30 June, 2006

China to Crack Down on Internet

Oh no! China i.:

BEIJING - China’s Internet regulators are stepping up controls on blogs and search engines to block material it considers unlawful or immoral, the government said Friday.Jingcha“As more and more illegal and unhealthy information spreads through the blog and search engine, we will take effective measures to put the BBS, blog and search engine under control,” said Cai Wu, director of the Information Office of China’s Cabinet, quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency.
The government will step up research on monitoring technology and issue “admittance standards” for blogs, the report said, without providing any details.
China encourages Internet use for business and education but tries to block access to obscene or subversive material. It has the world’s second-biggest population of Internet users after the United States, with 111 million people online.
China launched a campaign in February to “purify the environment” of the Internet and mobile communications, Xinhua said.
China has 37 million Web logs, or blogs, Xinhua said, citing a study by Beijing’s Tsinghua University. It said that number was expected to nearly double this year to 60 million.

This is shocking news, if only because AsiaPundit didn’t realize that the previous crackdown had abated.

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by @ 6:21 pm. Filed under Blogs, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Censorship

29 June, 2006

World Bank Seeks Singapore Protests

Security is always a concern for global trade and economic organizations, however the World Bank has decided that Singapore is a little too secure. Worried about a perception that civic groups are being ignored, the global development bank has petitioned the Singapore government to allow protests at its September meeting.:

The World Bank … has stepped in to assure activists that space for civil society is being negotiated to avoid what some critics of the international financial institutions says will undermine the credibility of the Bank’s claims to promote good governance, accountability, transparency and democracy.

Bearbusted‘’We are working closely with the IMF and with the Singapore Government — and have been for many months — to ensure that diverse civil society voices are very much heard before, during and after the Annual Meetings,'’ writes Peter Stephens of the Bank’s Singapore office in a letter to the non-governmental organisations (NGOs). ‘’We believe that meaningful civil society engagement is critical to the effectiveness of the meetings.'’

The letter also dismisses the argument made by the NGOs that the Bank and the IMF are trying to shut the door on the world’s poor by giving shape to a restrictive process. ‘’Far from being a regulated or restricted process, as you appear to suggest, we are trying to enable a process that is open and led by civil society, and for the issues and means of addressing them to arise spontaneously, not through a formal process that we lead or try to manage,'’ adds Stephens.

CpfprotestorsBut for veteran civil society actors in Singapore, the Bank’s letter appears to be out of touch with the stubborn reality on the ground in the city-state. ‘’It will be nearly impossible to protest in Singapore for locals,'’ Sinapan Samydorai, head of Think Centre, a human rights NGO, told IPS. ‘’Locals trying to express any political opinion in public will require a license. The licenses are often denied to locals.'’

Singapore should have no reason to not permit protests. Its police and public security forces are some of the finest in the world. They have proven themselves very adept at stopping protests before they get out of hand.

The above images are from some of last year’s most impressive actions by the Lion City’s Finest. The arrest of an Australian woman in a bear suit and the that required 40 riot police to disperse.

(Article via Elia Diodati)

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by @ 8:34 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

6,585 Miles to Graceland

Japanese Prime Minister Junichro Koizumi is about to make another controversial shrine visit. But unlike his trips to the Yasukuni Shrine, Mutantfrog notes that he will not be able to brush this off simply as a visit by a private citizen.:

Kozumiandking-1The “King” never came to Japan, but Japan’s prime minister is making a pilgrimage to Graceland.
Elvis fan Billy Morokawa says Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will likely feel the power of Presley’s enduring energy when he tours the rock-and-roll legend’s home in Memphis, Tennessee, Friday with President Bush.

Did you see that? “Pilgrimage” There’s no way this visit is going to pass the church/state test, and visiting it alongside President Bush the “I was only going in my capacity as a private citizen” defense is never going to fly, particularly when considering his personal history in this cult.
Koizumi, 64, is an Elvis devotee who not only shares a January 8 birthday with his idol, but picked out his songs for a 2001 charity album, “Junichiro Koizumi Presents My Favorite Elvis Songs.” The prime minister appears on the album’s cover standing next to Elvis outside Graceland in a composite picture.

Back in 1987 when Koizumi was a mere lawmaker, he and his brother Masaya, now a senior adviser to the Tokyo fan club, helped raise funds to erect a status of Elvis in the Japanese capital to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death.
Three years ago the prime minister, an eclectic music lover whose favorites also include German composer Richard Wagner, sang his favorite Elvis hit—“I Want You, I Need You, I Love You”—with actor Tom Cruise, then in Tokyo to promote his movie “The Last Samurai.”

Unfortunately Koizumi’s album of Elvis hits is not available on Amazon — nor can AsiaPundit find any samples using Limewire. A track listing is here.

For those who wish to further develop a sense of Koizumi’s musical taste, this compilation of his favorite Ennio Morricone compositions is still available.:


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by @ 7:41 pm. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

28 June, 2006

Phnom Penh Food Safety

AsiaPundit has often eaten food from street stalls and small eateries run by cigarette-puffing proprietors. While ashes falling upon meals has occasionally caused concern, we should remember that chewing tobacco is not a safe alternative.:

We hear a lot about the dangers of secondhand smoke, but let’s not overlook the dangers of second-hand chewing tobacco…
Chewing Tobacco in Noodles Sickens 30
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Thirty Cambodians suffered food poisoning after eating homemade noodles contaminated with chewing tobacco that had dropped into the batter from the cook’s mouth, police said Monday.

In Cambodia, it is not unusual to discover objects that are typically smoked found in meals. AsiaPundit was once shocked to discover a large quantity of another noxious weed on food ordered at a very popular restaurant.

In part, the United Nations can be blamed for the lack of food safety.:

HappypizzaHappy Herb’s began in the heady days when the UN ruled Cambodia while they tried to sort out some half-decent elections. Cambodia was flooded with danger-seeking fools with astronomical wages which they squandered on drugs, prostitutes and fine dining. Herb was taught to cook pizzas by one of this crew, and suggested adding ganja, a traditional Khmer ingredient. (Later in the meal a veteran of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia came over, steaming drunk and blazing a big Sherlock Holmes style pipe. “I used to be Very Important!” he said to a military policeman who couldn’t understand English. “I was an Election Monitor in 93!” His Khmer wife and child stood back in embarrassment.)

Herb’s always been a dab hand in the kitchen. He was his unit’s cook in the civil war, before he ran away. “I didn’t want to fight,” he said. As his unit was nearing the battlefield he and his two mates jumped off the lorry and legged it into the jungle. Because he was a deserter no one would give him a lift, so it took him a week to walk back to Phnom Penh. He sold all of his gear for food except for his AK-47, which he keeps to shoo away the tiny lizards that gather around light bulbs at night. “I take out the powder from the bullets,” he says, “I leave just enough to stun the little chik-chaks.”
The pizza arrived on a nice wooden platter. Herb’s found a blend of spices that complements the flavour of ganja perfectly. Anyone who’s tried cooking with weed will know that it leaves a sharp taste that overwhelms the rest of the food. Herb’s pizza has managed to tone it down with lots of creamy cheese, oregano and some other Italian herbs.

Related to food, many recommendations for fine dining in the Mekong region and elsewhere can be found by visiting the first-quarter nominees for the Best Asian Food Blog.

(Above image stolen from the Virtual Tourist page for Happy Herb’s.)

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by @ 10:14 am. Filed under Food and Drink, Cambodia, Asia, Southeast Asia

27 June, 2006

Emergency English & Low-impact Aerobics

Exercise while learning to protect yourself from menacing bra-headed gaijin. Video at the 88s.:


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

Crush Bush and the Japanese Aggressors

In this allegedly North Korean propaganda flash animation game, defeat the evil warmonger Bush and the Japanese aggressors by covering them with giant rubies.:

North Korea Online Game

North Korean website By the Korean Nation Itself launches online game “catch those thieves”, enjoy yourself. Instruction: move the red stones onto the you-know-who.

(via Letters from China)

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by @ 9:42 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

China’s AIDS Melons

In order to contribute to AIDS education and improved treatment for people living with AIDs, AsiaPundit offers the following as a public service announcement. You can not get AIDS through, talking, insects, holding hands, or eating Linquan-county watermelons.:

Images..the watermelon farmers of Linquan county … had earlier this year registered a trademark for their watermelons and established an association to promote them. The Linquan watermelons became “the top sellers, even though their price was much higher than watermelons from other regions.”
Sales of Linquan watermelons recently plunged amid rumors they had been injected with HIV tainted blood. The local government held a news conference to try to quash the rumor. According to the article, after a “thorough investigation, no HIV carriers were found in Fanji town…, Linquan County, which is well-known for its watermelons crops.” The police are investigating the source of the rumor, which is having a devastating impact on sales:
“Li Huadong, a Linquan farmer, also the vice director of the local watermelon association, said he planted more than 6.7 hectares of watermelon this year, which topped the farmers in Linquan. Before the rumor spread, the watermelons that he harvested earlier this year sold out. However, he only sold a very small fraction of the watermelons in recent days. A large amount of watermelons were left to rot in the fields, he said.

Image of the menacing Viking watermelon stolen from a photoset of Matthew Keller’s Caribbean vacation (full size here). While watermelons are safe to eat, AsiaPundit discourages readers from having unprotected sex with Vikings.

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by @ 3:45 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

Fung Shui for Websites

As regular readers know, AsiaPundit was recently redesigned.

AP would recommend that others seeking design work do consider approaching our designer Phin and Apothegm Designs. However, after reading the below Reuters report we now regret that no specific instructions were given for improving this site’s Feng Shui.:

FengshuidummiesA Web site where the colors hurt your eyes, the music offends your ears or has too much information is probably too cluttered and does not give a positive flow of ch’i,” says Vikram Narayan, a Mumbai-based feng shui practitioner.
The trick, Narayan said, is to remove things in your life or on your Web site that serve no purpose, and keep those things that serve you well.

But how does this apply to your Web site?

Experts say using a combination of astrology and numerology, the ancient sciences will help you choose the right colors, font, placement of graphics and navigation bar to make the perfect Web site.

Brijesh Agarwal of Indiamart, a company offering business solutions to small and medium-sized enterprises, says he has had mixed results on the five sites that his company has designed according to vaastu principles.

“We have found that on three sites the number of hits has increased by 60 percent but the other two sites have not been affected,” said Agarwal.

Until this site’s feng shui is improved, AsiaPundit recommends that readers take their own steps to address deficiencies. For instance, if you have not already done so please reposition your monitor so that all windows open facing either east or south (the directions of warmth and good fortune).

(Article via IndianRaj)

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by @ 12:55 pm. Filed under South Korea, China, India, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs

23 June, 2006

Clinton Era Consensus on N Korea

MissileA possible North Korean missile test has produced what is being called a diplomatic crisis.

AsiaPundit is not worrying. Like other long-time amateur observers of the Stalinist dystopia, AP has become so inured to bellicose statements and provocative actions from Pyongyang that they are likely to produce mockery or boredom.

Still, remembering words of wisdom from our parents — ‘it’s all fun and games until someone loses a large Pacific Northwest city’ – AP will refrain from making jokes about the crisis. This is a serious matter and attempts at jocularity should be avoided.

AsiaPundit is outraged by the way the US administration is handling this crisis. There has been too much waffeling. This matter could have been quickly resolved if only today’s politicians had the resolve and unity of vision that was characteristic of those of days past. If yesterday’s leaders were currently in positions of power we would certainly be seeing more decisive action.

Former US Republican House leader Newt Gingrich has called for a first strike:

NewtgingrichThe American public is being reassured that we have a ballistic-missile defense that will work. No serious person believes this. None of the tests have been robust enough or realistic enough to assure us that we could intercept the North Korean ICBM no matter where it was aimed.
In the immediate and present danger, the United States should not wait to attempt to shoot the missile down after it is launched. There is no proven reliable technology and no evidence that we could succeed. Instead, we should destroy the missile on its site before it is launched. Our ability to preempt the launch is nearly certain.
We can’t afford failure.
Imagine the North Korean dictator in a moment of insanity has placed a nuclear weapon atop of the Taepodong-2. Imagine he believes that taking out Seattle is the best way to impress us with how serious he is. Imagine that we allow this missile to be fired because we want to be in State Department language “prudent, cautious, reasonable, and multilateral.” Imagine what the “6/21 Commission to Investigate the Loss of Seattle” would report about 13 years of diplomatic failure and the failure of the United States to implement President Bush’s pledge.
America’s actions must be decisive. We are faced with a brutal, totalitarian dictatorship about which we know little. It is acting in defiance of all of its own international commitments. The time for talk is over. Either they dismantle the missile or we the United States should dismantle it.
From an American viewpoint of saving American lives and American cities certain preemption is much less risky than uncertain defense. That is a simple but painful fact. It is one Washington should act upon.

As well as Gingrich, Bill Clinton’s former defense secretary William Perry has also emerged to support preemption.:

PerryShould the United States allow a country openly hostile to it and armed with nuclear weapons to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons to U.S. soil? We believe not. The Bush administration has unwisely ballyhooed the doctrine of “preemption,” which all previous presidents have sustained as an option rather than a dogma. It has applied the doctrine to Iraq, where the intelligence pointed to a threat from weapons of mass destruction that was much smaller than the risk North Korea poses. (The actual threat from Saddam Hussein was, we now know, even smaller than believed at the time of the invasion.) But intervening before mortal threats to U.S. security can develop is surely a prudent policy.
Therefore, if North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be launched. This could be accomplished, for example, by a cruise missile launched from a submarine carrying a high-explosive warhead. The blast would be similar to the one that killed terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. But the effect on the Taepodong would be devastating. The multi-story, thin-skinned missile filled with high-energy fuel is itself explosive — the U.S. airstrike would puncture the missile and probably cause it to explode. The carefully engineered test bed for North Korea’s nascent nuclear missile force would be destroyed, and its attempt to retrogress to Cold War threats thwarted. There would be no damage to North Korea outside the immediate vicinity of the missile gantry.

Oh how we wish we were back in the wonderfully bipartisan Clinton era.

UPDATE:Kim Jong-il must be trembling in fear. Walter Mondale has called for a first strike.

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by @ 5:39 pm. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

Japan’s Humilation

As AsiaPundit has a soft spot for underdogs, he was hoping for strong 2006 World Cup showings from ‘New World’ nations Australia and the US and Asian nations Japan and South Korea. While pleased that the Socceroos have advanced, he is a touch disappointed that the US and Japan have been eliminated.

Still soccer has never been a big sport for either Japan or the US, so the losses aren’t that big a deal. It would have been an embarrassment if the teams lost at events in which their nations are known to excel.

Oh dear.:

Iran the new robot super-power challenges Japan


RoboCup 2006 Results
I4U - June 18, 2006 Japan is only 3rd with 6 wins after China who won in 9 categories. Surprisingly Iran is fourth with 5 wins. Iran the new robot super-power

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by @ 10:12 am. Filed under Japan, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

21 June, 2006

Asian Cities are Rude

Via Miyagi, we learn that Asian cities came out at the bottom of the list in global courtesy rankings based on a survey by Reader’s Digest.:

CourtesylionA Reader’s Digest survey conducted in 35 various cities across the globe analysed and tested the politeness and helpfulness of people in each urban centre. More than 2000 separate tests of behaviour were conducted to try and find the world’s most courteous place….
Researchers awarded the cities points for various tests such as holding doors open for other people, assisting in picking up dropped documents and whether shop assistants said “Thank you” to customers after they paid…
Asian cities featured highly on the survey’s least courteous list. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok and Seoul were all ranked in the bottom ten. Other unhelpful cities included Sydney, Moscow, Milan and Amsterdam.

The bottom of the list is a who’s-who of great Asian cities including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Taipei, Singapore, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai. No mainland China or Japanese cities are mentioned in the list.

AsiaPundit is actually shocked by this, in no small part because New York captured the number one position as the most courteous. The Big Apple is a favorite city, but it does not have a reputation for politeness.

AP’s immediate reaction is to disregard the survey as a vacuous marketing gimmick, but he will briefly entertain the possibility that it is an accurate measure.

This article suggests there has been a change in NY since 9/11 and Rudy Giuliani’s politeness bylaws — noting a $50 fine for putting feet on subway seats. It the latter is the case, Singapore’s government should ask why its creation of a Fine City and it’s 37-year long courtesy campaign have been such a failure.

(Image of Singapore’s Courtesy Lion, ubiquitous in the City State, stolen from the Singapore Kindness Movement website.)

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by @ 6:57 pm. Filed under Culture, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines, South Asia

Note to Singapore Marketers: uSuck!

Singapore has announced a US$3.2 billion plan to make the city state more intelligent by 2015.:

Singapore has unveiled a 10-year, $3.2 billion Master Plan, titled Singapore Intelligent Nation iN2015, which seeks to integrate all the modern and Next Generation wireless and other infocomm technologies in every aspect of economy and social systems to retain its global competitiveness.
The iN2015 Plan, unveiled by Singapore’s Minister for Information, Communication and Arts, Dr Lee Boon Yong, during the launch of the annual imbX 2006 infocomm show here, is yet another manifestation of the government’s ability to strategize to catch the next wave of innovation and application to maintain its status as a global city.

Upon reading this AsiaPundit immediately felt a bit queasy. While AP feels that such developments should be led by the private sector rather than the state, that wasn’t the initial source of displeasure. No, AsiaPundit was bothered by the name given to the plan.

AsiaPundit won’t comment on whether this plan will likely make Singapore more intelligent, but is does immediately make the island seem dreadfully uncreative. The choice of iN2015 again illustrates the country’s terrible habit of adopting trendy branding that is already cliched and will only become even more dated. This is a problem that plagues both the state and private-sectors.

This would ordinarily not provoke a rant but AsiaPundit was further reminded of this unfortunate habit when he saw the below display today in a Shanghai shopping center. Witness the marketing genius of Singapore health-care product maker Osim.:


iSqueez massage boots? The uZap slimming belt? Even worse are some of the products on the Osim website: the iPamper massager, iCheck5000 blood pressure monitor and the iTango body toner. Would anyone in the market for a foot massager really spend S$700 on an iPoke?


Excuse me while iPuke.

AP will note that he has purchased several Osim products for Mrs AsiaPundit, all of which have been appreciated and put to good use. However, the appropriation of  lower-case vowels in almost every product diminishes them and makes them seem like cheap attempts to cash in on Apple’s successful branding of the iPod.

AsiaPundit takes some solace in the fact that Imagethief shares his discomfort.

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

A Defense of China’s DVD Pirates

Simon yesterday offered some commentary on the Motion Picture Association’s latest report on DVD piracy, and specifically its claims about piracy in China.:

Piratemovie“Piracy cost filmmakers US$2.7 billion (HK$21.06 billion) last year, with domestic firms shouldering more than half those losses, according to a study commissioned by a trade group representing the major Hollywood studios. China’s film industry lost US$1.5 billion in revenue to piracy, while US studios lost US$565 million, according to data released Monday by the Motion Picture Association…Some 93 percent of all movie sales in China were of pirated versions of films, according to the latest study.”

Who’s to blame here? Is it the average Chinese worker, who earns maybe 5,000 yuan a year and can either buy a copy for 5 yuan or the original for 10 times as much? Is it China’s government, who’s domestic industry and creativity suffers far more from piracy than Hollywood? Or is it the outdated business and pricing models of foreign companies in the Chinese market?

AsiaPundit is less inclined to support the thesis that movie piracy in China is price driven and would argue that the problem is based on censorship, heavy regulation and a lack of legal channels for distribution. Pirates are on every street corner, but the only legal outlets for sales are inefficient state-owned shops or big-box retailers such as Carrefour. While the pirates can carry everything, the legitimate outlets can only sell the very slim selection of Chinese Communist Party-approved content that is available.

For that reason, AsiaPundit generally welcomes piracy in China. It would challenge a person’s sanity to only have access to CCP-approved material for viewing.

AP expects that many of the most-heard voices complaining about China’s piracy problems are also consumers of pirated products. AP would wager that the vast majority of local American and European chambers of commerce members, Western journalists, local employees of MPAA-affilated companies and even CCP party cadres all buy pirated DVDs or rob television signals trough illegal sattelite dishes and descramblers.

If the MPAA wanted to see less piracy in China it should be challenging the state’s restrictive policies on content. There are many Chinese and expatriates who would buy quality original DVDs if they were easily available, even if they were significantly more expensive than pirated product.

Variety’s Asian cinema blog, Kaiju Shakedown, offers a post today that makes the same point.

“But, as we all know, these numbers regarding China are completely bogus anyways. Because most MPAA member movies can’t be sold in China so they have no loss. China only allows 20 foreign films to be imported each year, and usually 14 - 16 of these are from MPAA members. So what the MPA is talking about in this report isn’t “profits lost to pirates in China” but “profits lost to closed markets in China”.

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by @ 10:37 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Censorship, Film

20 June, 2006

Japan’s 100-year War

With a possible new missile test by North Korea getting significant press attention, one could be forgiven for thinking that Northeast Asia remains a tinderbox. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Via Coming Anarchy, AsiaPundit is pleased to discover that Japan is finally exiting from its 100-year state of war.:

Uniforms Balkan Allies

Montenegro, Japan To Declare Truce
Jun 16, 2006
Montenegro says Japan has recognized the Balkan country as an independent state, ending more than 100 years of a state of war.
Akiko Yamanaka, Japan’s deputy foreign minister and the prime minister’s special envoy is scheduled to arrive in Podgorica next week to deliver a letter to Montenegrin officials declaring the war is over and Tokyo recognizes Montenegro as an independent state, Belgrade’s B92 radio reported Friday.

AsiaPundit assumes that this isn’t the end of the story and fully expects that we’ll be hearing stories for decades about Japanese troops emerging from Balkan mountain hideouts completely unaware that the war is over.

(Image stolen from greatwardifferent.com, for a full-size picture see here.)

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by @ 12:16 pm. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

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

14 June, 2006

L’infantile Blogosphere Revisited

One year after Steven McDermott of Singabloodypore asked if the Singapore blogosphere is infantile, Hwee Hwee Tan of RMIT University offers a more optimistic assessment.:

About Mrbrown02Along with the increasing popularity of blogs as a means to prosume rather than consume information is an increasing tension between Singapore bloggers and the local news media - a relationship not unlike that between American bloggers and journalists.

This trend is arguably best reflected in the developments leading up to the recent Singapore Election. Aside from Brown and Miyagi’s persistently non-political podcasts, we witness the emergence of citizen journalism in Singapore blogosphere as known and lesser known bloggers including award-winning activist, Yawning Bread and the anonymous blogger behind Singapore Election Watch, made use of the multimedia capabilities on blogs to prosume political rallies and other major events during the election period. Along with these reports on the election events is the emergence of fresh young voices in the Singapore blogosphere, courageous in their attempts to confront and interrogate the flaws in their authoritarian nation-state. The contents of these posts, particularly the podcasts on Opposition Party Rally certainly fly in the face of a recent ban on any online streaming of any explicit political content.

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by @ 12:33 am. Filed under Blogs, Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Web/Tech

Kinabalu’s ‘Extra Special’ Coffee

The last time AsiaPundit was in Malaysian Borneo he ordered a large coffee at Poring Hot Springs … it came served in a three liter jug and was far too much caffeine for one person to handle.

Friskodude points to an item noting that one of the island’s coffee makers has developed another method for perking up its customers (NSFW).:

Kkcoffee Kota Kinabalu: The Health Ministry has uncovered a coffee company’s ploy of mixing its coffee powder products with Viagra just to make the coffee extra special.

Deputy Health Minister, Datuk Dr Haji Abd. Latiff Ahmad, said they found this after doing clinical tests on a sample of the ’special’ coffee powder known as “Kopi Kuat” (strong coffee) sold in the market at RM14 per packet.

“We suspected something amiss upon finding out the price of this coffee powder. We then took a sample and sent it to our laboratory for testing and we found it contains ViagraÆhat’s why it was called Kopi Kuat (strong coffee)’,” he said.

“This particular case arose after the product was registered under the Food Regulations Act. Probably due to strong competition, the company involved put in other additional elements into its coffee powder as to make its coffee more tastier or special. This is what we call a post registration issue,” he said.

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by @ 12:10 am. Filed under Food and Drink, Malaysia, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

13 June, 2006

Asian Airline Meals

One of the advantages of living in an Asian metropolis is having easy access to great food. For the most part — at least relative to North America — this also applies to regional airlines. Mari Diary notes a top-10 list for the best airline food which features a sizable Asian component.:

Singaporeairlines1135No.1 Singapore Airlines. 66.9 points
No.2 Virgin Atlantic. 58.8 points
No.3 KLM. 50.9 points
No.4 Air France. 49.1 points
No.5 Air New Zealand. 46.9 points
No.6 Air China. 40.9 points
No.7 Alitalia. 40.6 points
No.8 Malaysia Airlines. 39.7 points
No.9 Asiana Air. 38.5 points
No.10 Cathay Pacific Airways. 38.2 points

(Image of a Singapore Airlines meal portion (first class LAX-NRT-SIN) stolen from AirlineMeals.net… the world’s first and leading website about nothing but airline food.)

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

Hidden Otaku Cafe

Matt at Digital World Tokyo interviews the proprietor of a ‘male clothing cafe’, where ‘hidden otaku‘ women are served by androgynous waitresses dressed to look like male anime characters.:

MaledresscafeWord of Japan’s medo kissa or “Maid cafes,” where the staff call you goshujinsama (”master”) and serve omelets with love-hearts drawn on them in ketchup, has reached envious male geeks around the world, but what about the anime-loving women?

I spoke to one woman working to redress this injustice: Kira Ayumu, owner and proprietress of 80+1, a dansou kissa (”male clothing cafe”) in Ikebukuro, where the female waitresses dress as men for a spot of role-playing.

Can you give us a short description of 80+1?

TuxedomaskA hideaway for girls. Our all-female staff uses dansou to embody the slim lines of anime characters in a way that men just can’t. Women can get much closer to the two-dimensional feel of a male anime character. It’s a hip cafe that appeals to both the otaku and fashion-loving side of modern Japanese women.

What’s your clientele like?

Mostly sharp-dressing kakure-otaku (”hidden otaku”) — they have some otaku leanings, but you wouldn’t know it to look at them.

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by @ 10:19 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

Farewell My Concubines

Corruption in the Olympics? A corrupt Chinese municipal official? AsiaPundit is shocked.:

Olympic TankThe vice-mayor of Beijing overseeing the construction of Olympic venues for the 2008 Games has built himself a pleasure palace filled with young concubines on the outskirts of the city.

Details of Liu Zhihua’s colourful private life emerged today after he was sacked from his post when a foreign businessman reported him for extorting a bribe.

Mr Liu’s sacking has triggered accusations of widespread corruption surrounding the Games, and highlighted a culture of graft that is said to trouble British and other foreign companies working as specialist contractors on Beijing’s Olympic sites.

In the resort town of Kuangou, an hour’s drive north of the Olympic Village, police have sealed off Mr Liu’s multi-story development.

An unknown number of young woman, as well as waiting staff, are said to be confined to rooms there, waiting to be interviewed by investigators from the central discipline inspection commission, a shadowy anti-corruption agency inside the Communist Party.

“Liu has more than one mistress,” wrote the Wen Hui Bao newspaper in Hong Kong. “He has a secret pleasure palace for himself to have fun.”

While AsiaPundit is a strong opponent of corruption, he can’t help but be a bit impressed by Liu’s dissoluteness.

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by @ 8:29 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

12 June, 2006

Three Gorges and Giant Jellyfish

Japanese scientists are blaming China’s Three Gorges Dam for a plague of giant jellyfish.:

Giant JellyfishMAINICHI, China - June 10, 2006 (UPI) — Researchers in Japan have concluded that a surge in the number of giant jellyfish off the Japanese coast is a result of a hydropower dam in China.

The Mainichi Daily News reported that researchers from Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies have suggested that construction of the Three Gorges Dam in China, the world’s largest hydropower dam, is responsible for the explosion of the jellyfish population. The jellyfish have a negative effect on the Japanese fishing industry.

Nomura jellyfish, typically found in Japan, measure up to one meter in diameter and can weigh as much as 200 kilograms.

One of the breeding areas for the jellyfish is near the mouth of the Yangtze River, near Shanghai. Construction of the dam is thought to have reduced the production of silicon, which is necessary for the breeding of phytoplankton, the newspaper said.

Still, if the report is to be believed, hydro-power related giant jellyfish are less destructive than the result of China’s coal dependence.:

In early April, a dense cloud of pollutants over Northern China sailed to nearby Seoul, sweeping along dust and desert sand before wafting across the Pacific. An American satellite spotted the cloud as it crossed the West Coast.

Researchers in California, Oregon and Washington noticed specks of sulfur compounds, carbon and other byproducts of coal combustion coating the silvery surfaces of their mountaintop detectors. These microscopic particles can work their way deep into the lungs, contributing to respiratory damage, heart disease and cancer.

Filters near Lake Tahoe in the mountains of eastern California “are the darkest that we’ve seen” outside smoggy urban areas, said Steven S. Cliff, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California at Davis.

(photo stolen from National Geographic, full size and high-res image here.)

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by @ 11:58 pm. Filed under Japan, South Korea, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

ABA 06-07: The Judges

Meet the esteemed judges of the 2006-2007 Asia Blog Awards:


• Anna of HERstory, the 2004 ABA winner of Best Indian Blog.

• Connie Veneracion, Sassy Lawyer and queen of Philippine blog royalty.

• Fred of Extra Extra, former winner of best Sri Lanka blog and now a resident of Kinshasa, Democratic Rep of Congo.

• Graham Holliday of top Vietnam food blog Noodlepie.

• Previous Indonesia ABA winner and inteernational man of mystery Jakartass.

• Japundit founder of the eponymous Japundit.

• Malaysian alpha-blogger and Freedom Blog Award winner Jeff Ooi.

• Jeff Laitila, founder of of ABA-winning Japanese group photo blog Sushicam.

• Lee Chapman of the Tokyo Times.

• Malaysia’s multi-talented Kenny Sia.

• Patrix, founder of Desipundit.

• Phil of Flagrant Harbour, founder of the first Asia Blog Awards.

• Rezwan, author of the 3rd World View, Global Voices contributor and founder of Bangladesh blog list.

• Richard of The Peking Duck.

• Robert Koehler, the man behind essential South Korean site the Marmot’s Hole.

• Roland Soong of the essential Greater China site East South West North.

• Ron Morris of ABA winning 2Bangkok.com.

• Simon of Simon World, previous host of 2004 Awards and nominee for several international accolades.

• Scott Sommers, 2004 ABA winner for Scott Sommers’ Taiwan Weblog.

• Spike of Hongkie Town.

• Tengku Mohd Ali Bustaman, better known as Pok Ku, of Malaysian ABA winner Di Bawah Rang Ikang Kering

Finally, AsiaPundit will also be participating as a judge.

This is a preliminary listing and admittedly heavy on East and Northeast Asia. Other regional judges have been invited and more additions are expected.

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by @ 2:58 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Asia Blog Awards

11 June, 2006

Pyongyang Rock City

South Korean boy band ShinHua made a rare appearance in North Korean capital Pyongyang. A You Tube video is available at GW North Korea. More interesting than the band is the audience, Preetam comments:

I couldn’t believe that North Korea allowed such seemingly western influenced band to play in front of North Koreans. The caption does say that the show was held in Pyongyang.

Occasionally the video zooms into the well dressed and sober audience. The audience reaction is priceless.


The women are all dressed in traditional hanbok and most of the faces look as if they don’t approve of such music.

The woman in the left seems interested while the women on the right is probably glad that she didn’t bring her kids along.

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by @ 11:01 pm. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

9 June, 2006

Asia Blog Awards

Nominations are open here for the 2006/2007 Asia Blog Awards.

by @ 12:33 am. Filed under Uncategorized

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