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June 21-27, 2013

Death of a culture Is ‘Talibanisation’ taking root in Aceh?


June 21-27, 2013

Contents Written in the stars

Society

Death of a culture

Special Report

The lure of sex and money


June 21-27, 2013

Contents The comeback of ‘Made in Japan’

Business

Fashion

Tips on spotting a millionaire

Green is the new Black

Korean fast fashion breaks Asia

Lifestyle

Fame in one quick hop


June 21-27, 2013

Contents >>DATEBOOK

Happenings around Asia Lifestyle

Travel

Before taking that photo… read this

Getting down and dirty in rice farms

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SOCIETY

Death of a culture Is ‘Talibanisation’ taking root in Aceh? The Jakarta Post Pandaya

“I

love greeting my guests with Acehnese hospitality,” said North Aceh Regent Muhammad Thaib. “But I believe that the effort to preserve local culture, such as female dance performances, should not hurt Islamic values.” Thaib was announcing his latest sharia policy on May 25 to ban women from dancing in public because of the view that the body movements of a dancing adult woman constituted eroticism, which was against Islamic values. With the regent’s interpretation of female dance turning into

policy, now only under-aged girls are legally allowed to dance in public when men are present. There are no restrictions on males to perform such art in the land of magnificent, internationally famed dances such as saman (dance of thousand hands). Lo and behold, the ban applies to any dance, be it indigenous or imported. Is this bizarre? Not for advocates like Mustafa Ahmad, chairman of the North Aceh Ulama Consultative Assembly. “The dances performed by adult women are haram (sacred). In Islam, women dancing in the presence of men is maksiat (sexually immoral).” The ban is only the latest in a flurry of morality bylaws that keep coming, despite criticism

that they violate human rights, are discriminatory against women, are incompatible with the Indonesian Constitution and are a threat to local culture. In January, Lhokseumawe Mayor Suaidi Yahya set the world on fire when he banned the city’s women from straddling motorcycles on the pretext that women parting legs with their chests pressed onto the backs of male riders was haram. Islamic law enforcement in Aceh, since it was endorsed by the central government in 2001, has been taking increasingly bizarre turns and raising eyebrows. The first offender was publicly caned in 2005, two years after the sharia court had been established. It was a chilling reminder that the brutal form of


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SOCIETY

Adek Berry/AFP

public punishment as rigorously enforced in the Middle East was eventually at the doorstep. People wondered if more primitive forms of punishment, such as public lashings, mutilation and stoning to death were on the way and if they would apply to corrupt politicians. As of today, we have yet to see on any officials or clerics suffer any such punishments in the town square for sharia offences. The moral police only aim their gun at common people—especially women— committing minor offences. The 7,000 strong moral police force has rounded up women who do not wear Islamic garb, women wearing tight pants or women found in the street alone at night, unmarried couples, or boys and girls found in quiet places—no matter what they are doing. In January, a 16-yearold girl committed suicide out of shame after the moral

Acehnese Muslim women attend Friday prayers at the Baiturrahman great mosque in Banda Aceh.

police accused her of being a prostitute while she was hanging around with her friends in a park one night. The tragedy sparked an international outcry and put sharia enforcement under intense scrutiny. Then there are reports of moral police officers raping

women when they are rounded up and put in custody for moral “re-education”.

Acehnese culture

The ban on women dancing in public could be a death knell for local culture that fanatic leaders intend to replace with anything


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SOCIETY

Bay Ismoyo/AFP

Arabic. For centuries, Aceh has been well-known as a cradle of civilisation in western Indonesia where Islam was introduced by Indian and Arabic merchants. Aceh boasts religious folk dances performed on international stages along with ones from other regions. The saman, seudati and ranub lampuan are probably the bestknown Acehnese dances. Female dancers are all properly dressed. There is no gyrating and hipgrinding actions going on, as in some other, Javanese, genres. History has it that the very folk dances that Lhokseumawe leaders mean to ban from being performed by women as part of the effort to purify Islam do in fact carry religious symbolism created and used by Islamic propagators to introduce the faith in Aceh, which is proud to call itself “the Veranda of Mecca” (instead of “the Veranda of Indonesia”).

Acehnese dancers perform ‘Saman’, a traditional Indonesian dance.

Sharia was allowed in Aceh by the central government in Jakarta in 2001 as part of a special autonomy package, supposedly to win the hearts and minds of the people there, who were beset by a protracted secessionist rebellion.

The decision to allow Aceh sharia law was mind boggling, demanded neither by the rebels nor those loyal to Indonesia. Only some religious leaders aspired to make Aceh an independent Islamic state.


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SOCIETY

Apparently, not everybody is happy with the enforcement of sharia, which is widely seen as discriminatory to women and abusive to fundamental human rights. The Civil Network for Sharia has warned of a creeping “Talibanism”. “The banning of women from straddling motorcycles smacks of Talibanism in Pakistan or the official policy of the Saudi Arabian government, which does not allow women to drive. None is compatible with the traditions of Aceh,” said network spokesman Affan Ramli in an interview with tempo.co. Now that sharia is here to stay in Aceh, its complex ramifications are beginning to bite Indonesia in the form of two incompatible governance systems: Sharia for Aceh and secularism (the 1945 Constitution and Pancasila) for the rest of the country. Other regions in West Java, where Islamic-based Prosperous

Justice Party (PKS) politicians dominate the provincial administration, Banten, along with South Sulawesi and West Sumatra, want to copy Aceh. Increasingly adopting a foreign culture, Aceh looks more and more “separated” culturally from the rest of Indonesia. And once an ideology takes hold, it is impossible to retract it. This article was first printed by The Jakarta Post on June 9, 2013


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SPECIAL REPORT

The lure of sex and money In the Philippines, cyberporn thrives along with poverty

Cebu

I

t could have been a scene from a Hollywood movie. As agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) were raiding a house suspected to be a front for cyberpornography in a poor neighbourhood in Cordova town in Cebu on May 26, a text message was being circulated, telling residents to switch off computers and Internet devices. The illegal trade has been public knowledge in Sitio Sungok in Barangay Ibabao in central Philippines, according to village treasurer Julbert Ventulan. Several residents lured by easy

money have been involved in cyberpornography, he said. A man and his wife were arrested by the NBI team for telling their own daughter, a 13-year-old, and two others aged 14 and 17 to perform lewd acts in front of a webcam for foreign online viewers. Both are now facing charges in court. At least 15 more families in Ibabao are believed to be into home-based cyberpornography. The May 26 raid was the second in Sung-ok. In June 2011, a couple was arrested for making their three children, niece and two other minors perform naked in front of a webcam mounted on a computer. They were charged with qualified human trafficking. The following month, in nearby Barangay Cogon, lawmen

Tonee Despojo/Cebu Daily News

Charisse Ursal Philippine Daily Inquirer

Local officials blame poverty for the operation of cyberpornography in some of the households in Cordova town, Cebu.

raided a house that was being used by a woman as a studio to let her young daughters and a cousin strip and dance for online clients. “Cyberporn is not happening just in Cordova but also in other places,� said Antonio Pagatpat, NBI director for Central Visayas.


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SPECIAL REPORT

Provincial and town officials are citing poverty as the reason parents have completely disregarded their moral obligations and pimped their own children to foreigners. Cordova on Mactan Island, 22 kilometres from Cebu City, is a fifth-class fishing municipality with a yearly income of a little over 10 million pesos (US$233,000), according to the website of the Department of Trade and Industry. Unemployment rate was put at 40 per cent. Mayor Adelino Sitoy said 1015 per cent of the population were poor. “We will look for ways to help them,” he said. Some households earn 100 pesos a day from producing “helba”, a rope used in furniture and house décor. A 20-year-old Ibabao resident, who identified himself only

Easy money

According to Ventulan, the barangay official, holding a cyberpornography session allows residents to net from 3,000 to 30,000 pesos, depending on the kind of performance offered to clients. Parents use their children because some foreign customers would pay more if the performers were young children, he said. Payment is usually through

Ted Aljibe/AFP

Poverty

as Mike, said poverty had pushed his neighbours to engage in cyberpornography. “The money is easy,” he said. “Many of our neighbours are poor. The neighbourhood is crowded…many would just hang around since they don’t have jobs. They always drink, gamble and play cards and mahjong,” he said. Mike’s parents themselves do not have jobs, but he managed to get himself a scholarship from a local university.

The shadow of two teenage girls rescued from a cyber sex den in the Philippines, where naked girls manning computers acted out the wildest dreams of paying online voyeurs.

overseas money transfer services, he added. Ventulan said he didn’t know exactly what the foreigners would ask the children to do, but some customers had sent sex toys to cyberpornography operators as props. The barangay tried to help those involved in the illegal trade by encouraging them to attend a three-day counselling session


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SPECIAL REPORT

at a resort in Cordova, he said. Some changed, but others went back to their old ways, he added.

Livelihood

Acting Governor Agnes Magpale, who co-chairs the Provincial Women’s Commission, said that in confronting the problem of cyberpornography, poverty in the community should be addressed first. Livelihood seminars in Ibabao and other depressed villages will be conducted to give the women opportunities to earn a decent living, Magpale said. “Since Cebu is a tourist spot, we would teach them how to massage and make bags,” she said. To make them get through the day, she said the province would provide rice to poor families. Sitoy said the Cordova municipal government would hold parent-teacher association meetings in schools to educate the parents and call on the

Department of Education to initiate a campaign against cyberpornography. Magpale acknowledged that the livelihood programmes are no match to the dollars that cyberpornography operators get per session. “But we are doing our best to solve the [problem]. We’re not giving up,” Magpale said *US$1=42.8 pesos


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SOCIETY

Written in the stars

The ancient system of dividing the year according to solar themes is being used to boost sales Wu Yiyao China Daily Shanghai

“L

ychees for June 5; cherries for June 21; waxberries for July 7,” intoned Wang Lanzhi, a 46-year-old Shanghai housewife, as if reciting a poem. This routine has been directing her purchases and use of fruit for decades, she said. For Wang, food shopping is not dictated by price. Instead, the zodiac rules what she eats every fortnight of the year. Like buying carnations on Mother’s Day or roasting a bird near the end of the year, buying roasted green tea during the guyu period

in mid April,which is also known as “grain rain”, and making plum syrup on xiazhi, or summer solstice, is essential for Chinese who follow an annual cycle of 24 solar periods. The Chinese initiated the system as early as 2,000 years ago, and it has now blended with modern lifestyles. The zodiacal cycle is divided into 24 segments, each lasting roughly two weeks. In the lunar calendar, the date of each solar term is more or less fixed, apart from minor changes of a day or so. “The 24 solar periods were determined by changes in the sun’s position throughout the year, so the system is based on the duration of sunlight per day, temperature, humidity and other factors affecting the cultivation of grain, vegetables, fruit and breeding of livestock. They

also determine outdoor activities and indoor entertainment,” said Wang.

Smartphone apps

Smartphone application developers have launched apps to help users identify the correct solar period, what to eat or use and the type of entertainment that accords with any given period within the cycle. “For many young people who spend most of their working day indoors, it is really difficult to sense the change of season and time, and this electronic reminder tells us not only how to identify that, but also what to observe during time changes, the extended or shortened periods of sunlight, falling leaves or blooming flowers,” said Zhu Ting, a 29-year-old accountant.


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SOCIETY

Zhu has three apps on her smartphone related to the 24 solar terms. They provide a comprehensive guide to leading a healthy and fulfilled life. One app focuses on dining, another on workouts and a third on the natural scenes to see during the two-week cycles.

Business opportunities

The themes of the 24 solar periods have also become a marketing tool for department stores and online retailers, who try to recommend tailor-made products to potential customers. “Western festivals, such as Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving, are important times to boost consumption. Similarly, the solar terms are helpful in selling seasonal products,” said Luo Shujuan, a 26-year-old beauty consultant at a department store on Nanjing Road, one of the busiest streets in downtown Shanghai. “The change in solar periods

Children at an arts training centre in Yunxian county, Shiyan, Hubei province, play an egg fighting game on May 5, the day summer begins.

A farmer in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region tends a rice field on May 21, the day of grain buds.

usually results in changes in demand for skincare products. If you have an insight into these delicate shifts from days that are humid but not too hot, to those that are scorching, dry-and-cool to freezing, it is much easier to understand the products most helpful to consumers,” said Luo. Like many of her peers, Luo comes from a family that relied on farming as its major source of income. The 24-solar-term cycle feels “embedded in my mind”, said Luo.

“It’s traditional wisdom, based on long-time observations. It helps people to understand the best times for sowing various vegetables and grains, irrigating the land, and harvesting the produce. I use the same principles to provide skincare advice to customers, because the fundamental idea behind it is to do the right thing at the right time,” said Luo.

Guidance


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SOCIETY

Provided to China Daily

An increasing number of consumers are seeking guides that provide more information on the traditional art of “living in accordance with the times”. Books and photo albums detailing the 24 solar periods are among the most popular guides. Xiao Yuan, a backpacker who has been travelling around China since 2007, said he has visited Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, more than 20 times, because he read a book about the 24 solar periods in the city. “It is amazing that the food, the people, the scenic spots are all so different during the different phases of the year,” said Xiao. Usually travel guides list the most popular sightseeing spots, based on the demands of the travellers—be they zealous shoppers, theatre-goers, adventurers, or just someone who favours sleeping in a cozy bed at a resort hotel. “Seeing a city in a different light, within the frame of time

People in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province take part in the traditional activity of wearing willow branch hats on April 4, the day of clear and bright.

People take part in a festival, at a forest park, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on May 5.

changes, brings something new to travelling. You don’t need to boast, ‘Look, I’ve been to 200 cities.’ Instead, you can say ‘I’ve seen 24 faces of the same city,’” said Xiao. For example, the best time to visit the Manjuelong area in Hangzhou, is around qiufen, the autumnal equinox, when sweetscented osmanthus flowers are in full bloom. Nothing feels better than sipping green tea amid the sweet fragrance of osmanthus, under

the silver moonlight, said Xiao. Miao Sihui, a consultant with Shanghai-based Siyuan Consultancy said the market strategy based on the 24 solar periods is smart and draws on people’s psychological needs. “Nowadays people have a stronger desire than ever to get close to nature and share genuine interpersonal relationships. Consumption during the 24 solar terms mirror those urges precisely,” said Miao.


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BUSINESS

Tips on spotting a millionaire Amelia Hong The Star Kuala Lumpur

H

e can’t be a millionaire! Adam looks so ordinary, nondescript even. Girls would have passed him by as he only owns a nice but second-hand Toyota and lives in a modest place. However, little do they know that he is a millionaire. How do you define a millionaire? Someone who has a big car and house? Well, no. Being one simply means that if you had to pay off all your debts, you would still have 1 million ringgit (US$319,400) in assets (be it in savings,

fixed deposits, managed funds, stocks or properties). What is Adam like and how did he become a millionaire? 1 He is only mildly impressed when you show off your Jaguar or your penthouse. He does not care what you think of him for buying a second-hand car and living away from the city. 2 He has been stashing a large percentage of his savings away without thinking ever since he was in his early 20s. He knows that if you keep spending less than what you earn, you are going to be able to spend more when you no longer earn. 3 He puts that savings to work in an investment which gives him a decent rate of

“Don’t worry, they’re millionaires all right. It’s just cool now for the rich to dress down.”

return. His investments are in a simple portfolio in assets which he understands. 4 He knows his financial standing or looks at it once in six months. Growing his net worth is his aim. 5 He pays his credit card in full every month. He knows that if he can’t afford to pay in full every month, he simply can’t afford it.


BUSINESS

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He keeps himself busy with getting a second income or spending more hours into his current job. Both will likely improve his cash flow as these will normally translate to a pay rise. Besides, being busy keeps him from spending. 7 He is relaxed as he is likely in a job he loves and has not much worry about money, as he has made a financial safety net for himself. Yup, he may not look it but his net worth confirms he is a millionaire. 6

Will you be one too? It’s time you do your own financial health check. Talk to your financial planner today.

Warren Buffett: The business magnate, who is consistently named among the top wealthiest people in the world, is notoriously known for his simple lifestyle— living in a US$31,500-home in Omaha, Nebraska, which he bought more than 50 years ago, driving his own automobile and not owning a yacht. He is also known to have given billions of dollars to charitable causes.


BUSINESS

Amancio Ortega: One might expect the founder of the Zara line of clothing to live and dress extravagantly, but this Spanish fashion mogul is known to wear a simple uniform of blue blazer, white shirt and gray pants every day. He also goes to the same coffee shop daily and eats lunch with his employees in the Zara cafeteria. Ortega and his wife live in a discreet apartment building in La Coruna, Spain.

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Mark Zuckerberg: Despite having billions to his name, the Facebook founder wears the same gray t-shirt and hoodie to work every day. The 28-year-old and his wife Priscilla Chan opted for a simple wedding in Zuckerberg’s backyard at his home in Palo Alto.


FASHION

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Green is the new Black

Young Bangladeshi fashion designers turn local fabrics to international designs at eco-friendly workshop Upashana Salam The Daily Star Dhaka

T

he world of fashion is an exciting one. Bright, beautiful and selfobsessed. Many disregard the fashion industry as one that promotes superficiality. It is an industry that gets a bad rap for putting special emphasis on materialism. The fashion industry is only for the elite; it cares nothing for the people or the environment, detractors whine. Over the years, the naysayers have been proven wrong and how! Since the 1990s, fashion designers have been experimenting with eco-

friendly fabrics and designs. Eco-fashion has since become a movement concerned with designing clothes that take into account the environment, the health of consumers and the working conditions of people in the fashion industry. With an aim to create a collection of original, ecofriendly designs, the Alliance Française de Dhaka and Goethe-Institut Bangladesh has organised a joint project called the “Ethno Fashion Workshop and Show”. The project, part of the official celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Franco-German friendship, includes a three-week long workshop for young Bangladeshi designers culminating into

a couple of fashion shows in Dhaka and Chittagong. The 10 young designers were guided by international fashion designers Michael Sontag from Germany, Sakina M’Sa from France, and Bibi Russell, a Bangladeshi fashion designer and former international model. There has been a shift in consumers’ demands towards imported synthetic fabrics in recent years in Bangladesh. Designers and shop owners seem to be forgetting that the country’s rich hand-woven textiles industry can be used to produce unique designs for both national and international consumers. Bangladesh does not need to limit itself to the garments industry alone, says Michael


FASHION

Prabir Das

Sontag. The country has the potential and resources to be a game changer in the international fashion scene, he says. “Bangladesh, unfortunately, is known solely for its garments industry but not for its fashion scene. That should not be the case. Designers of this country don’t have to go to Italy or France for fabrics; they have an amazing textile industry right here. They only need to know how best to use these fabrics to create exclusive designs,” says Sontag. The aim of the workshop and the subsequent fashion shows is to promote the use of local fabrics and power to promote Bangladeshi designs, he says. Bibi Russell has travelled around the country, spending years developing new textiles, patterns and eco-friendly production techniques with weavers. Her designs emphasise her goal of “fashion for development”, with a focus on

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Each participant designed a couple of outfits for the fashion show.

traditional fabrics, motifs and patterns. With internationally acclaimed collections, Russell has proven that local fabrics can offer designers ample opportunities to be creative in their designs. “We may not be able to organise huge fashion events in Bangladesh yet. But that

does not mean that we can’t make beautiful, fashionable dresses using local technology and fabrics. I only use locally produced fabrics and I haven’t ever had a reject. My collections have almost always sold out,” Russell says. Bibi Russell has always been


FASHION

a proponent of clean, green fashion. She hopes to pass on her knowledge of the vibrant textile heritage onto the young designers so that they know how best to use their country’s resources to produce distinctive designs. “Eco-friendly designs are being integrated into the mainstream fashion industry all around the world. Today consumers seek out ecological products because they are aware of their benefits,” Russell says. Both Sontag and Russell believe that the young generation of Bangladeshi designers have a lot to offer to the evolving fashion scene of the country. They believe that with appropriate fashion education and exposure to international fashion, young designers can be persuaded to discover their own niche in the world of fashion. “In Europe, you have at least three famous fashion schools that offer excellent education.

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Bibi Russell

Michael Sontag

Bibi Russell, for example, studied at a fashion school in London. I think people need to understand that it is important to have a fashion education if they want to delve into this field. Aspiring designers need to see the value in education,” says Sontag. Despite the existence of numerous universities, the country still lacks good teachers who can educate aspiring designers on the basic grammar of fashion, says Russell. A strong education coupled with creativity can take a designer places in the fashion world, she adds. Kehkasha Sabah, Arny Tasmit Afiyat and Hanif Kaiser, participants at the workshop,

believe that the workshop helped them understand the value of local fabrics and resources. “We Bangladeshis often reject our own products, thinking that they are inferior to imported goods. At this workshop, we were taught to make optimum use of our rich textile heritage. Unlike popular belief, there are a number of ways that we can turn local fabrics to international designs,” says Hanif Kaiser. The project shows us that in order to reach out globally, we need to think local. We need to be ahead of the curve when it comes to ethical fashion, thus making a mark on the global fashion map.


FASHION

The comeback of ‘Made in Japan’ Kojiro Sekine and Tomoko Numajiri The Yomiuri Shimbun Tokyo

“M

ade in Japan” is making a comeback. Department stores, convenience stores and other businesses with extensive distribution networks are offering more domestically made products under their own private brands thanks to a depreciated yen that has narrowed price differences with imported goods. Improved market sentiment is also expected to revive consumer interest in higherquality products made in Japan. Tags reading “domestically sewn” adorn men’s suits at Matsuya department

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FASHION

store in Ginza, Tokyo. At the end of last year, Matsuya began moving production of suits sold under its private brand to Japan, using fabric imported from Italy and other places. The department store said it hopes to sew the majority of its suits domestically by the end of the year. Before the yen weakened, most of its suits were sewn in Europe or Asia. A domestically sewn suit sells for about 40,000 yen (US$410), about 10,000 yen ($102) more than one produced in Asian nations with cheap labour costs. According to a store spokesperson, “We want to make quality the centrepiece.” Most fabric used in the suits is imported, but the store aims to quickly increase the proportion of domestically produced fabric to 20 per cent, in time for the autumn and winter lines. Stores run by Sogo & Seibu Co. rolled out a “Made in Japan”

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theme last Father’s Day. With imported goods not as much of a bargain due to the weaker yen, the firm hopes to capitalise on the quality of domestic products. Footwear chain ABC-Mart, Inc. purchased a shoe factory in Ishikawa Prefecture this year, and since May has been using it to make some of the private brand shoes it sells for 20,000 yen ($205) to 30,000 yen ($307) that it had previously outsourced to factories throughout Asia. Convenience store chain Lawson Inc. this spring began selling a line of bento meals made almost entirely from domestic produce, except for wheat flour and some other items. These bento cost at least 100 yen more than those made with imported products, but apparently customers are willing to pay for quality—demand for these meals has been 1.5 times greater than for its regular bento. However, production

technology has improved in Asia, mainly in the clothing sector, and many consumers’ preference for low prices remains deeprooted. An ability to compete in terms of price appears to be key to whether this domestic revival will truly take hold.


FASHION

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Korean fast fashion breaks Asia Lee Woo-young The Korea Herald Seoul

K

orean fast fashion brands are expanding overseas, hoping that tailoring items for Asian consumers will be a winning strategy. Korean fashion retailer E.Land Group has taken an aggressive lead, opening Japanese and Chinese stores of its women’s apparel brand Mixxo in March and May, respectively. In China, Mixxo has stores in Super Brand Mall in Shanghai, a prime retail spot, directly competing with fast fashion brands such as Spain’s Zara, Sweden’s H&M and Japan’s Uniqlo. Riding on the back of Korean pop culture’s popularity

in China, the label aims to expand its presence there with more store openings in the works. “Asian customers love Mixxo because of its reasonable price, clothes that come in a variety of colours and that fit the Asian body,” said Chung Soojung, director of Global Mixxo Business Unit of E.Land Group. The average prices are set around 299 yuan to 499 yuan (US$48 to $81) in China, and

3,990 yen to 5,990 yen ($40 to $63) in Japan, slightly higher than the average Korean price of 39,900 won to 59,900 won ($35 to $53). “From the beginning, Mixxo was developed to meet the different needs of Asian women who often have to buy clothes at Western SPA brands altered to fit their bodies. “The brand, which launched in 2010 in Korea, became popular


FASHION

with its inexpensive pricing that enables customers to buy tops, bottoms and even accessories all at once,” said Chung. SPA stands for specialty retailer of private label apparel, more commonly known as fast fashion. The brand which set women in their early 20s and mid-30s as its main target customers, now aims to appeal to younger Asian women, using Korean girl group After School as models. Another fashion retailer, Samsung Cheil Industries, is getting ready to join the global fast fashion race with its first overseas 8 Seconds store in China scheduled to open next year. From the initial brand planning stage, Korea’s giant fashion company had Chinese consumers in mind. “Starting with the name, we picked the number 8, the favourite number of the Chinese. The colour of the logo, red, is the colour of fortune in China,” said

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Kwon Eun-ju, assistant manager of the communication team at Samsung Cheil Industries Inc. In anticipation of the launch in the Chinese market next year, the company has started to raise brand awareness among foreign customers in Korea. Since last May, the 8 Seconds brand stores have been playing audio announcements in Chinese, Japanese and English at major stores in Seoul. The Garosu-gil store has become one of the mustsee trendy spots in Seoul for Japanese tourists. “Japanese customers make up half of the daily sales at the Garosu-gil store on our bestselling days,” said Ahn Seonjin, director of 8 Seconds. The brand aims to gain ground in the global fashion competition by focusing on specific needs that the better-known global brands miss. The niche the company is targeting lies between Japanese

casual wear brand Uniqlo and trend-conscious Zara and H&M. “We found that more than 60 per cent of customers at Uniqlo are men who like basic casual items and more than 70 per cent of customers at Zara and H&M are women who prefer stylish and trendy designs. The brand has set different approaches specific to different age and gender groups,” said a brand analysis report prepared by the company before its launch in Korea last year. The brand has positioned itself as a trendy casual wear brand offering products ranging from basic casual items to stylish items for trend-conscious consumers. “In the economic slowdown, the fashion market is becoming polarised—consumers shop either at high-end luxury brands or inexpensive SPA brands. Fashion brands will focus on adding luxury appeal to their established brands or continue to expand fast fashion brands,” said Kwon.


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LIFESTYLE

Fame in one quick hop

Thailand’s social media scene has a new celebrity: a wisecracking cartoon bunny called Jaytherabbit Pattarawadee Saengmanee The Nation Bangkok

J

ay the Rabbit has rosy cheeks and long eyelashes, but it’s his (or her) incessant wisecracks about urban life, TV series and politics— mostly in Thai but also in English—that have drawn 180,000 humans to his Facebook page in just a short time. And it helps that the identity of the cartoonist who draws the narrow-eyed cony and puts the sarcastic words in his mouth remains a delicious secret. The creator of Jaytherabbit, as the boisterous bunny is properly called on the social network,

prefers to stay anonymous, relying on the username “The Rabbit”. But thousands of folks are hopping to the site to find a chatty community where people happily share jokes with a cartoon critter. “I love the rabbit’s cute character,” The Rabbit says of his (or her) creation. “I’d uploaded lots of pictures of real rabbits in different poses to my Facebook wall and added text, but in recent years it was getting harder to find good pictures to match my stories. So I started doing my own illustrations, even though I have no art skill.” Interest took off when Jaytherabbit made a crack about the government’s firstcar policy, saying the subsidy

money could have instead paid for three new Skytrain lines, a new international airport or a high-speed train network. The illustration went viral. “It rapidly became a controversy and I actually stopped doing the drawings for a couple months—I only ever wanted to do this for fun!” says The Rabbit. “My friends kept pushing me to create a page just


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LIFESTYLE

for Jaytherabbit, but I didn’t want to do it at all. This was just something I did for leisure.” The friends won. Jay got his own page on April 21 and has since amassed 180,000 followers, both Thais and foreigners, with many of them turning out to be big-city female office workers ranging in age from 25 to 35. “I started out just sharing the old illustrations I’d done, most of which were influenced by daily news events and my own feelings,” says The Rabbit. His (or her) reward were the showers of “likes” and “shares”—10,000 for a single drawing is not uncommon. Among the more biting gags, the rascally rabbit once compared Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra to one of the stars of television’s Supharbburuth Chutathep, saying that if Khunchai Phutthipat in the series is a dream, then Khunchai Sukhumbhand is the reality. In another spot, Jaytherabbit

JAYTHERABBIT WITH NATION GROUP CHAIRMAN SUTHICHAI YOON.

awarded a “No Bell” prize to the inventors of popular mobilephone application Camera 360, calling it magic for being able to transform a “termite” (by which Jay meant an ugly person) into a human. The first-car controversy obviously didn’t keep Jay quiet for long, but the artist is careful to avoid social conflict. “This

is why I refuse to identify who I am in the real world. I want to leave everything up to my fans’ imagination. Actually I’m a freelance in public relations, but this page is like my avatar, voicing what I think but can’t say. It seems to be my dark side.” The Rabbit is conscientious about replying to all comments and wall posts, saying it


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“keeps the page alive”. “It’s not a page for office women—it’s an office in miniature. There’s a feminine feel to it, but a lot of men also follow Jaytherabbit because they want to know what women are talking about!” It’s starting to sound like The Rabbit is a woman, but the hints remain coy. “A lot of people imagine me as a chubby 35-year-old office worker who’s experienced and is brash, sassy and funny.” Jay has become “agony aunts” to many readers who post pleas for help or advice on their troubles. “I don’t know why they trust me so much when we’ve never met,” says The Rabbit. “One boy sent me a picture of him trying to commit suicide. I spent about 30 minutes trying to calm him down.” Another follower posted thanks for helping her mother, who was suffering from a paralysing

disease, “but she smiled when she saw my illustrations. I cried when I read that. That’s what makes my work worthwhile.” The Rabbit also teamed up with illustrators from several other Facebook pages to produce postcards that were sold to raise money for an animal hospital. “That was the brainchild of Gale, a 15-year-old whose family runs a project to help pitiful dogs in various animal hospitals. A dozen postcards in a pack cost 140 baht (US$5). “It was successful and I was glad to be part of it. All of these cases show how much people care and how sincere they are.” Jaytherabbit’s hutch is at www.Facebook.com/ jaytherabbitofficial and also on Twitter and Instagram.


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www.Facebook.com/jaytherabbitofficial


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www.Facebook.com/jaytherabbitofficial


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www.Facebook.com/jaytherabbitofficial


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www.Facebook.com/jaytherabbitofficial


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www.Facebook.com/jaytherabbitofficial


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www.Facebook.com/jaytherabbitofficial


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www.Facebook.com/jaytherabbitofficial


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www.Facebook.com/jaytherabbitofficial


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www.Facebook.com/jaytherabbitofficial


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LIFESTYLE

Before taking that photo… read this

It’s shoot and go with high-tech gadgets and social networks but there are ethical and legal considerations The Yomiuri Shimbun Osaka

W

ith the spread of high-quality digital cameras, even on cell phones, anyone can enjoy photography. However, it is important to give sufficient consideration to the subjects of images, whether people or objects, to avoid causing discomfort. A 35-year-old female company employee in Osaka Prefecture took a photo of a display at a variety store with her smartphone because she wanted to decorate her own room in a similar fashion.

But the store’s employee warned her not to take the shot. “I stopped instantly after the warning and apologised to the employee. Are such photos really forbidden?” the woman asked the Yomiuri Shimbun photographer. Norihiko Matsumoto, senior director of the Japan Professional Photographers Society, contributed to a book on photography etiquette. “When you take a photo inside a shop, you should get permission from the staff upfront. Don’t secretly photograph things,” he said. If staff forbid photography in a store, you should heed their warnings, Matsumoto added. When you photograph a person or an item, you could

be implicated in violating portrait rights or copyright. “Unless you’re prepared to accept the risk of legal action, it’s wise to follow the other party’s instructions,” he said. Are there any tips for getting the go-ahead when asking for


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permission to take a picture? Matsumoto advises, “It’s best to thoroughly explain your reason for taking the photo.” You should say what motivated you to want to photograph the subject. “Because it’s a nice arrangement” in the case of a dish display, for example, or “The way the outfit is put together looks fashionable” in the case of clothing. In doing so, you put the other party more at ease and increase the likelihood he or she will permit the photo, Matsumoto says. He also said it is necessary to thank the person after taking the picture. Additionally, people should be more careful about posting photos online, such as on blogs and social networking sites where the photos are highly public. Another female company employee in her 30s knows that a photo of her and her friend at an event was posted on Facebook

without her permission. She has yet to lodge a complaint with Facebook about the incident, but she said, “Just the thought that many strangers are looking at my photo makes me feel uncomfortable”. In such cases, the photographer must obtain the subject’s consent to post photographs online. “People should make sure to tell their subjects they are being photographed and ask about uploading any shots on the Internet before they are taken,” said Fumihiro Shimakura of the Japan Network Security Association, a corporate nonprofit organisation. “Sometimes people won’t agree. When they seem unsure about allowing the photo to be posted, it’s better to avoid the action altogether,” Shimakura said. The same can be said for group photos, in which cases it is often difficult to obtain the consent of each subject.

Additionally, you should not post photos of anime characters or celebrities. Because these photos could be copied without permission, you run the risk of getting into trouble. As the number of digital cameras equipped with global positioning systems is increasing, the locations where photos were taken may be included in online postings. “When you take a photo at home, turn off the GPS and don’t post your private information. These are basic guidelines everyone should follow,” he added.


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Yasmin Lee Arpon/Asia News Network


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Yasmin Lee Arpon/Asia News Network


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Yasmin Lee Arpon/Asia News Network


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Yasmin Lee Arpon/Asia News Network


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Yasmin Lee Arpon/Asia News Network


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Yasmin Lee Arpon/Asia News Network


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Yasmin Lee Arpon/Asia News Network


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Yasmin Lee Arpon/Asia News Network


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Yasmin Lee Arpon/Asia News Network


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TRAVEL

Getting down and dirty while on tour Foreign tourists understand the value of working by experiencing real Vietnamese village life Hoai Nam Viet Nam News Hoi An

I

n the past, farmer Pham Nhi’s family used a firewood stove to cook simple meals of rice, chicken, fish and vegetables from their farm. Today, the family makes a living by recreating the process for tourists. Tran Van Khoa set up the 720 square metre rice farm in Cam Thanh village, located in the suburbs of Hoi An town, a Unesco world heritage site, for tourists to experience a day in the life of a farmer. Visitors don the traditional conical

hat and boots to work on the field for five hours: ploughing with buffalo, watering with bamboo buckets, and sowing and planting rice. Then they harvest their crops to cook them for lunch. “Seeing how hard Vietnamese farmers work for a day helps tourists understand the value of working on a rice farm,” said Khoa, who started the programme following the success of a similar tour with vegetable growers in nearby Tra Que village. For Nhi, a 61-year-old tour guide, the job is an interesting pastime as well as a paycheck. “We were born and grew up farming. Rice cultivation provides enough food for us, but this tourism

service provides us with extra income,” he said. “It’s my job to instruct visitors how to use farming tools. They are so clumsy, all of us always burst into laughter.” Luckily, the visitors are laughing with them. “The farmers were very friendly with a great sense of humour,” said Australian Francesca Byrnes. “I enjoyed getting dirty during the rice planting process.” Michael Plante, a Canadian tourist, expressed equal enthusiasm. “It’s so good to see the traditional way of farming rice in Hoi An. I was impressed with the buffalo when I tried ploughing,” he said.


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DATEBOOK

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Bangkok

Siam Centre Idea Avenue: Collaboration The latest art exhibition by the Siam Centre will showcase a collaboration of over 100 works by Thai artists and fashion designers, aimed to inspire and ignite ideas in other art enthusiasts. The showcase will also feature masterpieces created especially for the Siam Centre by internationallyfamed Thai artists Pakpoom Silaphana and Teeranop Wangsillapakun. Admission is free. When: Until August 30 Where: Siam Centre Info: www.facebook. com/siamcentre


DATEBOOK

| June 21-27, 2013

Penang

George Town Festival 2013 (GTF 2013)

Tanjay City, Philippines

Paaway Sa Kabayo (Horse fight) An exciting, thrilling and often times bloody fight among studs for dominance over a female horse. More than 100 horses are trained and prepared solely for this bi-annual event. Where: Tanjay City, Negros Oriental When: July 25

The biggest arts festival in Penang, the annual GTF commemorates George Town as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The month-long celebrations showcase Penang’s upcoming local talents, as well as internationally acclaimed performances and intriguing exhibitions in theatre, music, dance, opera, art and film screenings. When: Until July 7 Where: Armenian Street, George Town, Penang Info: www. georgetownfestival.com


DATEBOOK

| June 21-27, 2013

HONG KONG

Ink Art exhibition

Seoul

Hoi An, Vietnam

G-Seoul International Art Fair ‘13

Full Moon Festival

Exhibiting selected art works from prestigious galleries around the world, this year’s fair will also highlight work from the Arario, Gana and Kukie galleries in Korea. The fair will be hosted along with several other events at the same venue, ie. Gourmet Week and Salon du Vin. Where: Grand Hilton, Seoul When: Open to public from June 28-July 1 Info: www.g-seoul.com

The lights go out in the ancient streets of Hoi An and are decked instead with colourful candles and lanterns, as locals flock from all over Vietnam to celebrate under the full moon, reviving the old days of music, folklore, plays and parties. There will also be poem reading, Bai Choi traditional opera performances and other cultural activities to participate in. The Hoai River transform into a garden of flower lanterns lit by pilgrims to come to make a wish. Where: Hoi An When: July 21

There is a multiplicity of young voices from the post-1970s generation represented in “New Ink: An Exhibition of Ink Art by Post 1970 Artists from the Yiqingzhai Collection”. Sixteen artists have been selected to showcase the evolving voice of ink art, experimenting with new ideas, materials and techniques and exploring new boundaries of artistic narratives. When: Until June 28 Where: Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery, 5/F One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong


DATEBOOK

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YOGYAKRTA

BEIJING

ART|JOG

Unfold: A Cultural Response to Climate Change

ART|JOG is an unique contemporary art fair. In contrast to other art fairs, ART|JOG directly exhibits Indonesian contemporary art works, starting from the work of talented young artists to Indonesia’s top artists. Held in Yogyakarta, one of the heritage cities in Indonesia with a distinctive character, it features a combination of an atmosphere thick with Javanese cultural traditions and contemporary life movement. When: July 6 to 20 Where: Taman Budaya Yogyakarta, Jalan Sri Wedani No.1, Yogyakarta Info: www.artfairjogja.com

An art exhibition about climate change, “Unfold: A Cultural Response to Climate Change”, is now on display at the Central Academy of Fine Art Museum in Beijing. The exhibition presents works by 25 artists following their expeditions to High Arctic and the Andes with Cape Farewell, an international nonprofit climate-change arts organisation. The exhibition looks at climate change from a personal and cultural angle. When: Until June 28 Where: Art Museum of Nanjing, University of the Arts, Beijing


Asianews June21-27, 2013  
Asianews June21-27, 2013  

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