After the jakarta blasts by domainlawyer

VIEWS: 331 PAGES: 36


J U LY 3 1 - AU G U ST 6 , 2009

ISSN 19052650

US$2.50 / Bt100

Will America Go K-Pop Crazy?
21791 21791

9 771905 265009

Want more from business travel? 805 lounges Alliance-wide. You’ve earned it.
As a Star Alliance Gold member, you’ll have access to 805 airport lounges across the alliance to relax in before you fly. To find out more about our rewards visit
Information correct as at 09/2008

JULY 31-AUGUST 6, 200 9 • Vo l 4 N o 29





TARgETing WESTERnERS The Jakarta blasts only reinforced the view that foreign deaths will hit home hardest

HER LEgACY More than financial corruption, Gloria Arroyo’s legacy is seen to be the moral downfall of the Philippines

BREAKing inTO AmERiCA Pop group Wonder Girls is just the latest from Korea to try its luck with the American market


TRAnSFORming inTO Big SALES From the usual T-shirts to laptops and desktops, an American movie franchise is hitting it big in the Chinese market

BOLLYWOOd BAd guYS Without villains, there can be no drama, no conflict, no excitement, no story... and no heroes


mELTing POT Kuala Lumpur is dotted with offbeat skyscrapers and avant-garde shopping malls

SHOE FETiSH Shoes are not just for practical purposes, in the modern world they have become ways to express oneself

gREEn CARS Consider this: about 30 per cent of a car’s fuel is used to move it forward. The rest is wasted and lost

dOWn nARROW ALLEYS If you want to know how Beijing residents live, visit hutongs

COVER IMAGE |South Korean pop group, Wonder Girls, by The Korea Herald

Please include sender’s name and address to: | Asia News Network Nation Multimedia Group Plc 44 Moo 10 Bang Na Trat KM4.5 Bang Na, Bangkok 10260 Thailand Subscription inquiries Nation Multimedia Group Plc 44 Moo 10 Bang Na Trat KM4.5 Bang Na, Bangkok 10260 Thailand Fax: (66) 0-2317-1409

Copyright © 2006 of Asia News Network. All rights reserved. AsiaNews (ISSN 1905-2650) is a weekly magazine. Printed by WPS (Thailand) Co, Ltd Subsidiary of Nation Multimedia Group Plc.


21 newspapers in 18 countries—covering Asia for 10 years

W e W e

K n o w K n o w

A s i a A s i a

B e t t e r B e t t e r

Supernova finder
YAMAGATA: Koichi Itagaki from Yamagata Prefecture has marked an ‘astronomical milestone’ by discovering his 50th supernova in just nine years. Itagaki’s discovery of so many stellar

explosions makes him the most prolific supernova hunter in Japan and the ninth most in the world. Itagaki, 61, spots supernovas among the countless stars by looking for the faint light they emit in the night sky. A supernova occurs at the end of a star’s life, creating a massive explosion that can very briefly become 10 billion times brighter than that the star’s previous luminosity. A supernova is believed to occur in a galaxy

only once every 50 to 100 years. Itagaki, who manages a bean confectionery company in Yamagata, has built an observatory at the foot of the Zao mountains in the city. Inside the dome-shaped, 5-metre-tall building, he has set up a telescope to look at the night sky. Itagaki aims his telescope at galaxies and their many stars, looking for any that may enter their death throes. “Just look at many galaxies,” he said as advice to any budding supernovahunters. Itagaki’s dream is to spot a supernova in the Andromeda galaxy, the nearest galaxy to our own, and which is believed to be on a collision course with the Milky Way. However, a stellar explosion has not been confirmed in Andromeda for about 120 years, and it is thought one could happen soon. “It could take tens of millions, or billions of years for Andromeda (to reach our galaxy), but to be the first in the world to discover (a supernova in Andromeda) would give me great pleasure,” Itagaki said.

M’sian filmmaker passes away
KUALA LUMPUR: Award-winning film director Yasmin Ahmad who touched many hearts and minds with her distinctly down-to-earth Malaysian productions passed away on July 25 after suffering a stroke and brain haemorrhage. She was 51. Famed for her groundbreaking Petronas TV commercials even before she made her first film, Yasmin often professed to a humble beginning in her moviemaking career, by volunteering to make a commercial for free, for a client who lacked the funds. Yasmin’s commercials—mostly celebrating Malaysia’s independence or touching on issues close to the heart of Malaysians—successfully brought her out of obscurity and into the limelight. Soon after, came a string of movies— always bearing messages of racial harmony and familial ties—which pushed the envelope, challenged the norm and attempted to bring about change. In 2003, she made her first feature film, Rabun, a TV movie produced for TV3. But it was 2004’s Sepet, her first cinematic release, that won her international accolades. Her biggest win was in 2007, when Mukhsin (2006), her ode to childhood love, won two awards at the 57th Berlin International Film Festival, one of the top three festivals in the world. Her latest film, Talentime, has been selected for this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, from Oct 17 to 25. She is survived by husband Abdullah Tan Yew Leong.

Macau’s new chief
MACAU: The island’s new chief executive said he will strive to improve the quality of life for people in the special administrative region. After sweeping to victory on July 26, Fernando Chui Sai On said he will focus on the challenges Macau faces amid the financial crisis using a “people-oriented approach” and ensure the government is a “truly clean and highly efficient one”. He also pledged to ensure fair and healthy competition in the gaming sector, the backbone of the city’s economy. Chui was the only candidate on the ballot, won 282 of the 296 votes cast by 297 election committee members present. Fourteen voted by absentee ballot.

Chui will take office in December and serve a five-year term after his appointment receives formal approval from Beijing. As Macau’s former secretary for social and cultural affairs, Chui had been poised to take over the post from twoterm chief executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah. Ho congratulated Chui on his election and believes Chui can oversee the future development of the city. Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang said Chui earned the job with his devotion, resolution and experience in public service. Tsang expressed hopes the two administrative regions can forge closer ties so the economies of Hong Kong, Macau and cities in the Pearl River Delta can prosper.


Vi e w p o i n t

The New Chairman
Taipei The China Post

Ma Ying-jeou’s win as Kuomintang chief is seen as a stepping stone for seeking a second term in 2012
resident Ma Ying-jeou was elected chairman of the Kuomintang. No one could prevent this from happening, because he ran unopposed. Kuomintang leaders, from outgoing chairman Wu Poh-hsiung on down, did what they could to ensure a large turnout, but a little over half of card-carrying party members went to the polls to vote in their leader for the next four years, who had previously given up that job in 2007 after he had been indicted for corruption, charged with misappropriating his expenses while serving as mayor of Taipei. The turnout was low, for many retired servicemen who are party loyalists stayed away from the polls. Altogether 600,000 officers and men came to Taiwan from China with President Chiang Kai-shek, who moved his Kuomintang government from Nanjing to Taipei at the end of 1949. Despite their fast shrinking ranks, they still form the largest voting bloc in the ruling party. These mainlander veterans do not like Ma’s China policy. Incidentally, Ma is a mainlander, born in Hong Kong. They stayed home in silent protest. That does not bode well for Ma, who has to hit the ground running as Kuomintang chairman long before he is scheduled to be sworn in on September 12. The Kuomintang has called a national congress on that day, when Ma will officially take over from Wu. As a matter of fact, delegates to the party congress were chosen along with the new chairman in the elections. Ma has gone on record by saying the only reason he is taking up the Kuomintang leadership again is to reform the party and make the administration and the legislative branch of the government work closely together for the benefit of the country. He promised party reform when he became Kuomintang chairman while he was mayor of Taipei. He did next to nothing to reform the party. He had a good alibi, for he did not stay long in office, but whether he can deliver in this promise that he is making for the second time, is open to doubt. A grand old party like the Kuomintang resists reform. There is little chance that a Stalinist party like the Kuomintang can metamorphose into a truly democratic one. Can Ma whip all Kuomintang lawmakers into line? Unlikely. Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo had a subservient, rubber-stamp parliament. Lee Teng-hui had the huge war chest to get obedient candidates elected to the nation’s highest legislative organ. With what are known as the ill-gotten assets of the Kuomintang almost all gone, Ma cannot line up enough financial support to force all legislators to toe his party line. Chen Shui-bian


was able to command an almost monolithic control of his Democratic Progressive Party, thanks to the massive ‘political contributions’ he personally “solicited” and selectively distributed among his underlings. He is standing trial for raking in more than a billion dollars and money laundering, however. Ma isn’t a fundraiser like Chen. Ma’s leadership as Kuomintang chairman is being tested. He has to present a winnable slate for the coming elections for all magistrates and mayors across Taiwan scheduled for December. The ruling party has had some trouble selecting delegates from rival contenders in quite a few counties and cities. These rivalries must be resolved, and it is easier said than done. Those who lose the nomination may bolt the party and choose to run as independents. They may not win, but the split party may lose control of a few key cities or counties. Ma would be called to account. The loss, meanwhile, may be a shot in the arm to the opposition party, currently trying to emerge out of the shadow of disgraced President Chen. President Ma had also vowed not to double as Kuomintang chairman and, like Chen Shui-bian, he has gone back on his word. Ma’s unprofessed real purpose in doubling as Kuomintang chairman is to pave the way for his reelection as president in 2012. In fact, he has spent little time working as president over the past year; he seems instead to be perpetually running for president. One thing is clear. Ma does not have to be chairman of the Kuomintang to run for a second term as president. He was not the party leader when he ran successfully for Taiwan’s highest public office. No one in the ruling party is even dreaming of challenging Ma, who won a record majority of votes in last year’s presidential election. His approval ratings have dropped, but the opposition party is in total disarray, and at the moment, no one has appeared on the horizon as a possible challenger to take on Ma three years from now. What this means is that Ma did not need to try to double as chairman of the ruling party to seek reelection as president. The chances are that he would win unless the economy collapses in the next three years, although probably not by a landslide as he did last time. All signs are that the current economic downturn would not get worse if it does not get better, due largely to the largess of China, whose haunting fear is a return of the Democratic Progressive Party to power in Taiwan. In short, Kuomintang leadership election was President Ma’s much ado about nothing.

Vi e w p o i n t

Legacy Of Corruption
Manila Philippine Daily Inquirer

More than the financial corruption, Arroyo’s legacy is seen to be the moral downfall of a country


ith President project involving the government Gloria Arroyo is honeycombed with graft and due to step corruption. From the very begindown from ning of the Arroyo administraMalacañang tion the corruption mill has been next year, talk has turned to the operating. Remember the alleged legacies that she will be leaving. US$2-million bribe case for One of the legacies most often which former justice secretary mentioned is the legacy of corHernando Perez is now facing a ruption. Arroyo is perceived to be court case? And now, the ‘midone of the most corrupt presinight’ Laiban Dam project is susdents the country has ever had. pected to yield hundreds of milDuring her incumbency the lions of pesos in ‘commissions’ country has sunk to the depths of for a favoured few. corruption, such that TransparMany corrupt deals and ency International last year projects have been exposed in the ranked the Philippines 141st in a Senate and the media, but how list of 180 countries. many cases have been filed in What has not been written court? Has anybody been prosemuch about is the moral corcuted successfully and put beruption during the Arroyo adhind bars? None. No big fish has ministration. There is financial been caught and jailed. It is this corruption where the degree of climate of impunity that has corruption is measured by the made a mockery of the law, and amount of money that people that is setting a bad example for in power amass. The financial people, and especially for young, corruption during the Arroyo COMBATIVE: Philippine President Gloria Arroyo’s image is impressionable minds. projected on a digital screen as she delivers her state of the administration, by most ac- nation address before Congress on July 27, 2009. In her Some people have described counts, bids well to compete speech, Arroyo lashed out at her critics as she defended her Arroyo’s politics as Machiavelliwith that of the Marcos dicta- record, citing sharp economic growth when she was president. an, and they may be correct. The torship. But worse than the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosfinancial corruption that has been taking place is the ophy says that it has been a common view among philosomoral corruption of the nation. phers that there is a special relationship between moral Moral corruption is taking place because the Arroyo goodness and legitimate authority. Many authors believe administration has shown that crime pays, that it is that the use of political power is rightful only if it is exercised good to be bad, that it is all right to lie, cheat and steal by a ruler whose personal moral character is strictly virtuous. so long as one is not caught. Ovid wrote in Heroides, It is this moralistic view of authority that Machiavelli criti“The end justifies the means,” and since then corrupt cises in his best-known book, The Prince. For Machiavelli, politicians have used this statement as their guide in there is no moral basis on which to judge the difference betheir official acts. One can lie, cheat and steal to be able tween legitimate and illegitimate uses of power. Rather, auto continue to hold on to power, and power is used to thority and power are coequal: whoever has power has the lie, cheat and steal and amass greater wealth. right to command; but goodness does not ensure power and The Arroyo administration has used money to strengthen the good person has no more authority by virtue of being its hold on power. An example of this was the distribution of good. In this context, Arroyo would be described as politibags of money to congressmen and local government officials cally amoral, or, if you will, Machiavellian. after a meeting in Malacañang at a time when the President Many political commentators say that financial corruption was facing an impeachment move. There is always talk of is one of the major ‘negative’ legacies of President Arroyo. money changing hands when Arroyo faces a political crisis or (We say “negative” because a legacy is generally thought to be when a move that would benefit her politically is under way. beneficial for the legatee.) But moral corruption is the even This is the way of Arroyo’s transactional politics. worse negative legacy of this administration. It affects the The corruption is humongous; amounts are no longer just government and the people all the way down the line. It is a in the millions—they’re in the tens of millions, hundreds of legacy that the moral majority will junk and discard when millions, even billions. Almost every big business deal or the Arroyo administration finally bows out of power.




Will AmeriCA FinAlly SinG Hello To HAllyu?
For years, Korean sInGers have been tryInG to breaK Into the amerIcan marKet; but It remaIns to be seen whether they wIll be more successFul overseas


Hyun Ji-hyang The Korea Herald

here is an earworm that has infected many people and it goes: “I want nobody, nobody but you”. The line comes from the song Nobody of the Korean all-girl pop group Wonder Girls and it has invaded not only Asia, but the United States as well. To be sure, Wonder Girls are not the first Korean artistes to try to cross over to the American market. Initiated by Rain’s world tour concert in 2005, Korean pop singers have been trying to break the US entertainment industry. But it remains yet to be seen whether Korean pop stars will be able to be as successful as they are in Korea. Rain has repeatedly made forays into the North American continent as a potential Hollywood star. His


first Hollywood movie, Speed Racer, (2008) paved the way for him to star in Ninja Assassin, (2009). The new movie, upon its release in November, is expected to strongly influence his potential performance as a singer in the United States. Another Korean pop sensation, Se7en entered the US music field in 2006, following his Japanese debut in 2005. After three years of preparation, the singer released his first single, Girls, in March. But despite his solid Asian fan base, Se7en still does not have much recognition in the United States. Having achieved stardom in Japan, BoA moved her way on to America in 2008. In March, the singer released her first official US album, I Did It for Love. Currently, BoA is promoting her album by touring the US, appearing on radio shows and performing. Lately, Wonder Girls made their debut in the United States, with English version of Nobody, a megahit song in Korea. It may be too early to predict the outcome of the Korean singers’ performance in the United States. However, entering into the Billboard chart has

not been easy for many foreign musicians. “The US market is a tough gateway to knock even for British singers performing in English-speaking regions. There have been a number of celebrated UK musicians who failed to penetrate the continent,” Kim Dogg, a music reviewer in Korea for Hottracks magazine and Izm, said in an interview with The Korea Herald. “To effectively ensure their local recognition there, the artistes need to make active use of current trendsetters or icons who are hot locally,” music critic Hong Hyuk-eui in Izm said. For example, he said, “Participation of Lil’ Kim and Darkchild in Se7en’s album making was not the best choice because of their dwindling influence.” He pointed to much healthier Billboard chart rankings of songs featured by prominent figures such as Jay-z, T-Pain and Kanye West. Another pop culture critic, who wished not to be named, emphasised the need for a good communication with local fans. “The singers should be able to promote their albums and do interviews in English.” Good performance and real talent as

a singer may be key points of fan connection, rather than English skill. “I believe that they (American fans) also value the best performance, and are more open to performances that are not in English,” said Catherine Moore, a clinical associate professor of music business in New York University. “They (her students) chose Rain as one of the strongest because of the high-quality production, pop genre, and Rain’s voice and energy. Even though the students did not understand the words, they felt a strong connection to the performance,” she said in an e-mail interview with The Korea Herald. There have been concerns among critics about Korean pop stars’ actual singing abilities. “Without a unique quality, outstanding singing ability or performance, and attractive points, it will be difficult for the singers to survive in the business,” said Han Dong-yoon, another music critic. Earlier this month, Wonder Girls debuted on America’s stage as the opening act for a Jonas Brothers concert in Washington D.C. In the audience were no less than US first lady Michelle Obama and her two daughters, Malia and Sasha, both fans of Jonas Brothers. The Wonder Girls sang the English versions of Nobody and Tell Me, their two big hits, during the concert. “Wow, just found out Michelle Obama and their two daughters watched Wonder Girls perform tonight! The girls put on their best show,” Park Jin-young, head of Korea’s JYP Entertainment, wrote on Twitter, the micro-blogging site. Having recently signed a contract with the Jonas Group and Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency, Wonder Girls will release an album in the United States this fall which will include English versions of several of their hits and a track written and composed by the Jonas Brothers. So will America start singing it wants “nobody... nobody but you” soon?


Crazy For K-Pop

Niño Mark Sablan Philippine Daily Inquirer


he world has gone crazy over Korean pop. Very popular right now are boy bands and girl groups with members who harmonise beautifully and showcase well-choreographed dance steps. Good-looking, stylish, entertaining and hotter than kimchi, these are some of Korea’s most in-demand groups.

Big Bang
This all-male musical group consists of five talented singers/dancers—G-Dragon, Tae Yang, T.O.P., Daesung and Seung Ri— who, even before coming together as a group, were successful solo artists. GDragon and Tae Yang started their careers when they were 12 years old, while T.O.P. was an underground rapper. Apart from releasing award-winning albums and mini-albums of hip-hop songs, the Big Bang boys are also famous for their freestyle and street dancing. They are trendsetters, too, with their slanted caps, cornrows, triangular scarves, shutter shades and faux-hawks. Famous for hits like Haru Haru, La-la-la, and Number 1, the boys command legions of fans in places like Japan, where they have released Japanese versions of their songs.

Wonder girls
Breaking into the music scene in early 2007, the group—composed of Sohee, Mimi, Sun, Yenny and Hyuna—was introduced in an MTV show and became popular thanks to massive hits such as Tell Me, So Hot and Nobody. Hyuna eventually had to be pulled out by her parents ostensibly for health reasons (she is now with another girl group called 4minute), but she was replaced by Yubin, who has a solo rap part in the new version of Tell Me.

The video for the song features a fun and easy-to-imitate choreography, which has resulted in a dance craze with fans from all over the world posting videos of themselves imitating the same moves. The girls have performed in places like Thailand and China and have invaded the US as well with an English version of Nobody and a front-act appearance for the Jonas Brothers. An English album is said to be in the works.

Tagged as the female version of Big Bang, 2NE1 counts CL, Bom, Minzy and Dara as its members. While they can all sing and dance (their choreography is very impressive), each girl is unique when it comes to voice quality, image and fashion style. Still, they complement one another and look fab as a group. Their first single, Lollipop, was an advertisement song with Big Bang that was used to promote a phone. Their actual debut single as a group, however, is the very energetic and catchy song Fire. The song has two music videos, one of which was featured on Perez Hilton’s blog. It has also been reported that Interscope Records is interested in an American album for the girls. Not bad for a group that appeared on the scene only a couple of months ago. 2NE1 is scheduled to release a minialbum next week, one that contains the reggae-tinged pop/R&B song called I Don’t Care. We can’t wait to hear if the rest of their stuff is as good as Fire.
10 JULY 31-AUGUST 6, 2009 • ASIANEWS



VICTIM: Relatives mourn next to the coffin of Australian Garth McEvoy, a victim of the Jakarta hotel blasts.

Target: Western Businessmen
The 2005 BAli ii docuMenT TellS TerroriSTS ThAT foreign deAThS will hiT hoMe hArdeST
ASIANEWS • JULY 31-AUGUST 6, 2009 11



John McBeth The Straits Times


f they had read it, the plan for what became known as the 2005 Bali II terrorist bombing would have sent a chill down the spine of Indonesia’s Western business community. “The deaths of foreign businessmen,” the document says at one point, “will have a greater impact than those of young people.” The July 17 bombing of Jakarta’s JW Marriott, in particular, has only reinforced that view. Investigators and security experts alike are now more convinced than ever that a foreign business breakfast meeting at the hotel was the primary target of the bombing. Fugitive terrorist mastermind Noordin Mohammad Top, who is widely believed to be behind the latest bombings, was not involved in the 2002 Bali nightclub blasts, which killed 202 people, many of them young foreign tourists. But as International Crisis Group (ICG) terrorism specialist Sidney Jones points out, his leading role in the four bombings since has led to a gradual refining of targets—and, perhaps more worryingly, an improved planning capacity. Jones says the amount of money that must have gone into the July 17 operation appears to have been of such a magnitude that it suggests Noordin and his group may have found additional funding. According to Indonesian counterterrorism sources, police have been monitoring the cellphones of three suspicious Pakistanis who arrived in Jakarta about a fortnight ago and have been in touch with people already under surveillance. Former Detachment 88 anti-terror chief, Brigadier-General Suryadharma Salim, has been saying publicly that he believes Noordin has received funds and operational assistance from sources in South Asia, hinting at the possibility of renewed Al-Qaeda linkages. Another senior police officer mentioned much the same thing at a private

meeting recently and went so far as to predict that, given the level of sophistication of the July 17 attacks, they might not have been simple one-off affairs. While the impact on the Indonesian economy and tourism is undoubtedly one of the main costs of the terrorist attacks, Jones has little hesitation in pointing to what she believes was their real motive: “It is to make Western nations tremble.” Noordin and his late colleague, Azahari bin Husin, seem to have made up their minds soon after the Bali I bombing that attacks outside of Jakarta or Bali would not get the same international headlines and that their targets would have to be more focused. In West Sumatra, for example, militants visited a Bukit Tinggi cafe frequented by foreigners 16 times before deciding not to attack it, perhaps because there were not a sufficient number of victims to make it worthwhile. The Bali II planning document specifically singled out foreign nationals from the United States, Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines as targets of choice. But it added: “In the field, the perpetrators may have difficulty distinguishing country of origin. So we will consider all white people the enemy. Because of this, it may happen that tourists from Eastern Europe and Latin America become victims, but this is a slim possibility because there aren’t so many tourists from there.” Discussing the merits of hitting restaurants in Bali’s Kuta and Jimbaran areas, the document noted: “Surveys show the number of foreigners is far higher at Jimbaran. Indeed, visitors to Jimbaran are businessmen, compared to foreigners at Jalan Legian (Kuta) who are mostly young people.” Summing up the attraction Bali held for terrorists, the document’s opening preamable closed with a disturbing observation for those worried about future attacks: “A mass attack on the enemy is more possible there than elsewhere in Indonesia.” In the latest Jakarta bombings, flo-

rist vendor Ibrahim was clearly the inside man because the job of delivering flowers to both the Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton would have given him an intimate knowledge of hotel security and planned events. But Ibrahim was probably only part of the operation, judging by the surveillance that went into the Bali II operation. There, the task of surveying the targets was undertaken by the suicide bombers themselves, men with no police record who could move around freely without coming under suspicion. It is quite possible the same strategy was used in the lead-up to the bombings of the Marriott and the RitzCarlton hotels. “This way they will know the targets, and we don’t need to worry about the fact that most of the team members are police fugitives,” the document said. “There is no escape plan because the perpetrators will become martyrs. They will go to the targets and not return.” Hotels were left out of the Bali target survey because, interestingly enough, security in those places was considered too tight. But otherwise, the choice of potential targets ranged from tourist, shopping and entertainment spots to buses and the airport check-in counters. The attention given to finding the best ways to blend in was quite extraordinary. For instance, so as not to draw attention, the bombers were directed to wear clothes appropriate for the area around the target and for the time of the attack. The method settled on for the Bali II attack matches the sequence of events before the latest bombing that devastated the networking breakfast at the Marriott hosted by American businessman James Castle. “The perpetrators can walk around a few times first to make certain that the target is full of foreigners, without bringing in the bag or bomb backpack,” the document suggested. “Then they can go back to get the bag or backpack that they’ve stored somewhere else and come back on foot. God willing, it won’t cause suspicion.” It did this time—but it was already too late.


AFTERMATH: Company guard secures the damaged facade of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Jakarta.

Red Flags
JAKArTA hoTelS fAiled To picK up clueS ThAT could hAve AverTed TrAgedY
ASIANEWS • JULY 31-AUGUST 6, 2009 13



John McBeth The Straits Times

n hindsight, there were plenty of ‘red flags’. Nurdin Aziz, as he called himself, had made his hotel reservation in a July 10 telephone call. He refused the first two rooms offered to him and accepted the standard room rate without protest. He paid a US$1,000 cash deposit for Room 1808—unusual too perhaps, but seemingly not unusual enough to alert the staff manning the reception desk at Jakarta’s tightly guarded JW Marriott Hotel. The clerks could not make a copy of his Indonesian identity card because the two photocopying machines at the front desk were unavailable. He was asked to return later to get it done. He never did. All this occurred on July 15, two days before the twin bomb explosions that rocked the Marriott and the neighbouring Ritz-Carlton Hotel, both owned by Indonesian-Chinese property tycoon Tan Kien. It is clear from the early room reservation that this was a well-planned operation, with the inner workings of the hotel apparently under an extended period of surveillance. Nurdin and perhaps some other accomplices may easily have smuggled the bomb-making materials into the hotel in a suitcase or suitcases. Checked luggage does not go through X-ray machines or other scrutiny, like hand-carried items do. Well-placed sources tell The Straits Times that all of the Marriott’s four vapour detectors, which are used to look for explosives, were out of order—as were two of the four at the Ritz-Carlton. The Marriott bomb was assembled in Room 1808—remarkably, using electronic components from the room’s dismantled television set. Experts say these components may have included the remote control mecha14


nism, the capacitor and circuit boards. It has been determined that the explosives themselves were concealed from household staff in an air-conditioning service duct in the bathroom. Investigators are still trying to determine whether a third device, composed of black powder and bolts, was designed to destroy the evidence in the room or belonged to another bomber who opted out at the last moment. On the morning of July 17, the bomber took an elevator down to the Marriott’s spacious lobby, a backpack strapped incongruously to his chest and pulling a carry-on bag. Questioned by two hotel security men, he walked on past, saying he had a meeting with his ‘boss’ in the lounge where businessman James Castle was hosting his weekly breakfast. The position of the backpack attracted the attention of a third security man, the shift supervisor. But it was too late. As he approached the suspect at the entrance to the lounge, the bomb was detonated in a blinding flash of light. The guard has not been found. That means the death toll in the twin explosions could well rise to at least 10. One of the survivors recalled seeing a person, whom he thinks was the bomber, looking into the meeting room at about 7:25am, 22 minutes before the blast. If true, then he was probably checking to ensure that the Castle meeting was still on. The Straits Times has learnt that the second bomber, neatly dressed in a black suit and white shirt, colluded with an employee of a hotel florist vendor to get into the Ritz-Carlton through the employees’ entrance. The accomplice, identified as Ibrahim, left a resignation letter with his employer and disappeared. Waiting for the Marriott blast, the bomber spent the next hour roaming the Ritz with a backpack and bulging laptop case. Then he walked down the broad corridor to the coffee shop, where he was shown to a table. Moments later, he got up and deto-

nated the backpack, apparently also triggering explosives in the computer bag. A waiter and a Dutch couple seated nearby were killed instantly. The coffee shop was the obvious target but given the relatively small number of breakfast patrons, the purpose here may have been to simply double the effect of the Marriott explosion. Sources close to the investigation say that anti-terrorist police were close to breaking the case, but they did not have enough key pieces of information to prevent the tragedy. Given the number of red flags, Indonesia’s seventh major bomb attack in the past decade is likely to force Jakarta’s major hotels to add yet another layer to their security precautions. The Marriott in Islamabad, already hit by three bombings, has an industrial-size X-ray machine installed at a location away from the main reception area. All luggage is run through the machine and then delivered to the room. Hand luggage is routinely scanned—as is the case in some Jakarta hotels—by smaller X-ray machines at the lobby entrance. Both machines can also detect explosives. What the Islamabad hotel could not forestall was a huge truck bomb, which detonated outside the hotel last September after failing to break through the security barriers. It still killed 54 people but that was because the blast ignited a natural gas pipe. Jakarta hotels may also want to look at spending US$25,000 on a system called GT200, the brainchild of Britain’s Royal Engineers, which is currently being used by hotels in Manila. The crude-looking device—similar to the old divining rod used to locate water—can detect almost any explosives up to 600m awayand certainly on a walk down a hotel corridor. Glen Gardiner, president-director of Jakarta-based security firm Concord Consulting, which markets the product, says it would have almost certainly alerted Marriott’s security officers to what was happening behind the door of Room 1808.

Thank you for making our world more sustainable

The most outstanding sustainable construction projects out of 5,000 submissions from 121 countries were honored with Holcim Awards prizes including the following two from Pakistan and China.


North-West Frontier Province



After the devastating earthquake of 2005, training centers for the reconstruction of private housing were created in Pakistan. The concept, Advocacy of traditional earthquake-resistant construction, couples advanced engineering knowledge with the reliability of traditional materials and skills. Pilot projects strengthen self-reliance in the local population. Authors: Tom Schacher & Thomas Fisler, Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation SDC, Switzerland/Pakistan

Fengdu lies on the western side of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China. Because of its periodic flooding, settlement was moved to a new location on a plateau north of the dam. Revitalization and relocation plan for Ghost City involves the community in a comprehensive development concept integrating urban space planning and traditional cultural elements. Main author: Kai Sheng Li, China Academy of Art, School of Architecture, Department of Urban Design, Hangzhao, China

The Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction is an international competition offering USD 2 million in prize money every three years. It seeks innovative, future-oriented and tangible projects to promote sustainable construction on all levels. The competition is run by the Holcim Foundation in cooperation with renowned technical universities. The Holcim Awards are supported by Holcim Ltd and its Group companies in more than 70 countries. Holcim is one of the world’s leading suppliers of cement and aggregates as well as further activities such as ready-mix concrete and asphalt including services.

To find out more about all prize-winners and the competition:


Transforming Into Big Sales W

Chen Limin China Daily

From the usual t-shIrts to usb Flash DrIves, laptops anD DesKtops, an amerIcan movIe FranchIse Is hIttInG It bIG In the chInese marKet

ith the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen enjoying record ticket sales in China this month, spin-offs of Transformer toys and other products are booming, too. The action movie’s ticket sales totaled more than 400 million yuan in China in its first three weeks in theatres. Like earlier hit movies such as the Star Wars and Batman series of films, spin-off toys became top sellers, too. “Transformer toy sales increased by 70 per cent to 80 per cent after the movie came out,” Liu Yang, marketing manager of UME Huaxing International Cineplex said. “Sales were even higher on weekJULY 31-AUGUST 6, 2009 • ASIANEWS

ends. They almost doubled, compared to weekdays,” Liu said. Spin-offs included Transformer toys, key rings and other gadgets. A special stamp album featuring likenesses of Transformer characters, although priced at 500 yuan (US$73) each, also were popular, Liu said. “For people in their 20s and 30s, watching a Transformer movie is like reuniting with a lost friend,” said Wei Wei, owner of a Beijing toy shop. Although Wei’s shop is only about 60 sq m in size, daily sales usually hit 6,000 yuan ($878) in the wake of the new Transformer movie’s release, he said. “The first Transformer movie attracted mainly the ‘70s and ‘80s generations,” Wei said about the movie based on a popular children’s television show of that era. “Now small children also come and buy models to play with,” Wei said. Like Transformer toys, the movie features colorful robots that “transform” into cars and other objects. It’s not just toys. Other products featuring a Transformer tiein are becoming popular, too. “Without any advertisement and in just about a month, the sales of our Transformer USB flash drives were up to almost 10,000,” Zeng Ni, marketing manager of Tsinghua Tongfang Co Ltd, said about his company’s new product. “We knew that Transformers would be the talk of the town, so last year we began to develop a series of Transformer IT products,” Zeng said. His company’s efforts paid off. In addition to USB flash drives, the company introduced Transformer laptops and desktops. Both items posted sales increases of 20 per cent to 30 per

cent since the end of June, following the movie’s release, Zeng said. “We focused on the large number of Transformer fans, and we were right,” Zeng said. The Meters/bonwe Group formed a partnership with USbased Hasbro Inc to become the only Chinese fashion and accessories company licensed to use Transformers images, typefaces and logos. Among the hot summer sellers on the company’s online store at is a Bumblee T-shirt. More than 800 T-shirts featuring the yellow robot character from the movie have sold recently, the company reported. “It’s delightful that we still have a double-digit year-on-year increase in sales amid a sluggish economy and the off-season,” Xu Weidong, deputy general manager of Meters/bonwe, was cited by The Economic Observer as saying. Meters/bonwe also landed a deal for ‘product placement’ in the new movie. Xu labelled the appearance of Meters/bonwe products in the movie as a ‘win-win situation’ for advertising his company’s products, although he declined to disclose the cost of the deal. While US moviemakers have long promoted the appeal of spinoff toys and other products, the Chinese movie industry has yet to fully capitalise on spin-offs, some Chinese industry experts said. “Most of the movie-related merchandise for Chinese films is too low-end,” Jiang Youzhi, a project manager at Beijing Film Studio, was quoted by Beijing Business Today as saying. What China needs are more hit films and also stronger distribution channels, sources said.



The City Of Multiracial Culture


uala Lumpur is blessed with colours of modernism along with its rich heritage. The best part about the city is that it has maintained equilibrium between its past and modernisation. It is speckled with off-beat skyscrapers and avantgarde shopping malls. Still it has no shortage of old quaint shop houses that strike a chord of its past






If The Shoe Fits...
the art oF shoe DesIGn has evolveD over centurIes anD has turneD Into a personal expressIon For the wearer

Yasmin Lee Arpon Asia news Network


ust how many pairs of shoes does a woman need? If you’re Imelda Marcos, thousands maybe. But it’s not only Imelda who has developed a love affair with shoes. Even regular girls and in one of the videos featured in the ongoing exhibition ‘Portraits of Shoes, Stories of Feet’ in Bangkok, artist Olivier Lounissi solves the dilemma of one girl by producing a one-minute video showing only her feet parading in several hundred pairs of shoes. Lounissi’s Right Left solves the dilemma of most women who are not able to wear all the shoes that she owns. The exhibition takes a look at how shoes have evolved over centuries and cultures, from the time they served the basic purpose of protecting the feet through different terrains to the present time when they symbolise power and style and have become a personal expression for some. The exhibition is divided into five parts: politics and ceremonial, sensual or free and easy, sport and nature, baroque rock n’ roll and strange creatures.

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, men and women of the French court wore high-heeled shoes modelled after chopines, the periliously high platform shoes that had graced the feet of the European aristocracy since the days of Catherine de Medici. The status accorded to shoes could never have been more obvious with King Louis XIV who decreed then that only his court can wear red, high-heeled shoes. But after the French Revolution, the social classes’ flat shoes replaced the footwear of choice of the aristocracy; it was only by the mid 1800s that high heels would regain its foothold, mostly among women. It was also in the 17th century when ballet shoes with heels first came out. Today, ballet shoes are not just for ballerinas and has permeated everyday fashion. In 2004, Repetto, one of France’s leading shoe manufacturers, shipped its one millionth pair of ballet flats from its factory at St Medard d’Exideuil, Perigord. Aside from function, some shoes were also designed to highlight women’s sexuality. In 18th century France, women wore open-heeled mule shoes that were difficult to navigate. In 10th century China, women started binding their their feet to make stop their growth because tiny feet were seen as erotic. The custom of binding feet was outlawed only in 1949. Over the early decades of the 20th century, the heels of women’s shoes gradually narrowed, shifting their weight to the balls of their feet. A Harper’s Index revealed that wearing highheeled shoes caused women’s buttocks to potrude by 25 per cent. Men also

find high-heeled shoes sexy because they create the illusion of elongated legs. Some shoes are designed to show off women’s calves and ankles. Also since the 1960s, skin colours have become popular, giving the illusion that a woman is bare-skinned from her legs exposed under the skirt to the tips of her toes. On the other hand, there are shoes whose primary function is to protect the feet from rough terrain and for outdoor activities like hunting, climbing and fishing. For instance, native American Indian tribes wore moccasins made of deerskin or woven cloth while in southern China, fishermen wore sandals made from rice straws. Later on in the 19th century, sports became a popular leisurely preoccupation because of its health benefits and the canvas shoes took off. In the 1950s, Adidas produced the first football boots, which would later propel the German football team to victory in the 1954 World cup finals. Not only men took to wearing more comfy shoes; women started trading their fancier shoes for walking shoes. One of such type of shoes designed for women but taking inspiration from men’s shoes were the laced leather shoes that soon became popular especially in the 1980s. The evolution of shoes continued over the years but the basic concepts remained the same so much so that many of the designs in the market today took their inspiration from 18th

durable materials. Shoe design stepped to a higher level in the mid-20th to 21st century and became a personal expression. Karl Lagerfeld was one of the first designers to elevate shoes into designer class. More than the clothes on the ramp, the shoes also became the talk of the town. Also worth talking are the “strange” shoes like the wooden clogs of the Japanese, known as geta and the modern stiletto (Italian for knife or dagger) heels. Introduced by designer Roger Vivier through Christian Dior, stiletto heels were made of wood or plastic and reinforced with a thin, metal strip to support a woman’s weight. The heels were no more than a third of an inch in circumference and it elevates wearing it into a different art form. I often wonder how those glamorous models and actresses are able to walk in them without breaking a sweat, and still maintain their grace. But then again, there are shoes for different people and as somebody said, your shoes reflect your personality. And on owning several—even hundreds—of pairs of shoes... no worries. There’s a shoe for every occasion.
‘Portraits of Shoes, Stories of Feet’ Thailand Creative & Design Centre Emporium, Bangkok Ongoing until August 30

century France. From high heels, embroidery and coloured threads, shoes became simpler in the 1900s using more



how to travel comFortably wIth wIth your lIttle one

Kid in Tow
ficer made me open every single pack and taste it, despite my showing her the notice on the pack that said once opened, the formula would have to be consumed within an hour (and we had a 24-hour flight ahead of us!). Having learned my lesson, I now carry one bottle of pre-made formula for pre-departure (I still had to taste it, but at least my son would have drunk it all before take-off) and a stack of powdered formula. Distilled water is always available in airports, and the plane’s water did not make my son sick when we filled up on board. I also add one to two more feeds than necessary because as I found out, my son doesn’t have much of an appetite for solids in flight, but is absolutely ravenous for his formula. Clarify with the airline what amenities and facilities they have for children. All airlines claim to be baby-friendly, but in truth, only some truly consider babies’ needs. All the ones we’ve taken-Emirates, Etihad, and Cathay Pacific-carry baby formula on board and on all classes, but frankly, Emirates was the only one who had a special kit for babies. Theirs was in waterproof plastic and contained a bib, teether, spoon, a pack of wet wipes, a small bottle of baby lotion and a large tissue to cover the baby changer with. I’ve ridden Emirates business and economy with my son and on both classes, we were given the pack. To my surprise, my recent trip with Cathay Pacific was a bitter disappointment, especially since I expect-

Margarita Y. Locsin-Chan Philippine Daily Inquirer

t just 14 months, my son is a frequent flyer, with more than 100 hours in flight across three continents. I have flown alone and with my husband, on business and economy, with a carrier or pushchair and without either. What follows are some of my recommendations for moms, parents and guardians who will dare travel with a baby or toddler before the age when you can plop them in a seat and leave them to in-flight cartoons and video games. All airports follow certain international regulations, but some have customised theirs to suit individual situations, and this makes knowing what is okay where it’s difficult. My first flight was out of Heathrow, which recently loosened its policy on hand luggage thanks to public outcry. But it remains extremely vigilant because of constant threats. Heathrow’s website stated both liquid and powdered baby formula were allowed, but that there was a likelihood I’d be asked to taste the former. Thinking it would be easier to bring liquid formula (ready-to-drink formula is available in tetrapaks and bottles in the UK), I packed eight boxes in my baby bag, along with the same number of bottles. Much to my dismay, the Customs of22



CHALLENGE: Travelling with your kid in tow needs some careful preparation.

do your research

Call the airline

ed so much after watching its newest advertisements about unparalleled customer service. On my long-haul from London, the staff only told me when I was onboard that bassinets weren’t available on business and they had no kit to speak of. My travel agent booked the bassinet months before and was not informed of its unavailability, so I was, of course, secretly seething during the whole flight. Thankfully, my son slept the entire way to Hong Kong, so I didn’t need their nonexistent kit and only changed him when we got to the airport. Regarding space, I think the A380 is the most comfortable economy class for parents with kids. On our LondonSydney flight, which totals more than 24 hours, my son slept comfortably on my lap and I had enough leg room to squirm during meals and move around

I, for one, would pay for an additional economy seat if it would make my son sleep well and keep him happy, particularly during long-haul flights. I packed differently for my flight with my husband and my flight alone. With hubby, I could afford to bring extra things because I had a big, strong partner with me. But on my most recent flight, I had to really consider how much space I had and it was really not much at all. I bought a big baby bag from Mamas and Papas that didn’t have a lot of pockets, but did have a lot of ‘open’ space. In it, I loaded six 12-hour nappies, six bottles, a six-level stack of formula, three baby spoons, a pack of baby wipes and a changing mat. Out went the extra clothes, teethers, toys—and I had to pray double time to ask God not to let my son vomit or soft poo on board (he did neither—prayer works!). I put all documents inside a messenger bag that I never liked using before, but which I now think is the world’s greatest invention for moms. I also bought an umbrella-type stroller. To my surprise, my little red Tesco stroller worked perfectly. It was light, easy to open and close with one hand. Another mommy must-have is a Blackberry or one of the new netbooks. I used to bring my laptop everywhere, but this is virtually impossible with a baby in tow. With either of the two, we can keep in touch with our anxious hubbies and the excited grandparents while waiting for our connecting flight or when baby is asleep.

Pack smart

so my leg wouldn’t “die”. The new plane also boasts of more toilets, some of which are big enough to change a baby comfortably (as opposed to the regular ones that barely take supermodels).

Book baby-friendly seats

The only problem with new planes is that, at least on Etihad, first class is located directly above economy, specifically the seats allocated to parents with babies. This is fine when babies can’t crawl, but on our Sydney flight, we had a half-dozen year-old babies all learning to crawl, walk and talk. Because the area near the toilets was spacious, we moms decided to form a little playgroup. My son crawled up to first class and demanded an upgrade, which did not thrill the passengers. Let me tell you, a velvet cord

may stop an adult from venturing further, but it is completely useless against exploring toddlers. Cathay Pacific’s business-class seats fit me and my son comfortably and the angle made it easier for me to keep him under my control and away from other passengers. Etihad’s couple pods (request for the middle seats) are perfect with babies because they’re contained yet roomy, and my son loved climbing from me to my husband and back. Airlines should seriously consider making car-seat type attachments for babies because bassinets are weightlimited and a bit unsafe (babies can easily jump out of them, for one thing). Furthermore, babies love to sleep in car seats, so having them would make it easier to put babies to sleep and keep other passengers happy.

Baby nap

Finally, schedule your flights with your baby’s schedule in mind. Whenever possible, try to fly when your baby is usually asleep so that he just sleeps throughout. I did this during my last flight and for the first time, I actually got to eat all my meals comfortably (even with my son right next to me). When we flew during my son’s ‘awake’ time, it was impossible to keep him in our seats, much less keep him quiet!



HAVE BLOG, WILL TRAVEL: Tan Yi Lin and her husband Dannie Cho (opposite page) travel the world and keep an online blog Everglades National Park in Florida.

Bitten by Travel Blog Bug
Personal travel blogs have become more than just sharing experiences to a worldwide audience. For some it is also a profitable source of revenue
24 JULY 31-AUGUST 6, 2009 • ASIANEWS



Yusuf Abdol Hamid The Straits Times


unice Khong chronicles her travel experiences on-line. But the 31-year-old’s blog, at, is not just a hobby. Having won the Best Photography Blog trophy at last year’s Singapore Blog Awards, her readership and online advertising revenue have spiked. Khong, a professional blogger who left her office job last year, says the income is enough to cover her travel expenses although she declines to reveal how much she earns. She is not the only popular travel blogger in town. Internet search engine results show up at least three other travel blogs authored by Singaporeans. In the running for this year’s Singapore Blog Awards in the Best Photography Blog category is www., managed by 29-year-old Low Sze Ping. The engineer fills his mostly Chinese language blog with details of his forays in Europe and South-east Asia.

At, which attracts a readership of about 2,000 a month from all over the world, Tan Yi Lin, 29, and her husband of four years, Dannie Cho, 33, have been documenting their travel through the Caribbean. The duo is taking a year off work, starting in March this year, to see the Americas. Similarly, freelance travel writer Nellie Huang, 27, has been blogging about her current jaunt through Bolivia at The blog attracts a daily readership of about 200 from the United States, Singapore and the United Kingdom. The bloggers say they write for various reasons. Khong, whose website registers about two million hits a month, started blogging as a way to keep a permanent record: “I kept a little travel journal when I backpacked in Europe with my husband and nearly could not find it when we moved house a few years ago.” Blogging, she adds, allows her to share her experiences with friends. Besides blogging about foreign destinations, she also writes about Singapore: “Many of my overseas

readers love to read about Singapore.” Having an international readership also has its perks as Low discovered after meeting one of his regular readers, a Shanghainese woman in her early 20s, during a trip there. He recalls: “She took me to some alleys to try the local cheap delicacies such as spicy crabs and duck organs.” The accessibility of travel blogs is another attraction. They can be an easy way to update friends and family when on the road. But the Chos have discovered first-hand how difficult maintaining a blog while on the move can be. “In the Bahamas, the wi-fi service could not reach our room, so for a couple of nights we had to endure stinging insects outside a restaurant where the service was available.” They are wary of the wide reach of the Internet and are careful to write about their stay only after leaving. “It helps us avoid stalkers and we are also mindful to never post pictures showing the licence plate of our rental cars,” he says. For Huang, who has been travelling extensively for the past 10 years, her blog is a useful professional tool: “My blog is a platform to display my work and to draw a larger crowd.” But everyone has discovered that pictures are an integral part of any travel blog. A typical entry on the Chos’ blog for example will feature several large and colourful photographs of scenery and food. “The pictures not only have to look good but also tell the story of the place and serve to enhance the text,” says Tan. And travel blogs are not just a detailed recap of the day. Huang says her writing style is “straightforward and personal” but adds that she edits judiciously. “I do not think readers are interested in my entire itinerary for the day but the specific things I enjoyed.” For now, she is paying her own way as the revenue she collects from advertising is not substantial, something she hopes will change as her blog attracts more readers. “I am not too ambitious but I hope that as my blog grows more popular, I can eventually get my travels sponsored,” she says.


Cars Go Green

Consider this: about 30 per cent of a car’s fuel is used to move it forward. The rest is wasted and lost
hands-on experience of what is expected of them in preparing their vehicles for the challenge. Student teams from Universiti Tecknologi Malaysia (UTM), the National University of Singapore (NUS) and ITE (Institute of Technical Education) College West in Singapore test drive Shell’s prototype eco car. “The Shell Eco-marathon is a major educational project that encourages and fosters innovation in which students work together to explore potential solutions to both current and future transport and energy challenges,” said Shell Malaysia chairman Saw Choo Boon. Tan Chong Meng, executive vice president of Shell Global Businessto-Business, added: “We do not see the Eco-marathon as just a race.” “Rather, it is about encouraging and inspiring our younger generation to think about energy efficiency, and it offers a platform for innovation in a very practical way. It is about doing more with less, reducing waste.” The variety of fuels used by the eco-marathon participants shows they are at the cutting edge of the search for more fuel options for transport, saidTan. However, while many praise Shell for promoting a competition that gets people thinking about fuel efficiency, some critics of the marathon point out that the vehicles that take part in the competition are highly impractical, especially for consumer use. The vehicles have no room for passengers and drivers are often forced into an uncomfortable position in order to reduce aerodynamic drag. The cars are also designed to achieve maximum fuel efficiency at a low speed, 23kph and some can not drive faster than a mere 48kph.



Nguyen Thuy Ha Asia News Network


BARE: Singaporean ITE’s Eco N Eco II’s vehicle (front) lines up for a demonstration run at Sepang International Circuit

ow can vehicles travel further and use less energy? This question, which comes at a time when the world faces an energy crisis and growing environmental stress, is being posed by petroleum company Shell as a challenge to the region’s innovative students. In the Shell Eco-marathon competition, Asian students are encouraged to design vehicles that use conventional fuels like diesel, petrol and liquid petroleum gas, or alternative fuel like solar, ethanol, hydrogen or biofuels. The ‘marathon’, which will be held at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit track from July 8-10, 2010, is aimed at encouraging participants to find solutions to produce fuel-efficient vehicles that can travel the furthest distance using the least amount of fuel. Students can use any fuel they choose; as long as teams abide by safety rules. The design of their vehicles is limited only by their imagination. The key to wining the race is the distance the vehichle can travel and not its speed. Some 150 students and academics got a sneak peek of the competition on July 16. The preview was specially organised for students to test out the track where the Shell Eco-marathon will take place next year, the first time the competition is being held in Asia. Five student teams from Malaysia and Singapore drove specially built energy efficient cars around the Sepang International Circuit track. Shell also introduced a prototype car to give students an opportunity to get a

But nobody can deny the world’s need for more fuel efficient cars. Sustainable mobility is one key component of a new energy future, according to Tan.

PRACTICAL: Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle of Kruce team from Singaporean NUS

“Just consider this: only about 30 per cent of the fuel that you put into your car gets used to move it forward. The rest is wasted and lost.” he said. “Then for every kilometre that you drive, you are effectively putting over 1kg of C02 into the atmosphere.” Population is growing, especially in Asia. By 2050, there could be 9 billion people on the planet, up from 6 billion today. More people are getting richer in emerging Asian countries like China, India, Viet Nam and Indonesia. Asia could have 1 billion middle-class consumers by 2050, each wanting their own car, computer and air-conditioner. The result could be a doubling of energy demand by the middle of the century. A recent Asian Development Bank


report noted that Southeast Asian nations are likely to suffer more from climate change than the world average. The region is especially vulnerable to a rise in sea-levels and temperatures that might result from global warming, given their long coastlines, heavy reliance on agriculture, natural resources and forestry, as well as its high levels of poverty. “So, to make our transport more sustainable for the future, we will have to design more efficient engines and fuels, we will have to make cars lighter, we will have to train motorists to drive more efficiently, and we will need to explore alternative transport energies,” said Tan. More than 230 teams from 33 countries have taken part in the Shell Ecomarathon in the past 25 years in Europe and the Americas, which saw the event’s debut two years ago.

showcase Asia to the world,” said Saw, on why the company was bringing the competition to Asia after 25 years of racing in Europe. Four of the five Asian teams, who made a demonstration for the next year’s Eco-marathon, took part in the Shell Eco-marathon Europe in Lausitz, Germany, in May. The UTM’s Fuel Cell Vehicle Team, with its prototype car, was one of nearly 190 participating teams from around the world. Two Singaporean teams, Eco n Eco 1 and Eco n Eco 2 from the ITE, also took part in the May’s European event which saw 12 Asian teams, competing in the prototype discipline. Singaporean team from the NUS, named Kruce, is the only group competing in the urban concept category, with their car using hydrogen fuel cells. Malaysia’s Suria Kar 2 participated in the biannual World Solar Challenge

green car that uses both solar power and hydrogen to run faster while still being environmentally friendly. “We are looking for sponsorship to build a new car which can compete in the green energy category, and with this we want to show our concern about the environment and people in Asia to be more aware of the use of green energy,” said Palharuddin Mat Samin, an associate professor from the UTM. Open to high schools, colleges, universities and technical institutes, the Shell Eco-marathon programme challenges student teams to put their innovations to the test in two vehicle categories: ‘Prototype’ for vehicles focused on maximising fuel efficiency through innovative design elements, and ‘Urban Concept’ focused on more ‘road worthy’ fuel-efficient vehicles. For both categories, teams can use any of the conventional fuels to power

UFO: The solar-fuelled car of Suria Kar 2 from Universiti Tecknologi Malaysia

THREE WHEELS: Gasoline-propelled vehicle of Eco N Eco I team from Singapore’s ITE

DRAGONfLY: Malaysia Fuel Cell Vehicle Team’s prototype car propelled with solar energy

The Shell Eco-marathon goes way back to 1939, when scientists at a Shell research laboratory in the US made a friendly wager to see who could get the most miles per gallon from their vehicles. From those humble beginnings, the competition for fuel efficiency evolved and moved to Europe. The event in its current form began in 1985 in France and the Shell Eco-marathon Americas was first launched in 2007 in California, in the US. Malaysia, chosen for its importance among Shell’s Asian heartlands and its excellent infrastructure, will host the annual Shell Eco-marathon Asia from 2010 till 2012. “Asia has a lot of excellent students who would show the world their talents and Shell also wants to

in Australia three times since their debut in 1996. The teams received financial support from their universities and other organisations for their projects which normally cost around 1 million ringgit (US$282,000). “It costs us around 500,000 ringgit to build the car only,” said Suria Kar 2 team leader Abdul Muta’ali Othman, an associate professor of the Design Department of the UTM’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. “The car, running with 280 cells worth 230 ringgit each, can be charged when the cells are not in use.” “We are upgrading and developing the car to give it the best form for the next year’s event.” The team’s next goal is to build a go-

their vehicles. To date, more than 20 educational institutions from Indonesia, Pakistan, Singapore, India, Malaysia and China have indicated interest in participating in the next year’s Asian event. The first 10 student teams from Asia to register and run in the July 2010 race will be eligible to receive $1,000 per team.

for Shell Eco-marRegistration 2010 starts on Sept athon Asia 1, 2009. Participants must register online via the Shell Eco-marathon Asia website at com/ecomarathon.



Akshaye Khana and Saif Ali Khan in Race

wIthout vIllaIns, there can be no Drama, no conFlIct, no excItement, no story... more Importantly, there can be no show oF heroIsm


Derek Bose The Statesman


ollywood badman Gulshan Grover is back at acting school. After hamming for nearly three decades, the 55-year-old veteran of 300-plus films has reportedly joined acting classes in Mumbai for a change of image. As villain, he does not have much work. Grover’s contemporary and covillain in many potboilers, Shakti Kapoor is in the same boat. After Hum

Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain in 1999, the only major film he has shown up in was Malamaal Weekly. That was three years back. And it was more in the nature of a comic villain. Today, no mainline producer or director has any use for him. Then there is Anupam Kher who has wisely kept reinventing himself from time to time and is now recognised as a ‘character actor’ rather than a villain or comedian. Other specialist villains like Ashutosh Rana, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Dalip Tahil and Sayaji Shinde are nowhere in the reckoning. Likewise Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Ranjit, Shatrughan Sinha, Danny

Denzongpa and others of their generation do not count for anything. At one time they represented all that was dark and evil in Bollywood narratives, much in keeping with the tradition of yesteryear greats—Kanhaiya Lal, Prem Nath, Pran, Amjad Khan, Amrish Puri... Now, one after another, they have all faded out of the Hindi screen. This is however, not to suggest that villains have lost their relevance in contemporary storytelling. It is just that the type of villainy has kept changing and there’s a new face of a

when characters appear as neither black nor white, but in peculiar shades of grey. When the hero becomes a Robin Hood character and operates on the wrong side of law (think Amitabh Bachchan) for common good, where do you place him? When Shah Rukh Khan comes across as an obsessive neurotic going K-k-k-Kiran in Darr, are you scared or do you sympathise with him? When Aamir Khan goes berserk with a vengeance in Ghajini, you don’t cringe in fear or hatred by his bare-bodied exuberance, but applaud him every time he makes

Hrithik Roshan in Dhoom-2

rogue showing up every time. From the wicked village moneylender and zamindars to bandits, political thugs and corrupt cops to the suave and sophisticated smuggler and blackmarketer, Bollywood villains evolved into stubborn parents, evil scientists, terrorist masterminds and sex perverts. Their relevance stems from the fact that our films are still no more than morality tales with strong underpinnings in religious mythology. We still like to see screen characters painted in black and white—the villain being an avatar of Ravana and the hero and heroine, Rama and Sita respectively. Films take on an enigmatic hue

mincemeat of an adversary. The lines between right and wrong get all the more blurred when a stylish Hrithik Roshan bares his torso and sways to the beats of Dhoom Macha Le in Dhoom-2. Many say that the rise of the anti-hero (whose character and goals are antithetical to traditional heroism) has been instrumental at sending the villains into oblivion. This is not entirely true. For the trend did not start with Amitabh Bachchan or Shah Rukh Khan. There have always been heroes who essayed negative roles, right from Moti Lal’s time. In 1952, Dilip Kumar’s character in the

Mehboob Khan costume drama, Aan had many shades of grey. Dev Anand was a rank crook in Raj Khosla’s 1960 crime thriller Bambai Ka Babu. These films were made at a time when specialist villains like KN Singh, Prem Nath and Jeevan were having a field day. So heroes turning anti-heroes could never be a threat to villains. What has actually gone against them is the absence of heroes capable of matching their villainy. The other factor to have sealed the fate of specialist villains is that Bollywood, slowly but steadily, has been moving out of the morality tale mode and films turned increasingly real. Karan Johar, for one, has shown that it is possible to produce immensely successful potboilers without having bad men prancing about. In Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, providence plays villain at separating the lovers while in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham class concerns and obduracy drive a wedge in a family’s happiness. Clearly, cinema needs its villains, in one form or the other. Without them, there can be no drama, no conflict, no excitement, no story... More importantly, there can be no show of heroism. The good thing in all this is that audiences have become perceptive enough to see through the mythological constructs of role play and are rejecting two-dimensional characters that had reduced Hindi film villainy to a farce. Alfred Hitchcock once said of Hollywood films: “In the old days, villains had moustaches and kicked the dog. Viewers are smarter today. They don’t want their villain to be thrown at them with green limelight on the face. They want an ordinary human being with common failings.” He could as well be speaking of Bollywood cinema.


Xiao Dao China Daily

MOURN: A mourner holds the book ‘Memories from the Hospital Bed(Bingta Zaji)’ by renowned Chinese scholar Ji Xianlin during his cremation ceremony at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing, capital of China, July 19.

The Reluctant
he was one oF chIna’s Greatest scholars oF hIstory, ancIent lanGuaGes anD culture but never thouGht hImselF so Great


remier Wen Jiabao visited Beijing’s No 301 Hospital on July 11 to pay his respect to a very dear friend. Unfortunately the Premier was unable to offer his last goodbye in person. Ji Xianlin, dubbed by many as the “master of Chinese culture” had died three hours earlier of heart attack. He was 97. Premier Wen said he had planned to celebrate Ji’s 98th birthday next month and was looking forward to discussing many different issues. Ji’s wise counsel was always in big demand over his 70-year academic career. He was one of China’s greatest scholars of history, ancient languages and culture. Ji repeatedly asked the media to stop calling him a “maestro in traditional Chinese culture” but despite the protests, the “master” title stuck. On his way to becoming a cultural icon, Ji personally taught more than 6,000 students and about 30 of these young people went onto becoming ambassadors serving across the four corners of the globe. According to his students and colleagues, China’s academic giant was always an amiable old man who wore bleached khaki suits, soft cloth shoes, and carried an old-fashioned schoolbag. They also remember his utmost respect for people, his humility and his tenderness for little animals, especially cats. Ji spent his last moments in No 301 hospital, Beijing,


with his son Ji Cheng accompanying by his side. “Ji’s leaving is the ending of an era,” says Zhao Rengui, professor of Beijing Normal University. “There are fewer and fewer masters accomplished like him nowadays.” Son to an impoverished rural family in Linqing, Shandong province, Ji was admitted to Tsinghua University in 1930 and majored in Western literature. Five years later he went to Gottingen University in Germany as an exchange student, majoring in Sanskrit and lesser-known ancient languages like Pali. He would spend more than 10 years in Germany and received his PhD in 1941. In Germany, Ji met Irmgard, his friend’s landlord’s daughter, who helped him type his dissertation, because he could not afford a typewriter. The two soon fell in love but Ji was already married in China and made the hard decision to give up the relationship and returned to China in 1946. In his book Ten Years in Germany (Liude Shinian), he wrote of the relationship. When he re-visited Gottingen in 1980, he tried to find Irmgard but failed. In 2000, a Hong Kong reporter, who was making a documentary of Ji, went to the city and found the lady, who was still single. The typewriter she used to help Ji was still on her desk. On his return in 1946 he became a professor at Peking University and soon founded the department of Eastern languages in the university. During the “cultural revolution” (1967-77), he spent five years translating the 2.8 million-word ancient Indian epic Ramayana from Sanskrit into Chinese.


On January 26, 2008, the literary world. reflection on the turmoil. government of India award“This small book is written Back in the mid 1980s, ed Ji the Padma Bhushan, Hu was seen in a very nega- with tears and blood,” he one of the country’s top civil- tive light and few dared to wrote. “It is my biggest joy to ian awards. finish it when I am alive. It is touch this taboo topic. Ji’s friends worried about the best gift I can give to the In 1978, Ji became vice president of Peking Univer- him for writing such a risky young generations.” sity and director of the Chi- article, but he maintained In the “cultural revolunese Academy of Science’s that even if Hu did make tion”, Ji thought of commitResearch Institute on South unforgivable mistakes, his ting suicide once after sufAsia. He also served as contributions to modern fering terrifying torture. chairman of various profes- Chinese literature should He survived and worked sional organisations, in- not be ignored. as a concierge of students’ Winning support from dormitory. During that time cluding the Chinese Foreign Literature Association, the many scholars later, his arti- he finished the translation of Chinese South Asian Ramayana, often Association and the working secretly on Chinese Language paper slips. In Cowshed, Ji Society. calls for those who Ji published 11 achave experienced ademic books and the “cultural revoover 200 papers in lution” to reflect on more than 10 acatheir past and indemic fields, includner world, and ing Chinese cultural learn a real lesson research, comparafrom the turbulent tive literature, and decade. Sanskrit. “I have a strong Ji maintained faith that if the that “Cultural exprocess of such a change is the main disaster is truthfuldrive for humanly recorded, it will kind’s progress. be a mirror for our Only by learning great nationality,” from each other’s he once said. “To strong points to look at ourselves in make up for shortthe mirror often comings can people will be very beneficonstantly progress, cial.” the ultimate target o f w h i c h i s t o READING: A file photo shows Ji Xianlin reads a book at Chen Pingyuan, achieve a kind of home in China, January 26, 2006. professor of PeGreat Harmony.” king University, says the book reIn 2003 Ji moved into No 301 hospital be- cle broke the ice for the re- veals his reflection on cause of health problems, evaluation of the modern politics. “He is never restricted to his major. We but continued reading and Chinese literature. “One thing about Ji that miss such scholars who writing there. The day before his passing deserves our admiration is focus not only on academhe was talking to an editor that he never fears to tell the ics, but also social and poabout new book plans and truth. He speaks out what he litical reality,” Chen says. Ji won affection from thinks,” says Zhao. wrote in calligraphy. In 1998, Ji published general public also for his In 1986, he wrote an article titled A Few Words for Memoirs from the Cowshed unassuming personality Hu Shi (1891-1962), who (Niupeng Zayi), a resonat- and humility. Twenty years ago, a freshwas a famous and controver- ing book recording his expesial Chinese scholar and dip- rience in the “cultural revo- man, busily going through lomat. His piece shocked the l u t i o n ” ( 1 9 6 6 -7 6 ) a n d enrollment procedures on

his first day at Peking University, ran into an old man on campus. In a frantic rush, he asked his senior to look after his luggage. When he remembered his luggage hours later he rushed back and found the old man sitting by his bags in the searing sun and reading a book. The young fellow thanked him and left, only to find the same old man sitting on the rostrum on a welcome ceremony the next day. He realised the minder of his bags was the vice-president of Peking University. “For a new student to Beijing, the luggage was his most precious belonging. I must treat his trust seriously,” Ji recalled the story to his friend, journalist Tang Shizeng. In his 2007 book Memories from the Hospital Bed (Bingta Zaji), he urged to remove three titles he had long been honored: master of traditional Chinese culture, academic maestro and national treasure. In an interview with CCTV, he said it was because the titles were not “truthful” and he was not that great. Mou Jie, editor of some of Ji’s books, remembers Ji as a very modest man. “He was never arrogant, although people call him a master,” she recalls. “He was always low key, and always believed more efforts were needed to improve the process of study.” Peking University, where Ji worked for 63 years, announced Ji’s passing in a statement calling him a “senior professor” instead of “master”, a title Ji urged the nation’s top university to remove many times. They remained true to his wishes.


IF you want to Know how beIjInG resIDents lIve, vIsIt hutonGs

Tifa Asrianti The Jakarta Post

hen visiting Beijing, it is the famous tourist attractions such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square that come to mind. But if you want to know how Beijing residents live, visit hutongs. Hutongs are narrow streets or alleys, most commonly associated with Beijing. In Beijing, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences. Many neighbourhoods were formed by joining one siheyuan to another to form a hutong, and then joining one hutong to another. The word hutong is also used to re-


fer to such neighbourhoods. The main buildings in the hutong are almost all quadrangles—a building complex formed by four houses around a quadrangular courtyard. The quadrangles vary in size and design according to the social status of the residents. The big quadrangles of high-ranking officials and wealthy merchants were specially built with roof beams and pillars, all beautifully carved and painted, each with a front and back yard. However, the ordinary people’s quadrangles were simply built with small gates and low houses. The specially built quadrangles all face the south for better lighting; as a result, a lot of hutongs run from east to west. Between the big hutongs many small ones went north and south for convenient passage. While some hutongs have had only


one name since their creation, others have changed names several times throughout their history. Names were given to hutongs for various reasons: place, such as Inner Xizhimen Hutong; plants as in Liushu Hutong (Liushu means willow); directions, as in Xi Hongmen Hutong (Xi means west); Beijing idioms such as Yizi Hutong (Yizi is a local term for soap). Hutongs can also be named with words having positive attributes, such as Xiqing Hutong (Xiqing means happy); related to markets and businesses, such as Yangshi Hutong (Yangshi is a sheep market);temples, such as Guanyinsi Hutong (Guanyinsi is the Kuan-yin Temple) or people’s names, such as Mengduan Hutong. There are many tour packages offering rickshaw rides or a walk into hutongs. While it is nice to have a guide, it is more fun to immerse yourself in the alleys and feel the warmth of Beijingers. One hutong my friends and I encountered was Lishi Hutong. Call it serendipity, but the decision to explore the alley was taken in only a split second. Located near Dongsi subway station, you can find Lishi Hutong as it is the second alley on Dongsibeidajie. The straight alley connects Dongsibeidajie with Chaoyangmennanxiaojie. Besides taking the subway, you could also take bus No.116, 684 or 106 and get off at the South of Dongsilu. Lishi Hutong, whose name changed from Lüshi Hutong in the Minguo Period, has a large siheyuan with three gates. Both sides of the gates have exquisite brick carvings. The siheyuan has two courtyards connected by a cloister, a covered passage with one side walled and the other an open arcade. A garden, a pool and pavilions were built in the eastern courtyard. Bin Jun, an official of Wuchang, Hubei Province in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), used to live in the siheyuan. It was then bought by a Japanese

businessman Li Yanqing, who made his fortune by selling rice during the massive earthquake in Japan in 1923. The property passed to and was redesigned by Li Songchen, the son of a big businessman named Li Shanren. After 1949, the siheyuan housed the Indonesian embassy. It has since been turned into offices for the China Youth Daily newspaper. As we walked through the alley,

Despite the language barrier, my friend asked the residents for their permission to allow us to photograph them. The residents, mostly the elderly, nodded with a smile. As my friend positioned himself among the residents and wrapped his arms around two ladies, one of them gave him a popsicle. It was a cold red bean popsicle, but we felt a warm sensation as we shared it bite by bite.

we get a glimpse of Beijingers’ daily life. Vendors and people ride on bikes. Children run playfully up and down the alley. The elderly people, who probably witnessed the governance of Mao Tse Tung, sit on the benches, chat with their neighbours, play Chinese chess or simply walk with their children and their dogs. There is a feeling of closeness as the alley is only around 2 meters wide. Simple siheyuan homes stand sideby-side with large ones. Both are being renovated shown by terracotta bricks and gray roof tiles that were being piled up on the roadside. During the walk, people would stare curiously at my group. But they would nod or smile as we said,”Ni hao” (hello), one of the Chinese expressions we mastered beside “Xie xie” (thank you).

You may find a lot of stalls and shops along the alley selling Chinese unique products, such as cigarettes and erguotou and Chinese liquor that my friend bought for 6 yuan (around 87 US cents) for 500 ml. As we had no clue about this liquor, we entered a music store and showed the bottle to the shopkeeper Dong Za upon leaving Lishi Hutong. He was surprised to see the bottle. “You should only take one shot of this. It’s very strong as it usually has 60 percent alcohol by volume. We only drink this in the winter. It will feel best if you dip the bottle in warm water before consuming it,” he said. Walking into a hutong may seem a simple experience, but it definitely is a lot more special than anything you can find along the capital’s main streets.



he lively Togo Shrine Markets occur once a month in Jingumae. From dawn onwards, locals browse through old plates, folk arts, traditional dolls, and junk, with the shrine as a backdrop. There are great bargains amongst the second-hand kimono racks. When: August 2; Sunday only (monthly) Where: Togo Shrine Markets, Tokyo, Japan Opening hours: 1st Sunday of the month 5am-3pm Price: Free Info: +81 (0) 3 5211 2171


he annual World Food Expo at Manila’s World Trade Center attracts more than 50,000 visitors every year. No surprise perhaps, as it offers baking and cooking demos, technical and business seminars, impressive displays and culinary competitions. When: August 5-8 (annual) Where: World Trade Center, Manila, Philippines Info:





uring the annual Raksha Bandhan festival, the women of Mumbai celebrate their sibling ties (quite literally) by tying a rakhi which may be colourful thread, a simple bracelet, or decorative string - around the wrist of their brothers. When: August 5 (annual) Where: Mumbai, India Info:; +91 (0) 22 202 5420


he Triathlon Association of Singapore presents the OSIM Singapore Triathlon, held in the area around East Coast Park. Participants swim 1.5km in the open sea, switch to a bike for a 40km cycle ride, then complete a gruelling 10km run. When: August 1-2 (annual) Where: East Coast Park, Singapore, Singapore Price: Free to watch Info:; +65 6736 6622; in UK +44 (0) 20 7437 0033


HOng KOng Ani-COmiCS & gAmE FAiR
he Hong Kong Ani-Comics & Game Fair at the Convention & Exhibition Centre is heaven for kids and collectors. The best manufacturers of comics, toys and computer games promote and sell their exciting new inventions over the five-day event. When: July 31-August 4 (annual) Where: Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong Island, China Opening hours: Daily 11am-10pm (until 8pm on Aug 4) Info:; +852 2807 6543




HGRS_AsiaNewsAdvtv2_080807.qxp:Layout 1 Teaser 197x121 4.6.09:Layout 1 4.6.2009


9:29 AM

Page 1

11:22 Uhr

Seite 1

Global competition 2009: Building Asia together. Two Holcim Awards for Asia
Whether you’re building or investing in factories, homes, bridges, schoolhouses or shopping malls we’re the perfect partner to make for sustainable construction The Holcim Awards competition projects and materials in your project happen. As the No. 1 supplier of buildingvisions attracted almost 5,000 entries from Asia we can deliver the right solutions when121 countries – the counts. and where it most outstanding were honored with Global
Holcim Awards 2009. Find out more on page 15.
Holcim in Asia-Pacific: world’s leading suppliers of cement and aggregates – and its Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam Group companies in more than 70 countries including Australia,

The Holcim Awards are supported by Holcim Ltd – one of the

Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Strength. Performance. Passion.

To top