27 September, 2006

Motivational Posters

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.




(Found via IZ)

by @ 5:27 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand, North Korea

20 September, 2006

Thai Coup: Seat Sale Likely

AsiaPundit has been accused of having too much of a China focus since all co-pundits were sacked last year. This is a scurrilous accusation that we deny. Our analytics show that this site has a strong regular readership among Asian states outside of the Middle Kingdom. That would not be the case if this were solely a China-oriented site.

However, we were alerted to some great news for our Chinese readership this morning – for the Kingdom of Thailand. This will certainly lower airfares just ahead of China’s week-long Autumn Festival/National Day holiday. It may also free up seats as some of those who have already booked seats will certainly cancel.

However, this isn’t all good news. As from shows there is still something incredibly unappealing on the streets of Bangkok.


That’s right, it’s raining.

As well, amid the euphoria about the inevitable seat sales, we should also pause for a moment to consider the shattering of democracy in a Southeast Asian state that has a lively press and civil society. AsiaPundit does not generally advocate boycotts. However — given that AP have volunteered to work in the Shanghai office over the holidays — this site is recommending that potential travelers avoid the country until an elected leader is returned to power and all restrictions on domestic media are lifted.

Instead, try visiting neighboring press-repressing dictatorships in Laos, Vietnam or even Singapore.

Austin was also live blogging the coup at his site. Global Voices has other links. For background on the political situation in Thailand ahead of the coup, the Far Eastern Economic Review’s Colum Murphy has one of the better summaries. Written ahead of the coup, but for this month’s issue, the following line stands out:

To be sure, a military intervention to oust Mr. Thaksin is always a possibility, although some—but not all—analysts agree that this seems unlikely at this point. Those with less sanguine views predict that there will be no compromise between the two (the prime minister and king), and say that this game will produce only one winner and one loser. If this turns out to be the case, then the next weeks and months could see bloody confrontation on the streets of Bangkok and throughout the kingdom.

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by @ 6:41 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

19 June, 2006

Footie, Babes and Lost Productivity

AsiaPundit apologies for the past week of inactivity. The lapse was partly due to technical issues, partly due to Asia Blog Award-related administration and partly related to the World Cup.

In regards to the latter excuse, AP is not alone. While there has not been much data on the tournament’s economic impact on Asia, from experience he will note that in 2002 trading on several regional securities exchanges was essentially halted (resulting in some very odd movements as a result of low volumes). Truck and Barter alerts us to reports on the costs to the US and US economies.:

In the US;
“The World Cup will likely cost American companies 10 minutes of productivity a day for 21 days, according to the outplacement company of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That comes to about $121.7 million in lost productivity in the US, a large figure, particularly painful for any company dominated by Englishmen, Germans or Brazilians perhaps.”
In UK;
“Based on an average hourly wage of £12.50, the law firm Brabners Chaffe Street calculated that during the tournament, if half of British workers surf the net for an hour a day, it will cost Britain nearly £4 billion in lost time”

In spite of the lost productivity, bosses are generally understanding and there are few sackings. In Indonesia, however, there has been one Cup-related firing and it was deserved.:

Siti-Hediati-Hariyadi-1A vain attempt by former dictator Suharto’s middle daughter Siti ‘Titiek’ Hediati Hariyadi to improve her super-rich family’s bad image by presenting the World Cup soccer tournament on her SCTV television network backfired after she was pulled off the air following a deluge of complaints about her ineptitude.
Titiek, whose company is the majority shareholder of SCTV, was at the helm of a three-member panel of hosts for each night’s opening game over the first three days of the World Cup. Her dire lack of knowledge and passion for soccer were painfully obvious as she was seated alongside Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) vice president Dali Taher and former national soccer coach Danurwindo.
Her incompetence was perhaps best demonstrated during the opening game between Germany and Costa Rica, when she erroneously referred to Germany as “Jerman Barat [West Germany]” – apparently forgetting that West and East Germany had reunited back in 1990.
Soccer fans, forced to watch SCTV because it is the exclusive Indonesian broadcaster of this year’s World Cup, lambasted Titiek’s ignorance, inexperience and awkward performance. They demanded she be replaced by someone more professional.
(Image stolen from Indcoup)

While the Suharto clan isn’t making any gains some Indonesian retailers are hoping to capitalize on the event, as are retailers everywhere. Although one French retailer is having trouble in China (again).:

Carrefour has fallen into trouble again with its Fangzhuang Store in Beijing selling fake Adidas footballs promoting the 2006 World Cup.
The ball with the sign of “Teamgeist” and price of RMB59.90 sold in the store has a similar appearance as that of real official ball of the World Cup. An unnamed staff from Carrefour Fangzhuang store quoted in local media says that he has no idea whether the ball has anything to do with the World Cup.
In response to this, Zhu Chenye, a manager from Adidas China, says that the football found in Carrefour is certainly a fake product for they have never produced footballs of that price. According to Adidas, the football used for the World Cup usually costs about RMB900.

For those disappointed that they won’t be able to buy fake balls at Carrefour, Malaysia’s Kenny Sia has a DIY solution.:

Yes, that’s right. For a fraction of the cost of an authentic adidas Teamgeist, I could make my very own official FIFA World Cup 2006 soccer ball. And I’m gonna show you how.
First, you’d need a regular soccer ball. Any one will do. Get a “Made In China” one at your local sports store for a cheap RM40.
Sure, it won’t last as long and the specs aren’t as good, but the improvements in the Teamgeist ball are minimal in practice you probably won’t notice it anyway.
Use spray paint of ICI Dulux, whichever you prefer. Gotta have a white background before you paint the designs on later ya know?
Now comes the difficult part.
You know how the Teamgeist ball features the signature World Cup trophy-inspired ’rounded propellers’? That’s important. That’s the whole reason why so many wanted the ball in the first place.
But how do you do it?
You get a box of Kotex.


In neighboring Singapore, which is unlikely to soon produce a World Cup Team, a scandal is developing based upon the pay scale the city state offers to African imports playing in the S-League.:

A story that has been running here in Singapore concerns the working conditions of a group of footballers from Africa (Kenya, Cameroon and Nigeria). In stark contrast to the wages earned by those competing at the world cup these players moved to play in the Singapore S league. All had signed contracts with the club, promising them $1,600 a month in salaries. But the club also deducted $1,500 of that money for food and accommodation, as the players had signed a separate contract with the club authorising the deductions. It is now reported that the issue has been resolved - after a meeting over the weekend between the Football Association of Singapore, the players and club management, the players have accepted a new deal, which will now increase their monthly take-home salary from S$100 (US$62) to about S$600 (US$375) a month

When AP suggested that Singapore will not soon have a World Cup team that assumption was based solely on economics and demographics. The city state cannot compete with any of the regional behemoths in either population or resources. However, if one sociologist is to believed Singapore may also be at a disadvantage because it is majority Chinese and the Chinese can’t play football.:

“A lot of people are pained by the fact that Chinese football did not makes it way to the World Cup. Many people make it a point of patriotism and blame the systems or institutions involved. I feel that Chinese people being bad at football is related to the character of our culture.
Chinese people, especially the Han, are a elegant and scholary people, who were never a proponent of reckless bravey and battle, preferring softer and more elegant methods. Football is not like this, it is an attack-intensive sport, with a violent character. American football is even more violent. These sports are not suited to the character of our culture.
There is lots of evidence for this:
Look at the historically famous men, from 梁山伯 to 贾宝玉. They are all bookish people.
Until a few years ago, the Chinese language did not have the word 性感 (sexy). Chinese people historically did not value ferocious images of men.

The Chinese don’t understand aggressive sports or sexiness??? AP is pleased to have some evidence to the contrary… for instance this local Esquire pictorial.:


Continuing with China, while AP has never envied local reporters, he does presently wish he was a sports reporter for a local Chinese outlet. It seems that all you have to do is show up to the games and make stuff up.:

Since the beginning of the FIFA World Cup in Germany, something strange is happening in Chinese journalism. Xinhua, CCTV and other official media sent huge teams to Germany, but their news reports are unexciting. Instead, the local or Internet media have scooped some amazing exclusives. For example, when Brazil beat Croatia at 5am on June 14, the Sohu sports page immediately had an exclusive interview with Brazilian star Kaka.
Finally, Xinhua could not stand it anymore and published an article titled “People who are even more awesome (full of shit) than Parreira) to expose the massive fabrications from certain Chinese reporters. The report pointed out that the extent to which Chinese reporters have gone must have astonished even Brazilian trainer Carlos Alberto Parreira.
For example, Franz Beckenbauer must be very busy going from one game to another, but he seems to be interviewed by mainland Chinese media every few days. He does not speak Chinese, but in the Sports Weekly exclusive interview, he can name the individual players on China’s national team. Even better yet is the exclusive interview with FIFA chairman Sepp Blatter in Shanghai Youth Daily, in which he came over after the reporter called out his name in a hotel lobby.

The tournament has been relatively free of violence this year, although there has been one unfortunate incident in an unlikely place.:

Thai gunman kills two noisy World Cup fans
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Thai police are searching for a gunman who shot and killed two soccer fans at a beach resort after complaining they were cheering too loud.
The two men, both Thais, were watching Italy’s 2-0 win over Ghana at a restaurant Monday at the Thai beach resort town of Pattaya, and erupted in roars when Italy scored its first goal, said Panipha Wattakul, a girlfriend of one of the victims.
A man seated at a nearby table asked them to quiet down, prompting a heated argument during which the man pulled out a handgun and shot the soccer fans at point-blank range, said Police Col. Somnuek Chanket. The victims were identified as Chamlong Rongsaeng, 30, and Somnuek Sonkun, 41.

Also in the Mekong region, Magnoy’s notes a Reuters item in which Cambodian strongman Hun Sen warns citizens not to bet the farm… literally.:

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen urged his impoverished people on Thursday not to sell their possessions to place bets on the soccer World Cup, saying it was probably a bad idea. “Go ahead and watch it, but do not sell your cows, motorcycles, cars, homes and land to bet on the games,” Hun Sen, a one-eyed former Khmer Rouge soldier, told farmers at a provincial hospital opening.
“Just bet verbally, for fun. Don’t sell your cows to bet on games of football,” he told the several hundred villagers and foreign diplomats at the ceremony.
World Cup fever has gripped the war-scarred southeast Asian nation, with Cambodians from every walk of life staying up into the small hours of the night to catch their favourite teams in action.
Hun Sen himself confessed to backing Japan — his government’s largest donor

AsiaPundit does not have a national team this year — and being Canadian likely never will — but he does have hopes for Korea, Japan, the US and Australia. For those who are also without a national team to root for, Owen offers a tool for making an ethical decision.:

WidebannerThe World Development Movement has a handy tool to help the ethical football supporter decide which team to support.
As I type, Tunisia is beating Saudi Arabia - according to the WDM, this is good news as it means that the 3rd most supportable team is beating the 29th most supportable, on measures such as carbon emmissions, corruption and military spending.

Finally, the Nomad notes with some disbelief a report that the South Korean cheering section has become a tourist attraction.:

Surely it can’t be so, but if I read it in a Korean paper, and it has something to do with Korea, then that’s the way it is. According to an article in the Korea Times, people from other countries are paying money (I know, unbelievable, ain’t it?) to come over here to take part in the outdoor cheering for the South Korean soccer team. Yes, you read that correctly, nothing wrong with your monitor or your eyeglasses.
“South Korea’s victory against Togo at the 2006 German World Cup on Tuesday put the country back into the world spotlight again after its achievement in the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. The soccer match, however, was not the only thing that caught people’s eyes _ what really made people excited was the outdoor cheering in the streets, plazas and other public places filled with people in red shirts, just like during the 2002 World Cup.”

While the Nomad is doubtful, AsiaPundit is more inclined to support that thesis. There is something appealing about South Korean fans. Some of them in particular.


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by @ 11:01 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China, Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand, Games

5 June, 2006

Asia Blog Awards: Q1 2006-2007

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:

Podcasts, photo and video blogs must be based on original content — which means a site such as Danwei.tv is acceptable but TV in Japan is not (although it is an excellent site).

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.

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by @ 3:02 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, Pakistan, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Myanmar/Burma, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Media, South Asia, Thailand, Web/Tech, Weblogs, North Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Central Asia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Tibet

19 April, 2006

asia, sex and happiness

According to a study by the University of Chicago, Asians - and Asian women in particular - are not as happy as Westerners with their sex lives.:

The survey published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior looked at how they viewed their sex lives, their health, and their happiness.

It found that a greater proportion of people in Europe, North America, and Australia, where men and women have more or less equal relations, enjoyed sex physically and emotionally, Laumann said.

A smaller percentage of people reported satisfying sex lives in male-dominated cultures in poorer countries, the research showed.

But the gender gap persisted around the world.

“There’s a systematic disparity between men and women, where men are on the average substantially — or about 10 points — higher in their levels of satisfaction as women in that country,” he said.

Most of those surveyed at random were married, though there was an obvious bias toward participants who were willing to talk about sex, and toward urban populations in less-developed nations.

“Pleasure is not part of the story” in sexually conservative cultures in the Far East — China, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand, Laumann said. “Procreation is the rationale for sex. Many women … characterize sex as dirty, as a duty, something they endure” — and often stop having it after age 50…..

In Japan, by contrast, just 18 percent of the men and 10 percent of the women answered positively about their sex lives. And in Taiwan, only 7 percent of the women said sex was very important in their lives.

There is likely a great deal of untruthful answers in a survey like this, given the taboo nature of the subject, but it is almost certainly more reliable than the Durex survey,

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by @ 1:17 pm. Filed under Japan, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

11 April, 2006

fcuk thailand

Via the not-quite-worksafe Mango Sauce, a clear violation of intellectual property on a sign touted as the funniest in Pattaya.:


In Pattaya’s Soi Bukhao district, the FCUK Inn promises drinkers more than just a cold beer and a hand of cards. Before calling in, however, bridge enthusiasts might organise a couple of rubbers first.

French Connection Group Plc surely would object to their brand being used for this. But given that French Connection UK’s (FCUK) latest advertising campaign involves two models tearing each other’s clothing off in a lesbian cat fight, they can hardly say that the brand is being debased.


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by @ 8:37 pm. Filed under Asia, Southeast Asia, Media, Thailand

10 April, 2006

internet censorship map

Frequent readers will note that AsiaPundit has a love of maps and a fascination with internet censorship. It shouldn’t be any surprise that this grabs his attention. The Atlantic has created a map of the globe color coding countries that censor the internet.:


The Atlantic has created a censorship map based on ONI data. (I’ve archived a local mirror of the map and the accompanying article).

The accompanying article is a bit overzealous in its description of China but I liked that fact that the article specifically highlighted that Internet filtering is not exclusive to China but is spreading — essentially becoming the “norm” — worldwide. In terms of targetted content, porn is defintely targetted but the numbers are skewed by the fact that the use of commercial lists (there are open source lists too) allow countries to block a lot of porn easily. But in terms of significance porn is, in my opinion, of rather low importance. the blocking of several key sources of local language alternative information or an social movement group is much more important. The sgnificance of the content rather than the total number of sites blocked in category seems, to me, to be of more importance but is much harder to measure.

Map and text via Internet Censorship Explorer.

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by @ 10:11 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Myanmar/Burma, Southeast Asia, Thailand, Web/Tech, Censorship

30 March, 2006

the economics of polygamy

At Cafe Salemba, Indonesia’s Aco ponders the economics of polygamy, a rare but permitted practice in the mostly Muslim country.:

University of Michigan’s Ted Bergstrom has an interesting paper on polyginy. Borrowing an approach used by evolutionary biologists, he concludes:

A society that allows polygamy and stable property rights will usually have positive bride prices and some polygynous marriages. In such a society, bride prices will go not to the bride, but to her male relatives and all women be allocated the same amount of resources by their husbands. The greater the amount of material resources available per woman in the society, the higher will be bride prices and the greater the amount of resources allocated to each woman. However, in societies with sufficiently low amounts of resources per woman, instead of positive bride prices there will be dowries, which unlike bridewealth, are paid directly to the newly married couple. In such a society dowries will be of approximately the same size as the inheritance of males who marry.

In plain words, Bergstrom is saying that polygyny is likely to increase the “value” of women. Isn’t that a good thing, ladies?

Here’s more on the debate with econ points of view: Gary Becker (women better off in polyginous society), Tyler Cowen (polygamy makes children worse off), Alex Tabarrok (polygyny good for working women), David Friedman (polygyny good for women, polyandry good for men), Tim Harford (it’s just a math), and Robert Frank (the victims of polygyny are men, not women).

Meanwhile, in Buddhist Thailand, Mr Wichai is having twins.:


After Mr Wichai (Tao), aged 24, from Samut Songkram province, who earns his living by dealing in old goods, got married to gorgeous twins Ms Sirintara and Ms Thipawan 22, he vouched his sincerest ‘equal love’ for both of them!

Mr Wichai, just yesterday, 23 March, got married in pompous ceremony to both twins simultaneously. On being interviewed by the Thai Rath reporters, Mr Wichai declared wholeheartedly, that he didn’t see much problem in having to perform tiresome marital duties with two wives.

In the engagement ceremony before the wedding, Mr Wichai successfully offered a dowry of eight baht of gold and 80,000 baht EACH for his lovely darlings. Both families celebrated the marriage with joy and were said to be delighted for the threesome.

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by @ 7:43 pm. Filed under Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

27 March, 2006

thailand’s democracy

Also via Global Voices, Enda Nasution contributes an item on the protests against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the growing anti-Singapore sentiment and the opposition’s refusal to participate in the snap elections.:

Does general election ensured a truly democratic government? Is it a necessity? Or an election could come down to a level of merely a tool to keep certain people in power?

The answer, when in come to current political crisis in Thailand might be difficult, and it depends on which side are you on.

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by @ 9:29 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

15 March, 2006

regrets:lack of thai and philippine coverage

AsiaPundit has been generally ignoring the rest of Asia while covering the NPC in Beijing. Normal updating will be further disrupted for a trip to Nanjing from Thursday for a much cooler event. Along with travel days, AP will be taking a break to spend time with Mrs AsiaPundit and our Infinite Cat Dee Dee. Regular updates will not be resuming until next week. This is regrettable as there is really interesting stuff happening on the rest of the continent.

As a site that aspires to be a pan-Asian tabloid, AP is particularly upset that he hasn’t had the time to keep abreast of events in the Philippines and Thailand. There is serious tabloid fodder in both countries at the moment.

Events in the latter country seem to be now getting much more attention from the Western press. Times of London correspondent notes on the paper’s official Asia blog that he has been flown in from Tokyo to cover the collapse of Thaksin’s government.

As for tabloid fodder - as if nationalism and cronyism were not enough - Richard aptly adds a sexual element into the story.:

Sex Workers 2

I encountered this group of ladies among the anti-Thaksin protesters along Ratchadamnoen Avenue, a few hundred yards from Government House in Bangkok.

They are standing in front of their painted cardboard box, one of dozens painted by demonstrators from various organisations. As it makes clear they are members of the Thailand Sex Workers’ Network.

They were distributing a statement apologising to their fellow Thais for the support which they had formerly given to Thaksin. Since his election in 2001, there has been a clamp down on Thailand’s world famous bars, clubs and massage parlours. The Network also objects to the unannounced on-the-spot urine tests which the police are now empowered to make in their “war” against drugs .

“We are just victims, and this leader despises us, and tramples on our dignity, regarding us as stupid buffalo,” the statement reads.

As for the Philippines, where there are a fantastic number of journalist bloggers,, Ellen Tordesillas reports that evidence of Gloria Arroyo’s alleged electoral fraud has now seemingly been revealed visually as well as on audio tape.:

 Wp-Content Photo3 01

AsiaPundit generally prefers that governments are removed democratically when the means are available. As both the Philippines and Thailand can remove leaders through the ballot or the courts, it would be unfortunate if either Arroyo or Thaksin were ousted by coup or rebellion.

AsiaPundit is not impressed with either leader, but he is not impressed by their opponents either.

As a Canadian, AP had waited more than 12 years for a reprehensible government to be replaced by a dreary opposition. That’s democracy and AP believes that it works better than any other existing system over a long term.*

(*However, AP is working on a system where governance could be based on voting on plans submitted by investment banks rather than parties or personalities. Choosing between UBS or Morgan Stanley would be better than voting Liberal or Conservative, Republican or Democrat, Arroyo or film star, etc…. AsiaPundit favors corporate governance).

by @ 12:01 am. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Philippines, Thailand

28 February, 2006

thaksin and arroyo


The year of the dog should be interesting for Asia. A little over two months ago, AsiaPundit visited Austin’s site and questioned the possibility of a coup happening in either Thailand or the Philippines, arguing that after a decade of democratic rule it seems unlikely either country would really care for a return of dictatorship (even if elected governments were seen as corrupt or incompetent).

Two months has made quite a difference, and while neither country seems likely to suffer a coup, stability has suffered a double blow. The pace at which the governments of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have unravelled is impressive.

While it’s quite possible that some sort of people-power backed coup was being planned in the Philippines, its success was not assured, and Arroyo’s declaration of a state of emergency seems extreme. That civic groups are now reproducing literature on what constitutional rights citizens have under military rule is disheartening. Todd Crowell has a good summary of recent events.

The situation in Thailand is more surprising, while Arroyo has been facing increased pressure since the alleged election fraud allegations emerged last summer, the populist Thaksin was simply facing growing rumblings from a relatively weak opposition. The backlash to the sale of his family’s Shin Corp conglomerate to Singapore’s Temasek went far beyond expectations. The Foreigner in Formosa has a good backgrounder.

The Foreigner and Todd, of course, are far removed from the events and have the extra perspective that distance provides. Bloggers on the ground provide a more varied perspective.

From Thailand, Magnoy’s Samsara offers some links to opposition mixed media projects and an outline of the coalescing of Thailand’s opposition.

From the Philippines, a greater multitude of English-language voices is available: MLQ3 has amazing coverage and linkage following the events of Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Torn looks at the restive situation and the legality of 1017. the Unlawyer thinks it’s 1972 all over again. Carlos backs Gloria.

And from the mainstream press, there’s a lot of commentary that would have unimaginable just a couple of years ago including this piece praising the stability and democratic development of Indonesia compared to the neighbors.

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by @ 11:04 pm. Filed under Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Thailand

8 February, 2006

asia press freedoms 2005

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. 

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by @ 8:19 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, Blogs, Singapore, China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Asean, Myanmar/Burma, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Media, South Asia, Thailand, Weblogs, Censorship, North Korea, Tibet

5 February, 2006

thailand bans yale press website

Via Far Outliers, news that the Yale Press website has been banned in Thailand:

KingInside Higher Ed reports that the Thai government is banning internal access to Yale University Press’s website.

Thailand takes lèse-majesté; seriously - as Yale University Press is finding out.

The Thai government has blocked access in the country to the Yale University Press Web site because it includes information about a forthcoming, critical biography of Thailand’s king. The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand’s Bhumibol Adulyadej is described in Yale publicity materials as the story of “how a king widely seen as beneficent and apolitical could in fact be so deeply political, autocratic, and even brutal.” The author is Paul Handley, a journalist who spent much of his life reporting from Asia, including 13 years in Thailand.

The book is due out this summer - in a year in which Thailand will be celebrating the 60th year of the king’s reign. The book acknowledges his popularity with the Thai people, but - according to the press - "portrays an anti-democratic monarch who, together with allies in big business and the murderous, corrupt Thai military, has protected a centuries-old, barely modified feudal dynasty."

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by @ 8:40 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand, Censorship

30 January, 2006

foreign models in thailand

Jack at Thai Blogs tracks the migratory patterns of foreign models.:

ModelsnightThis is just a snapshot of the life and times of a Foreign Model in Thailand. Of course there are always exceptions, and we are not accounting for half-Thais and other Asians in the industry, though they can (and do) move seamlessly through these circles.

Their migration habits vary, but the majority of Foreign Models come to Thailand for up to three months at a time, as this is the length of time dictated by their visas. The Foreign Model hails from Canada, Brazil, and former Eastern bloc nations, where their “Mother Agency” at home takes note of their vaguely Asian looks and send them abroad. While they are here, they are obstensibly looking for work, on the catwalk and in commercials. A fortunate few arrive as a result of a direct booking, where they are cast remotely and come to Thailand for a guaranteed job, usually shooting a television commercial (TVC).

Herds of Foreign Models can be seen zipping around Bangkok during the day–usually on the Skytrain–portfolio of past jobs (or “Book”) in hand, headed for castings and modelling jobs. Bookers with each agency direct them to these appointments, often going to as many as five in one day. At each TVC casting, the models have make-up applied, their hair styled, pictures and measurements taken, and a short video made, introducing themselves (name, age, height, weight) and performing a short audition. It’s not unusual for a casting to take two or three hours, most of the time spent waiting: chatting with other models, flipping through Thai fashion magazines they cannot decipher, or simply staring off into space. It’s a rough life.

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by @ 9:09 pm. Filed under Culture, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

27 January, 2006

thai braces

Austin reports on Thailand’s newest fashion craze.:

BracesBraces are now the new teenage fad for the jet set in Siam Square in Bangkok and seemingly throughout Thailand. Why we can only speculate. But I have to say that at my local bank every single clerk has purple braces to match their outfits - very attentive to detail that bunch!

All this makes me recall a conversation I had with the Creative Director of Bed Supper Club in BKK, probably the most famous destination in the city. He told me in front of the Playground! store (another incredibly trendy store that will probably close very very soon) that he could not believe that his “designer toy” store had plummeting sales. And proceeded to follow that comment with a disparaging “Oh the Thais never get past their trends”. I wonder where they get inspiration?

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by @ 11:14 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

21 January, 2006

panda porn

AsiaPundit usually doesn’t link to sites with graphic depictions of sex acts, but everyone is talking about the fucking pandas.:


From Tuesday morning, the pair began to take turns sniffing each other, an act believed by expects as clear signs of the impending mating. Lin Hui, the female, kept walking by Chuang Chuang and turned her rear toward him, but only was pushed away by the male with his paws.

As zoo officials were frustrated by the lack of developments in their contact for hours, Chuang Chuang seemed to understand what he was supposed to do. He discarded his resistance, sat and leaned backward while spreading his legs. Lin Hui then moved backward and sat on top of him.

Magnoy’s Samsara has a picture of Chuang Chuang enjoying a post-coital bamboo shoot.:


BANGKOK, Thailand — At first, it was a purely platonic relationship. But after two years in the same enclosure, giant pandas Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui have started mating, raising hopes they could give birth to a baby in the coming months.

The pandas started the mating dance Sunday with a mock wrestling bout, according to officials at the Chiang Mai Zoo in northern Thailand. From there, the pair began sniffing one another on Tuesday and mated later in the day.

Jason has more panda porn.

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by @ 6:54 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

13 January, 2006

fowl language

Mango Sauce offers some analysis on a reason for the spread of avian flu in Thailand. Warning, the post contains some fowl language:

Big CockWhen the whiskey bottle is drained and your farang son-in-law won’t give you any more cash to go whoring, nothing relieves the tedium of upcountry life better than the compelling mix of animal cruelty and illegal gambling to be found at a cock fight.

It’s a brutal contest and the rules are simple. The winner scoops the pot and the loser gets served up in one.

Most injuries sustained are to the head and neck and the feathered fighters are prone to choking on their own blood. To prevent asphyxiation bringing the bout to a premature end, trainers are permitted to clear their birds’ airways - by sucking the goo out with their own mouths.

As noted here previously, Thai officials have said that fighting cocks are more resilient to the virus than farmed chickens and have been noted as potential H5N1 carriers.

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by @ 8:16 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

28 December, 2005

human security report

The 2005 Human Security Report has listed the top 10 ‘Warmongers; (as Harry describes them) since the end of World War Two and and two Asian nations make the top 10:


Peacefully rising China and gentle Thailand fall into a crowded seventh place with six international armed conflicts each.

In other sections, Burma solidly beats India for the country with the highest number of conflict years - with Ethopia, the Philippines and Israel rounding out the top five.


But it’s generally good news for east Asia, which hasn’t had a major inter-state conflict since the 1970s.


Full report here (pdf).

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by @ 8:25 pm. Filed under China, India, Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam

26 December, 2005

north korea makes money

Although its economy has collapsed, the North Korean state still makes money. Lots of it.. And South Korea’s government doesn’t care.

NorkwonThe National Intelligence Service, in a 1998 report … said North Korea forges and circulates US$100 bank notes worth $15 million a year, and that the counterfeiting is carried out by a firm called February Silver Trading in the suburbs of Pyongyang. The NIS said in reports … the same year and the next that the North operates three banknote forging agencies, and that more than $4.6 million in bogus dollar bills were uncovered in circulation on 13 occasions since 1994. “That North Korea is a dollar counterfeiting country was common knowledge among intelligence officials,” said a former senior NIS official.

Yet suddenly, when the U.S. brings up the question of North Korea’s counterfeiting activities, our government says there is insufficient evidence. That has prompted American officials to accuse our government of lying. The reason for the volte-face is that Seoul is afraid of antagonizing Pyongyang while six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing North Korea hang in the balance. But what if the shoe was on the other foot? If a country hostile to South Korea forged a huge number of our banknotes and circulated them around the world, what should our government do? And if an ostensible ally of ours defended that counterfeiting country, what would we think of that ally? …

And it’s not just the Supernotes, as Nomad points out the North Koreans have also been forging Thai baht, Chinese yuan and other regional currencies.:

One U.S. government official said in an interview, “I read an internal report produced by the U.S. intelligence agency. And you may want to think about why a Thailand diplomat was invited to the symposium on counterfeit currency hosted by the U.S. State Department on December 16.” The symposium on counterfeit currency hosted by the State department was attended by diplomats from countries participating in the six-party talks including South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, some EU member countries, Thailand and Singapore. He added, “If North Korea can forge U.S. dollars, which are known to be the most safeguarded from counterfeiting, perfectly, why wouldn’t it want to do the same for other currencies of neighboring countries.” He made clear that currencies of neighboring countries including Thailand have been counterfeited. To the question, “Does that mean that South Korean won have also been forged?” He answered, “Please, don’t ask more. You can just think about which countries North Korea might feel closer to, and which currencies it would think would be easier to circulate.”

As noted in the originally cited New Economist post, counterfeiting can be considered an act of war. AsiaPundit suggests all offended nations consider it such.

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by @ 10:19 pm. Filed under South Korea, China, Money, Asia, East Asia, Economy, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand, North Korea

tsunami remembered

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)

Photo and text via Thai Blogs:

DesiPundit notes the role blogs played in putting out information and aiding in fundraising and relief and requests that the effort be repeated:

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

More at IndianWriting, Jakartass, Brand New Malaysian,

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by @ 10:04 pm. Filed under Blogs, Malaysia, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Thailand, Weblogs

22 December, 2005

agriculture wars

AsiaPundit has no military expertise and is always on the lookout for good trusted sources and commentary on questions about potential military conflicts (i.e., how North Korea would react to a surgical strike on nuclear facilities or whether Taiwan or China would have an upper hand in a conflict).

Unfortunately, AP can find no sources of information on a question that is currently bothering him.: “In a conflict, which would have the advantage: the PLA’s lychee protection unit or Thailand’s newly formed rubber-tapping squad?”

Thai Rubber Soldiers

Thai soldiers are to be trained as rubber tappers under new plans announced by cabinet to help increase security for rubber farmers in the violence-plagued south of the country.

Deputy government spokesman Chalermchai Mahakijsiri said around 200 specialist troops would be sent to protect local farmers from possible insurgent attack. At the same time, they would be equipped to help the farmers in the routine tapping of rubber trees. He said the Agriculture Department and the Army had been ordered to cooperate in the training of the soldiers.

AsiaPundit is concerned that Western powers are gravely unprepared for future agriculture-related conflicts. On top of the two above examples of Asian advantage, North Korea’s KPA has gained a clear strategic lead over NATO forces in pig and duck farming.

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by @ 1:37 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand, Terrorism

13 December, 2005

gay avenue

Singapore stopped chasing the pink dollar, but Thailand has picked up the cause with zest. via a new AP favorite Magnoy’s Samsara, a Bangkok Post report on Thailand’s planned gay shopping district.:

LatphraoThailand’s first gay shopping zone will open next year as part of the one-billion-baht Tawana Center Park in Bangkok’s Lat Phrao district.

According to a report in the Bangkok Post today the "Gay Avenue" will comprise 2,400 square metres of retail space dedicated solely to shops owned by gays. The complex is reportedly owned by billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, who also owns the nearby Computer City complex.

Apart from Gay Avenue Zone, the project will offer products and services similar to what is available at Bangkok’s famous Chatuchak weekend market and the Suan Lum Night Baazar.

Mr Anusorn said the Gay Avenue would serve as the magnet to attract customers to the project because products created by gays tend to be chic and unique.

"I don’t think there will be any backlash on the project from the conservative sector of society because the products and services on offer will be furniture, fashion items, home decoration items, restaurants and coffeeshops. None of the shops will deal with sex," he said.

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by @ 11:52 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

cannibal revival

Just as people were getting used to mentioning Borneo without mentioning man-eating Dayaks, a baker in Thailand has decided to again link Southeast Asia with cannibalism.:


Here’s some food for thought: an art student in Thailand named Kittiwat Unarom has come up with a startling new idea — bread made to look like a human face!

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by @ 11:08 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

an asean constution

Rajan has come upon a preliminary draft of the proposed constitution for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean):

Asean7. 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.

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by @ 8:20 pm. Filed under Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Asia, East Asia, Asean, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Thailand

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