San Fernando Moon
Asia sees growing appetite for aromatic rice
The International News
SINGAPORE: As the appetite for aromatic rice rises steadily across the globe, Asian growers are aggressively stepping up efforts to fill the demand with a number of grades of the premium grain. While Thailand is pondering ways to boost production of its famous Jasmine rice, India and Pakistan are witnessing a steady rise in demand for their long-grain Basmati varieties from the United States, Middle East and Europe.
Even cheaper grades of aromatic rice, which provides a natural aroma when cooked and a flavour that may taste like roasted nuts or popcorn, has been developed in Thailand and is finding rapid acceptance in China. "If prices don’t rise too high, we would see the aromatic rice market expanding," Charoen Laothamatas, secretary-general of the Thai Rice Exporters’ Association, told Reuters.
"United States, Canada and Europe are the target markets where the purchasing power is high and consumers are willing to pay that kind of price," said Charoen. Thailand, the world’s biggest rice exporter, expects overseas sales of the aromatic varieties to rise about 10 per cent in 2004 from the two million tonnes sold in 2003.
Lower Cost Jasmine Rice
Prison in Thailand draws tourists
By JENNIFER VALENTINO
BANGKOK, THAILAND - With its stark concrete walls, armed guards and electrified fences, Bang Kwang maximum-security prison hardly looks like a tourist destination. But it has become an attraction of sorts to travelers wanting to experience something different — and at the same time do a good deed.
The prison on the outskirts of the capital houses Thailand's death row and more than 7,000 men serving sentences of 25 years or more for crimes ranging from drug smuggling to murder. Among them are a few dozen Western inmates, far from home and happy to be on the receiving end of what might be called prison tourism.
Their visitors are often complete strangers — tourists motivated both by curiosity and by a desire to cheer up a prisoner far from home, living in conditions that are harsh by Western standards
Prison Tourism in Bangkok
Respected magazine folds as weekly
October 28, 2004
ASIA'S Hong Kong-based weekly news magazine the Far Eastern Economic Review is to fold in its current form with the loss of 80 jobs, the magazine's publisher Dow Jones said today. The magazine, which led debate on Asian issues for 58 years, will be relaunched as an opinion-led monthly, Dow Jones - publishers of the Asian Wall Street Journal - said in a statement. The job losses represent 10 per cent of Dow Jones' workforce in Asia.
A company source said staff were told the news today in a specially convened meeting at a hotel in Hong Kong. The first issue of the Review in its new format will be published in December.
Death of the Far Eastern Economic Review
The botched acquisition of the Far Eastern Economic Review by Dow Jones should be taught in business schools.
Torn and Frayed in Manila
Not long ago, there were two excellent English language weekly magazines covering Asia: Asiaweek and the Far Eastern Economic Review. Both were bought by American conglomerates – Asiaweek by Time Warner and the Far Eastern Economic Review by Dow Jones – and both were subsequently closed, leaving the region only with the feeble “Asian” edition of Time. An excellent account of the Asiaweek debacle by a friend and former senior editor of the magazine can be found here.
The mismanagement of the Far Eastern Economic Review by its corporate masters is a textbook case of how not to handle an acquisition. Under its previous editor, Derek Davies, the Review had carved a name for itself for the excellence of its economic reporting, its refusal to be cowed (the Singapore Government banned it on several occasions) and its wide-ranging book reviews.
Torn and Frayed in Manila Looks at the FEER Failure
An Asian Mission Ends
The demise of Asiaweek in December 2001 created shock waves in the Hong Kong journalistic community. Two writers look at the newsweekly's death.
Shortly after I joined Asiaweek as a staff writer in 1987, I made the mistake ofdescribing something in Asia as being "exotic." This promptly elicited a snappy little note from Senior Editor Bob Woodrow to the effect that the quaint customs of the natives of Washington state in the US from where I hailed might be called exotic. "Nothing in Asia is exotic!"
It was on such a simple and basic premise as this that Asiaweek was founded in 1975 and on which it based much of the claim it made in its mission statement. The magazine's claim to be that authentic voice of Asia was often derided. Were not the editor-in-chief, managing editor, assistant managing editor from New Zealand and Australia, people would ask?
The Death of AsiaWeek in 2001
Asia by Blog
Oct 28, 2004
Asia by Blog is a twice weekly feature, posted on Monday and Thursday, providing links to Asian blogs and their views on the news in this fascinating region. Please send me an email if you would like to be notified of new editions. Previous editions can be found here.
This edition contains changing Chinese newspaper terms, football, New York Times lies, killer tomatoes, Koreans defecting both ways, death in Singapore, the curious case of the dictator's son and Maria Sharapova's underpants, plus plenty more...
Simon's Asia by Blog
Vietnam Opens Bunker Used by Ho Chi Minh
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
October 27, 2004
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) -- Behind thick concrete walls and iron doors, Ho Chi Minh and other top North Vietnamese leaders hid out in secret underground tunnels during U.S. B-52 bombing raids and plotted key military strategies that led to America's defeat in the Vietnam War. For the first time, Hanoi has opened the bunker used by the late former president, his military leader, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, and others. It's in the same building where the 1968 Tet offensive and the fall of Saigon in 1975 were planned from about 30 feet below the surface.
But the site's history goes far deeper than that. Visitors are being given a rare, firsthand glimpse of nearly 1,000 years of Vietnamese history through touring the site of the Kinh Thien shrine, which dates to the 11th century.
Uncle Ho's Bunker in Hanoi Now Open for Tourism
Dear daughters, when I die...
A Sassy Lawyer in the Philippines
Saturday, October 30, 2004
It is two days before All Saints’ Day when most Filipinos will troop to the cemeteries to “visit” and “pay respects” to their dearly departed. I thought I’d let you know my preferences although I don’t expect to die anytime soon. When I die, burn my body. I have not taken, nor do I intend to take, out any memorial plan for myself. I do not believe in spending money over rituals for a corpse and I hope that you will respect my wishes when my time comes.
No flowers, no candles, no prayers, no sad songs.
No churches, no wakes, no donations, no eulogies, no crocodile tears.
No strangers partaking of the free food--feasts--that are normally laid out during wakes. No long-lost relatives gossiping over my corpse. No politicians and wanna-be politicians making grand entrances and claiming how well they knew me.
No mausoleum, no crypt, no tombstone, no annual treks to the cemetery. The living are far more in need of the use of those vast tracks of land than corpses ever will be.
When I am gone, remember how I lived, not how I died. Grieve, if you must, and remember that how I raised you will be the living testament to what kind of human being I had been in life.
Sassy Still Raising Hell in the Philippines
Gay Asia: Tolerance pays
Far Eastern Economic Review
October 28, 2004
FOR many, the journey has yet to begin, but a growing number of Asian gay men and women are finally on the road to winning social and legal acceptance. Some are benefiting from the belief that open societies equal stronger economies; others are finding the courage to stand up for themselves as they find--often through the Net--that they are not alone.
ON A HOT TROPICAL NIGHT, around 8000 gay men are dancing to pulsing house music. Laser lights play across sweaty bodies. Many of the men have whipped off their shirts. Some are down to just their Speedos.
Singapore Window Posts One of their Final FEER Articles
George Wehrfritz and Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop
Nov. 8 issue
You've heard of Singapore Airlines. You've heard of Raffles hotels, and the telecoms giant SingTel. But have you heard of Temasek Holdings? It's the enigmatic and little-known state holding company that funded and built the global brands above. It's also largely responsible for Singapore's rise from swampland to superefficient First World city-state. Established in 1974 to oversee government-led modernization, Temasek has nurtured strategic industries like electronics and transport, built state-of-the-art power and telecommunications grids, and even bought the local zoo. Today its portfolio is worth $56 billion.
It controls seven of the top 10 companies listed on the Singapore Exchange and its affiliates make up 34 percent by value of all shares traded. Yet the entity at the core of Singapore Inc. recently revealed a long-kept secret: between 1993 and 2003, its first annual report noted, it delivered average shareholder returns of 3 percent per annum—peanuts compared with the 13 percent annual gains recorded by America's S&P 500 companies during the same time.
The cause of the stunted growth is obvious: Singapore's economy has passed its glory days of white-hot expansion. Thanks to lower-wage rivals like Thailand, Malaysia and China, it's lost its edge in manufacturing, and is increasingly challenged in services. That slowdown is driving Temasek literally off-island. "We expect to steadily increase our exposure to Asia," says chairman S. Dhanabalan in the report, signaling a partial divestment from Singapore itself.
Excellent Newsweek Article about the Dismal Economic Performance of the National Investment Fund
Singapore Comes 147th out of 167
Oct 28, 2004
There is nothing unique about Singapore and the so called necessary curtailment of freedom of speech, (out of bounds markers). It is part of a trend in the region. When you see the list in full and look at Singapore's bed-fellows you may get a sense of becoming infested with fleas.
Singapore, however, is the only economically developed nation at the bottom end of the scale. But in Singapore the counter argument will be that Singapore is unique because of its diverse ethnic and religious mix and so social unrest must not be allowed to occurr as it would undermine the economic success. But haven't the other countries in South East Asia been undermining press freedom? Why hasn't it led to economic success for the others? To simpistically link the denial of press freedom as a primary cause of economic success, and maintenance of it, is a myth.
Hicky At Singabloodypore Looks at Press Freedoms in Asia
Sunday, October 31, 2004
Saturday, October 30, 2004
Friday, October 29, 2004
Travel Writer from Hell
October 26, 2004
Tough Travel-Writing Medicine
Many of the articles posted on Travel Writers: The Travails of Travel Writing, a blog created by travel writer Carl Parkes, seem almost relentlessly cynical about travel writing (see in particular “The Truth About Travel Guidebooks,” “The Travel Writer as Freeloader,” and “Thomas Swick on the State of Travel Writing”). As a guidebook editor, my gut reaction is to be defensive when I read claims that guidebooks are boring and outdated, and that they “fudge things.” (Those are MY BOOKS you’re talking about, buddy.)
Then again, I have bookmarked Parkes’s blog and I check it nearly every day. And if you twist my arm just a little, I’ll admit that there’s some truth in it.
So read it, enjoy it, and by all means, demand more of your guidebooks. Write us letters, send us e-mail, tell us what sucks, and we’ll look into it. You, the traveler, the reader, and -- let’s not forget -- the consumer, have the power to help us improve books. Demand more. If harsh criticism results in better guidebooks, I’m all for it.
Fodor's Reviews my Travel Writers Blog
10 Things That You Should Never Buy Used
From wet suits to beds, it pays to buy new
By Liz Pulliam Weston
In my companion piece, "10 things you shouldn't buy new," I listed lingerie as one of the items for which you'd best pay retail. There are plenty of other examples where the cost savings don't justify the risks of buying used:
1. Laptops: You're taking a chance when you buy any used computer, but the math really doesn't work when you're talking about a unit that's as prone to abuse and problems as a laptop
Exception: You're buying a refurbished unit that comes with a warranty.
2. Car seats: A car seat that's been in one accident may not protect your child in another. And damaged car seats aren't uncommon; a survey commissioned by Sainsbury's Bank in England discovered one in 10 car seats currently in use in that country had been involved in an accident.
10 Things to Never Buy Used
With a chill in the air and frost on the pumpkins, it's the spookiest time of the year. Out of a trunk from the attic and a bag from the cellar, 2004's Scariest Halloween Costumes are here!
by Dan Savage and David Schmader
Photographs by John E. Hollingsworth
Hilarious Halloween Costumes for Kids - Abu Ghraid Victim, Nancy Reagan at Casket, Arrested NYC Poster, More!
Aerial Photo of London with Cool Zoom Feature
London Map with Zoom
Cat Animation from Bore Me
Cruising - Till death us do part
Oct 28th 2004
ARE you haunted by thoughts of spending your golden years vegetating in a dingy old folks' home, supping on denture-friendly peas and boiled beef, and playing endless rounds of cribbage? Fear not, there is a cost-effective alternative: life on a cruise ship. A year in an “assisted-living facility” costs Americans, on average, around $28,500 a year. In large cities such as Chicago, costs are even higher, topping $40,000. Living in a dedicated cabin aboard the Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas, on the other hand, rings in at a rather competitive $33,260 a year.
Luxury liners offer many of the same amenities as old folks' homes: meals and housekeeping, laundry and hair-dressing services, and even an escort to dinner. They have handgrips in the toilets and walk-in showers. And they also provide plenty of things that land-based facilities do not—such as premium-grade ozone, nightly entertainment and round-the-clock access to medical care.
Perpetual Cruising as an Alternative to Assisted Living
September 6, 2004
The Ketchup Conundrum
Mustard now comes in dozens of varieties. Why has ketchup stayed the same?
Many years ago, one mustard dominated the supermarket shelves: French’s. It came in a plastic bottle. People used it on hot dogs and bologna. It was a yellow mustard, made from ground white mustard seed with turmeric and vinegar, which gave it a mild, slightly metallic taste. If you looked hard in the grocery store, you might find something in the specialty-foods section called Grey Poupon, which was Dijon mustard, made from the more pungent brown mustard seed. In the early seventies, Grey Poupon was no more than a hundred-thousand-dollar-a-year business. Few people knew what it was or how it tasted, or had any particular desire for an alternative to French’s or the runner-up, Gulden’s. Then one day the Heublein Company, which owned Grey Poupon, discovered something remarkable: if you gave people a mustard taste test, a significant number had only to try Grey Poupon once to switch from yellow mustard. In the food world that almost never happens; even among the most successful food brands, only about one in a hundred have that kind of conversion rate. Grey Poupon was magic.
Heinz Ketchup Rules, but Will Kerry Win?
Alternative Website about Japan
Schoolgirls and "Compensated Dating"
"Japan was disgusted that girls were pawning their innocence, ignoring the fact that it was their fathers who were paying for it."
Japan for the Uninvited
Fairbanks Alaska Daily News
By TIM MOWRY, Staff Writer
It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's a bull moose hanging by its antlers from an electrical power line in the middle of the Alaska wilderness.
In one of those only-in-Alaska stories that will shock even the sourest of sourdoughs, a trophy-sized bull moose was accidentally strung up in a power line under construction to the Teck Pogo gold mine southeast of Fairbanks. The moose apparently got its antlers tangled in electrical wire before workers farther down the line pulled the line tight about two weeks ago.
The moose was suspended 50 feet in the air when workers, recognizing something was wrong, backtracked and found it.
The moose was alive when it was lowered to the ground but was later killed when officials from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game decided against tranquilizing it to remove the wires because they were worried the moose, already stressed, would die and the meat would not be salvageable as a result of the drugs.
Photo courtesy of City Electric Inc. BIZARRE INCIDENT--A moose hangs from a power pole near the Pogo Mine on Oct. 5.
The incident happened Oct. 5 at about 40 Mile Pogo Mine Road, which leads to the gold mine about 80 miles southeast of Fairbanks. "It's just an unbelievable story," said Gabriel Marian, president of City Electric Inc., the contractor erecting the power line to the mine. "The only unfortunate part is we had to shoot the moose.
Moose Caught in Transformer Erection - See the Photo
Fear and Loathing, Campaign 2004
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson sounds off on the fun-hogs in the passing lane
By DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON
Armageddon came early for George Bush this year, and he was not ready for it. His long-awaited showdowns with my man John Kerry turned into a series of horrible embarrassments that cracked his nerve and demoralized his closest campaign advisers. They knew he would never recover, no matter how many votes they could steal for him in Florida, where the presidential debates were closely watched and widely celebrated by millions of Kerry supporters who suddenly had reason to feel like winners.
Kerry came into October as a five-point underdog with almost no chance of winning three out of three rigged confrontations with a treacherous little freak like George Bush. But the debates are over now, and the victor was clearly John Kerry every time. He steamrollered Bush and left him for roadkill.
Did you see Bush on TV, trying to debate? Jesus, he talked like a donkey with no brains at all. The tide turned early, in Coral Gables, when Bush went belly up less than halfway through his first bout with Kerry, who hammered poor George into jelly. It was pitiful. . . . I almost felt sorry for him, until I heard someone call him "Mister President," and then I felt ashamed.
Karl Rove, the president's political wizard, felt even worse. There is angst in the heart of Texas today, and panic in the bowels of the White House. Rove has a nasty little problem, and its name is George Bush. The president failed miserably from the instant he got onstage with John Kerry. He looked weak and dumb. Kerry beat him like a gong in Coral Gables, then again in St. Louis and Tempe -- and that is Rove's problem: His candidate is a weak-minded frat boy who cracks under pressure in front of 60 million voters.
Hunter S. Thompson in Rolling Stone
The Walrus Magazine
A Manual's Labour
In her book, The Rise of Viagra: How the Little Blue Pill Changed Sex in America, the sociologist Meika Loe argues that the concept of normal is being redefined. She examines the cultural impact of Viagra in the six years since it was introduced. Viagra became the fastest-selling drug in history, and quickly transcended the medical world. Along with its competitors, Levitra and Cialis, it is aggressively advertised directly to the consumer, using both sports metaphors ("Step up to the plate," "Stay in the game," "Light the flame") and sports figures. "Iron Mike" Ditka, the former coach of the Chicago Bears, a caricature of the hard-nosed, blood-and-thunder football deity, endorsed Levitra in a Super Bowl ad. The retired Brazilian soccer star Pele pitched Viagra, albeit with the caveat that he didn't need it himself. But if he did, he said, he'd use it. The drug remains a staple of comedy routines (Viagra is like Disneyland: a one-hour wait for a two-minute ride), and it is used as a verb in the business world. Viagra grossed more than a billion dollars (U.S.) the year it was introduced. From a pharmaceutical company's perspective, this was the perfect storm, a condition that was common but not normal. But defining normal, branding normal, became the marketing challenge.
Reviews of Two New Books about Sex and Viagra
Posted by Carl Parkes on Friday, October 29, 2004
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Playing with the wrong card
The Weekend Standard
Weekend: October 23-24, 2004
Even those rich enough to have bought a Thailand Elite Card are too embarrassed to talk about it. And even after it was put on the market a year ago with overt government backing - including the imprimatur of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra - not even the government bodies responsible for the card want to talk about it now.
Launched with great fanfare ahead of Thailand's hosting of last October's Apec (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation) summit, the card confers exclusive benefits such as discounts on spas, a fast-track line at airport check-in and business introductions for "VIP foreigners who have high purchasing power'' and want to buy into what promotional materials say is the world's first `countrywide country-club''.
Costing US$25,000 (HK$195,000) each, the Elite Card promised a whole new level of service and special perks, backed by powerful government support for self-identified "high-quality tourists'', in contrast, presumably, to the hordes of downmarket visitors already spending their vacation dollars in Thailand.
But the golden bloom logo - the pat bok, or ceremonial palm-leaf fan which "has been reserved throughout Thai history to designate VIPs'', according to the Elite Card website - is already looking tarnished
The Thailand Elite Card Fiasco
Myanmar shakeup offers glimpse of junta Inc
Yahoo News Asia-Pacific
Oct 25, 2004
By Darren Schuettler
BANGKOK, Oct 25 (Reuters) - From karaoke bars to travel agents and newspapers, rivals are carving up the business empire of Myanmar's sacked prime minister and his once powerful clique. Scores of firms linked to Khin Nyunt's military intelligence have been shut or temporarily suspended at the behest of junta strongman Than Shwe, who purged his former ally last week.
Khin Nyunt's demise has offered a rare glimpse into how the generals, their families and a handful of businessmen profit in one of the world's most corrupt economies, analysts say. "It's about controlling access to money and Khin Nyunt's removal may have had as much to do with internal business interests as with politics," said Bradley Babson, a retired World Bank economist and Myanmar watcher.
Burma Shakeup All About the Money
Cambodia's underwear gang strikes again
Mail and Guardian Online
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
25 October 2004 15:45
Cambodia's notorious underwear thieves have struck again, shooting and seriously wounding a motorbike taxi driver just outside the capital, local media said on Monday. The gang earned its name because its members wear nothing but underpants, but wield AK-47s. It terrorised communities in several provinces last year but had appeared to have disbanded until the attack on Sunday, Khmer-language Kampuchea Thmei said.
Terror in Cambodia
Asia by Blog
Oct 25, 2004
Asia by Blog is a twice weekly feature, posted on Monday and Thursday, providing links to Asian blogs and their views on the news in this fascinating region. Please send me an email if you would like to be notified of new editions. Previous editions can be found here. This edition contains Korea's worst season, China's mines, Hooters, which US Presidential candidate is best for China, Japan's earthquake system, could China annex North Korea, pissed off Pakistanis and plenty more...
Simon's Asia by Blog
Vietnam's Phone Subscribers Growing
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
October 26, 2004
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) -- What's the best way to sue my neighbor? How big is Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum? Is surgery necessary to remove a bunion? Am I pregnant? For answers to these questions, call 1080. Directory assistance in communist Vietnam goes a lot further than America's 411. It's a combination of a lonely hearts column, Dr. Ruth and general information service, with a force of female operators ready to take on just about anything, 24/7.
In a country where information -- including the Internet and media -- is tightly controlled by the government, the service fills a big gap. And its popularity attests to a level of telephone penetration that reflects Vietnam's growing prosperity -- 9.3 million telephone subscribers in a nation of 82 million.
The service started in 1992 in Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, as a way for the Communist Party to explain social and economic policies. More than a decade later, exchanges in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City alone field 75,000 calls a day asking for everything from college exam scores and soccer results to advice on finding love.
"One day I got a call from a man who said that two people were quarreling on Hang Bong street," said Tran Hong Ha, 30, an operator in Hanoi for 10 years. "That old man asked me to come there immediately because they were quarreling with each other very fiercely and he hoped that with my sweet voice, I could help..."
New York Times Reports on Phone Service in Vietnam
Smuggling Cost Philippines US$10 BLN Last Year
Yahoo News Asia-Pacific
Oct 25, 2004
MANILA, Oct 25 Asia Pulse - Smuggling in the country has resulted to US$10 billion in losses to the Philippine ngovernment last year yet the Bureau of Customs has not sent a single smuggler to jail in the last three years. This was the result of today's hearing by the Senate committee on trade and commerce investigating the problem of unabated smuggling of goods to the detriment of local producers.
Smuggling in the Philippines
So You Want to Be on TV?
Sassy Lawyer in the Philippines
Oct 25, 2004
Reading X-P’s latest entry reminded me of something that my husband and I were discussing a couple of weeks ago--hidden cameras and the right to privacy. Reality TV or not, someday I’m going to get my chance. Not to be on reality TV but to sue at least one TV station for invasion of privacy.
Hidden security cameras are one thing. But a hidden TV camera in a taxicab or in a restaurant is quite another thing. There’s this local TV show hosted by Andrew E. I saw part of one episode where Andrew E. pretended to be a cab driver and was carrying on conversations with real passengers. It was a gag, naturally. At the end of the segment, the camera was revealed and the passengers were told that they were on TV.
Sassy Lawyer in the Philippines on Hidden Cameras
U.S. pays $1 million reward to Filipino informers
Yahoo News Asia-Pacific
Oct 25, 2004
U.S. government representatives on Monday handed reward money totaling $1 million to three Filipinos who helped authorities track down and kill a senior leader of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group. Two men and a woman wearing black caps, long-sleeved white shirts, gloves, sunglasses and stockings over their faces to conceal their identities received the money in suitcases at a ceremony in the grounds of a hospital in Basilan, an island near the southern tip of the Philippines.
The Philippine military said the three gave information that led to operations in Basilan last April in which Hamsiraji Sali was killed. Sali was among the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf who kidnapped and later killed hostages in 2001.
Big Bucks Rewards for Information
10,000 pay-TV pirates in Singapore
Singapore Straits Times
By Alfred Siew
Oct 26, 2004
THE temptation of watching English Premier League matches and other pay-TV programmes for free is drawing people to use illegal decoder boxes, even as the law is being changed to jail those who do so. As many as 10,000 illegal decoder boxes are being used in Singapore this year, according to survey results released by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa) on Tuesday.
These pirates have caused StarHub to lose US$3 million (S$5 million) so far this year, said Casbaa. On the whole, the cost of pay-TV piracy in Asia is expected to rise 11 per cent to US$970 million this year, the association said.
Singapore laws are being toughened to punish not only the sellers of unauthorised decoder boxes, but also anyone who uses them to receive pay-TV programmes. Proposed changes to the Broadcasting Act, which were first read in Parliament last week, will make it a criminal offence for anyone to receive pay-TV signals with unauthorised set-top boxes. Illegal decoder boxes, which cost between S$200 and S$600 in the black market, unscramble signals from StarHub and give a user access to all cable-TV channels for free.
TV Piracy in Singapore
City state does its death by the book
23 October 2004
When it comes to the death penalty, Singapore is unapologetic for its cold-hearted efficiency. In its official drug education website, the city state publishes the diary of David W, a 21-year-old addict the Government hanged in 2000.
"They weighed me today," David wrote three months before his death. "Not because they are worried about me putting on weight, no not for that. They need to know how heavy I am to calculate the length of the rope."
Later, David says one of the reasons he will be wearing a hood at his execution, "is so they don't have to look at you".
Australian Nguyen Tuong Van, 24, is likely to know soon how David felt. In a decision as swift as his expected execution, three judges this week dismissed his appeal against the death sentence without saying a word to the former child refugee. Not looking at the condemned man might be one way of coming to terms with state-sanctioned murder, but righteousness is another.
Singapore and Executions
Singapore Eyes Vegas-style Casino Project
Yahoo News Asia-Pacific
Oct 25, 2004
Singaporeans already spend about $180 million a year in neighbouring Malaysia's casinos, operated by Genting Bhd, which bar Muslims. About $140 million of Singaporean money is spent in Indonesia's Batam island casinos and about $400 million on casino cruises. The Innovation Group, a U.S. consultancy that compiled the data, said "floating casinos" and illegal gambling in Asia are worth about $4.2 billion alone. Some estimates put the value of Asia's legal gambling industry at about $14 billion.
But critics say Singapore is flirting with a social disaster and public debate simmers over a proposal to restrict local access, possibly by introducing a membership system, in the hope of heading off widespread gambling addiction. A survey by the Straits Times newspaper last month showed public opinion in Singapore evenly split over the idea, with 53 percent of the country behind it and 46 percent disapproving.
Is Gambling Coming to Singapore?
Singapore percussion group breaks Guinness record for non-stop drumming
Yahoo News Asia-Pacific
Oct 25, 2004
SINGAPORE : A Singapore percussion group, Rhythm Masala, has drummed its way to a Guinness World Record. The five drummers played non-stop for three days and two nights, totalling 50 hours, at the Awesome Africa Music Festival held in Durban, South Africa from September 23 to 29. They used 40 international drums - some of which are of Chinese, Malay and Brazillian origin - to break the record for non-stop drumming.
Another World Record for Singapore
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Kerry and Clinton in Philadelphia
BoingBoing endorses John Kerry for President
You may have noticed that the BoingBoing masthead looks a little different today. We've added a link to Apple "Switch" ad director Errol Morris' videos depicting former Bush supporters who will vote for Kerry in 2004. We've also added a banner for moveon.org.
When Mark first launched the BoingBoing weblog, it began as a sort of publicly-viewable personal scrapbook of "wonderful things." More than four years later, with four more participants added to the mix, that is what this project remains.
It may seem odd for a scrapbook to endorse a presidential candidate. But Mark, Cory, Pesco, John and I -- the people who keep this scrapbook alive -- share the conviction that John Kerry is the candidate best suited to lead America for the next four years. And we want you to know why.
In recent days, a growing number of news organizations have posted eloquent endorsements for Kerry. Some of them are particularly suprising, because they come from such unlikely sources. We encourage you to read them, and consider their content.
For us, the choice for Kerry involves simple things. Justice, liberty, privacy, transparency. Freedom of speech, thought, and technological expression. A woman's right to choose. Equal access to health care, education, and economic opportunity for all. The rule of law, at home and abroad. Peace. The enduring value of the American Constitution.
These are wonderful things. The Bush administration has proven both inability and unwillingness to protect them. In 2004, Kerry is the one.
We urge all eligible BoingBoing readers to exercise their right to vote in this election. Democracy is a wonderful thing. It won't survive without your participation.
Boing Boing -- A Directory of Wonderful Things
Posted by Carl Parkes on Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Indonesia's moral defenders take a swipe at sin
Asia Times Online
By Bill Guerin
JAKARTA - Indonesia's self-appointed guardians of morality, the once disbanded radical Islamic Defenders' Front (FPI), have once again resorted to violence in the nation's capital, Jakarta. The first attack came late Friday night when around 300 FPI storm troopers broke into the Star Deli restaurant in the elite residential and entertainment district of Kemang in South Jakarta. The restaurant had closed, after being tipped off by the police, but the FPI cadres smashed the windows and chairs. No one was injured in the attack, which, it is claimed, police did nothing to stop.
On Saturday the US Embassy issued a statement warning Americans in Indonesia to take precautions against such attacks, raising fears that the "sweeping" could affect tourism prospects. Jakarta Police quickly deployed 600 Mobile Brigade members and 500 officers to patrol the streets of the capital, with Jakarta police chief, Inspector General Firman Gani, saying the vandalism was "out of line" and definitely a violation of the law.
FPI spokesman Alawi Usman, however, was quick to defend the group's actions. "We are against immorality," he told foreign reporters the day after the Star Deli attack. "We are doing this for the future of the country's youth."
The FPI has a history of attacking places of "recreation" where they believe prostitution or gambling is taking place. In the past they have closed down brothels, burned entertainment centers and physically attacked sex workers. Their leader, Al-Habib Muhammad Rizieq bin Hussein Syihab, more popularly called Habib Rizieq, spent several months in prison last year for orchestrating attacks on "iniquitous" nightspots, bars and cafes in 2001.
Muslim Activists Attack Cafe in Jakarta
Indonesian Muslims Attack Pig Farms
Wed Oct 20
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Muslims armed with machetes attacked several pig farms in Indonesia, slaughtering around 20 swine they claimed were giving of "offensive" odors, The Jakarta Post reported Thursday. Police did nothing to stop the attack Wednesday in South Tatura, central Sulawesi province, the paper reported. The farms belonged to local Christians.
"The farms give out a bad odor and this is offensive, especially during Ramadan," said local Muslim leader Abdul Haris, referring to the Islamic fasting month where religious feelings often run high. He said the farms were also polluting a local river, presumably with dung from the animals. Muslims are forbidden to eat pork, which is considered unclean. Police were not immediately available for comment.
The Muslims were armed with machetes and sticks, the Post reported. Losses from the attacks were estimated at around $8,000, the paper quoted a pig farmer as saying.
Muslims Attack Pig Farms in Sulawesi
Authorities demolish wall blocking Catholic school in Indonesia
Yahoo News Asia-Pacific
Oct 25, 2004
Indonesian officials on Monday knocked down a brick wall erected by a hardline Islamic group to block access to a Catholic school it accused of converting local Muslims, police and school officials said. The Sang Timur Catholic school to the west of Jakarta was closed in early October when the Muslim group built the two-meter-high (seven-foot-high) wall in front of its gates.
Local government workers demolished the wall hours before former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, who is a well-known interfaith activist, arrived to discuss the issue with local people.
Indonesian Authorities Destroy Brick Wall Blocking Christian School
Indonesia presses for removal of vessel that sank with 4,000 cars
Oct 26, 2004
SINGAPORE (DPA): Indonesian authorities are mounting pressure on a ship operator to remove the wreckage of a vessel that sank last May with more than 4,000 cars after a collision in the Singapore Strait, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The Indonesian Directorate of Sea Communication has written again to Eukor Car Carriers Inc to salvage the Hyundai No 105 car carrier sitting at the bottom of the strait in Indonesian waters as it poses a navigational and environmental hazard.
The 12,899 DWT vessel carrying the cars sank after a collision with the 303,896 DWT crude oil tanker Kaminesan. The collision punched a 50-by-20 metre hole in the Hyundai's side. In now lies in about 40 metres of water.
Straits of Malacca Swallows 4000 Cars
Susilo: Graft scaring off foreign investors
Oct 26, 2004
JAKARTA (AP): Indonesia's new President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Tuesday that rampant corruption and poor law-enforcement were scaring off much needed foreign investors. Susilo told prosecutors at the Attorney General's Office - itself a notoriously graft-ridden institution - he would be "watching them closely" and that any wrongdoing would be punished.
Foreign investors have largely deserted Indonesia in recent years because of corruption, security concerns and an unpredictable legal system. "Corruption and injustice are everywhere. Our legal framework is very weak, law enforcement does not work well," said Susilo, who took office last week. "The result is that there is no investment in our country."
Susilo said Indonesia was "being ridiculed" abroad because of its poor image, but gave no indication how he intended to solve the problems he listed. The retired 55-year-old general was handed a landslide victory in polls last month from voters hungry for change after six years of ineffective leadership following the downfall of ex-dictator Soeharto in 1998.
Susilo himself is a longtime member of Indonesia's corrupt military and political elite, and critics have questioned whether he has the will to push through the reforms Indonesia needs.
Susilo Goes After Graft and Corruption
Asian Ardour in Question
Yahoo News Asia-Pacific
Oct 25, 2004
According to an international sex survey published this month, Asians have the dubious distinction of being the world's least active lovers. The annual survey by condom maker Durex has consistently placed Asia's developed nations at the bottom of the sex league table, with Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong registering the weakest sex drive in this year's poll. It's enough to make Asia's more lascivious lovers fume with wounded pride, or prompt a nervous partner to reach for the Viagra.
Durex Survey on Sex in Asia
Muslim food oulets only allowed to open after 3pm
Oct 26, 2004
Food outlets owned by Muslims will only be allowed to open for business after 3pm during Ramadan. If they disobey the ruling, their licences will be withdrawn. This was contained in a circular distributed to the outlets here signed by the Kuala Terengganu Municipal Council secretary Mohd Zulkifli Abu Bakar recently. A copy of the circular was also sent to the state Islamic Affairs Commissioner.
The move, however, has not gone down well with some Muslim restaurant owners. A copy of the circular was also pasted on the doors of the KFC and Pizza Hut outlets at Jalan Sultan Ismail. A bigger notice on the outlets stated that their businesses would only open from 3pm until 11pm during Ramadan. State Local Government and Housing committee chairman Datuk Ahmad Said said such circulars were issued by all local authorities in the state. He said some restaurant operators had disobeyed the ruling and action would be taken against them.
KFC and Pizza Hut Restricted due to Ramadan
Kuala Lumpur's heritage areas are also home to its hippest nightlife
Thursday, Oct. 21, 2004
Bangsar, at one time Kuala Lumpur's beer-and java-fueled social epicenter, is not quite the buzzing burb it used to be. Blame that on two upstart areas — Changkat Bukit Bintang and Jalan Doraisamy (a.k.a. Asian Heritage Row) — that have become the Malaysian capital's hottest new districts, thanks to a combination of restored colonial architecture and hip nightlife. There's plenty of decadence to boot — Changkat Bukit Bintang doubles up as love-hotel central.
These days, however, signs advertising rooms by the hour are fighting for space with those touting stylish bars, clubs and cosmopolitan restaurants. And the eclectic mix of styles is a surefire draw. Recently given a welcome face-lift, buildings lining downtown K.L.'s restored heritage rows boast soaring ceilings, wrought-iron balconies and timber balustrades. Some of these 1930s gems — in an Art Deco style adapted for the tropics — also have air wells open to the sky. "People are beginning to realize the past has value," says Lim Huck Chin, a conservation architect. "Going out now has a more human face." See for yourself in one of these heritage hangouts.
Time Europe Reports on Latest Nightlife Venues in Kuala Lumpur
At Least 84 Killed in S. Thailand Monday - Ministry
October 26, 2004
PATTANI, Thailand (Reuters) - At least 78 people died in a crush in southern Thailand on Monday after police and troops fired shots to disperse a crowd of Muslim demonstrators outside a police station, a justice ministry official said on Tuesday. The 78 deaths were in addition to six people already confirmed killed in Monday's violence in the restive region.
``Seventy eight people died from suffocation. We found no wounds on their bodies,'' senior justice ministry official Manit Sutaporn told a news conference in the southern town of Pattani.
New York Times on Trouble in Southern Thailand
The Religion of Cop Killers
Oct 25, 2004
Groups of Thais are known to have been trained in the 1990’s in Afghan terror camps and Wahhabi mosques are now dotting the southern landscape. In earlier deadly attacks this summer, police found Arabic-language pamphlets calling for the creation of a Muslim homeland on the bodies of some of the dead. Southern Thailand also features the Yala Islamic College run by Wahhabi cleric Ismail Lutfi with an estimated 8,000 followers installed throughout the south in key Islamic posts. Like most Islamic institutions in southern Thailand it is funded by Saudi money. Saudi Arabia is the spiritual center of Wahhabism.
Dave Rodrigues Blog
Scores die after Thai protest
ABC Asia Pacific TV / Radio Australia
In Thailand, almost 80 people have died while in military custody in the troubled south of the country. Officials say most of them suffocated while being transported in trucks. They were among hundreds of Muslims arrested at a violent protest outside a police station in Narathiwat province.
Only six people were previously believed to have been killed in the demonstration, which was broken up by the security forces using live rounds, tear gas and water cannon. The Thai military says the suffocation deaths appear to have occurred while the detainees were being taken on a five-hour journey to an army barracks in the town of Pattani. It was the worst violence to hit the region near the Malaysian border since April.
Malaysia has expressed serious concern about the situation. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says Malaysia is seeking more information on the incident...and has offered Thailand any assistance it needs. The prime minister also says he hopes the Thai government will be able to manage the crisis "so that it will not spread and cause further violence."
Thai Muslims Suffocate in Police Vans
Thai protesters die in custody
26 Oct, 2004
Protesters were arrested and many then loaded into army trucks. At least 78 people died in southern Thailand after being arrested and loaded into army trucks following Monday's clashes with security forces. Officials said almost all the dead suffocated as they were taken to an army barracks several hours away.
The new death toll is in addition to six people who died during the clashes themselves, which erupted on Monday following the arrest of six Muslim men. It was the latest in an upsurge of violence in the Muslim-majority south. Violence erupted after at least 1,500 protesters gathered outside a police station in Narathiwat province after the detention of six Muslim men.
0900: 1,000 protesters gather at Takbai police station. Army urges protesters to disperse, but instead hundreds more join.
1500: Protesters hurl objects at police, who use tear gas and fire bullets
Hundreds arrested and six deaths reported.
1800 Tuesday: Officials admit 78 others died in army trucks after arrest, many of suffocation.
More Violence Feared
After clashing with security forces, more than 1,000 protesters are reported to have been arrested. Thai officials said 78 of the arrested protesters were later found dead, apparently after they suffocated in trucks used to transport them. "After we brought people who were arrested into detention, we found that another 78 people were dead," Justice Ministry spokesman Manit Suthaporn told reporters.
Dr Pornthip Rojanasunan, a forensic expert for the Justice Ministry, told the BBC that 80% of the victims died from smothering or suffocation and 20% from stress or convulsions. Army deputy commander Maj-Gen Sinchai Nujsathit admitted that "we had more than 1,300 people packed into the six-wheel trucks" for a journey to Pattani province that took five hours. Mr Suthaporn said the men were already weakened from fasting and that when they were piled on top of each other they probably could not breathe.
The violence began on Monday after a crowd gathered at the district police station in Takbai, Narathiwat, to protest against the detention of six men accused of providing weapons to Islamic
BBC Report: All Hell Will Break Out
The Restive South
26 Oct, 2004
Thailand's Muslims are largely concentrated in the four southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Songhkla and Yala. The area is less prosperous than central Thailand, and many of the region's inhabitants complain they are at a disadvantage compared to the country's Buddhist majority. But those living in the region are also very different from the rest of the Thai population.
The southern provinces were originally part of the ancient Kingdom of Pattani, a semi-autonomous Malay region which adopted Islam in the mid-13th century. Thailand annexed the region in 1902, but the people living there had - and still do have - far more in common with their neighbours in Malaysia. They speak Yawi, a Malay dialect, and most importantly they are Muslims, abiding by Islamic rules and restrictions.
Increasingly estranged from the Bangkok government, Muslim separatists began an insurgency in the 1970s. The violence eventually died down in the 1990s - but only after the government promised to channel more funds into the region and ensure the Muslim community an adequate political representation. A raid on an army depot in January this year signalled a return to the violence.
Four soldiers were killed and 400 guns, most of them M-16 rifles, were stolen from a store in Narathiwat province. Since then there have been frequent incidents in which symbols of authority - including police officers, teachers and Buddhist monks - have been targeted by Muslim gunmen.
The deadliest incident happened on 28 April, when hundreds of suspected Islamic militants launched a series of raids on security posts in the region. The day ended in the massacre of more than 100 of the poorly-armed militants, and there was international concern over the degree of force used by security personnel.
BBC Background Report on Problems in the South
Monday, October 25, 2004
Bush Debates Kerry
Ten Reasons America Needs a Change
By Ted Rall
PORTLAND--George W. Bush has been a busy boy these past four years. Because his Administration's policies are so radical and his attempts to change our country so far-reaching, it is sometimes difficult to remember them all. Here's a summary of why Bush and his gang of bloodthirsty corporate goons must go; voters may take them along to the polls to help them cast their ballots.
1. He stole the 2000 election. Voting to "reelect" an illegitimate commander-in-chief who seized power by judicial coup d'état is a tacit endorsement of how he got into the White House in the first place. How the U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) ruled in Bush v. Gore is irrelevant. As a federal court, the five runaway Supreme Court justices had no right to agree to hear the case. Under our system of government, elections--and election disputes--fall under state jurisdiction. Their decision to take the case, the way they fixed the outcome in Bush's favor, and Bush's willingness to assume the presidency extraconstitutionally are outrages that no patriotic American, even if they agree with his policies, can forgive.
2. He politicized 9/11. During the early days after the attacks on New York and Washington, a stunned nation came together to mourn, and to assess the motivations of the 19 men who despised us so much they were willing to commit suicide as mass murderers to drive home the point. Rather than channel our newfound solidarity into positive initiatives, however, Bush used 9/11 to push for the USA Patriot Act, fast-track signing authority on free trade, tax cuts for the wealthy, lax regulations for polluters and a multitude of items from the partisan Republican Party wish list. He portrayed Democrats and others who disagreed with him as un-American traitors.
3. He let the terrorists get away while giving them a payraise. The 9/11 hijackers were Egyptians and Saudis recruited by an Egyptian group, Islamic Jihad, with funding from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, some of whom received training at camps which were mostly in Pakistan, all of which were funded by Pakistani secret intelligence. Osama bin Laden (news - web sites), who may have funded all or part of the operation via Al Qaeda, was in Pakistan on 9/11. So who does Bush go after? Afghanistan (news - web sites), at best a back lot of Pakistani-backed Islamists and Iraq (news - web sites)--which had nothing to do with 9/11. And what does he do about our real enemies in Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia? He sells them more weapons. Egypt becomes the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel, collecting over $2 billion annually. Pakistan, ruled by a pro-Taliban general who jailed and tortured his democratically elected predecessor, is encouraged to develop its nascent nuclear capabilities. The 3,000 victims of 9/11 remain unavenged--and the stage is set for future attacks.
4. He murdered nearly 100,000 people. The war in Afghanistan killed at least 10,000 civilians and 20,000 Afghan soldiers (of which 10,000 were POWs allegedly massacred by Northern Alliance soldiers as U.S. Special Forces troops supervised the slaughter.) As of three weeks after the fall of Baghdad, General Tommy Franks estimated Iraqi dead at 30,000 civilians and 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, men who were fighting to defend their country from a hostile invasion army. At least 10,000 more civilians and 5,000 Iraqi resistance soldiers have died since then. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq have anything to do with the war on terrorism, which has yet to start. Both wars were waged to expand American military and economic hegemony and Dick Cheney (news - web sites)'s policy of "total energy dominance" over oil and natural gas resources. The world would be safer if Charles Manson, a mere amateur killer by comparison, were released and Bush was sitting in prison.
5. He bankrupted the treasury. When Bush took the oath of office in January 2001, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (news - web sites) projected a surplus of $5 trillion over the next ten years. Now, after two expensive wars of aggression and two series of extravagant tax cuts for the ultrarich--including the elimination of inheritance taxes on multimillionaires' estates--the federal budget is facing a $5 trillion shortfall. That's a $10 trillion net deficit--ten times more than the Reagan deficit that took Clinton his entire tenure to pay off--for giveaways to Bush-connected defense contractors like Halliburton and a fraction of one percent of wealthy individuals. Most Americans will get nothing out of this but the bill which, if history serves a guide, won't be repaid until our children are dead. Goodbye national healthcare, sayonara help with college tuition. Bush has stolen our future.
6. He threw thousands of innocent people into concentration camps. Drawing from another of fascism's greatest hits, Bush used his fictional war on terrorism as a lame pretext to throw thousands of Muslims and Arabs into a new gulag archipelago spanning the globe from secret CIA (news - web sites)-run prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq--including the infamous Abu Ghraib--to INS detention centers in Brooklyn to the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Detainees caught in battle were denied their Geneva Convention rights as POWs, tortured and even murdered. Illegal immigrants who should have been deported were jailed indefinitely without access to attorneys, or visits from family. In the ultimate Orwellian twist, they were turned into "unpersons"; even their names were withheld from the media. Any president who endorses such atrocities, as Bush has repeatedly done in speeches, is against everything that America purports to stands for. Bush has even signed a secret directive authorizing himself with the right to assassinate anyone, anywhere--including American citizens--as "enemy combatants."
7. We are more feared than Al Qaeda. Bush's radical new policy of "preemption"--a self-ascribed right to invade other countries based on a presumed hunch--has terrorized then international community. Even though they have never threatened us, nations like Iran and Syria wonder whether or not Bush will invade them next--and are racing to develop nuclear weapons to protect themselves from the U.S. threat. Our traditional allies, who still want to engage themselves with the rest of the world, have been forced to distance themselves from our bull-in-a-china-shop foreign policy. We, not Islamist terrorists, are the world's most feared power. We are feared, which is why we are hated. Because we are hated, we are in greater danger.
8. Bush has done nothing to improve the economy. At one of the presidential debates, Bush was asked what he would tell someone who had lost their job to outsourcing overseas. He answered that the unemployed had received their $300 tax cuts, and that within five years his education policies would start to help children. The truth is, Bush did nothing to jumpstart the weak post-dot-com economy he inherited in 2000. Like most Republicans, he favors high unemployment as a way to keep labor week and salaries cheap. A Bush victory would ensure more of the same--fewer jobs, lower salaries, reduced unemployment benefits. A president can do a lot to stimulate the economy: jobs programs funded by the government, tax cuts for the working class. But Bush won't act because it would run counter to his ideological beliefs.
9. Bush will appoint the next Supreme Court justice. Whether they're values issues like abortion or gay marriage, or the next election dispute, the Supreme Court is balanced on the razor's edge between reason and right-wing fascism. Sandra Day O'Connor (news - web sites) and William Rehnquist (news - web sites), who originally intended to step down during the last four years but evidently decided not to do so because of Bush's lunacy, are over 80 years old. They may not last another four years. We can't let Bush have the chance to appoint their successors.
10. We deserve a president who can speak English and doesn't look like a chimpanzee. John Kerry (news - web sites) is a far from ideal prospect but he's a huge leap forward from an evolutionary standpoint.
Ted Rall Opinion Columns
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Asia wings it when it comes to bird flu
Asia Times Online
Oct 23, 2004
By Bruce Klingner
Health officials fear that an influenza virus that led to widespread sickness would cause massive disruption to a nation's health-care system and inhibit the government's ability to maintain essential services. A large portion of the population would be sick, virtually all at once, overwhelming doctors and hospitals. Beyond the direct cost of care and medicines, the overall economic implications would be staggering, not only for the poultry industry - a key component of several Southeast Asian economies - but also other meat industries impacted by loss of consumer confidence and reductions in the tourist and transportation sectors, resulting from international quarantines.
The Horrors of Avian Flu Explained
Partying monks defrocked
Bangkok - A group of Thai Buddhist monks has been arrested and defrocked after holding a spate of rowdy drug and alcohol parties, police said on Sunday. The group of six monks at a temple in Ratchaburi west of Bangkok was arrested on Friday night after local villagers complained about their wild behaviour and drug-taking, said Police Major Annop Nuamnaka.
"Villagers are fed up with the monks at this temple as they always make loud noise when they drink and take pills," Annop told AFP. He said five of the saffron-robed monks had tested positive to amphetamine pills called "yaa baa" (which means "crazy drug" in Thai) while the sixth was drunk. The monks were defrocked by the temple's head monk following their arrests, said police.
Monks are expected to refrain from drinking alcohol or taking strong stimulants, and are revered in Thailand, which is 95% Buddhist.
Thai Monks Just Wanna Have Fun
3 Nights In A Row
Oct 24, 2004
Over the last few years I've made more than a few negative comments about the farang oriented naughty nightlife industry in Thailand, and have not been shy in suggesting that there is a hell of a lot more to Thailand than the naughty bars and all of the nonsense surrounding it. I have always maintained that it is fascinating to watch all of the goings on but many people have questioned how someone can write so much about something while not in favour of it.
The truth is that every day I get more and more out of touch with the bars, and people are calling me on this. Many people have said that I should not write about something that I am on record as saying I am not in favour of it. So, to try and get up to date on what is going on and see if my negative feelings about it all remain, I spent three nights in a row in the naughty bars of Bangkok this past week. What follows is my journey through the bars, and my thoughts on this aspect of farang life in Bangkok today.
Stickman Reports on the Bar Scene in Bangkok and He's Not Amused
Northern Malaysian state abuzz with talk of prince's planned wedding with Thai woman
Yahoo News Asia
Oct 22, 2004
Frenetic preparations were underway for the lavish wedding of a Malaysian prince and a Thai commoner next month to which 15,000 guests including Thailand's prime minister have been invited, a newspaper reported Friday. The groom is Muhammad Faris Petra ibni Sultan Ismail Petra, a prince who is next in line to be the sultan of northeastern Kelantan state, a staunchly Islamic state, The Star newspaper said.
He will marry Kangsadal Pinitpakdee, a 24-year-old science graduate and the daughter of Viroj Pinitpakdee, a former member of Parliament from the southern Thai province of Pattani, The Star said.
Malay Prince to Marry Thai Citizen
Malaysian police seize large stash of cannabis packed in instant noodles
Yahoo News Asia
Oct 23, 2004
Malaysia's marine police arrested four Indonesian men who allegedly tried to smuggle 149 kilograms (328 pounds) of marijuana packed in instant noodle boxes, a news report said Saturday. Police intercepted the suspects' boat Friday near Westport, a key port north of Kuala Lumpur, and found the huge cannabis stash, The Star daily reported. The bust was the biggest drug haul by Malaysian authorities this year.
The boat's captain and three crew members _ all Indonesians aged between 22 and 55-years-old _ were arrested, said Abdul Rahman Ahmad, a senior police official. A police spokesman, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, confirmed the arrests but declined to elaborate. The suspects could face the death penalty if convicted of drug trafficking.
How Long Does It Take to Stuff 149 Kilos of Weed into Instant Noodle Boxes? Only these Guys Know for Sure
Controversial Afghan contestant back in Philippine beauty pageant as judge.
Yahoo News Asia
Oct 24, 2004
An Afghan woman, condemned in her conservative homeland after appearing in a bikini in a Philippine beauty contest last year, rejoined the pageant Sunday as a judge, saying the controversy bolstered her advocacy for women's rights. Vida Samadzai, 26, was among 11 judges chosen to pick the winner in Miss Earth, an annual beauty pageant that promotes environmental protection, organizers said. There was no Afghan candidate among the more than 60 women vying for the title Sunday following last year's controversy, they said.
Afghan Beauty Queen as Pageant Judge
Amnesty International and the Death Penalty in Singapore
Yahoo News Asia
Oct 24, 2004
Amnesty, which seeks a worldwide ban on state executions, says Singapore's death row is shrouded in secrecy. In the country itself, there is little public debate about the issue and even less information on how the process is carried out. In the pre-dawn hours of any Friday, someone could be on their way to the gallows at Changi prison. No one knows for sure.
Amnesty says about 400 people have been hanged in Singapore since 1991, most for drug trafficking. This adds up to possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to the island's 4.2 million population.
Amnesty International and the Death Penalty in Singapore
Javanese Court Dancer
Islamic militants attack cafe in Jakarta
The China Post
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP)
Muslim militants in Indonesia's capital vandalized a cafe popular with expatriates because it was serving beer during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, police and one of the militants said Saturday. The Star Deli was closed when around 300 members of the Islamic Defenders Front arrived just before midnight on Friday. They smashed its windows, chairs and neon signs advertising beer, said Mary Gregory, the cafe's owner.
Alawi Usman, a spokesman for the group, admitted vandalizing the establishment. "We are against immorality," he said. "The guys saw the beer on the table and what happened, happened. We are doing this for the future of the country's youth."
No one was injured in the attack, which police did nothing to stop, Usman said. Police confirmed the raid occurred, but declined say why they did not try to prevent it. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, but its government is secular. It has significant Christian, Buddhist and Hindu populations.
Islamic militancy has risen in recent years, and al-Qaida-linked terrorists have carried out three bloody attacks, including the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings. The Islamic Defenders Front was formed in 2000. It has a history of vandalizing entertainment centers during Ramadan. Many analysts say that extorting money from frightened bar owners _ not Islamic principles _ is its primary motive.
Star Deli is in Kemang, an area in south Jakarta known for its restaurants, cafes and bars. It is popular with foreigners and wealthy Indonesians. "Maybe they (the attackers) saw the cafe as purely a place for alcohol," said Gregory, who is married to an American citizen. "Most of my customers are expats."
The Jakarta government has issued bylaws regulating the opening of nightspots during Ramadan. Freestanding bars and nightclubs are supposed to close for the whole month. Enforcement of the laws is patchy, and police and government officials are easily bribed to turn a blind eye.
Islamic Militants Attack; Jakarta Police Watch with Bemusement
U.S. warns citizens to avoid nightspots in Indonesia after cafe attack
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - The U.S. Embassy warned Americans on Sunday to avoid nightspots in Indonesia for the rest of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan after Muslim militants vandalized a bar in Jakarta. About 300 members of the Islamic Defender's Front broke windows and chairs Friday night at a bar popular with expatriates because it was selling alcohol. It was closed at the time of the attack, and no one was injured.
"The U.S. Embassy cautions American citizens to avoid all standalone bars, clubs or nightclubs where similar acts of violence may be repeated,'' the embassy said in a statement on its Web site. The United States has already warned its citizens to avoid travel to Indonesia because of the risk of terrorism. In the past two years, Indonesia has seen three attacks by al-Qaida-linked militants on Western targets, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.
The Islamic Defenders Front, formed in 2000, has a history of vandalizing entertainment centers during Ramadan. Many analysts say extorting money from frightened bar owners - not Islamic principles - is its primary motive.
U.S. Embassy Warns Americans
Indonesia Ranked World’s 8th Most Corrupt
October 20, 2004 10:54 PM
Indonesia is the joint-eighth most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International’s latest index of perceived corruption levels released Wednesday (20/10/04). In a table of 146 surveyed countries, the Berlin-based organization rated Indonesia alongside Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Georgia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Finland was rated the world’s least corrupt country, while Haiti and Bangladesh tied for the ignominious position of being the most corrupt.
Analysts say corruption has become worse in Indonesia since the downfall of former dictator Suharto in 1998 due to poor law enforcement, the proliferation of new political parties and the granting of greater powers to the nation’s generally rapacious regional administrations.
Indonesia’s press freedom has failed to stem the level of graft, with courts now being accused of siding with allegedly corrupt tycoons and intimidating journalists who speak out against injustice. The administrations of former presidents Megawati Sukarnoputri, Abdurrahman Wahid and B.J. Habibie largely failed to overcome endemic corruption, but there are now hopes that Indonesia’s new President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will be able to improve the situation.
Indonesia. Almost the World's Most Corrupt Nation
Brandon at JavaJive in Jakarta Recommends Flickr
What’s my latest addiction? Flickr.com. How many of you have tried sites like friendster, hotornot, or other “group” websites? Ok, how many of you have joined sites like usefilm.com for photo critique? Now, how many of you have spent hours reading over travel blogs, photoblogs, and other weblogs searching for new experiences and perspectives?
Flickr is almost all of them combined. Where some other sites like friendster have failed, I believe this will succeed. We as an online community are constantly looking to connect to like minds. We as photographers are always looking for new inspiration and critiques for our work. We as travelers are permanently on the lookout for new experiences and ways to see other cultures through words and images.
Brandon at JavaJive in Jakarta Recommends Flickr for your Photo Needs. Better than Ofoto or Yahoo
CONTRACT No. 69/69
PROVISION OF BAR GIRL SERVICES
(JAKARTA EXPAT / INDONESIAN NATIONAL VERSION)
PART A – AGREEMENT
THIS AGREEMENT IS MADE BETWEEN A. Punter Private Ltd hereinafter called the “Punter”, of the one part.
AND Nok (aka Lek, Daeng, Porn, Pie, Mimi, Titi, Fani, Lolita) (delete as applicable) hereinafter called the “LBFM” of the other part.
(a) The Punter requires certain Sexual Services as described in the Contract (hereinafter called the “Services”) to be carried out at Punter's site or other location as instructed in connection with the Losing The Plot Project (hereinafter called the “Project"), and
(b) Contractee is willing to carry out the Services in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in the Contract.
NOW THE PARTIES hereby agree as follows: -
Legal Contract for Services Rendered
Southeast Asia Handbook by Carl Parkes
Dilemma of dealing with Burma
By William Horsley
The outside world seems at a loss over how to deal with Burma's strongmen.
Pro-democracy campaigners are shocked by the political changes. The latest political shake-up in Rangoon has strengthened hardliners and damaged prospects for democratic reform. Western experts on Burma believe the head of its military junta, Than Shwe, removed Prime Minister Khin Nyunt as part of an internal power feud, to forestall any challenge to his own rule.
Burmese pro-democracy campaigners are shocked.
They say the man appointed to be the next prime minister, Soe Win, is a hardliner who master-minded the violent attack last year on pro-democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi. British officials say the latest moves take Burma another step away from the democratic reforms which the regime has promised.
US state department spokesman Richard Boucher said: "These events do not point in the direction of allowing freedom of exercise of political and human rights." Many experts fear the new power line-up in Rangoon may spell a new phase of repression in Burma.
Burmese Prime Minister Replaced with Hardliner
Khin Nyunt's fall from grace
By Kate McGeown
Khin Nyunt is reportedly under house arrest
Burma's Prime Minister Khin Nyunt has been ousted by a more conservative member of the ruling military junta, Soe Win. The often secretive government said Khin Nyunt had been "permitted to retire for health reasons".
But there is little doubt that his departure relates to a power struggle which has been going on for months. As well as being prime minister and third in Burma's political hierarchy, Khin Nyunt was also the chief of military intelligence. This position frequently brought him into disagreement with Burma's paramount leader Than Shwe, who controls the entire army.
"There has been a conflict between the army and the intelligence for some time," said Aung Zaw, the editor of Irrawaddy, a publication run by Burmese journalists in exile. "They have often been at loggerheads," he told BBC News. According to Dr Aung Kin, a Burmese historian based in London, Khin Nyunt's fall from power could be related to Than Shwe's desire to secure his own future.
The Power Struggle in Burma
Myanmar names Soe Win as PM
October 20, 2004
BANGKOK, Thailand -- Myanmar's new prime minister is Lt. Gen Soe Win, a former defense chief who entered the regime's top ranks only last year. His appointment, replacing the ousted Khin Nyunt, was announced in Yangon Tuesday night by the State Peace and Development Council, the ruling junta chaired by Myanmar's most powerful figure, Senior General Than Shwe.
Separately, the SPDC said Khin Nyunt had been "permitted to retire for health "reasons". Khin Nyunt's removal is seen as a consolidation of Than Shwe's power in this nation of 42 million people.
Soe Win, The Latest Puppet Prime Minister in Burma
Irrawaddy Journalists Look at Burmese Events
Regardless of the speculation, it’s high time for Burma’s dynamic duo, Than Shwe and Maung Aye, to make a move. They can plunge Burma deeper into the Dark Ages, or they can begin to work for genuine reform. But in the dog-eat-dog world of Burma’s military culture, they are bound to encounter resistance from the country’s top brass. With one down, and two to go, we will have to wait for next chapter in the power play in Rangoon.
Irrawaddy Provides the Best Analysis of Recent Events in Rangoon
Indian Dancers and Musicians
Lessons learned from India's bandit king
By Siddharth Srivastava
NEW DELHI - India's most wanted bandit, Veerappan, with a price of more than US$1 million on his head, has been killed by an Indian special task force (STF) - made up of more than 750 specially trained personnel - created with the sole purpose of tracking him down. The STF had been trying unsuccessfully to do just that for more than a decade, while the brigand and his gang traversed in excess of 8,000 square kilometers of dense jungle that borders the southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. It is estimated that more than $50 million has been spent to bring down Veerappan, the most expensive security operation ever undertaken in India to chase one man.
India's Bandit King Captured, but Where is his Stash?
Falling turtle damages HK taxi
Thursday was not a good day for Mr Tong, a taxi driver in Hong Kong. First he had his mobile phone stolen and then his car was hit by a falling turtle. The pet, which lived in an apartment in a high-rise building, managed to climb out of an open window before plunging to the road more than 10 floors below.
It fell straight onto the taxi driver's car, leaving a dent in the roof, police spokesman Anson Lo told the Associated Press news agency. The turtle survived the ordeal, although its shell was broken, Mr Lo said. People in Hong Kong traditionally believe that turtles are a symbol of good luck, but Mr Tong could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
It's Raining Turtles in Hong Kong
Nations Compete for Foreign-Language Oscar
Movies from 49 countries are in competition for the foreign-language prize at February's Academy Awards, among them the film festival hits "House of Flying Daggers," "Nobody Knows" and "Kontroll."
The number of entries was down from last year, when a record 56 countries submitted films for Oscar consideration. Each country is allowed to submit one film.
China's entry, "House of Flying Daggers," is a martial-arts historical epic from director Zhang Yimou, whose previous martial-arts tale "Hero" was nominated for the foreign-language award for 2002 and became a hit in U.S. theaters when it was released last August.
Complete List of Foreign Language Oscar Nominations Here
Crocodile Husbandry Is Really Hard, China Finds
New York Times
By KEITH BRADSHER
October 23, 2004
ANYU, China, Oct. 16 - Over the past decade, China has become an industrial colossus by mastering an extraordinary variety of commercial skills, from the manufacture of high-speed computer chips to the production of top-quality automotive steel.
Learning to stimulate the sex drive of crocodiles has proved more difficult.
China's Forestry Department eliminated steep duties on imported breeder crocodiles nearly a decade ago. The hope was that low wages, highly skilled farmers and well-developed road and port networks would turn China into a highly competitive producer of crocodile meat, hides, shoes, purses and other goods.
But impotence, obesity, runny noses and finicky palates among the crocodiles have made this dream difficult to realize. Imported by the tens of thousands from tropical Thailand, the crocodiles have had trouble adapting to slightly cooler southeastern China and have been slow to breed, prone to infections and reluctant to eat anything but expensive chicken breasts.
Hilarious New York Times Story about the Difficulties of Raising Reptiles in China
Man Wears 'Cocaine' T-Shirt in Court
Thu Oct 21, 8:53 PM ET
Strange News - AP
HONG KONG - It was not the best legal defense strategy: A Hong Kong man appeared in court on drug charges wearing a T-shirt that said "cocaine" and drew a stern rebuke from the magistrate, a newspaper reported Thursday. Ho Heng-chau pleaded guilty to possession of three ecstasy pills, but while his lawyer was arguing for a lenient sentence on Wednesday the magistrate noticed the T-shirt, according to the Apple Daily newspaper.
"Do you know you're appearing in court?" Magistrate Ernest Lin was quoted as saying. "What are you doing wearing a 'cocaine' T-shirt? You might as well carry a sign that says 'I'm a drug head.'" Ho, 20, did not respond, Apple Daily said. The magistrate fined Ho $510, then chided the young man again over the shirt.
"Next time a police officer sees you wearing a shirt like this he'll confront you," Lin was quoted as saying. "Would you wear a shirt that says 'marijuana?'" Judiciary spokeswoman Jaime Or told The Associated Press she had no information on Ho's case.
At Least He Didn't Wear this T-Shirt in Singapore
The horror: a guided tour
Wednesday October 20, 2004
You might think that movie tourism is a genteel business - why not visit the sun-drenched Italian landscapes featured in The English Patient, or the castles and battlefields seen in Mel Gibson's Braveheart? At an all-inclusive cost of £3,950 a head, this 16-day journey through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia promises to re-create several of the film's most famous scenes.
Guided by Indochina expert Peter O'Sullivan, who has reported from Cambodia for the BBC World Service, an intrepid dozen will start by riding US jeeps through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon, as was). Then, like Captain Willard and his doomed crew, they will head up the Mekong river by motorboat - "into the Heart of Darkness", as the brochure puts it - pausing to water-ski to the sound of the Rolling Stones. In Cambodia, the in-flight entertainment on a helicopter ride over paddy fields will, naturally, be Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries.
"Apocalypse Now" was Filmed in the Philippines; The Final Temple Scene on the Pagsanhan River
A Royal Solution for a Nationalist Vietnam
The only way to solve these problems is by restoring to Vietnam a government similar to that proposed by the Vietnamese Imperial Family. There must be democratic elections for the people to choose, from among whatever party they wish, who will represent them in government. It can be possible as The Kingdom of Cambodia has achieved a democratic government that represents all political parties under the protection of the monarchy, is an example with the help of the United Nations.
This is Really Odd. Somehow, a PR Release from the Vietnamese Monarchist League (in Illinois!) was Posted as "News" on Yahoo. Go Figure
Monks flee after sex with teens
24/10/2004 13:58 - (SA)
Partying monks defrocked
Sex tape exposes monks
Monks told to leave politics
Monks hurt in parly brawl
Phnom Penh - A pair of monks were on the run on Saturday after an angry mob chased them from their pagoda when they were apparently caught having sex with local twin teens on the temple grounds, police told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. Nang Peng, 24, and Hong Vung, 22, fled Wat Srahyov in Kampong Thom province, about 300km north of the capital, after the father of the 17-year-old twins discovered his daughters were at the pagoda alone with the monks and mustered a mob to retrieve them.
The mob discovered the group in the act and ran the terrified monks out of town despite protestations from the girls, local police said. District police official Yang Som told dpa by telephone that both girls had professed love for their partners and denied allegations by their angry father, Som Sau, 46, that they had been raped. But, he said, the act was still a breach of common decency and would be prosecuted.
"The monks just cannot have sex in the pagoda," the district police official said. "I will act on the authority of the district and arrest them to face court." However, he added that the case was complicated as the girls had confessed to police that they loved the monks and had willingly consented. The age of consent is considered to be 15 in Cambodia
Monks Just Need Some Lovin'
Posted by Carl Parkes on Sunday, October 24, 2004