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.
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 a loyal reader of the Economist, as are Will at Imagethief and Younghusband at Coming Anarchy, and he experiences near withdrawal when the magazine newspaper takes its annual Christmas/New Year’s publication break.
Thankfully, they always produce a brilliant double-sized feature-filled Christmas issue to tide loyal subscribers over. In this year’s edition, the Economist has provided several excellent features of interest on Asia.
First, a study of the sex toy industry in China.:
The Communist Party grudgingly opened its doors to private entrepreneurs only three years ago. But it remains uneasy about the age-old practice of keeping businesses under patriarchal control and handing them down through the male line.
And it is just as uneasy about sex, although the visitor to the Wu showroom in Wenzhou, run by the 36-year-old eldest son, Wu Wei, might not believe it. Mr Wu pauses only briefly in the first section, adorned with reproductions of antique Chinese paintings of copulating couples. He points to one showing women in classical attire buying dildos from a street merchant. “Look, they used them in those days”, he says, as if to justify with historical precedent what comes next.
Mr Wu ushers the visitor into the main exhibition: row upon row of sex toys in a rainbow array of rubber, plastic, leather and—he proudly asks your correspondent to squeeze this one—a sponge-like material designed to simulate the texture of female flesh. Hung on one wall is a macabre line of near life-size inflatable dolls, their rouged mouths agape as if in horror at the implements before them: the Vertical Double Dong, the Occidental Vagina, the Waterproof Warhead Vibe (“Bathtime was never this fun”) and a variety of black leather and metal goods for fans of sadism and masochism (for overseas markets, that is; the Wus see S&M potential in China too, but party cadres do not).
To follow, a feature on the increasing humanization of robots in Japan:
HER name is MARIE, and her impressive set of skills comes in handy in a nursing home. MARIE can walk around under her own power. She can distinguish among similar-looking objects, such as different bottles of medicine, and has a delicate enough touch to work with frail patients. MARIE can interpret a range of facial expressions and gestures, and respond in ways that suggest compassion. Although her language skills are not ideal, she can recognise speech and respond clearly. Above all, she is inexpensive . Unfortunately for MARIE, however, she has one glaring trait that makes it hard for Japanese patients to accept her: she is a flesh-and-blood human being from the Philippines. If only she were a robot instead.
Robots, you see, are wonderful creatures, as many a Japanese will tell you. They are getting more adept all the time, and before too long will be able to do cheaply and easily many tasks that human workers do now. They will care for the sick, collect the rubbish, guard homes and offices, and give directions on the street.
As well as the above, the issue features a fine report on Tibetans in exile and their concerns about the eventual passing of the Dali Lama.:
The fear that the Dalai Lama’s death will be a disaster for the Tibetan cause looks justified. His fame as a Nobel-prize-winning guru and friend of the stars has produced little concrete benefit: no government recognises his. But top politicians as well as private citizens are drawn to him. Because of him, Tibet is sand in the wheels of China’s drive to become a respected international citizen. And, under him, India has given Tibetans a home big enough to encompass the dream of cultural survival.
Do you think AsiaPundit is smarter than everyone else because he reads The Economist, or does AsiaPundit read The Economist because he is smarter than everyone else? Now, there’s a conundrum!
(UPDATE: All of that plus World in 2006 podcasts: Amartya Sen on India’s rising star, editor Bill Emmott on Koizumi’s legacy, China correspondent James Miles on the country’s leadership and more. (via World Bank PSD Blog)
George Bush will visit China on the 19th of this month, following months of careful planning and diplomacy. A lot of work is done laying the ground for such meetings, to make sure they can be viewed as a success by both sides. AsiaPundit hasn’t yet figured out how arranging a White House visit for the Dali Lama fits into that equation.:
The Tibetan spiritual leader and head of state of the exiled Tibetan government, the Dalai Lama met yesterday at the White House with President Bush. Also present to welcome His Holiness were the First Lady Laura Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs and Democracy and Special Coordinator on Tibet Paula Dobriansky, and Director for Asian Affairs Michael Green. Accompanying the Tibetan leader were his Special Envoy Lodi Gyari, Representative for the Americas Tashi Wangdi and Secretary Tenzin N. Taklha. Following the meeting with President Bush, the third such meeting for the two leaders, Secretary Rice and the Dalai Lama held further talks at the State Department. He is due to meet US Congressional representatives next week.
The Horse’s Mouth points to an article from The Independent which suggests the Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, has a bit of a mean streak:
Three years on, dreams of a more democratic China have been dashed by the enigmatic and withdrawn Hu. Dissidents have been rounded up and the media and internet subject to ever-increasing restrictions, while the 69 million CCP members have been ordered to brush up on their Marxism-Leninism and the thought of Mao Zedong.
But then Hu had shown his ruthless side in 1989 in Tibet, imposing martial law after supporters of independence had demonstrated in Lhasa. Some 70 were shot dead by police. Hu had spent much of his career in the backwaters of western China, so little was known about him before he came to power.
For a brief profile on Hu Jintao also see, Hu Jintao: A who2 Profile.
After being one of the bloggers who ran with the Reuters item saying that Sister Hibiscus was the target of a crackdown, I’ll hold off on comment on this item in the Telegraph suggesting that the CCP are seeking to ban the Mongolian Cow Sour Yoghurt Super
Girl Contest because it’s too democratic.:
China’s propaganda tsars are even less
impressed by the second year of the Mongolian Cow Sour Yoghurt Super
Girl Contest, to give it its full title. One official of the main
broadcasting regulator has said that the show could be taken off the
air if it fails to correct its “worldliness”. Critics from CCTV, the
state-run broadcaster, initially labelled the show vulgar, boorish and
lacking in social responsibility.
Sources said that censors were concerned that the democratic
methods used to select the winner from 120,000 entrants could stir
trouble. For weeks fans have been crowding shopping centres across the
country, carrying posters of their favorite contestants in an attempt
to rally votes for them. On Friday the streets of Changsha, the capital
of Hunan, were swamped with thousands of fans who celebrated until
dawn. Security guards were called in last week at two shopping centres
after Super Girl fans became unruly.
Kim Jong-il’s online public relations site has just received praise from UPI.:
Since it was
launched last summer, North Korea’s Web site to promote the country
with foreigners in mind has taken many by surprise, not least because
of its sleek look and well-organized contents.
There are currently about 30 Web sites backed by Pyongyang, but most are like http://www.uriminzokkiri.com,
which is a site largely devoted to singing the praises of Kim Jong-Il
and his father, as well as the virtues of the hermit nation. In
contrast, Naenara is available not only in Korean, but also seven other
languages, which also include the languages spoken in the five
countries that make up the ongoing six-party talks over the disarming
of North Korea, namely English, Russian, Chinese and Japanese, in
addition to French and German.
I often give UPI a pass over their links to South Korea’s Unification Church (aka, Moonies) but I really must question the agency’s editorial independence from its owner and church head Sun Myung Moon if they consider this to have a "sleek look and well-organized contents."
Gutmann was basing his arguments on those made in his book titled
"Losing the New China - A Story of American Commerce, Desire and
Betrayal," which discusses in detail how American businesses played a
role in restricting freedom of thought in China, in turn betraying the
American values of liberty, democracy, and human rights. Doing business in China could potentially
endanger the national security of Taiwan and the United States as well
as violate democratic values, American scholar-businessman Ethan
Gutmann argued yesterday at a forum held in Taipei.
Warning, the Asia Financial Crisis is coming back! I was going to point to an item in which Andy Xie of Morgan Stanley makes that argument, but I’ll save analysis of Xie for the next China Economic Roundup. Instead, some annecdotal evidence. Why does AsiaPundit sense a crisis? He sees similarities between now and 1997. For instance, we have hot money inflows, overcapacities, and …
once went to a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop here in Korea and asked
for a chocolate shake. I was told they could only make mocha,
strawberry or melon shakes (not the exact flavors because I can’t
remember the exact ones but it doesn’t really matter). Being that they
do advertise themselves as having "31 Flavors," I politely offered to
pay the same price they charge for those options except I would like
The worker freaked out. "It’s not on the menu," I was told.
I know," I responded, "but can you not just make one and charge me the same as any other?"
among co-workers took place, a phone call was made and the manager came
out from the back to tell me that no, a chocolate shake was impossible.
We’re all screwed!!
Speaking of economic bubbles, I had thought that Shanghai’s recent crackdown of was a draconian but understandable measure. I haven’t read up on Seoul’s problems but ouch!:
On the demand side, the government will raise the capital gains tax
on owners of two houses to 50 percent from the current 9 to 36 percent.
Property holdings tax on apartments and unused land will be raised to 1 percent by 2019 from the current 0.15 percent.
assessment base of the comprehensive real estate tax, a national tax
designed to crack down on real estate speculation, will be raised to
100 percent of the standard price gradually by 2009 from the current 50
And owners of properties worth more than 600 million
won will be subject to a comprehensive real estate tax beginning next
year. Currently, the tax targets people with homes worth more than 900
And still more bubbling in Hong Kong! We’re all screwed! Blame Baskin Robbins and their inability to make chocolate milkshakes in Pusan.
And on milkshakes, I’m so happy the Brits left Hong Kong with a functional legal system.:
Nancy Kissel slept alongside her husband Robert’s body for two nights, therefore she is not guilty
of murder. He was into black gay porn websites, cocaine-fuelled sodomy
and other normal, healthy investment bankers’ pastimes, therefore she
is not guilty of murder. She was helping to organize the United Jewish
Congregation annual dinner, therefore she is not guilty of murder. Her
handling of pre-Dad’s-visit rotting-corpse- disposal issues was a tad
inexpert, therefore she is not guilty of murder. The Tai Lam Women’s
Prison baseball team are in high spirits today.
The image of Kissel is snatched without attribution from a Yahoo! image search. Curiously, the first result is Phil!
Congrats, Phil. In a few years your mug will show up in a poorly researched true-crime novel.
Warning to Olympians, if you beat out India for the gold then Bollywood will be mean to you.:
Ahmed Al Maktoum, the shooter from Dubai, is that an assassin from Dubai in the film Sarkar
is referred to as an Olympic gold medalist in shooting. Al Maktoum won
an Olympic gold in the double trap last year, beating India’s
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, and feels it’s a derogatory reference to
More on lingerie model Michelle Leslie’s ‘conversion’ at IndCoup:
Indonesia is an unpredictable place. You should always expect
the unexpected. Maybe it’s something they put in the water. But
whatever it is, the latest news concerning the Aussie model recently
arrested in Bali for drugs possession is simply astonishing to say the
least. Because, right out of the blue, Michelle Leslie, who was only
recently posing in raunchy photoshoots covered in nothing more than
body paint is now donning the full Muslim headdress!
But why? Bali is a Hindu island after all. And what’s more, her
actions have caused such an uproar back in Aus that her family have had
to make a public apology to offended Muslims who quite understandably
think she’s taking the piss.
You can’t judge a book by the cover, but you can usually judge a movie from the trailer; Danny Bloom says Geisha sucks.
Having recently seen the trailer for Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha,
which Hollywood has tried to turn into a movie to hit world movie
screens for Christmas viewing (and Oscar nominations time), I can’t
help but feel this film will be a dud.
Why? Well, I’m not a
New York Times film critic, and I don’t have a Ph.D. in film studies,
but one look at the trailer and it’s obvious that the American
producers erred bigtime by deciding to cast Chinese actresses in the
roles of the Japanese characters in Golden’s book.
thing, the big-name Chinese actresses “look” like Chinese women, from
their faces to their hair to their body language, and they speak
English in the movie with Chinese-accented English. It’s obvious they
are not Japanese. The film becomes a travesty of movie-making.
It’s Blog Day! And no one gave me a present!
Jeff Ooi celebrates with a tour of the Malaysian blogosphere. Kenny Sia celebrates with a tour of the Malaysian babe-o-sphere.
At one level, Mr Wang agrees with Tomorrow’s position, for the reasons
that Agagooga has stated. Mr Wang himself regularly links to other
bloggers’ posts without seeking their permission. Although "Did Mr Wang Say So?" is on a much smaller scale than Tomorrow, the same principles ought to apply.
On the other hand, Mr Wang uses his brain when choosing his
hyperlinks. And Mr Wang considers it inappropriate for Tomorrow to take
an overly cavalier approach to this task. It is one thing to say, "Oh,
YOU put your personal story on the Internet yourself, don’t blame US
for publicising it." This kind of excuse, while not entirely invalid,
is a poor excuse for the Tomorrow editors to display bad editorial
taste, to make bad editorial choices and to be lousy human beings.
Tomorrow (or any other blog) is perfectly free to act as a
screaming tabloid if it wants to. It doesn’t necessarily follow that it
is a good thing for Tomorrow (or any other blog) to act as a screaming
tabloid. And the fact that people didn’t stick "Respect My Privacy"
banners or buttons all over their own blogs doesn’t mean that a
Tomorrow editor can’t exercise some good judgment on his own accord to
do what’s right.
AsiaPundit doesn’t mind being a tabloid blog. Asia has a three easily available English-language broadsheets - the AWSJ, IHT and FT all nicely acronymed to increase appeal in Singapore - and it could use a good tabloid. Further, most of the Tomorrow.sg-linked blogs are Blogger hosted. If you want your blog to be private… password protect it. Duh!
But speaking of Tabloid Crap, that’s the category under which :
According to the JoongAng Ilbo (Korean), Koreans fart a lot.
Hey, don’t blame me for this one — blame the JoongAng. Anyway, the
piece said that while it might be hard to draw a hard and fast
conclusion, one could guess that Koreans break wind particularly often
due to the large amount of gas-producing foods they consume — beans,
veggies, fruits and raw foods. The rising consumption of milk doesn’t
help matters, and those with trouble digesting lactose and the elderly
with weakening digestive power are particularly susceptible to
becoming, in the colorful choice of words by the JoongAng, “gas shells”
(like in the WWI artillery round).
And the JoongAng Ilbo, I recall, is a broadsheet.
Hey, Google solved that East Sea/Sea of Japan problem that was causing all of those DNS attacks across the
East Sea Sea of Japan body of water that separates the two countries.:
As if the arrest and imprisonment of buxom Shapelle Corby wasn’t enough to strain Australian-Indonesian relations, police in Bali have busted a Aussie lingerie model.
SYDNEY - Australian lingerie model Michelle Leslie could face up
to 10 years in jail after getting busted on the Indonesian resort of
Bali for allegedly possessing ecstasy tablets, officials said.
The 24-year-old, who has modelled for sassy lingerie line Antz
Pantz and works under the name Michelle Lee, was arrested at a party
near Bali’s popular Kuta beach at the weekend, they said.
The Swanker says:
If you’re one of those people who think the Australian media got into a
big tizz over Schapelle Corby solely because of her looks, wait til
they get a load of Michelle.
In other celebrity news, Other Lisa is horrified that ‘The Donald’ intends to bring the Apprentice to China.
Communist mainland China will soon have its own version of "The Apprentice" — Donald Trump’s reality TV tribute to capitalism.
Trump will be the executive producer of the Chinese show, which
will be hosted by Beijing property mogul Pan Shiyi, the South China
Morning Post newspaper reported Sunday.
The newspaper said China’s version would closely follow the U.S.
original, in which contestants compete for a job with Trump. Details of
the deal are under negotiation.
I wouldn’t worry too much about Trump crossing the Pacific. On top of tightening regulations on joint Sino-foreign productions, Vincent Lo of Hong Kong’s Shui On Group has already commenced a rival project.:
But "Wise Man Takes All" will not feature cut-throat
competition or Trump’s catch-phrase, "You’re fired!"
The show symbolises China’s embrace of market economics
after decades of strict state planning. Entrepreneurs are now
eligible for "model and advanced worker" status, an honour once
reserved for the likes of bus conductors, miners and other
employees of the Communist state sector.
"We are trying to sharpen the entrepreneurial spirit in
young people," Vincent Lo Hongshui, chairman of Hong Kong
property developer Shui On Land, a major sponsor of the show,
was quoted as saying.
Reality television is relatively new but catching on quickly
in China. Millions of people have been tuning in to watch the
late rounds of "Super Girl", a singing showdown that clearly
takes a page from "American Idol" and reaches it finale on
Lo’s project may not be as edgy as Trump’s, but it has a better chance of getting off the ground. In grey areas such as the entertainment media, it helps to have guanxi. And, as the Economist has noted, Lo is the "King of Guanxi."
Cyber War! Cyber War! Cyber War!
Japanese netizens are attacking a South Korean website:
The website of the Voluntary Agency Network Korea (VANK)has been hacked and its message board flooded by messages-
in what’s thought to be a retaliation by angry Japanese netizens (can I
call Japanese internet users netizens too?) over Google Earth changing
the name of the body of water between Korea and Japan from Sea of Japan
to East Sea after VANK lobbied Google Earth.
The South Korean government is setting up safeguards to prevent it from being caught in the crossfire as Chinese netizens attack Japan.:
“We don’t know whether cyber warfare will indeed happen between China
and Japan, but to prevent any fallout, we have devised countermeasures
jointly with universities and Internet service providers,” a ministry
Hong Kong daily reported recently that the Association of China’s Red
Hackers, one of the world’s five hacking groups, plans to launch
formidable attacks on the anti-Chinese websites in Japan between July
Rebecca McKinnion will soon be arriving to
I’m thrilled to have been asked to moderate a panel at this years first inaugural Chinese Bloggers’ Conference in Shanghai, November 5-6….
One thing I hope we’ll talk about is how we can do more to foster constructive dialogue online between bloggers in China and Japan.
A constructive dialogue would be nice. Though I’d even consider fostering a hostile dialogue progress, so long as it meant a reduction in hacking and ‘DNS atacks.’
In Japan, it’s hip to be square.:
Though Torii may not know it, he’s the type of guy who’s apparently all
the rage among Japanese women nowadays. Much of the media is currently
smitten with the country’s booming otaku culture. This has, in turn,
led to widespread claims that the geeks, freaks, weirdoes and fatties
who, like Torii, are collectively referred to as otaku, a group once
largely shunned by women, are now being seen as the country’s hottest
hunks. Apparently, their appeal lies in the belief that the otaku are
up for a purer form of love and are the obsessive types likely to
become devoted to the one gal once they’ve found her.
It’s tourist season in Pyong’yang. Seriously, to mark the 60th anniversary of
Allied Victory in World War Two’s Pacific Front Kim Il-sung’s almost single-handed defeat of Japanese fascist armies and the birth of the juche state, the country is holding three-month long Mass Games. We’ve been assured that these will offer some of the best acrobatics, gymnastics and xenophobia that Northeast Asia has to offer. As NK Zone notes, the Financial Times is offering some free coverage.
It’s been argued that governments are not doing enough to prevent the Avian Flu from becoming a pandemic. Thankfully, we now have "An Investor’s Guide to the Avian Flu," so even if millions do die, at least some of us can profit. (FWIW: CLSA issued a similar report several months ago, they just weren’t as gauche when selecting a title.)
It’s easy to understand why the Chinese border guards were grumpier. The Tibetan region has security problems while Nepal has… err Maoist insurgents and student rioters.
Global Voices offers another fine roundup on the blasts in Bangladesh.
When MasaMania posted his spread of Tokyo street-racing photos today, I was struck by this older link that showed up in my RSS reader today. I thought that a possible reason for the "Korea Wave," and the waning influence of Japan on Asian fashion trends, is that the trends coming out of Japan are just a little bit too freaky for the rest of the continent.
The fashion trends coming out of South Korea, meanwhile, are much safer… even if some of them are copies of trends that originated in Japan.
Ignore for a moment that beauty pageants are insipid (and muslim Malaysia seems like an odd place for a pageant, although its large number of ethnic Chinese are less wound about such things). If it were a question of international recognition, a political statement or a major piece of journalism I could understand diplomatic involvement. But a beauty pageant? Do you have a hobby? Friends? A dog to walk? A charity to start? Visas to issue? Is there really nothing better that the Chinese consulate in Malaysia could be doing than obsessing about beauty pageants?
Plus, it’s obviously bad PR for the CPC to be attacking this cutie.
UPDATE: Angry Chinese Blogger has more.
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