dictatorship;
every year, they carefully chip away at their socialist heritage

AsiaPundit features a lot of Western expat bloggers in Japan and elsewhere, Global Voices looks at Japanese expat bloggers abroad.

The new CIA director in Seoul is likely a hottie. Or at least I expect she is. Every female Korean spy I’ve seen in a film has been hot.

ShiriIt was learned Wednesday that a Korean-American woman, identified by her
family name of Han, has taken over as the new station chief of the US
Central Intelligence Agency in Seoul. This is the first time a Korean,
and a Korean women in particular has assumed duties as head of the CIA
station in Korea. Officially, there is no organization going by the
“CIA Korea station.” Instead, the Office of Regional Study inside the
US Embassy plays the role of CIA station here in Korea.

Xinhua, China’s state news agency, may be changing it’s tone on the issue of revisionist Japanese textbooks.:

According to the major Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun, of all
11,035 state and private junior high schools across Japan, only 48
adopted the Fusosha textbook, merely 0.4 percent of the total and far
less than the publisher’s target of 10 percent…

… I don’t remember the Chinese press so clearly mentioning the fact
that less than one percent of Japanese schools use the textbook, or the
fact that some Japanese people don’t like it either. Progress? I wonder
if they are saying these things more clearly for internal consumption
as well, or Xinhua is tired of receiving the same counterarguments.

Google Earth is a spy satellite for the masses. Not only can you get the South Korean presidential compound Cheong Wa Dae, David at Jujuflop noted in the comments that you can get the Chinese Communist Party’s well-guarded compound of Zhongnanhai. Now Curzon of Coming Anarchy turns .:

Pyongyang, North Korea. Note the Ryugong in the upper-left corner.

And the Wannabe Lawyer likes Google Earth too, and says it will cause trouble for one particularly litigious patent holder.:

Virtual-Map, a business entity that specialises in converting public domain data into private ‘intellectual’ property,
had been successful so far in demanding extortionate amounts from
people who make use of their maps. What they have yet to face though,
is competition. No longer.
Now that I have , I don’t see how I would ever need Streetdirectory.com anymore. In fact, I can’t wait for the day when everyone in Singapore starts using . Then its bye bye Virtual-Map, find a new business model please.

There were a number of items in Malaysian blogs about this event, but the NSFW Asian Sex Gazette gives a good summary.:

Kuala Lumpur - A Malaysian men’s magazine may be censured for a cover featuring
a seminude female model draped in the national flag that has sparked an uproar
among Muslims, a senior official said Monday.

The pictures in the August edition of Sensasi Lelaki, or Men’s Sensation, is an
insult to the national flag and disrespectful to the country as it prepares to
mark National Day on Wednesday, said Deputy Internal Minister Noh Omar.

Brand New Malaysian has a picture:


Before anyone gets too upset at the Malaysians for being too uptight, please remember that the West also has its share of fundamentalists and flag worshipers. Why in the US, the issue of making flag burning a capital offense emerges every six months or so. No one in the US would tolerate anyone wrapping themselves in the flag like that. (link nswf near the bottom):


Err, both Japundit and Barbarian Envoy alerted me to this piece of incredible weirdness, OPERATION NUKE KOREA, you don’t even need to scroll to read… just sit back and enjoy the piano.


Travel writer Carl Parks notes another reason why it’s dangerous to use drugs in Bali.:

Orangutan_etching1Few Western tourists actually arrive in
Bali with drugs, since Kuta and other beach towns are overrun with
local Balinese drug dealers who quietly whisper their sales offers near
many discos and nightclubs in Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak. So you buy a
couple of tablets, walk up to the nightclub for an evening of partying,
and find yourself searched and arrested at the front door. An
Australian model (Michelle Leslie) was recently arrested with two tabs
of E in her purse as she approached a nightclub, and now faces 10 years
in prison.
How in the world does the police know to search your
bag or purse? The answer is obvious. The police are the drug dealers in
Bali. Or at least the drug dealers cooperate with the police to turn in
their victims, collect the reward, and most likely enjoy the return of
their drugs. This scam has been going on in Thailand for several
decades, but now it enjoys official endorsement by the Indonesian

One of the first questions asked by the foreign ministry, who needed to authorize my journalists’ visa, was: Do you like Chinese food?" My boss told me to be very diplomatic in the interview, so instead of saying "I prefer Thai," I said: "Yes, especially Sichuan."

I still like Chinese food, though I’m a bit nervous about eating anything here.:

More on the food scandals gripping China - news just in that the
majority of food production, handled by mom-and-pop producers, do not
meet even rudimentary safety standards. An article on Asia News Network
carries the story on why you can’t trust anything you eat in the country…

FoodIn 2003, the output value of China’s food industry reached 1.29
trillion yuan (US$161.62 billion), nearly 20 per cent up on 2002. In
the first six months of last year, the industry achieved an output
value of nearly 710 billion yuan ($421.95 billion), a 20 per cent
increase over the same period in 2003.
But reports in the local press say more than 70 per cent of China’s
106,000 registered food makers are family-run outfits of fewer than 10
people. And at least 60 per cent of these cannot meet basic sanitary
standards.Professor Luo Yunbo, dean of China Agricultural University’s college
of food science and nutritional engineering said: "China does not lack
regulations, but there’s a lack of unified supervision and control.

At least food across the Strait is safe… Oh my god is that the chef?!?


I have Taiwan blogger Brian David Phillips on my blogroll and in my Bloglines reader but, truth be told, I never really take the time to read his stuff long enough to figure out what he’s talking about.:

_brian_podcasting_post_versionviFolks will notice that I have added a new links category in the rightside bar here at Life of Brian . . . hypnocasts which is directly above hypnoblogs.
If you discover other podcasts related to hypnosis, neurolinguistic
programming, influence, focused trance, meditation, changework, and the
like . . . then let me know the address of the webpages that support
the feed and I’ll check ‘em out and add it to the hypnocasts
list (of course, I appreciate linkbacks as well). No, I do NOT mean
commercial sites with payfor mp3 downloads or even free mp3 downloads,
this list is for podcasts or sites that distribute information
interactively or on a semi-regular basis.

Atanu Dey has a must-read opus on the differences between Singapore and India, I’ve had a number of arguments in which I’ve either defended Lee Kwan-yew or lambasted him, but Atanu’s item actually leaves me speechless.:

LeeflagTo root out corruption you can use all sorts of means. You can lecture school children to take an oath to eschew corruption (as in here), you can prosecute a poor milkman for diluting milk (as in here)
— that is, basically you can start at the bottom and implement an
idiotic policy of targeting marginal players while shielding the really
corrupt. Or you can do it by catching the big fish and handing out
exemplary punishments and — this is the important point — publicizing
it so that anyone who is even minimally aware understands that
corruption is not tolerated by the society no matter how powerful the
person is.
This is what I heard. A certain minister, very close to Lee Kuan
Yew, in charge of housing (or some such) was involved in some
kick-backs. The word went around that the guy will surely get off easy
since he was in the inside circle. Lee asked the minister to see him.
The meeting was brief. Two days later the minister blew his brains out.
The message was clear: zero tolerance.

Michael Turton also has some thoughts on Lee’s recent comments on China’s anti-secession law.

This looks promising, Indi Blog Review a profile of Desi or not so Desi Blog(ger)s. First subject, Patrix and Nerve Endings Firing Away.

by @ 9:31 pm. Filed under Culture, Food and Drink, Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, South Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, North Korea, Film, Religion

10 August, 2005

wednesday late links

Another Avian Flu Blog, H5N1, offers a look at computer modeling of how an epidemic may spread.

Both studies look at Thailand as the example source of an epidemic, in part because the Thai government has been more forthcoming with useful information than China and Vietnam (other locations of known human H5N1 infections), and in part because Thailand remains a hotbed of the virus. The Nature team took a case of a single rural resident of Thailand coming down with a human-transmissible form of H5N1, then calculated the patterns of infection across the nation. The results — visible in this movie (small .mov, larger .ram), with red representing flu cases and green representing locations where the disease has "burned through" the population — are sobering.

H5N1 also links to clips on how the plague could be controlled. Improvements in computer modeling  are fantastic. And even if we don’t face Armageddon, a pandemic option would be a great feature for any new Sid Meier game.

I recommend that the man in this photo get out of China as quickly as possible, he won’t be popular after this is transmitted through the SinoBlogosphere:


While it’s not clear if this is the gentleman in question, ESWN reports an Australian named Paul said, "I cannot believe that I would be on top of the Great Wall; and I can’t believe that I can piss a full load right

Pissing on the only man-made object visible from space the Great Wall isn’t going to win you many Chinese friends, although Xinhua is remiss in labeling a rave an orgy. Still, if Binfeng is right the guy who couldn’t hold it may herald a new wave of Great Wall preservation.

On the China blogosphere, we are being watched. Andrea notes an SCMP item on a lecture given by CCTV’s producer Hu Yong.:

"The mainland’s internet police are keeping a wary eye on messages posted by its 5 million bloggers, although most of them use cyberspace as a channel to express their desire for individualism, according to a leading network expert from the mainland."

Chirol at Coming Anarchy takes a quick look at the threat from the nutty nuke-wielding, shorter-than-average guy with a really bad haircut, noting that Clinton cannot be blamed for the current crisis.:

I take a dim view of those on the right who tend to immediately and anachronistically blame him for problems occuring during the present administration. Though the North Koreans indeed renegged on their agreement, it should firstly not come as a surprise nor as unprecendented. The Soviets broke almost every agreement we had with them but it was still better to have some sort of framework than nothing.

Not a surprise indeed, North Korea has not only reneged on any military agreement, it reneges on every agreement! It is a serial violator of trade agreements, even with friendly states such as the former USSR and China, and is a defaulter on its debt. It’s a nasty rogue state and should be forced to stand in the corner until it collapses.

Speaking of Rogue States, good news for Asia, the continent does not feature a single nation in the top-10 of Foreign Policy’’s Failed States index. Plus only three nations cracked the top-20: Afghanistan at 11, North Korea at 13 and Bangladesh at 17. Burma/Myanmar comes in 23rd,

A twisted tale comes from India Uncut, apparently the Congress Party has a problem with press freedom, although they still try to get press coverage when they organize a mob to attack a publication.

The group that came to the first floor roughed up the watchman, broke open the door and charged in shouting on the top of their voices.
This group broke computer keyboards, yanked out phone wires and one of them had even held up a chair to throw at the publisher’s glass cabin.

And here’s the bit I find most remarkable:

Ironically, other press had also arrived at the Mid Day office with the Congress persons, giving the indication that the ruling party had called the media in advance to flaunt their cowardly act.

From Sepia Mutiny, a study that damns public health care.:

Although doctors love to tell you that they work out of a sense of seva, and that the quality of care has little to do with the fee structure, it simply isn’t true. Surprising as it seems, the researchers find that you’re better off with a less trained private doctor than a better trained public doctor. Why? Because the private doctors try harder.

While not strictly Asia related, IndCoup of Indonesia notes an Egyptian report that states that French Kissing and Doggie Style are inventions of Islam. If this is true, I completely forgive the religion for inventing calculus.

After a lawmaker is reported dead after voting against Japan Post privatization, Joi Ito recounts a disturbing conversation with chairman of broadcaster NHK:

I remember him telling me that half of the officially reported suicides were actually political murders/assassinations and that the corruption went all the way to the top. If I had heard this from anyone other than the chairman of the largest broadcaster, life-long political reporter and behind-the scenes kingmaker, I would have thought it was a stupid conspiracy theory

Rajan says that Malaysians who are upset about the haze should SMS Indonesian president SBY. Jeff Ooi has more on the Air Pollutant Index, which was banned for eight years because it damaged tourism.

FridgeThe Lost Nomad reports that Mamon is alive and well on the Peninsula.

LG Electronics Inc., South Korea’s second-largest consumer electronics manufacturer, said Monday it has begun selling a new three-door refrigerator encrusted with about 4,900 crystals from Austria’s renowned crystal maker Swarovski.
Only 200 of the refrigerators, which are available in South Korea for 3.99 million won (US$3,934), will be sold, LG said in a statement.

I hate it when this happens. In Singapore, quite possibly the only first-world country that (embarrassingly) isn’t a democracy, the ruling People’s Action Party is again acting like Iran’s Guardian Council. Why? A challenger may emerge in the presidential election:

But not in Singapore though. Like in Ayatollah-ruled Iran, interested candidates must first be prequalified by unelected guardians of the faith (the PAP faith in Singapore’s case). Only safe candidates can be presented to voters.

In the Philippines, Sassy says pork-barrel politics must end.:

There’s this lawyers’ group called Lawyers against Monopoly and Poverty (LAMP) that filed a petition with the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional the appropriation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, otherwise known as pork barrel funds–PhP 65 million for each member of the Lower House and PhP 200 for every senator, annually. The total is PhP 8.23 billion.
Why unconstitutional? Because the job of the Legislature is to legislate. The job of developing the countrysides, including infrastructure projects, properly belongs to the executive branch. The Constitution says that the three branches of government–executive, legislative and judiciary–shall be co-equal but separate. Therefore, if one branch encroaches upon the functions of another, there is a violation of the Constitution. Furthermore, the pork barrel funds “pet projects” of legislators and are a source of corruption.

Indeed, if Gloria is ousted, there should be a Sassy for President campaign.


by @ 9:14 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, Money, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Myanmar/Burma, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Media, South Asia, Weblogs, Censorship, North Korea, Bangladesh, Religion

1 August, 2005

’trouble brewing’/mass tea-related chaos

Arsonists have attempted to burn down Ayah Pin’s giant teapot, the architectural centerpiece of his interfaith ‘Sky Kingdom’ sect.   Based in Malaysia’s strongly Islamic state of Terangganu, devotees of the teapot’s purifying infusion have previously been arrested (as noted earlier on Asiapundit). 

Meanwhile, striking tea-plantation labourers in Bangladesh and India are starting to settle their bitterly-protacted pay negotiations, but Nepalese tea-labourers associated with the Maoist insurrection have forced the closures of 21 tea estates. 

And Texans newly introduced to green tea smoothies seem to think that green tea has no caffeine, and that once fat-filled artery-clogging smoothies have green tea added to them, that they are healthy. 

by @ 8:48 pm. Filed under Food and Drink, India, Malaysia, Asia, Global/grober, Nepal, Bangladesh, Religion

11 July, 2005

china’s christian underground

A friend of mine, Thirdpartydreamer, who is also a specialist on the history of health and nutrition in China, pens an excellent review of the book, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power by David Aikman (2003):

I must confess that I picked up this book in an antagonistic spirit.
Aikman is a conservative evangelical who’s just been hired to teach at
Patrick Henry College (the new college designed to send home-schooled
Christian men into government service—women are admitted to the school,
but are not expected to pursue careers. Check out the school’s website, or see the recent New Yorker article
on PHC). Since he styles himself a China expert, and boasts an
impressive set of credentials (Ph.D. in History from the University of
Washington, former Time reporter in Moscow and Beijing), I thought his
take on Christianity in China might be worth checking out…even if his
oeuvre contains such dubious entries as the recent George Bush is the Messiah or whatever it’s called (okay, it’s Man of Faith: the Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush).

thesis here is that Christianity is spreading like a brush fire in the
People’s Republic today, especially in the form he considers the most
promising: the underground house church. House churches he contrasts
with the state-approved and state-controlled congregations affiliated
with the Three Self Patriotic Association (the government’s Protestant
outfit) and the Catholic Patriotic Association (the government’s
Catholic outfit). He relies for his information on the members of the
underground churches themselves, and participates uncritically in their
boosterism. One suspects that Aikman overestimates how pervasive
underground Christianity really is—not to mention how likely it is that
Chinese Christians will change the way the People’s Republic interacts
with the world (curbing its human rights abuses and bringing it in line
with American foreign policy, as Aikman assumes Christianity will
naturally do).

Read on….

by @ 7:02 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Religion, Eli Alberts

5 July, 2005

methadone in malaysia

This is unexpected, the Malaysian government is setting up methadone, needle-exchange and condom-distribution programs to stop the spread of AIDS.

Local AIDS groups and the conservative Malaysian government, led by
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, an Islamic scholar, disagree.
While the government had rejected plans to distribute condoms or
needles, it now argued that dramatic steps were justified because the
AIDS problem had reached a critical level, health officials said.
"When the condition reaches an epidemic level, unconventional methods
are necessary," the health minister, Chua Soi Lek, said in an interview
Sunday. The government argues that the new policies do not violate
Islamic law because in cases of emergency, people can break rules to
About 15,000 children have already been made orphans by AIDS in
Malaysia, and the country is on the brink of an AIDS epidemic, the
World Health Organization has said.

While I’m open to debate on the efficacy of methadone therapy, that Badawi is willing to push ahead with this is a good sign - particularly as Malaysia’s ruling UMNO coalition was very recently trying to ‘out-Islam‘ the fundamentalist Pas opposition.

by @ 2:39 pm. Filed under Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Religion

30 June, 2005

somewhere between china and rome

This AP story via The Taipei Times points to the complicated situation of being Catholic in contemporary China.  Whose authority does one recognize?

Hundreds of Catholics packed Shanghai’s cathedral yesterday for the
consecration of a new bishop who leaders of the official
government-backed church hope will help ease a rift with Rome. Joseph Xing Wenzhi (邢文之), 42, was made auxiliary bishop in a ceremony led by Shanghai Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian (金魯賢), the representative of the government church who at age 89 is giving up many of his administrative duties.
China’s government has no formal relations with Rome and rejects the pope’s authority to pick bishops.
However, Jin said in an interview earlier this month that both Rome and
Beijing authorities have tacitly agreed to Xing’s appointment as his
top aid and successor.
Many Chinese Catholics reject the authority of Jin and others in the
official Church, preferring to worship in underground congregations
with their own clergy. They regard another elderly priest, Joseph Fan
Zhongliang (范忠良), as Shanghai’s true bishop.
Fan, who reportedly suffers from Alzheimer’s
disease, has been under virtual house arrest for the past five years.

by @ 12:41 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Religion, Eli Alberts

21 June, 2005

Middle Eastern Religions in Japan

Over at my home blog ComingAnarchy.com, I recently posted pictures of a Turkish Sunni Mosque and a Russian Orthodox Church… both in central Tokyo!

Click the posts to see the whole story and more photos, or see a sampling below.  (All photos taken by yours truly.)

by @ 11:32 pm. Filed under Religion

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