Issuu on Google+

June 7-13, 2013

VIETNam’s Bamboo puppets

Handmade creations touch hearts with an authentic depiction of Vietnamese countryside


June 7-13, 2013

Contents Special Report

For love, and love of money?

Environment

Unstoppable crisis Te c h n o l o g y

Reborn on Weibo, again and again

Identity theft for dummies


June 7-13, 2013

Contents

Lifestyle

Bamboo puppets bring rural play to life

Culture

Antique finds

A Vanishing Art


June 7-13, 2013

Contents >>DATEBOOK

Happenings Around Asia Entertainment

Not friends, but not quite foes either

Asian movies, Western style

WRITE, FAX, EMAIL Please include sender’s name and address to: asianewsnet@gmail.com | Asia News Network Nation Multimedia Group Plc 1858/129 Bangna-Trad Road (Km 4.5), Bangna, Bangkok 10260 Thailand.Tel: (662)338 3333 Fax: (662)338 3964 Subscription inquries: Nation Multimedia Group Plc 1854 Bangna-Trad Road (Km 4.5), Bangna, Bangkok 10260 Thailand. Tel: (662)338 3333 Call Center: (662)338 3000 press 1 Fax: (662)338 3964


ENVIRONMENT

| June 7-13, 2013

Unstoppable crisis Climate change poses a real threat to Pakistan

A Pakistani village affected by flooding in Johi, Sindh province. Pakistan, ranks top among countries worst affected by climate change. Carld de Souza/AFP


| June 7-13, 2013

ENVIRONMENT

Rina Saeed Khan Dawn Islamabad

P

akistan today faces a range of threatening climate change impacts: changing monsoon patterns, melting glaciers, seasonal flooding, rising sea levels, desertification and increasing water scarcity. For the past two years, the country has topped the list of the Global Climate Risk Index produced by Germanwatch, an NGO that works on global equity issues. In 2010, Pakistan was listed as the number one country in the world affected by climate related disasters; in 2011 it ranked as number three. Some experts say that the effects of climate could cost Pakistan’s economy up to US$14 billion a year and need to be urgently dealt with.

“The country cannot run away from the effects of a changing climate,” says Malik Amin Aslam, a former minister of state for environment and currently advisor to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). He notes that “in the past 40 years, nine out of the top 10 natural disasters in Pakistan have been climate-triggered which shows the magnitude of the challenge”. Given the fact that Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world, the federal ministry of climate change was set up in 2012, which launched a comprehensive National Climate Change Policy in February this year. Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, currently vice president of the World Meteorological Organisation, who was the lead author of the National Climate Change Policy, explains: “If we look at the

frequency and the trend of the extreme weather events impacting Pakistan then it is easy to find its link with climate change.” He adds that the pattern of recent extreme weather events in Pakistan (such as the floods of 2010 and 2011) are clear indication of the increased frequency and intensity of such events, which is in line with international climate change projections. Scientists now agree that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet and expect that this will lead in future to more evaporation of water, moister air and heavier rainfall. “Flooding is one of the predicted impacts of climate change according to the Fourth Assessment Report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that came out in 2007,” explains Shafqat Kakakhel, a former United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) official


| June 7-13, 2013

ENVIRONMENT

who now serves on the Pakistan government’s advisory group on climate change. “When I was asked after the floods of 2010 whether there was a possibility of recurrence, my reply was that there was no guarantee. Climate change is clearly disrupting the meteorological cycle. We can see how the monsoon is becoming more chaotic, erratic and unpredictable. Either it is coming too late or too soon or there is too much rain. What the country really needs is standard operating procedures for disaster risk reduction right down to the district level.” A task force on climate change was set up by the government back in 2009 to advise it on the impacts of climate change in the country. The task force finalised its report and handed it over to the government in February 2010. In the section on “Past

A Pakistani photographer takes pictures of a dry portion of the Rawal Dam in Islamabad. The country has faced severe water crisis that if managed poorly could mean Pakistan would run out of water in several decades. Farooq Naeem/AFP

and expected future climate changes over Pakistan” the report says: “It is projected that climate change will increase the variability of the monsoon rains and enhance the frequency and severity of extreme events such as floods and droughts.”

The report formed the basis of the National Climate Change Policy. Experts say that the real work has to be done at the provincial level, but the planning must be done at the federal level and a national action plan to implement the policy is currently


| June 7-13, 2013

ENVIRONMENT

being made in consultation with all the provinces and regions.

Glaciers melting

Along with the threat of flooding in its major rivers, the country also faces the threat of valley glaciers melting in the high mountains of the Himalayas, Karakorams and Hindu Kush, causing glacier lake outburst floods. As temperatures in Pakistan’s mountainous regions rise and glacial lake outbursts become more common, people in Chitral — where every valley has at least one glacier — are becoming anxious. Abdul Jabbar was in his house in the Bindu Gol valley of Chitral district when a glacial lake burst through the ridge holding it back high above. “We felt the ground shaking and heard the roar of the water, and we ran out of our homes,” he recalls. The 2010 flood destroyed a few dwellings in his village

of Drongagh, as well as many orchards, cultivated fields and water channels. The boulders and rocks deposited by the massive flood also blocked the Chitral River at the base of the valley for 12 hours. When the river finally broke through, it swept away bridges and damaged settlements downstream. Climate change impacts on coastal areas and river deltas are also a specific concern in Pakistan. Sea level rise is already resulting in inundation, increased storm surges, drowning of coastal marshes and wetlands, erosion, flooding and increased salinity. Coastal areas are also suffering from increased tropical storm frequency and strength. Over 50,000 people may eventually be displaced from Pakistan’s coastal deltas. Already, there has been a substantial migration to Karachi in recent years from the town of Keti Bunder on the Indus Delta. According to Ali Hameed, a

local resident, “All this was on the banks of the old river. Now it is the shoreline of the sea—and it’s washing everything away.” Pakistan is also one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. The majority of Pakistan’s agriculture depends on a single river system and is therefore highly vulnerable.


| June 7-13, 2013

SPECIAL REPORT

For love, and love of money? In China, finding the perfect partner is a family affair Shi Yingying China Daily Beijing

O

ne Saturday afternoon, an unsuspecting Wang Liwei was surrounded by 12 middle-aged women, mostly from Shanghai, in search of husbands for their daughters. Wang was in the middle of Shanghai’s biggest matchmaking party, held in the city’s Qingbu district. Advertisements for the event promised the 28-year-old Shandong native an unparalleled opportunity to find his perfect partner, as more than 18,000 singles would be attending. “But I never imagined anything

like this—compared with the number of contacts I’ve made with young women, I’ve given out my number to many more of these desperate mothers who are hunting for son-in-laws, even though I tried my best to turn them away as politely as possible,” said Wang, who works in information technology. He said he was so overwhelmed by middle-aged women that he was afraid of running out of time to find the right girl. Wearing wide smiles, the women badgered Wang about his age, profession, income, whether he owns an apartment in Shanghai, and which side of the city his property is located—Pudong or Puxi? “Even though they’d murmur

Young people hoping to find their ‘better half’ attend Shanghai’s biggest matchmaking party. Gao Erqiang/China Daily

that I’m too young for their daughter once they knew my age, they still insisted I write down my number. Why don’t parents encourage or bring their grown-up children with them, rather than date on their


| June 7-13, 2013

SPECIAL REPORT

behalf ?” wondered Wang.

Unconventional approach

Well, they do. But when their bashful offspring are too shy to approach a potential partner, eager Chinese parents decide to step in and help in their own way. “My daughter is waiting outside the gate. She feels embarrassed because I’m too well-prepared for the event,” said Lu Fang, 67, referring to the long plastic banner he’d set up in the centre of the venue, which displayed personal information about his daughter, a 40-year-old doctor at Shanghai’s Huashan Hospital. Her ideal prospective groom is a “responsible man with stable income” and who ideally “owns an apartment and a car”. Lu was concerned: “My daughter actually holds a master’s degree but I didn’t use that information because I was worried it might scare off men with lower educational

backgrounds. I just wrote that she has a bachelor’s degree, so hopefully more men will approach us.” He said some of the young women in the venue had noticed his unconventional approach and copied the idea, writing their personal information on an A4 sheet of paper and hanging it out for all to see. “Unlike me, they immediately attracted the attention of a few men,” said Lu, his face etched with anxiety. According to Zhou Juemin, president of Shanghai Matchmaking Agency Management Association, which organised the event, out of 100 attendees, there were 46 men and 54 women. Zhou called the disparity “a big relief ” because “we don’t have to limit the number of female participants and there’s been no need to mobilise male members from matchmaking

Agency employees urge a young man to register with their company at the matchmaking event. Zhang Dong/for China Daily

agencies in our association to even up the gender gap”. Up until last year, the organisers of events of this nature agonised over the uneven gender split. There were six females for every four males at the 2011 event, which attracted 10,000 singles. “We rejected more than 100 girls from our outdoor matchmaking activities for 1,000 singles in 2012, but


| June 7-13, 2013

SPECIAL REPORT

tried our best to lure single males from companies such as Baosteel and Shanghai Urban Construction Group,” said Tang Weili, office director with the organiser of the 2012 event, Shanghai Matchmaking Agency Management Association. That event saw the number of young men boasting a conventional “good job”— defined as working at a large, state-owned company—was less than half the intended number as organisers attempted to even up the gender distribution. Women were charged an entry fee of 100 yuan (US$16), but the men’s tickets were paid for by their labour unions to encourage them to attend. “Women tend to have a stronger sense of emotional need, compared with men, especially women aged 30 and older. The pressure to become a wife and mother comes from their family or society,” said Zhou.

She added that both males and females have a physiological requirement: “More than 70 per cent of singles told me during consultation that they have sexual partners, but once that need has been met, women still long for marriage. Men, however, regard it as something attached to the provision of material goods, which can result in mental stress.”

‘Most desperate corner’

Outside the venue for the Shanghai event, there was a strong sense of desperation as lines of parents flocked to the lane next to the entrance, and—baulking at the entrance fee—exchanged notes on their progress. This impromptu matchmaking market is an extension of Shanghai’s People’s Park, or “the most desperate corner” as it’s been dubbed by Web users. The city-centre park is Shanghai’s top matchmaking

A female participant is escorted by a male usher as she arrives at the wharf for a river cruise matchmaking event for millionaires in Shanghai. In China, the richest men even hire love hunters to search for the perfect mate. Mark Ralson/AFP

haunt at weekends, a place where parents present information about their unmarried sons and daughters in interesting and innovative ways. Details such as age, height, educational background, profession, income and what their children are looking for in their partners are inscribed


| June 7-13, 2013

SPECIAL REPORT

on A4 sheets of paper, which are then slipped into clear plastic folders and displayed on high objects or hung from tree branches. However, no photos are shown until a parent expresses a serious interest. Sun Peidong, a sociology professor with East China University of Political Science and Law, was confused that the format was so popular, despite its low success rate, before she chose the spot for a field study and spent almost a year interviewing more than 40 “desperate” parents aged between 48 and 73. “In big cities such as Shanghai, choosing a mate is more than a personal choice for singles. Rather, it’s a family choice, because parents and their adult children are bound by issues such as housing, social welfare and security and China’s family planning policy,” said Sun. “For example, Chinese parents are insecure about the social

safety net, including pensions and health care, as the country’s current welfare and security system can’t take good care of them, and so their only child needs to do the job instead,” she said. “Therefore, picking a son- or daughter-in-law is like purchasing reliable life insurance for the future of their children and themselves. They want to upgrade their children’s lives by finding the perfect better half.”


| June 7-13, 2013

SPECIAL REPORT

The love hunter Shi Yingying China Daily Beijing

W

ith a top-end camera hanging from his shoulder, Gao Yongxiang was hunting through IFC, a landmark shopping mall located in the centre of Shanghai’s financial district. Although he appeared lost in thought, Gao was tracking the clusters of young women zigzagging from Bally to Valentino. But Gao isn’t a street-snap photographer. His job involves searching out potential wives for some of China’s richest bachelors. The 25-year-old is one of China’s premier “love hunters”, a new breed of matchmaker who differentiate themselves from the more conventional end of the trade. “It all matters—the girl’s looks, her figure, temperament, height

and weight,” said Gao, adding that shopping malls, city centre office buildings and college campuses are good places to hunt, depending on exactly what the client wants. “They can be very picky sometimes,” he admitted. The company that employs Gao, Diamond Love and Marriage, caters to China’s nouveau riche; men—and occasionally women—who are willing to pay at least 10,000 yuan ($1,600) to outsource the customised search for their ideal partner. “The criteria are very detailed, because for people with assets worth 5 million to 100 million yuan, a spouse is like a part of their name card—being pretty is just not enough,” said Liu Li, a consultant with the company. Liu said love hunters have to track down the target’s basic information, including full name, age and educational background, and convince them to let him take photos, and all in a very

short period of time. Successful love hunters, those who find someone to match their client’s stated criteria, receive a bonus of $30,000, around five times their average annual salary. Having worked as a love hunter for more than three years, the polite and good-looking Gao has the skills to talk to women about joining the agency’s database. “Around 40 to 50 per cent of the women I talk to agree to give me their details and let me take photos, but to be honest, it also depends on luck,” he said. Wang Weiming, deputy director of the Committee of Matchmaking Service Industries, said the average success rate among matchmaking agencies is around 8 to 10 per cent. “But for some of the top-end agencies, the figure can be as high as 20 per cent,” he said, adding that figures provided by Shanghai’s civil affairs bureau show that out of every 100 couples, eight were introduced by matchmakers.


| June 7-13, 2013

TECHNOLOGY

Reborn on Weibo, again and again Outspoken microbloggers on Chinese site whose accounts get deleted ‘reincarnate’ by adopting different usernames Kor Kian Beng The Straits Times Beijing

F

or many outspoken critics on China’s massively popular Weibo microblogging platform, having their accounts shut mysteriously, mostly at the orders of the authorities, does not necessarily mean the end of their cyber life. They simply “reincarnate” themselves on Weibo, each time taking on a different user name. The ranks of “reborn” Weibo users have grown, earning themselves the name zhuan shi dang or “Reincarnation Party”. An entry in the Wikipedia-

like Chinese-language portal Baidu Baike describes the group as comprising “users who register new IDs after having their accounts deleted or posting privileges revoked for long periods of time”. Said media watcher Xiao Qiang, who has followed the Reincarnation Party since 2011: “There are no accurate statistics but (the) active number of this group could be in the hundreds, if not thousands.” The latest to join the group is author Hao Qun, better known by his pen name Murong Xuecun. He sought rebirth after his microblog accounts on four Web portals including Sina and Tencent were all shut by the operators on May 11.

Widely recognised as one of China’s earliest and most famous Internet novelists, Hao, 40, wrote in a blog post later that the portal operators told him that they were following instructions from government departments. Hao, who had 8.6 million followers on all his suspended accounts, suspected the key reason is his criticism of a secret directive reportedly being circulated to universities, instructing academics not to discuss seven “dangerous” topics with students. These are: universal values, press freedom, civil society, civil rights, errors of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), crony capitalism and judicial independence.


| June 7-13, 2013

TECHNOLOGY

AFP

Another reason, Hao reckoned, was his defence of China University of Political Science and Law’s professor He Bing, whose Sina Weibo account with more than 430,000 followers was also frozen last week by the State Internet Information Office for “purposely spreading rumours”. Both Hao and He are among a group of microbloggers whose accounts have been deleted this year by the authorities in what observers view as a new round of censorship under China’s new leadership. Two Chengdu-based scholars, Xiao Xuehui and Ran Yunfei, also had their Weibo accounts deleted this month after voicing their opposition to the construction of a stateowned petrochemical plant in the south-western province. The drastic action of deleting Weibo accounts is also aimed at warning others to toe the line, said professor Xiao of the

University of California, Berkeley. “It is quite an effective measure of censorship, since deleting a user’s account can diminish his/her influence,” he told The Straits Times. “Even if the user registers another account and starts to post again, he or she will lose lots of audience members as it is hard to accumulate a large following on Weibo.”

Similarly, Nottingham University analyst Wang Zhengxu said the CCP, in deleting Weibo accounts, has won by tightening its control on ideological discourse. He added: “Keeping this issue alive by reregistering their Weibo accounts is politically meaningful, but tactically ineffective.” Still, bloggers are pushing back and reinventing themselves


| June 7-13, 2013

TECHNOLOGY

on Weibo, despite government regulations introduced late last year requiring new Weibo users to register with their real names. New users have to submit their mobile phone numbers and also the Weibo passwords sent to their phones. But reincarnated bloggers beat the system by using different phone numbers. Sometimes, even a different user name suffices. For instance, Hao opened a new account with the user name “ping yuan dong fang shuo”, the name of a Han dynasty minister. Journalist Yang Haipeng reportedly uses the names of the 108 Robin Hood-like heroes listed in the Chinese classic, Outlaws Of The Marsh. Yang began with Song Jiang and is now at Fei Xuan, numbered 47. Academic Xiao Han has been reborn 212 times, while the record of 418 rebirths is held by an anonymous user. Observers say these numbers

reflect the tenacity of government censors at suppressing dissent, coupled with the determination of the netizens who push back. Said Weibo user and academic Wu Wei, who has been reborn six times: “Every single reincarnation spreads freedom, dignity and knowledge of right and wrong a little further; each one shows just a bit more truth behind the ‘moral superiority’ of officials. “That is how freedom comes into being: bit by bit.”


| June 7-13, 2013

TECHNOLOGY

Identity Theft For Dummies Easy, quick tips to keep your identity from being stolen News Desk Philippine Daily Inquirer Manila

B

eware of identity theft. Everyone, at any time can be a victim. The public should be more vigilant in protecting personal details to prevent identity theft, a developer of secure content and threat management solution has said, citing an annual study. Performed by California-based Javelin Strategy and Research, the study showed that in the US alone, around 12.6 million people fell victim to identity theft in 2012, losing at least US$21 billion. Identity theft is an act wherein a person or a group

of persons wrongfully obtain and utilise personal and often crucial information from other people, often for financial gains. These data can be anything, from school or government records, medical reports, financial accounts, companyrelated information, email addresses of other people who could also be targeted, among others. In the Philippines, there have been many reports of identity theft against individuals or companies. But because there are no specific agencies that could do tracking, victims often end up pursuing the long process of resetting their passwords in their PCs, bank accounts, and other areas where they have stored personal data, often

It pays to pay attention and remain vigilant in protecting accounts online or risk losing your money and reputation. AFP

daunting tasks. As such, data on how many victims there are or how much has been lost to identity theft remains elusive. Developer Kaspersky Lab provides several tips to effectively fight identity theft:


| June 7-13, 2013

TECHNOLOGY

> Practice good password security: Strong passwords are critical; they should be long combinations of letters, numerals and non-alphanumeric symbols; never use names or words found in a dictionary. Change the passwords as frequently as you can. Use different (and dissimilar) logins for each online account, and create separate email accounts to which you link only your online finances. > Don’t Store Financial Data: It’s really convenient to keep your credit card number and billing address stored in every website you use to shop for things online, but because security breaches of websites are disturbingly common, play it safe and don’t do it. It’ll be worth the extra minute it takes to add that information each time you check out. Always properly exit websites where you’ve used your credit card or other

payment methods, especially if you’ve used a public PC. > Always know what scams are out there: Online scams come in all forms. Whether it’s easily recognisable, like an email from a member of an African royal family who wants to give you millions of dollars, or something seemingly trustworthy like a password reset notification that appears to be sent by your credit card company, be equally suspicious of any online communication—by email or social media—that asks you for personal information or to download a document or even to click through to a new web page. Always be vigilant and sceptical. > Protect your social networks: One of the more insidious forms of identity theft comes from attackers who steal your personal information to create a duplicate social media presence that tricks

others into believing they are interacting and exchanging information with you, when in fact they are not. Whether it’s done as a prank or to obtain sensitive data from others, it can result in terrible damage to your reputation. Prevent this by periodically searching yourself in Google and on Facebook to make sure you are the only you out there. If you’re not, use the appropriate abuse reporting tools for the respective platform and shut it down ASAP. > Act quickly: Much like the social media presence reaction, if you think you have been the victim of identity or data theft, act fast. Contact your bank, email provider or whichever service has been compromised and get to the bottom of it. Identity theft, usually financially motivated, can have disastrous effects, especially on your credit.


| June 7-13, 2013

TECHNOLOGY

> Update your apps: Identity thieves also use the same methods utilised by cybercriminals; they exploit vulnerabilities in software to gain access to computers. Regularly updating your software should prevent cybercriminals from utilising their vulnerabilities. > Get a safety package: It’s always a smart idea to have a security solution such as those provided by Kaspersky Lab. These applications provide the best protection from various forms of malicious attacks. Investing in such software would save you a whole lot of money in the long run and reduce your anxiety of ever falling victims to identity thieves. There are many ways of acquiring personal information illegally, though the Internet has become a common tool for criminals to do identity

theft. Some criminals use malicious software to infect unprotected PCs, the malware searches for every personal data in the infected PC, which are then sent to the original source of the malware. The information is then used in a variety of ways such as selling it to other criminal organisations, for blackmail, or in the case of those whose credit card accounts were stolen, to make purchases without the knowledge of the credit card owner. In most cases, victims actually don’t know they were or are still victims especially when their PCs remain unprotected by legitimate security applications. Many victims of identity thieves tend to lose large amounts of money or even damage their reputation. Some victims become targets for blackmail or their data become “hostage” unless they pay off the criminals. Indeed, identity theft is a huge problem.

Despite the obvious prevalence of identity theft, absolute data is very difficult to acquire largely because most victims fail to report the issue. Thieves are also often difficult to track because they use sophisticated processes of using “zombie” networks that hide their true locations.


LIFESTYLE

| June 7-13, 2013

Bamboo puppets bring rural play to life Handmade creations touch the hearts of audiences with an authentic depiction of Vietnamese countryside

The show features the story of a farmer taking a boat along the river. Photo courtesy of the Viet Nam Water Puppetry Theatre


| June 7-13, 2013

LIFESTYLE

Vuong Bach Lien Viet Nam News Ha Noi

I

t is just another day in the Vietnamese countryside. A mother lulls her baby to sleep, a boy plays the flute while sitting on a buffalo’s back, men and women sing as they harvest rice in the fields and a woman takes a boat through a lake of lotus flowers. Suddenly the scene stops. The audience applauds. Up on the little stage, the colourful puppets exit the scene. These characters are the handmade creations of the Vietnam Puppetry Theatre. They may just be put together with straw and bamboo and sticks and string, but they have touched the hearts of audiences by showing them scenes of the countryside life that many remember from their childhood.

Countryside girls in the puppet show have been made from bamboo and old clothes. Photo courtesy of the Viet Nam Water Puppetry Theatre

The show, titled “Nhip Dieu Que Huong (Countryside›s Rhythm)”, was a big hit with Ha Noi audiences when it premiered in April, and will be performed in Canada at the end of this year

to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The 90-minute performance features stick puppetry, string puppetry and hand puppetry.


| June 7-13, 2013

LIFESTYLE

“I hope that audiences will get a sense of the soul of Vietnamese culture through our puppetry. I would be very happy if we make them feel proud of their culture and if we inspire the interest of foreign audiences,” said the show’s director Nguyen Tien Dung, who is also the deputy director of the theatre. Audiences at the show’s Vietnamese debut were full of praise for Dung’s achievement. “I am very impressed to learn that our artists can create so many beautiful characters with bamboo and straw. Even the plants and animals have been given life,” said Nguyen Thanh Ha, a 30-year-old teacher. “Those puppets take me back to my wonderful childhood.”

Celebrating bamboo

Dung said while bamboo puppets appeared on stage a long time ago in Vietnam, this is the first time that his 60-year-old theatre has used

Rural animals like chickens were created from bamboo to take a place on the stage. Photo courtesy of the Viet Nam Water Puppetry Theatre

them to tell diverse stories about the countryside. The artist wants to promote the image of bamboo, a plant he has loved since a young age, as well as the Vietnamese countryside.

Bamboo, which grows almost everywhere in Vietnam (especially in rural areas), is a significant symbol of both Vietnamese culture and daily life. And when preparing for the


| June 7-13, 2013

LIFESTYLE

show, the talented artists of the Vietnam Puppetry Theatre chose to use bamboo for the central cast of characters. Closely woven bamboo baskets, normally used to carry shrimp and fish, were cut up and used to form the bodies and faces of the play’s rural girls, farmers and fishermen and their hands were made from small bamboo pieces connected by string. Even familiar rural animals, including pigs, buffaloes and chickens, were created from bamboo to take a place on the stage. The result of all this effort is an authentic and poetic depiction of the countryside and daily life there. Traditional music also aids the show, adding character to scenes showing a noisy local market or a joyful village festival. Dung found an orchestra to perform the accompanying music using a dan tranh (16-chord zither) and dan

bau (monochord), among other traditional instruments. The puppets are able to dance and sing along to the music, creating a remarkable effect. The creative team has even worked with musicians to recreate the rural cries of frogs and toads.

A long time in the making

The theatre’s 18 artists are required to operate the puppets on the stage. It is an intricate and intensive business and rehearsals took one whole month. Puppeteer Nguyen The Long said it’s difficult for artists to perform bamboo puppetry because the puppets are harder, rougher and heavier than the normal which are commonly made out of old clothes. Artists are required to train longer than with other shows. “Sometimes when we touch the puppets too hard, we get hurt. But the show is a new idea and we are very excited to perform

it, despite the occasional bruises and cuts,” said Lan Huong. Nguyen Thuy Trang, who has worked at the theatre for 35 years, also appreciates the originality of the show. “The play is performed in a modern style and so it is very suitable for young dynamic artists. The show allows us to show off our talent and technique and helps us quickly improve our skills,” she said.


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013

Antique finds Stefanus Ajie The Jakarta Post Surakarta

I

t was while ambling around downtown Surakarta, in Indonesia’s Central Java, that my eyes happened to fall upon a barn and museum. Upon closer investigation, I soon learned that these structures made up the Triwindu antique market, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Triwindu market is located in the palace area of the Praja Kadipaten Mangkunegaraan, an autonomous kingdom that still thrives in Surakarta. It is also close to the Ngarsopuro tourist areas. Accessing the market is fairly easy as various public

facilities such as transportation, hotels and restaurants are right in the vicinity. A variety of antique items, ranging from vintage kitchen appliances, lamps, glasses, gramophones, handmade batik fabric, lanterns, clocks to wooden sculptures, are available for purchase at the market for those up for a bit of foraging. All the items are displayed throughout the market’s halls, which were established in 1939. However, it is imperative that one is careful before sealing the deal since plenty of replicas lurk among the real antiques. So an eye for the original, or at least the company of someone able to tell these apart, will be extremely helpful. The market also sells Javanese

handicrafts such as sculptures, puppets, glass paintings, masks and gamelan ensemble instruments. The prices for these generally range from 10,000 (US $1) to millions of rupiah so don’t shy away from bargaining down prices offered by the vendors— they expect a bit of haggling. As far as the market’s history is concerned, I was told that it was the king of Praja Kadipaten Mangkunegaraan, Mangkunagara VII, who built the market as a birthday present for his daughter, Gusti Raden Ayu. Nurul Khamaril, when she turned 24. The name ‘Triwindu’ is derived from Javanese language —tri (three/third) and windu (the eight-year cycle)—a mark of the third eight-year cycle in the life of the princess.


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


| June 7-13, 2013

ENTERTAINMENT

Not friends, but not quite foes either The bitter history between the two Koreas as depicted in films through the years Yoon Min-sik The Korea Herald Seoul

A

movie about three North Korean spies dispatched to South Korea on a covert mission is slated for opening this month. Titled Eunmilhagae, Widaehagae (Discreetly, Greatly), it is a story about elite agents from the hermit kingdom and people of the South coming to understand one another. “I hope viewers will be moved by the human side of the movie, like how three North

Koreans connect with South Koreans,” said Park Ki-woong, who played one of the North Korean spies in the movie. The North Korean spies are depicted in a way that might come off unusual in other countries. It is often depicted as the home of faceless foes in American films, such as Red Dawn (2012) and G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013). The portrayal of Pyongyang’s secret agents in Eunmilhagae, Widaehagae epitomises the mixed feelings many South Koreans have against their neighbours in the North—a mixture of an enemy and a long-lost sibling.

The relationship between South and North Korea is unlike other antagonists in that they view each other as a part of the same nation that have shared history and culture for more than 1,000 years. Due to the deep-rooted sense of connection and historical backgrounds, both Koreas focus on re-unification. Seoul even runs a government branch dedicated for that purpose, the Ministry of Unification. Citizens also share the need to unite the two Koreas. In a recent poll by Gallup Korea, 74 per cent of South Koreans support unification. Since the 1950-1953 Korean


| June 7-13, 2013

ENTERTAINMENT

War, however, such sentiment had been clouded by open hostility between the countries, driven by bitter mutual feelings left by the war. Up until the 1980s, most South Koreans felt hatred and fear toward the reclusive communist regime. Seoul, recovering from the ashes of the Korean War, embraced strong anti-communist policies, with the human side of North Koreans largely ignored in public. Animated movie series Ttol-I Janggun (General Ttol-I) was a prime example of dehumanising North Koreans among Korean cinemagoers. In the popular series, General Ttol-I fights North Korean soldiers depicted as wolves. A turnaround came in the late 1990s when the frozen inter-Korean relations slowly began to thaw. The late president Kim Dae-jung, who took office in 1998, pushed for what he called the “Sunshine

Policy” of engagement with North Korea. Kim sought to end the era of confrontation between the two countries. The Sunshine Policy, which sparked mixed reactions in the South, helped change the way people of the South viewed North Koreans. Also accelerating the change in perspective was the blockbuster hit movie Swiri. Released in 1998, the movie depicted the romance between a South Korean secret agent and a North Korean spy, highlighting the human side of North Koreans for the first time. In the 2000 film Joint Security Area (JSA), soldiers standing watch at the heavily fortified DMZ overcome the hostility of the two countries to become friends. Such friendship was taken to another level in the 2010 picture Euihyeongjae (Bloodbrothers) where former spies of the South and the North,

who have been tagging each other, become comrades and share brotherly love. In Frontline (2011), South and North Korean soldiers share food and drinks via a secret stash during the Korean War. The soldiers even teach each other songs and show photos of their siblings. Despite the temporary bonding, the movie characters eventually have to confront the cold reality, whether it is being forced into an armed standoff with a lover or a shootout against a friend. The lack of a happy ending in such films might illustrate the widespread perception of South Koreans: North Koreans are humans, not wolves, but it’s too early to call them friends.


ENTERTAINMENT

| June 7-13, 2013


ENTERTAINMENT

| June 7-13, 2013


ENTERTAINMENT

| June 7-13, 2013


ENTERTAINMENT

| June 7-13, 2013


ENTERTAINMENT

| June 7-13, 2013


| June 7-13, 2013

ENTERTAINMENT

Asian movies, Western style A Taiwanese-American filmmaker uses his cross-cultural identity to give his films an edge

Singapore

T

aiwanese-American filmmaker Arvin Chen feels neither completely Taiwanese nor entirely American. The 35-year-old, who was born in Boston, grew up in California and is now based in Taipei, says in a telephone interview that he often found himself “very confused” about who he was. He has since taken this conundrum in his stride and even uses it to give an extra edge to his films, such as the latest one, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?. “What’s great about being

sort of foreign while making movies in Taiwan is that I will always see things from a different perspective. My films are about Taiwanese people, but there is a Western sense of humour and filmmaking style,” says the second-generation American. “And there will always be things that only I will notice about the daily lives of Taiwanese, because I find them unique and different. I think the same will happen if I start shooting a movie in the United States—wherever I am, I will always have a different

point of view.” This goes some way towards explaining why his films, quintessentially Taiwanese in lingo and subject, have done well on the international film festival circuit. His debut feature, Au Revoir Taipei (2010)—a romcom that is also an ode to the city—played at the Berlin International Film Festival and picked up a Netpac Prize there. It also won the Audience Award at the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival and a Golden

Tatchadon Panyaphanitkul/The Nation

Yip Wai Yee The Straits Times


| June 7-13, 2013

ENTERTAINMENT

Durian (Best Film) Award at the Barcelona Asian Film Festival. His new film Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, a romantic comedy about a closeted gay man married to an unknowing wife in Taiwan, has been generating the same buzz overseas. It has received positive reviews after playing at Berlin, as well as Tribeca Film Festival in New York. What sets his new work apart from other Taiwanese films of late is also the fact that it is not just another adolescent comingof-age tale, a popular genre in Taiwan in recent years. Unlike films such as Gf*Bf (2012), starring Guey Lun-mei and Joseph Chang, and You’re The Apple Of My Eye (2011), starring Kai Ko and Michelle Chen, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? focuses on 30-somethings and their marital issues. The director, who is single, says with a laugh that he never set

out to intentionally start a new trend in films. “My debut feature was a comingof-age tale already, so I just wanted to do something different from what I’d done before. I hadn’t seen a Taiwanese film about a middle-aged gay crisis before, so I just thought that it’d be interesting to explore,” he says. Chen, who has a graduate degree in film production from University of Southern California, relocated to Taiwan in 2001, where he worked under the mentorship of the late Taiwanese filmmaker Edward Yang. Yang, who died of colon cancer in 2007 at the age of 59, was renowned for films including A Brighter Summer Day (1991) and Yi Yi (2001), which won him Best Director at Cannes.

The biggest lesson he inadvertently taught Chen was artistic stubbornness. Chen says: “He doesn’t compromise and he knows 100 per cent about what he wants his movies to be like, which is something I try to emulate. He was almost crazy about his ways, in the precision and purity. He never backed down.” Apart from Yang, Chen says the Taiwanese film industry, in general, is “very supportive”, where veteran industry professionals are “always” ready to groom the younger generation. “You see even a huge international director such as Lee Ang is always trying to bring Hollywood professionals into Taiwan so that Taiwanese filmmakers can learn more about


| June 7-13, 2013

ENTERTAINMENT

international filmmaking. And there is also Hou Hsiao-hsien, a godfather and mentor of cinema in Taiwan, who executiveproduces a lot of movies, and he’ll do anything he can to support new projects. This is the really great thing about working in Taiwan,” he says. The same spirit of nurturing the industry’s next generation of players is seen in the casting for Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?. Producer Lee Lieh—who was behind the hit films Monga (2010) and Jump Ashin! (2011), which made big stars out of young actors Ethan Juan, 30, and Eddie Peng, 31—urged Chen to cast an untested actress in a key role. The director says: “Lee Lieh works mostly with young filmmakers and young actors. For my film, she was the one who suggested that I cast Kimi Hsia, who is actually a variety show host. She told me that it’s good to

give someone like her a chance to act, because if she does well in my movie, other filmmakers may also want to cast her in their films. She’s always very encouraging about not using the same people every time so that we can help the younger actors. It’s really great.” Despite “loving it” in Taiwan, Chen says he is feeling the urge to shoot his next film in the US. “I’ve already done two films in a row about Taipei, and I think it’s time to do something that reflects my upbringing and background. “So I’m hoping to shoot something in America, about modern immigration. There’ll be Chinese elements too, of course. I mean, the whole cross- cultural thing definitely reflects who I am.”


ENTERTAINMENT

| June 7-13, 2013


ENTERTAINMENT

| June 7-13, 2013


ENTERTAINMENT

| June 7-13, 2013


ENTERTAINMENT

| June 7-13, 2013


ENTERTAINMENT

| June 7-13, 2013


ENTERTAINMENT

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013

A vanishing art In the realms of body art, the Mentawai tattoo has been internationally recognised thanks to a unique tattooing technique Keshie Hernitaningtyas The Jakarta Post Mentawai

U

sing a sharp splintered rib of a palm leaf and natural ink made of sugar cane syrup and coconut shell charcoal, a Mentawai tattoo artist, or sipatiti, meticulously draws a simple design on his client’s skin. Satisfied with the result, he then attentively etches the design into the skin using a mabiau hammered down rapidly with a lili ‘pat. A mabiau is a pointed needle made of animal bone or sharpened wood attached

to a wooden stick, while a lili ‘pat is a long wooden stick. “It hurts and bleeds and can take a long time to heal. But the sipatiti has a special herb from medicinal plants to stop the bleeding,” local tour guide Rilus Saleleu Baja, 40, told The Jakarta Post Travel at Manai Koat Guesthouse in Mentawai Islands regency’s Siberut island in West Sumatra recently. Rilus said that he had endured the pain of tattooing some two years ago, even though it was not something that he had wanted to do. “My clients wanted to take pictures of someone with tattoos but none of them wanted to do it themselves. So, in the end, I got

the short stick,” Rilus recalled. Due to the painful process, his first Mentawai tattoo is only a half-finished artwork. However, since another group of his clients are coming soon, there is a good chance that he will have the opportunity to finish the tattoo to satisfy everyone. Rilus’ reluctance to continue his tribe’s long-held tattooing tradition is shared by many Mentawai people nowadays, especially those from the younger generations who consider the art as nothing more than an old-fashioned custom. The fact that the tattoos are closely associated with Mentawai’s ancient animism belief called arat sabulungan, which the younger


CULTURE

generations no longer practise, is also a major factor behind its significantly waning popularity. “According to arat sabulungan, the tattoo reflects one’s initiation into adulthood. It is their rite of passage,” tattoo enthusiast and video maker Rahung Nasution said. Since 2009, Rahung has collaborated with Jakarta-based tattoo artist Aman Durga Sipatiti in a project called Mentawai Tattoo Revival which involves creating tattoo workshops and documentary videos in Siberut’s remote villages. The project aims at helping Mentawai people and sikerei (shamans) to motivate their younger generations to continue the tattoo tradition. “The first tattoo [A Mentawai native] has to make is an outrigger canoe on their back which represents a balanced life between the present and afterlife,” Rahung explained.

| June 7-13, 2013

“The next tattoo is on their arms, with lines resembling a crocodile’s tail as respect to the water deity. There are also other important tattoos that resemble sago leaves which is their staple food and young fern which is their sacred plant because it can get rid of evil spirits,” he added. Local administration representative Minarsih said that, in the old days, everyone in Mentawai had to have a tattoo, as it was seen as a person’s badge, much like an ID card is used nowadays in modern societies. Indigenous people from Matotonan and Butui villages in Siberut, for example, have similar tattoos since they come from the same clan. “There are five types of tattoos available, in accordance with the number of Mentawai clans. So, when people from different clans meet, they can easily recognise where the other person comes from just by looking at their

tattoos,” Minarsih said in Siberut. Other than as identity markings, Mentawai tattoos also acknowledge the bearer’s life story. For example, there are special tattoos for a person who is good at hunting animals, has killed another person, or works as a sikerei. As body art, Mentawai tattooing is internationally regarded as unique thanks to its traditional technique. “It offers an artistic romanticism that you don’t get from instant and modern [tattooing] techniques. Many people are interested in doing it simply to get the spiritual experience of traditional tattooing,” Rahung said.


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


CULTURE

| June 7-13, 2013


DATEBOOK

| June 7-13, 2013

Bangkok

Chalood’s Mural Painting and Retrospective PENANG

King of Fruits, Durian! Stuff yourself with the legendary “musang king”, “red prawn” and other exotic varieties of durian during the month of June and July. The Penang Durian Fiesta 2013 is a fair entirely dedicated to the most notorious fruit, durian. Popular durian-related activities such as “count the spikes”, “guess the durian species” and also “best durian snapshot” competitions will be held for all durian lovers during the festival. When: June 16-July 7 Where: Penang Times Square, Malaysia

The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) unveils a retrospective on Thai National Artist Chalood Nimsamer. A prolific artist with a career that spans more than six decades, Chalood, now 84, has yet to put down his brush. The BACC features his latest series of 400 murals created since 2010 in the exhibition. Also featured will be some 100 old masterpieces ranging from drawings, paintings, sculptures and prints to experimental installations. When: Until August 18 Where: Main gallery (9th floor) , Bangkok Art and Culture Centre Info: www.BACC.or.th


DATEBOOK

| June 7-13, 2013

VENICE

MANILA

55th Venice Biennale

Global Development Conference

Chinese artists will be well represented at the 55th Venice Biennale, an important showcase of the best contemporary artworks from around the world. This year, a virtual Chinese army — at least 300 artists, curators and sponsors — will be represented at the main and several peripheral exhibitions.

The Global Development Network will hold its 14th Annual Global Development Conference on “Inequality, Social Protection and Inclusive Growth” in Manila. About 400 participants are expected to attend the conference from all over the world including the East Asian region and the Philippines.

When: June 1-November 24 Where: The Encyclopedic Palace, Venice, Italy Info: www.labiennale. org/en/art/exhibition

When: June 19- 21 Where: Asian Development Bank Headquarters, Manila Info: www.gdn.int


DATEBOOK

SINGAPORE

The Great Singapore Sale 2013 It’s the 20th anniversary of the Great Singapore Sale, and there’s no better time to shop! Experience eight weeks of fabulous shopping and enjoy great deals on just about everything, everywhere—from fashion to watches, jewellery, electronics, toys and more, all over the island state! Besides shopping, this is also the perfect time to indulge in other delectable offers and promotions, from dining to beauty and wellness and even staycations, for a total lifestyle experience. When: Until July 28 Info: http://www.greatsingaporesale.com.sg/

| June 7-13, 2013



Asianews Jjune7 -13, 2013