You Mean The World To Me




By now you would have heard that You Mean The World To Me is Malaysia’s first ever Penang Hokkien dialect film.

You may even had read about how it is a semi-autobiographical story about director Saw Teong Hin’s (Puteri Gunung Ledang, Jejak Warriors) family.

Heck, someone might have even told you that world renowned cinematographer Christopher Doyle worked on the film as well.

You might think that knowing all that, and perhaps even having watched the play – which debuted at the George Town Fest a few years back – you would know what to expect when you watched the film version.

You would be wrong.

This is a film that is equal parts moving, challenging, happy, sad and disturbing, all at the same time. It is a film that takes its time to get going, lingering lovingly (and sometimes not so lovingly) on its central characters. And last but not least, it is a film that is not afraid to raise difficult questions and confront the director’s own personal demons.

Sunny (Frederick Lee) is a filmmaker who has fallen unto hard times. He returns to his hometown of Penang to make a movie about his dysfunctional family, a story marked by one particularly traumatising event he witnessed as a child.

That event caused him to bear resentment towards his family, especially his sister, Ah Hoon (Yeo Yann Yann), his mentally challenged elder brother Boy (John Tan) and his mother (Neo Swee Lin).

As he struggles with financial problems as well as his own guilt while making the film, Sunny learns the true value of family and also learns to accept the past.

First of all, don’t worry about the language. Yes, the film is in Penang Hokkien, but is that really so different from watching a film in Cantonese or Mandarin? In fact, the language actually enhances the, err, “Penang-ness” of the movie. And if all else fails, the subtitles are pretty accurate too.

The cinematography by Doyle does the same, treating Penang like one of its characters, lovingly showing it off with splendid wide aerial views, while letting us see other sides of the city we might not have noticed before.

The cast members are also outstanding here, managing to carry Saw’s story through its sometimes painfully depressing arc. It also helped that most of the cast were already in the stage version, so they had the characters down pat already.

Lee portrays admirably well as the onscreen version of Saw, while Tan is frighteningly scary yet vulnerable as Boy. The real star of the show, however, is Neo Swee Lin, who is the central pillar of the story. She is outstanding as the troubled, harried mother of the family, trying her best to keep it together while taking care of three children and a drunkard husband.

You Mean The World To Me can be a little heavy in parts, and the ending does feel a little rushed. But there is a moment of clarity captured in a perfectly executed final twist that is worth waiting for.

Saw has said in a recent interview that this movie is his way of apologising to his late mother and brother for his past mistakes, and honouring their memory. Well, we like to think that they would have been proud to see just what an impressive film he has made out of their story.

You Mean The World To Me(海墘新路)
Director: Saw Teong Hin
Cast: Frederick Lee, Neo Swee Lin, Yeo Yann Yann, Chelsia Ng, John Tan, Evan Chia, Sue Tan

The Star2, Publishd: May 4, 2017
You Mean The World To Me


@ 原題(和訳):「海墘新路(ビクトリア通り)」
A 英題: ”You Mean the World to Me”
B 監督名: Saw Teong Hin(蘇忠興)
C 制作年: 2017年
D 制作国: マレーシア
E 使用言語:福建語
F 日本での公開: 未公開


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毎日新聞、2017年1月22日 17時00分





徳川昭武公の「順天堂入院日誌」 について(第二報)


 先生は、最後(第11代)の水戸藩主節公、徳川昭武の次男(母は斎藤八重)であり、烈公徳川斉昭の孫、15 代将軍徳川慶喜の甥にあたる。兄と弟が夭折したので、先生は成人した唯一の男子であった。
 昭武は、長兄第 10代藩主慶篤の急死をうけ、水戸家の事情により慶篤の息、篤敬をさしおいて相続したが、明治16年に隠居して養子としていた篤敬に家督を譲り、現松戸市戸定(とじょう)の水戸徳川家別邸「戸定邸」に移り住んだ。

 昭和13年に東大教授を兼任、昭和17年には技術官の最高位の海軍技術中将に進み、技術研究所長となられ た。



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2017/2018 academic year

As students embark on the 2017/2018 academic year, the author reflects on his time at an Islamic university as well as the oldest English-speaking university in the world. 

HAVE you ever seen a poster of the Powerpuff Girls wearing the tudung (Islamic headscarf)?
I have. And I thought it was quite creative.

It was my first day entering the hallowed halls of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) matriculation campus in Petaling Jaya.

Posters of the famous cartoon characters were plastered around campus with the caption, “Don’t forget to cover your aurah” (the physical parts of the body that one should not expose according to Islamic teachings).

A friend of mine approvingly nodded at the posters, telling me that they created a light-hearted yet vital aura – a reminder of our religious obligations. Another friend, however, appeared slightly perturbed by the posters, muttering something about the conservative and patriarchal message it sent.

Then, how about this: have you ever received a family planning device (ahem...condom) during your university’s orientation week?

Well, I have.

It was during the “Fresher’s Week” at the University of Oxford (where I did my master’s degree).

In fact, a few such family planning devices were smilingly handed to me by seniors as I walked along the sacred halls of Oxford’s Examination Schools, the venue for clubs and societies to recruit new members at the start of the academic year. (Oh, I gave the hand-outs away).

A fellow freshie appeared to disapprove of these hand-outs, saying it was “an unwanted imposition of liberal ideology on the masses”. Another gleefully laughed it off, saying he was glad that Oxonions could keep themselves safe and prevent the spread of unwanted diseases.

Welcome, dear almost young adults, to university life.

Studying at both these higher institutions of learning – IIUM which started in 1983, and ye olde 1096 Oxford University – certainly enhanced, and at times challenged, my various worldviews at different junctures in my life.

Walking along the corridors of IIUM, it was common for fellow students to greet you with Assalamualaikum (Peace be Upon You) and to address you as “Brother” or “Sister” – both Muslims and non-Muslims. I had never experienced this before during my schooling years.

It always put a smile on my face. It was a beautiful culture and gesture.

Oxford, on the other hand, exuded an alluring academic calm although the city was always buzzing with events.

Libraries were everywhere – more than 100 around the city.

Academic activities were diverse and robust, with (almost) no topic too sensitive to discuss. People were friendly, but the culture seemed a bit more independent and impersonal compared to IIUM.

Oxford had wonderful traditions such as college dining, punting along the river Cherwell and (the occasionally tedious) wearing of the sub fusc (a formal academic gown) for examinations.

IIUM didn’t have such formal traditions but there were lots of activities we undergrads looked forward to.

An eye-opener annual event was the Ummatic Week celebrating the diversity and cultures of Muslims from over 125 countries worldwide.

No doubt, studying at IIUM and Oxford presented its own unique set of challenges. Often times, one would be thrown into the paradoxical “clash” of cultures and environment, much like the reminders of chastity with the Power Puff tudung or the reverse with the prophylactic family planning door-gifts.

There were varying notions of gender roles within a community, state and religion, as well as coming face-to-face with strange new bed-fellows in the hostel dormitory who would turn out to be your life-long buddies.

I recall my Kelantanese friends viewing me with bemusement because of my English-speaking leanings. Never, too, had I met so many Kelantanese in my life prior to that and in our bantering, we uncovered commonalities and respected differences.

So what did I learn from my alma maters in this journey from school student to undergrad to post-grad? Here are some shared thoughts for incoming freshies.

1. Stay Fresh –
This is the formal foundation for the real world outside and beyond. Observe and learn. Do not see differences as a bad thing. Find out more, understand where the views are coming from and if you disagree, be kind in your disagreement. At the very least, the differences enrich your worldview.

2. Love Knowledge –
The input from your varsity environment, formal and informal, in and out of your lecture rooms, both good and bad, is the first thirst quencher in the hunger for knowledge. And we all know, knowledge is power!

3. Choose your “Battles” –
From centric to the eccentric, there will be ups and downs. And it’s not the downs, the problems, as much as “how” you handle the situation. In both IIUM and Oxford, my realisation was that one is assessed (yes, even judged) for and by what one does or doesn’t.

Hence, a pre-emptive thought-out response, not an initial gut reaction, is worth considering. It somewhat determines your maturity and reputation.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. A local university can provide a comparable experience.

It’s about learning and truly seeing and churning these into a vision we see ourselves fitting into.

All in all, I was drawn in by the spirituality of learning and brotherhood at IIUM and am thankful for the exposure to religious education I obtained there. Personally, it filled a void in my life.

Oxford, too, was highly enlightening, thanks to its traditions and inspiring academic community.

In my books, that’s how the best was won. I deeply cherish my varsity experiences and hope the 50,000 strong eager-eyed post-high school students entering our local institutions this month will do too.


The Star, Published: Thursday, 28 Sep 2017
Getting the best of both academic worlds
By Danial Rahman

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−地獄の夜 幼きながら耐えし子の 健気さ思い涙垂りくる−
−差し伸べる 我が手はらいて幼らは 消えて覚めれば夢に泣きたり−
−くり返し 我れ叫びたしふたたびを おかしてはならじ戦争の愚を−


counselorsのブログ、2011-03-09 18:56:34









ステトスコープ・チェロ・電鍵、2017/09/29 08:33


Mahler - Symphony No 9 in D minor - Barenboim





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 松戸市で、Learning from Japan(日本から学ぶ)!



 東京で開催中の「スケーエン デンマークの芸術家村」展(東京新聞など主催)では、19世紀末に北の漁村スケーエンに集った画家の作品を展示している。

 日本でも人気が高い家具などデンマーク・デザインの発展にも、日本文化の影響があった。その歴史をたどれるのが、デザイン博物館・デンマークで開かれている企画展「Learning from Japan(日本から学ぶ)」だ。


「スケーエン デンマークの芸術家村」展は東京・上野の国立西洋美術館で5月28日まで。アンカー夫妻らスケーエン派の画家の作品59点が並ぶ。

【日本・デンマーク外交関係樹立150周年記念 スケーエン:デンマークの芸術家村】

デンマークに息づく日本の美 友好150年 互いに絵画展

 第2回パリ万博は、産業の組織化を唱えたサン・シモン主義者であるル・プレー(P. G. F. Le Play)が万博の組織委員長、シュヴァリエ(M. Chevalier)が国際審査委員会の議長に任命された。第二帝政に強い思想的影響力を及ぼしていた社会を科学的、実証的にとらえるサン・シモン主義者たちによって統括されたこの万博は、第二帝政の象徴とも言われた。また、この万博は、ナポレオン三世によるロンドン万博への挑戦として人々の注目を集めていた。

 また、この万博では、ジーメンス(Siemens)社による電動機、発電機、エドゥー(L. Edoux)による水圧式エレベータといった機械、クルップ(Krupp)社の大砲などの武器が大きな注目を集めた。中でも水圧式エレベータは、会場屋上まで昇ることができ、会場の俯瞰風景を楽しむことができた。









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ヒュッゲ しない?


Last month, Denmark was crowned the happiest country in the world.

“The top countries generally rank higher in all six of the key factors identified in the World Happiness Report,” wrote University of British Columbia economics professor John Helliwell, one of the report’s contributing authors. “Together, these six factors explain three quarters of differences in life evaluations across hundreds of countries and over the years.”

The six factors for a happy nation split evenly between concerns on a government- and on a human-scale. The happiest countries have in common a large GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy at birth and a lack of corruption in leadership. But also essential were three things over which individual citizens have a bit more control over: A sense of social support, freedom to make life choices and a culture of generosity.

“There is now a rising worldwide demand that policy be more closely aligned with what really matters to people as they themselves characterize their well-being,” economist Jeffrey Sachs said in a statement at the time of the report’s release.

But why Denmark over any of the other wealthy, democratic countries with small, educated populations? And can the qualities that make this Nordic country the happiest around apply to other cultures across the globe? Here are a few things Danes do well that any of us can lobby for:

Denmark supports parents

While American women scrape by with an average maternal leave of 10.3 weeks, Danish families receive a total of 52 weeks of parental leave. Mothers are able to take 18 weeks and fathers receive their own dedicated 2 weeks at up to 100 percent salary. The rest of the paid time off is up to the family to use as they see fit.

But the support doesn’t stop at the end of this time. Danish children have access to free or low-cost child care. And early childhood education is associated with health and well-being throughout life for its recipients − as well as for mothers. What’s more, this frees up young mothers to return to the work force if they’d like to. The result? In Denmark, 79 percent of mothers return to their previous level of employment, compared to 59 percent of American women. These resources mean that women contribute 34 to 38 percent of income in Danish households with children, compared to American women, who contribute 28 percent of income.

Health care is a civil right − and a source of social support

Danish citizens expect and receive health care as a basic right. But what’s more, they know how to effectively use their health systems. Danish people are in touch with their primary care physician an average of nearly seven times per year, according to a 2012 survey of family medicine in the country. And that means they have a single advocate who helps them navigate more complicated care.

“This gatekeeping system essentially is designed to support the principle that treatment ought to take place at the lowest effective care level along with the idea of continuity of care provided by a family doctor,” wrote the authors of the family medicine survey.

By contrast, Americans seek medical care an average of fewer than four times per year and they don’t just visit their general practitioner − this figure includes emergency room visits, where many uninsured Americans must access doctors. This diversity of resources means that many Americans don’t have continuity of care − not a single medical professional advocating for them and putting together a comprehensive medical history.

Gender equality is prioritized

It isn’t just parents who can expect balanced gender norms. Denmark regularly ranks among the top 10 countries in a World Economic Forum’s yearly report that measures gender equality. While no country in the world has yet achieved gender parity, Denmark and other Nordic countries are coming close. That is in no small part because of the strong presence of women in leadership positions. Reported the World Economic Forum:

The Nordic countries were also early starters in providing women with the right to vote (Sweden in 1919, Norway in 1913, Iceland and Denmark in 1915, Finland in 1906). In Denmark, Sweden and Norway, political parties introduced voluntary gender quotas in the 1970s, resulting in high numbers of female political representatives over the years. In Denmark, in fact, this quota has since been abandoned as no further stimulus is required.

Indeed, the country currently has its first female prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt (although she has been leader of the Social Democrat party since 2005). Its blockbuster hit television show, Borgen, features a female prime minister (pictured above) as well − a complicated, strong female character that stands in contrast to America’s enduring obsession with male anti-heroes.

But government leadership merely exemplifies greater gender balance throughout the culture. As Katie J.M. Baker puts it in her exploration of gender politics in the Scandinavian country: “Unlike in America, where bestsellers goad already overworked and underpaid women to Lean In even further, the assumption in Denmark is that feminism is a collective goal, not an individual pursuit.”

Biking is the norm

In Denmark’s most populated and largest city, Copenhagen, bikes account for 50 percent of its residents’ trips to school or work. Half. Half of commuting happens on a bike in Copenhagen and that doesn’t just improve fitness levels and reduce carbon emissions, it also contributes to the wealth of the city, reported Forbes:

Researchers found that for every kilometer traveled by bike instead of by car, taxpayers saved 7.8 cents (DKK 0.45) in avoided air pollution, accidents, congestion, noise and wear and tear on infrastructure. Cyclists in Copenhagen cover an estimated 1.2 million kilometers each day –- saving the city a little over $34 million each year.

What’s more, just 30 minutes of daily biking adds an average of one to two years to the life expectancy of Copenhagen’s cyclists.

Danish culture puts a positive spin on its harsh environment

Here’s how Danish people turn lemons into spiced mulled wine: Ever heard of the concept of hygge? While some would define it as cultivated coziness, hygge is often considered the major weapon in combatting the dreary darkness that befalls the Nordic country over the winter. In a place where the sun shines fewer than seven hours during the height of the winter solstice − a level of darkness that can (and does) stir depression and sad feelings − the concept of a cozy scene, full of love and indulgence, can help to mitigate some of the season’s worst psychological effects.

After all, both strong social connections and many of the indulgent foods associated with hygge − such as chocolate, coffee and wine − are mood boosters.

Danes feel a responsibility to one another

Danes don’t prioritize social security and safety simply so they can receive benefits; there’s a real sense of collective responsibility and belonging. And this civic duty − combined with the economic security and work-life balance to support it − results in a high rate of volunteerism. According to a government exploration of Danish “responsibility”:

Denmark is a society where citizens participate and contribute to making society work. More than 40 percent of all Danes do voluntary work in cultural and sports associations, NGOs, social organisations, political organisations, etc. There is a wealth of associations: in 2006, there were 101,000 Danish organisations − worth noting in a population of just 5.5 million.

The economic value of this unpaid work is DKK 35.3 billion. Combined with the value growth from the non-profit sector, public subsidies and membership fees, the total economic impact of the sector represents 9.6 percent of the Danish GDP.

But that sense of stewardship isn’t just extra-governmental: Danes also take pride in their involvement with the democratic process. During the last election in September 2011, for example, 87.7 percent of the country voted. It’s not surprising, given these statistics, that the University of Zurich and the Social Science Research Center Berlin have given Denmark the very highest rating for democracy among 30 established democracies.

Huffpost, First Published: 10/22/2013 08:06 am ET (Updated May 26, 2016)
Denmark Is Considered The Happiest Country. You’ll Never Guess Why.
By Meredith Melnick

Higgy? Hooga? Heugh? It doesn’t matter how you pronounce hygge, what’s important is that you feel it. Hygge is the Danish word used to describe the sensation of “cosy intimacy” you get when you are at home surrounded by your loved ones. Let me explain. Last Sunday, I was lying on the sofa while my wife practised her downward dog. A storm was raging outside, the scented candles were lit, a fire was blazing in the hearth and there was a plate of fresh pastries on the table.

“Could anything be more hygge?” I asked. “Yes,” my wife replied. “We could be watching some paedophile serial killer on the rampage in a Scandi noir box set.”

Research conducted by the Happiness Research Institute, of which I am the founder member, has concluded that the Danes are the happiest people in the world and that I am the happiest Dane. Every day, at least one person asks me to share the secret of my hygginess – and now that I’ve noticed several other publishers have brought out books about hygge, I have decided to share my secrets in the hope that the money I earn will make me even hyggier.

Instant hygge is possible. All you have to do is light a candle. Danes use twice as many candles as the rest of the world combined. So get a candle from a candle shop and light it. You may also want to switch on a lamp. Lamps can also make you feel hygge. Danes use twice as many lamps as the rest of the world combined. Make sure that if you do get a lamp, you don’t buy one from Ikea. Swedish lamps are a bit rubbish and won’t make you feel hygge.

Imagine a world where everyone leaves work at 5.30, goes straight home to light a candle, before eating a few cakes with some friends and going to bed at 9.45. That is what we do in Denmark. Every country may have their own ideas of what makes them hygge, but the concept is basically the same. Retreating to a space where you feel safe and not bothering about anyone you don’t know. A bit like what Brexit meant to many people.

There isn’t a great deal more to say about hygge but that’s not going to stop me saying it – because one of the best things about being hygge is that no one listens to a word anyone else is saying, so no one one knows when someone else is being boring. One essential component of hygge is eating. To be really hygge, you have to eat loads of cakes and chocolate. Here are some recipes for cakes and chocolates that you won’t get round to using.

Are you sitting comfortably? I thought not. That’s because you are wearing the wrong clothes and your house is poorly designed. To feel the true essence of hygginess, put on an old pair of trackie bottoms and a Sarah Lund sweater and throw some sticks on to the floor. That way you can feel the presence of the outside even when you are inside. You may also want to take some sticks with you when you leave your house to go into Copenhagen as not every street has a stick shop.

Have I mentioned that candles and cakes are very good for improving one’s hygge? It’s something I can’t stress too highly. Every month can be hygge month. In January, I like to sit indoors and watch TV. In February, I also like to sit indoors and watch TV. Ditto for March. By way of variety, in April I dress up in a flamenco costume and sit indoors and watch TV. In May, I go back to sitting indoors and watching TV. If it’s warm enough in June, I sometimes sit indoors watching TV with the window open. For the rest of the year I get ready for Christmas which is always the hyggiest time of year.

Hygge doesn’t have to be expensive. Cheap candles and cakes can be just as good as pricier ones. One of the reasons the Danes are so much happier than everyone else is because there is very little to do in Denmark, so we have got used to having low expectations. For us, a bike ride in the pouring rain with a candle on our heads or sitting on the beach in the pouring rain eating cakes can be pure hygginess.

Here are some ideas for how you can be hygge in Copenhagen:

1) Go for a walk with some sticks.
2) Buy a candle.
3) Have your throat ripped out by a copycat killer who has watched The Killing.
4) That’s about it.

Remember: candles and cakes are very important for hygge. Stay safe, stay hygge.

Digested read, digested: If you’re hygge and you know it, clap your hands.

The Guardian, Last modified on Wednesday 20 September 2017 10.51 BST
The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking – digested read

‘For instant hygge, all you have to do is light a candle. You may also want to switch on a lamp. But not one from Ikea’
By John Crace

Higgy? Hooga? Heugh? Hygge?

 気の置けない人たちと、ゆったり心地よい時間を過ごす −。












【日本・デンマーク外交関係樹立150周年記念 スケーエン:デンマークの芸術家村】

ヒュッゲ しない? デンマーク人の幸せ 大切な人、温かい時間


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For a happy, productive day

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian actress and emcee Davina Goh (pic) will bid to swim 9km in the South China Sea to raise funds for marine conservation.

Goh will take part in the Raleigh Round Island Challenge from May 27 to 29 organised by non-governmental organisation Raleigh Kuala Lumpur.

The challenge is the longest open water swimathon in Malaysia in which Goh will be swimming for 9km and kayaking for an additional 9km around Pulau Perhentian Besar in Terengganu.

She will be part of a four-person team, which will aim to complete the entire course in 11 hours.

Goh has been training hard since Sept last year for the event.

“This year I started training with triathletes in a proper conditioning programme. It was very humbling,” she told The Star Online on Tuesday.

Goh said she decided to raise funds for marine conservation as the islands and beaches which she used to visit when she was younger were no longer recognisable.

“There is a lot more pollution and not so many fisherman out working,” she said.
Goh is raising money for two marine-related NGOs – Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) and the MareCet Research Organisation (MareCet).

“There’s only so much money I can raise, so if there is something that requires immediate attention, especially with all the press going on about coral bleaching, then it is all the more significant to raise awareness for the two NGOs in what they do,” she said.

Goh said she first came to know of RCM through her best friend who was the very first volunteer they trained as an eco diver to do reef check surveys.

As for MareCet, she said a friend of hers was raising awareness for the NGO when one of the research boats capsized, resulting in a loss of onboard equipment. Through that incident, Goh said, she also discovered that Malaysia had its very own dolphin and whale species.

“If somebody who is as passionate about the environment and nature as I, am not even aware of marine mammals in Malaysia, then I thought there is still a lot of work that can be done,” she said.

Goh, who is also a fitness and health enthusiast, is expecting to raise RM20,000.

“I am very encouraged with the generosity of Malaysians where to date we have raised around RM8,000,” she said.

The money raised will be equally distributed between both NGOs which will eventually be channelled to hire more manpower and to support MareCet’s Langkawi Dolphin Research project according, says Goh.

“RCM told me because they cannot afford to buy a can crasher, a marine biologist spends hours crushing cans manually,” she said.

Members of the public can make donations towards ‘Davina’s Epic Swimathon Challenge’ from now until May 27 at www.simplygiving.com/davinaswims.

The Star, Published: Friday, 8 Apr 2016 - 3:36 PM MYT
Davina sets sights on 9km open-water swim to raise funds
By Ashley Tang

Name: Davina Goh (*)
Age: 34
Weight: 51kg
Height: 5’5”(165cm)
Occupation: Performer and plant-based lifestyle advocate

1. What is your weekly exercise routine?

I like to keep my routine flexible and rotate between swimming, running, hiking, yoga and gym. Occasionally, there are other activities thrown into the mix, like rock climbing and badminton.
2. What is your fitness aim?

To show that when done with mindfulness and discretion, a plant-based diet can not only look after your physical and mental well-being but it can also bring out your most capable self in fitness.
3. Are you a gym junkie or outdoor exerciser?

I’d choose a jungle over a treadmill and the ocean over a pool. I love how unpredictable the outdoors can be. I love that kind of challenge. However, I find the gym important in targeting muscle groups.
4. What is the most drastic thing you’ve done when it comes to exercise?

In 2013, I quit my corporate job, packed my bags and studied Shaolin kung fu for eight months. Living as a martial arts student was one of the most physically and mentally challenging things I’ve ever done. I have come out of it with a lot of wisdom.

5. What is your typical breakfast?

A tablespoon of virgin coconut oil and a glass of wheatgrass juice followed by a bowl of overnight oats with nuts and dried fruit. Starting my day with a clean, wholesome meal sets the mood for a happy, productive day.
6. How do you prevent injury?

Stretch! A lot of people forget to do that after exercising. Even I have forgotten sometimes, and have suffered as a result. I have a roller at home, which aids in deep tissue massage and that helps prevent injury too. When I feel that any body part doesn’t feel right while I am exercising, I stop immediately and take a break.
7. What is your advice to get people to exercise?

Find an activity that excites you. I have a filmmaker friend who is not into fitness but loves skateboarding. My husband is so enthusiastic about tai chi that he wakes up at 6am almost every single day to join his group at the park. A hobby that keeps you physically moving is a great hobby to have.
8. What’s your favourite source of protein?

I love tempeh because it’s so easy to find here in Malaysia. It’s cheap, versatile and also one of the highest sources of unprocessed plant-based protein. I love how much diversity there is when it comes to plant-based protein. It’s practically in everything, even bananas!
9. Are you pro- or anti-carbohydrate?

Pro, all the way! As a plant-based lifestyle advocate, I strongly believe that long as you are eating right, there is never a need to fear carbs. I’m at my leanest in my life, while eating the most carbs in my life. I eat loads of whole grains, legumes, potatoes and fruit to keep me energised throughout the day.
10. What’s the one thing exercise has taught you?

Discipline and self-respect. It also teaches me to stay in the moment. It can be very therapeutic.
11. What’s your favourite workout memory?

One day at kung fu school, my classmates and I were being completely “destroyed” by our sifu who was giving us very tough exercises to accomplish. Right after we finished and were waiting further instructions, the sifu, who was still learning to speak basic English, confidently declared, “Ten basketball!”

We all looked at each other bewildered. Realising his mistake, the sifu put his palm to his forehead and tried again: “Ten PUSHUP!” We exploded in laughter.
12. Do you listen to music while exercising?

I used to but now not so much. I feel that it lures me away from the present moment. When I go for a run with my earphones on and head to the park, I end up taking the earphones out because I find the song of insects and birds and the laughter of children to be much more inspiring.

New Straits Times, Published: September 28, 2017 - 3:14pm
Fit & Fabulous : Davina Goh
By Meera Murugesan

(*) Davina Goh

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Healing power of exercise

Ageing occurs when biological reserve and response demands decrease to restore and maintain homeostasis due to physiological, psychological, physical and social changes.


Ageing is a process. It occurs when biological reserve and response demands decrease to restore and maintain homeostasis due to physiological, psychological, physical and social changes.

An expert once said that ageing starts from the fifth decade of life, at about 45 years of age. Here, old age begins at 60 years. In developed country, 65 years old is the starting point of ageing.

Ageing is associated with physical and physiological changes that affect quality of life.

The fitness level decreases for about five to 10 per cent per decade after the age of 30. This is due to the decrease of maximum heart rate and a reduced capacity of the heart.

Muscle function and power reduce too. This is due to the reduction in muscle mass. A healthy 80-year-old may lose half of his muscle mass. This could be due to hormonal changes in the body. In contrast, fat mass will increase.

As a result, balance, flexibility of joint and walking ability are reduced by increased age. This is why the risk of fall is high among the elderly.

Ageing is also associated with more incidence of chronic diseases. The most common chronic disease is hypertension. Other common diseases are high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, obesity, diabetes, depression and heart disease.

As age advances, people are less physically active. In Malaysia, starting at the age of 50, prevalence of physical activity starts declining. At the age of 60, the prevalence of physical activity is 60.9 per cent compared to 73 per cent at the age of 40.

There are indicators for healthy and successful ageing. They include: survival to a specific age, being free of chronic diseases, autonomy in activity of daily living, good quality of life, high social participation and high level of cognitive function.

Flexibility exercises help to prevent joint restriction and improve body function.


It is known that regular physical activity is a significant lifestyle factor that may prevent and reduce impact of age-related physical and physiological changes. Regular aerobic exercise will improve fitness and reduce accumulation of fat mass.

Strength exercise will increase muscle strength, bone mass (especially among elderly women) and muscle mass. Studies have shown that muscle mass may increase between five and 10 per cent. Overall, this has a positive effect on body composition.

Flexibility exercises will improve joint flexibility and prevent joint restriction.

Balancing exercises will improve balance and prevent falls. Overall, functional capacity will improve and the elderly can maintain a high degree of personal independence and finally, maintain quality of their lives.

Regular exercise will also prevent and control chronic diseases, which is a risk factor of heart disease. It will improve insulin sensitivity, improve blood glucose, decrease blood pressure and improve lipid metabolism. This will prevent diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol and subsequently will prevent occurrence of cardiovascular disease.

Effects of regular exercise will also be seen in the prevention of mental illness like depression. Cognitive function will improve with regular exercise too. Studies have shown that a physically active person has less risk of developing dementia by 30 per cent compared to a less active person.

Regular exercise will prevent and control chronic diseases, which is a risk factor of heart disease.


Exercise in the elderly has similar benefits as it does to a young person. This includes aerobics, strength exercise, balance and flexibility exercises. Aerobic exercises should start at low intensity and gradually increase to moderate intensity. Improvement to high intensity will increase cardiovascular function.

According to the Health Ministry’s Physical Activities Guildelines 2017, the duration should be 150 minutes per week (for moderate intensity exercise) or 75 minutes per week (for high intensity exercise).

To know more about intensity during exercise, refer to this column on May 5, “Preventing exercise injury”.

If you want to use heart rate monitor to measure intensity, refer to the May 19 article, “Monitoring Heart Rate”.

The minimum duration of exercise is 10 minutes per session. An individual is encouraged to find what he or she finds enjoyable and comfortable with. Suitable aerobic exercises includes walking, brisk walking, swimming, cycling and running.

Strength training is recommended to improve muscle mass and strength. It should be done 2-3 times per week. This type of exercise should include major muscle group of upper and lower body.

Start with lower weight and lower repetition (8-10) per set, 2-3 set per type of exercise. Gradually increase weight, repetitions and sets over months.

Balance and flexibility are important exercises for the elderly. Balance exercise is to challenge one’s stability. Example of balance exercises are standing on one leg, walking in circles, sideways or over obstacles.

Flexibility exercises help to prevent joint restriction and improve body function. Stretch each joint (neck, back, upper limb and lower limbs) until you feel tightness or slight discomfort and hold for 30-60 seconds. Balance and flexibility exercise can be done before or after each time doing aerobic exercise.

It is recommended that before engaging in any physical activity, refer to a doctor for medical evaluation.

If you have heart condition, please refer to the Aug 1 article, “Why heart disease patients need to exercise” and the Aug 15 article, “Can I exercise after a heart attack?”

Ageing is associated with physical and physiological changes.

New Straits Times, Published: September 28, 2017 - 1:41pm
Heal with exercise: To age better, exercise
By Assoc. Prof Dr Ahmad Taufik Jamil
An avid sportsman who believes in the healing power of exercise, Assoc Prof Dr Ahmad Taufik Jamil is Universiti teknologi mara’s public health consultant and exercise physician.

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Jo Stafford_" On The London Bridge " 霧のロンドン・ブリッジ


 歴史館での特別展示は、「1867年パリ万博150周年記念展−第2期 写真と万博(7月15日土曜日から9月24日日曜日まで)」!





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会見の「国難突破解散」 国難は「ボク難」?




こうした日本の政治は外国人の目にはどのように映るのか?フランスAFP通信の記者で、日本人の夫を持つ西村 プペ カリン特派員に「個人的見解」として話を聞いた。


● 「自分利益解散」もしくは「わがまま解散」



























● 安倍首相はコンビニの経営者みたい


















ホウドウキョク、Sep 26, 2017

By Shimizu Toshihiro、Reporter

解散権の肥大化、見通せず 小選挙区推進した学者の悔恨



木村草太のツイッター、2:30 - 2017年9月26日









自民税調 消費税の使いみちは衆院選後に議論

NHK NEWS WEB 9月26日 17時13分






ステトスコープ・チェロ・電鍵、2017/09/26 22:19

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【写真】20歳未満のみ増加? 各年代の自殺者数はこちら












● 中高年の自殺は減ったのに20歳未満の自殺は横ばい









 兵庫県などでカウンセラーを務め、『学校現場から発信する 子どもの自殺予防ガイドブック いのちの危機と向き合って』の著者でもある阪中(さかなか)順子さんは、「(27人増は)重い数字」と話す。少子化で子どもの数は減っている。自殺者数が横ばいでも人口あたりの自殺死亡率は高まっていることになるのに、実数も増えている。




● 誰かと充実感を共有すれば子どもの心はほぐれる







● 励ましも心配も望まない 大人は子どもの安全基地に








「それは森さんが心配だからだよね?森さんの意思でしょ? でも、大切にするべき軸は、自分ではなく、向き合う相手である子どもに置いたほうがいい。励まされることさえ、子どもは望んでいないかもしれないよ」




● 子どもを信じない大人を 子どもたちは信じない





※AERA 2017年9月18日号

2017.9.18 07:00


Diamond Online、2016.9.9
中学生の貧困・いじめ…保健室でしか聞こえない SOS


● 10年間に発生した人身事故は1万2304件








● 30分以内なら報告されない




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☆ 「古事記」では簡単に蝦夷や反抗する関東の豪族たちを平定して帰還の途につき、相模と駿河の境にある足柄峠で、「私の身代わりになってくれた妻よ」という意味をこめて、「吾妻はや」と呼びかけ、以後この地を吾妻とよぶようなったとしています。そして、そこから甲斐の酒折宮(今の甲府市内)に入り「新治、筑波をすぎて幾夜か寝つる」(常陸の新治、筑波を発ってから幾日経っただろうか)と歌を詠み、信濃を経て尾張にもどっています。「古事記」ではミコトの東征は戦争の叙述はほとんどなく記述も大まかです。
☆ 一方「書記」では、房総半島に上陸したミコトは、上総から海路舟で宮城県の多賀城まで足を伸ばし、その後、陸路常陸にもどっています。そして、そこから甲斐の酒折に入り、古事記と同じく「新治」の歌を詠んでいます。しかし、さらにミコトは「蝦夷は平定したが、信濃と越(こし=北陸でたぶん新潟のこと)はいまだ帰順していない」と言い、甲斐から北武蔵と上野に行き、それから碓氷峠に到達します。そして、この碓氷峠で「吾妻はや」と呼びかけます。その後ミコトは部下を越に派遣し、自らは信濃に進み、悪路に苦しみ白い鹿に変身した山の神を退治して尾張にもどるということになっています。
















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Donald Trump may have stumbled into dangerous new territory with tweets that North Korea interpreted as a declaration of war, alarming a region used to living on the edge but now seriously considering the possibility of conflict.

Observers say the US president’s fondness for Twitter diplomacy is creating a situation ripe for dangerous misunderstandings as he pursues an increasingly personal row with Kim Jong-Un.

Trump’s tweet that the Pyongyang regime “won’t be around much longer” elicited alarm from North Korea, with its foreign minister saying the US had “declared a war.”

Although the White House dismissed this reading as “absurd“, the damage may have been done – North Korea takes a very dim view of what it perceives as threats against its leadership.
“If we get into a war it’s because of misperception,” said Robert Kelly, professor of political science at Pusan National University.

“In the real world there is no need to have conflict.”

Nevertheless, tensions are surging.

Pyongyang’s missile programme has stepped up a gear with two of its most recent launches sailing over a nervous Japan.

This month it conducted its largest ever nuclear test – what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb.

In the wake of the nuclear test, academics in China began openly calling for a reassessment of Beijing’s long-term policy of support for North Korea.

Pyongyang has “largely ignored China’s efforts” to resolve the situation with dialogue, said Jia Qingguo of Peking University, in an article entitled “Time to prepare for the worst in North Korea.”

The commentary, the first of several from Chinese academics in what some observers see as a sharp warning to Kim, urged Beijing to consider contingency talks with Washington and Seoul.

“When war becomes a real possibility, China must be prepared,” the article said.

The more hopeful interpretation of Trump’s tweeting, said Kelly, is that Kim is not the target at all; rather it is intended to persuade China to “stop looking the other way.”

Beijing has traditionally provided an economic lifeline to its isolated neighbour, fearful of the destabilising consequences of regime collapse or conflict.

But after the latest nuclear test, it signed up to tough new sanctions, including potentially damaging restrictions on crude oil, aimed at squeezing Pyongyang.

Even so, Trump continues to poke the hornet’s nest, either unaware of, or maybe in spite of, Pyongyang’s growing outrage.

With few of the normal contacts that grease the wheels of interaction between two countries – no embassies, infrequent chances for diplomats to meet – the US and North Korea often conduct their relationship in full public view.

That this relationship has descended into playground insults – Trump is a “mentally deranged... dotard“; Kim is “Little Rocket Man” – carries risks, says Kim Hyun-Wook, professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy.

“The US and North Korea don’t want to drive this to a military conflict but if this psychological warfare persists, one side could unintentionally cross the red line which will prompt the other to launch a counteraction, leading to an armed clash,” he said.

Those actions and counteractions are already starting to play out.

A hint late last week that Pyongyang might respond to Trump’s insults with an atmospheric nuclear test raises the stakes – and the chance of miscalculation – next time the regime fires a missile, say analysts.

For South Korea and Japan – both home to tens of thousands of US troops, and both likely targets of any North Korean attack – the spectre of a conflict is rattling nerves.

In densely-populated Seoul, which lies within mortar range of the heavily-fortified border, war preparations have become a familiar part of life.

Subway stations double as fallout shelters, complete with rows of gas masks, and the country conducts emergency drills to role play a North Korean attack about four times a year.

Across the water, Japan frets over not just ballistic missiles that could be carrying chemical, biological or nuclear payloads, but also about the risk of “electromagnetic-pulse (EMP) attacks” that could knock out the country’s electronics infrastructure.

Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who has just bagged his department a bumper budget settlement, told a press conference earlier this month that Japan thinks “it is important to enhance survivability against EMP weapons.”

The Japanese government has in place a tried-and-tested alert system – text messages, loudspeaker alerts – for when missiles are launched over the country.

However, with only minutes to react, many Japanese feel a sense of helplessness against the possibility of an attack.

In the end, says Pusan National University’s Kelly, if the rhetoric is dialled down, and Trump steps away from the keyboard, the uneasy detente that has defined northeast Asia for the last few decades could return – but with one major adjustment.

“We learned to live with Soviet, Maoist Chinese, and Pakistani nuclear weapons,” he said. “We can adapt to North Korean nukes as well.

New Straits Times, Published: September 26, 2017 - 7:06pm
Trump Twitter tirades deepen Asia alarm over conflict risk







2017/09/25 15:43 ステトスコープ・チェロ・電鍵

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We are in big trouble!

Part 1: What is happening?

1. Climate change? Global warming? What do we call it?

Both are accurate, but they mean different things.

You can think of global warming as one type of climate change. The broader term covers changes beyond warmer temperatures, such as shifting rainfall patterns.

President Trump has claimed that scientists stopped referring to global warming and started calling it climate change because “the weather has been so cold” in winter. But the claim is false. Scientists have used both terms for decades.

2. How much is the Earth heating up?

Two degrees is more significant than it sounds.

As of early 2017, the Earth had warmed by roughly 2 degrees Fahrenheit (more than 1 degree Celsius) since 1880, when records began at a global scale. The number may sound low, but as an average over the surface of an entire planet, it is actually high, which explains why much of the world’s land ice is starting to melt and the oceans are rising at an accelerating pace.

If greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, scientists say, the global warming could ultimately exceed 8 degrees Fahrenheit, which would undermine the planet’s capacity to support a large human population.

3. What is the greenhouse effect, and how does it cause global warming?

We’ve known about it for more than a century. Really.

In the 19th century, scientists discovered that certain gases in the air trap and slow down heat that would otherwise escape to space. Carbon dioxide is a major player; without any of it in the air, the Earth would be a frozen wasteland.

The first prediction that the planet would warm as humans released more of the gas was made in 1896. The gas has increased 43 percent above the pre-industrial level so far, and the Earth has warmed by roughly the amount that scientists predicted it would.

4. How do we know humans are responsible for the increase in carbon dioxide?

This one is nailed down.

Hard evidence, including studies that use radioactivity to distinguish industrial emissions from natural emissions, shows that the extra gas is coming from human activity. Carbon dioxide levels rose and fell naturally in the long-ago past, but those changes took thousands of years.

Geologists say that humans are now pumping the gas into the air much faster than nature has ever done.

5. Could natural factors be the cause of the warming?


In theory, they could be. If the sun were to start putting out more radiation, for instance, that would definitely warm the Earth. But scientists have looked carefully at the natural factors known to influence planetary temperature and found that they are not changing nearly enough.

The warming is extremely rapid on the geologic time scale, and no other factor can explain it as well as human emissions of greenhouse gases.

6. Why do people deny the science of climate change?

Mostly because of ideology.

Instead of negotiating over climate change policies and trying to make them more market-oriented, some political conservatives have taken the approach of blocking them by trying to undermine the science.

President Trump has sometimes claimed that scientists are engaged in a worldwide hoax to fool the public, or that global warming was invented by China to disable American industry. The climate denialists’ arguments have become so strained that even oil and coal companies have distanced themselves publicly, though some still help to finance the campaigns of politicians who espouse such views.

Part 2: What could happen?

1. How much trouble are we in?

Big trouble.

Over the coming 25 or 30 years, scientists say, the climate is likely to gradually warm, with more extreme weather. Coral reefs and other sensitive habitats are already starting to die. Longer term, if emissions rise unchecked, scientists fear climate effects so severe that they might destabilize governments, produce waves of refugees, precipitate the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals in the Earth’s history, and melt the polar ice caps, causing the seas to rise high enough to flood most of the world’s coastal cities.

The emissions that create those risks are happening now, raising deep moral questions for our generation.

2. How much should I worry about climate change affecting me directly?

Are you rich enough to shield your descendants?

The simple reality is that people are already feeling the effects, whether they know it or not. Because of sea level rise, for instance, some 83,000 more residents of New York and New Jersey were flooded during Hurricane Sandy than would have been the case in a stable climate, scientists have calculated. Tens of thousands of people are already dying in heat waves made worse by global warming. The refugee flows that have destabilized politics around the world have been traced in part to climate change. Of course, as with almost all other social problems, poor people will be hit first and hardest.

3. How much will the seas rise?

The real question is how fast.

The ocean has accelerated and is now rising at a rate of about a foot per century, forcing governments and property owners to spend tens of billions of dollars fighting coastal erosion. But if that rate continued, it would probably be manageable, experts say.

The risk is that the rate will increase still more. Scientists who study the Earth’s history say waters could rise by a foot per decade in a worst-case scenario, though that looks unlikely. Many experts believe that even if emissions stopped tomorrow, 15 or 20 feet of sea level rise is already inevitable, enough to flood many cities unless trillions of dollars are spent protecting them. How long it will take is unclear. But if emissions continue apace, the ultimate rise could be 80 or 100 feet.

4. Is recent crazy weather tied to climate change?

Some of it is.

Scientists have published strong evidence that the warming climate is making heat waves more frequent and intense. It is also causing heavier rainstorms, and coastal flooding is getting worse as the oceans rise because of human emissions. Global warming has intensified droughts in regions like the Middle East, and it may have strengthened a recent drought in California.

In many other cases, though − hurricanes, for example − the linkage to global warming for particular trends is uncertain or disputed. Scientists are gradually improving their understanding as computer analyses of the climate grow more powerful.

Part 3: What can we do?

1. Are there any realistic solutions to the problem?

Yes, but change is happening too slowly.

Society has put off action for so long that the risks are now severe, scientists say. But as long as there are still unburned fossil fuels in the ground, it is not too late to act.

The warming will slow to a potentially manageable pace only when human emissions are reduced to zero. The good news is that they are now falling in many countries as a result of programs like fuel-economy standards for cars, stricter building codes and emissions limits for power plants. But experts say the energy transition needs to speed up drastically to head off the worst effects of climate change.

2. What is the Paris Agreement?

Virtually every country agreed to limit future emissions.

The landmark deal was reached outside Paris in December 2015. The reductions are voluntary and the pledges do not do enough to head off severe effects. But the agreement is supposed to be reviewed every few years so that countries ramp up their commitments. President Trump announced in 2017 that he would pull the United States out of the deal, though that will take years, and other countries have said they would go forward regardless of American intentions.

3. Does clean energy help or hurt the economy?

Job growth in renewable energy is strong.

The energy sources with the lowest emissions include wind turbines, solar panels, hydroelectric dams and nuclear power stations. Power plants burning natural gas also produce fewer emissions than those burning coal. Converting to these cleaner sources may be somewhat costlier in the short term, but they could ultimately pay for themselves by heading off climate damages and reducing health problems associated with dirty air. And expansion of the market is driving down the costs of renewable energy so fast that it may ultimately beat dirty energy on price alone − it already does in some areas.

The transition to cleaner energy certainly produces losers, like coal companies, but it also creates jobs. The solar industry in the United States now employs more than twice as many people as coal mining.

4. What about fracking or ‘clean coal’?

Both could help clean up the energy system.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is one of a set of drilling technologies that has helped produce a new abundance of natural gas in the United States and some other countries. Burning gas instead of coal in power plants reduces emissions in the short run, though gas is still a fossil fuel and will have to be phased out in the long run. The fracking itself can also create local pollution.
“Clean coal” is an approach in which the emissions from coal-burning power plants would be captured and pumped underground. It has yet to be proven to work economically, but some experts think it could eventually play a major role.

5. What’s the latest with electric cars?

Sales are still small overall, but they are rising fast.

The cars draw power at night from the electric grid and give off no pollution during the day as they move around town. They are inherently more efficient than gasoline cars and would represent an advance even if the power were generated by burning coal, but they will be far more important as the electric grid itself becomes greener through renewable power.

The cars are improving so fast that some countries are already talking about banning the sale of gasoline cars after 2030.

6. What are carbon taxes, carbon trading and carbon offsets?

It’s just jargon for putting a price on pollution.

The greenhouse gases being released by human activity are often called “carbon emissions” for short. That is because two of the most important gases, carbon dioxide and methane, contain carbon. (Some other pollutants are lumped into the same category, even if they do not actually contain carbon.)

When you hear about carbon taxes, carbon trading and so on, these are just shorthand descriptions of methods to put a price on emissions, which economists say is one of the most important steps society could take to limit them.

7. Climate change seems so overwhelming. What can I personally do about it?

Start by sharing this with 50 of your friends.

Experts say the problem can only be solved by large-scale, collective action. Entire states and nations have to decide to clean up their energy systems, using every tool available and moving as quickly as they can. So the most important thing you can do is to exercise your rights as a citizen, speaking up and demanding change.

You can also take direct personal action to reduce your carbon footprint in simple ways that will save you money. You can plug leaks in your home insulation to save power, install a smart thermostat, switch to more efficient light bulbs, turn off unused lights, drive fewer miles by consolidating trips or taking public transit, waste less food, and eat less meat.

Taking one or two fewer plane rides per year can save as much in emissions as all the other actions combined. If you want to be at the cutting edge, you can look at buying an electric or hybrid car or putting solar panels on your roof. If your state has a competitive electricity market, you may be able to buy 100 percent green power.

Leading corporations, including large manufacturers like carmakers, are starting to demand clean energy for their operations. You can pay attention to company policies, support the companies taking the lead, and let the others know you expect them to do better.

These personal steps may be small in the scheme of things, but they can raise your own consciousness about the problem − and the awareness of the people around you. In fact, discussing this issue with your friends and family is one of the most meaningful things you can do.

The New York Times, Published: September 19, 2017
Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions.

We know. Global warming is daunting. So here’s a place to start: 17 often-asked questions with some straightforward answers.

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The Magic Hour

WHAT do you usually do during lunch hour? I’ll tell you what I do. Ninety-per cent of the time, I either eat lunch in front of the computer, scrolling through mundane webpages trying to do some work, or I would be engaged in idle chatter with my colleagues at the office pantry. Very rarely do I optimise it to do anything else at all.

But the thing about lunch hour is that it is actually a 60-minute free pass for complete self-indulgence. Think about it. Your company is practically asking you to take a break. You’re at the office, no kids are begging for your attention and no house chores are within reach.

So technically, assuming one lunch hour for 200 days of the year, you’ve got 200 hours of free time to unwind, get out of that rut of sitting in an office like a vegetable and rejuvenate by doing something for yourself. I recently came across an interesting book called Gone For Lunch: 52 Things To Do In Your Lunch Break.

In summary, it lists things that you can do within that timeframe that does not include eating in front of a computer or gossiping the hour away at the pantry. No, it turns out that there are so many other fun things you can do instead!

There is an array of exciting things one could achieve during lunch break!


The list of things to do in the book are generally segregated into two categories: things to do indoors and outdoors. Admittedly, the outdoors section is a bit tricky. Malaysia’s humidity is off the charts, and I didn’t like the idea of returning to the office looking like someone just barbecued me.

I started off by visiting the local art gallery, as suggested by the book. There is an art gallery in Suria KLCC, and in all my years of working in the area, I had probably only visited the place once. The exhibition is free and it changes from time to time. I spent a good 20 minutes there after grabbing a quick meal. It made me feel posh, although I still don’t get how people look at splashes of paint and feel the artist’s emotional pain, so to speak.

Instead of ‘tapau’-ing lunch, the book suggested trying out a new cafe or restaurant. Being in KL, there is always a new eatery popping up here and there, and I decided to try a random new sandwich place. The sandwich was terrible, but hey, at least now I know.

Other suggestions that didn’t require me to leave the office included listening to a full new album of a favourite band (when have you ever actually listened to a whole album properly before? Now is the chance!), learning a new language (I tried French. I can now order a croissant in French, not that anyone here would care), doing desk yoga (my colleague found this strange), or reading a book.

Strangely enough, these allowed my mind to wander off for a while, and I resumed work feeling more refreshed.

But there were other suggestions that didn’t really work for me. These included knitting a scarf (I am not 74), listening to an entire opera (and I realised I’m not so posh after all), taking photographs (which turned into a bunch of useless selfies), going for a run (never again. It’s an oven out there at midday!) or taking a power nap (that made me really lethargic afterwards).

Art galleries are a great way of discovering local talents.


In this fast-paced world where most of us are struggling to juggle more hats than one, our mental health can sometimes be neglected. Most of us are office-based, which basically means we spend most of our lifetimes slouching in front of a screen or constrained in a space of the same routines over and over again.

Trying out other things in that vacant magic hour allows us the mental break that we sometimes direly need but are not able to attain. Although not all of the activities in the book worked for me, what it did show was an array of things I could do that are outside of my usual box. And, eventually, that was the whole point.

Not everyone has the opportunity to do different things in life every day, but we can all find time to try new things, which can make our days a lot more exciting.

New Straits Times, Published: September 20, 2017 - 9:58am
The Magic Hour

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Guterres, Trump

THERE was a big contrast when two leaders made their maiden speeches at the United Nations last week.

First, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave a speech based on common sense and a full dose of the UN principles of internationalism and patiently seeking peaceful solutions to conflict.

Then we had the US President Donald Trump, who threw diplomacy to the winds, reaffirmed his pledge of implementing an “America First” policy and threatened countries selected to be a new “axis of evil”.

Analysts and governments alike were left pondering whether the US President had just codified a new Trump Doctrine, and what turbulence that means for the world.

The Trump speech laid to rest what had been expected when he entered office: that the US would take a more isolationist policy, being less interventionist in other countries’ affairs, as Trump focuses on solving domestic problems with a view to “make America great again”.

Instead, at the UN General Assembly, he married the aim of “America First” with a display of hard aggression not polished by diplomatic language with regard to countries he called a “new axis of evil” – North Korea, Iran and Venezuela.

He told world leaders, “Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens – to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values. As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first.”
Trump praised national sovereignty 21 times in his speech. But it became clear he was championing the national sovereignty of the United States, which he could use as a principle to violate the national sovereignty of others.

“We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said, upgrading his threat from the earlier “fire and fury” he had promised to unleash.

The Korean situation is a most complex web to untangle, but threatening to totally annihilate a whole country is not going to contribute to a solution.

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has predictably responded that the remarks by a “deranged” Trump have convinced him that he is right to develop weapons.

Equally or more scary is Trump’s description at the UN that the Iran Deal signed by Iran, the United States and other major countries was the “worst” and most “one-sided” agreement the country has entered, laying the ground for withdrawing from it.

Leaders of most other countries gathered at the UN seemed aghast at the boldly aggressive nature of Trump’s speech. Some American politicians were also upset. US Senator Dianne Feinstein criticised the President for his remarks and noted the hypocrisy in using the UN stage of peace and global cooperation to threaten war, according to an IPS news report.

“He missed an opportunity to present any positive actions the UN could take with respect to North Korea. By suggesting he would revisit and possibly cancel the Iran nuclear agreement, he greatly escalated the danger we face from both Iran and North Korea,” she said.

“He aims to unify the world through tactics of intimidation, but in reality he only further isolates the United States.”

Trump also had harsh words for Venezuela, which he claimed was on the brink of total collapse. He had earlier raised the possibility of military intervention.

In contrast to Trump, Guterres made a balanced and rousing speech, calling on countries to cooperate, seek peaceful solutions to political crises and tackle global problems like climate change and refugees.

The contrasting approaches to international affairs between the US President and the UN Secretary-General will have repercussions in the months and years ahead. Let us hope that the cool and internationalist approach of the UN chief will prevail.

The Star, Published: Monday, 25 Sep 2017
Cold reception to Trump Doctrine at United Nations

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KLIA aerotrain

THE disruption of the aerotrain service at the KL International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang early this month shows that the facility should be upgraded.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) has blamed its aging trains for the breakdown, which led 20 people to walk on the aerotrain tracks back to the terminal building. The breakdown happened at 5.30pm and a video of the incident went viral.

It was not the first time the service was disrupted. On May 27 last year, the aero train service stopped functioning, causing a large crowd of passengers to be stranded at the main terminal of the airport.

At that time, MAHB explained in a tweet that the trains were undergoing corrective maintenance.

The aerotrain service was also disrupted on Dec 21, 2015 due to “technical problems”.
Upgrading works on the aerotrain had also caused the service to be suspended between Nov 1, 2010 and March 15, 2011.

On the latest incident, MAHB managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali was quoted saying that their two existing trains were due for a major overhaul by the end of the year as they had been operating for nearly 20 years.

Many frequent flyers have informed me that the aging trains are not as comfortable as they used to be. The ride was no longer smooth and it would get stuffy when the air conditioner did not work properly.

The KLIA aerotrain started operating in 1998. The system consists of two stations, one in the main terminal building and the other in Satellite Building A.

Initially, it had two trains of two cars each but it was later increased to three cars per train. The third train was added in 2011 to allow for a replacement when a train was put out of service.

I was told that the maintenance of the trains was to be carried out twice daily. After long and continuous usage, a longer downtime needs to be allocated for the maintenance of the aging trains.

Theoretically, whenever a train is down, circuit interlocks are supposed to prevent passengers exiting from each train while a crew is dispatched immediately to the failed train.

The crew may override and operate the train manually to the nearest station where orderly deboarding could be safely carried out.

Unfortunately, as revealed by customers and airport personnel, the interim action was rarely accomplished according to plan as the crew would take a long time to arrive at the scene.

Thus, as witnessed, many passengers took it upon themselves to exit and continue their journey by walking along the tracks.

This is a clear danger to their personal safety and, obviously, the current Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) may not be capable of ensuring full and continued safety of aerotrain users.

In the interest of passenger safety, I would like to suggest the following:

i) Review the SOP adequacy and revise accordingly;

ii) Irrespective of the nature of train disruption, Airport Fire and Rescue Services (AFRS) personnel should be deployed immediately to the stricken train and take charge or assist the crew for an orderly passenger evacuation;

iii) Adopt the maintenance scheme of aeroplanes. For instance, each train must be scheduled for a periodic check apart from daily inspections;

iv) A more intense check to be carried out at around three- to four-month intervals;

v) After three to four cycles of intense checks are carried out, a major check or complete train overhaul must be performed. This should be scheduled at one- to two-year intervals; and

vi) The frequency of checks must be increased with age of train rolling stock. It may be prudent to invest in extra sets of trains and rolling stock.

Additionally, it would be wise to impose hefty fines or even jail terms for any unauthorised usage or tampering of emergency exits and safety devices except in an emergency. Ample warning and signage to such effect should be prominently displayed as typically seen at airports, trains, ferry and bus stations in developed countries.

Letter to The Star, Published: Monday, 25 Sep 2017
Overhaul of KLIA aerotrain long overdue
By TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE, Chairman, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health

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King Norodom Sihanouk

No monarch in modern times has embodied the life and fate of his country so completely as Norodom Sihanouk, who has died aged 89. He was king, then prince, then king again of Cambodia, amending his royal role according to the needs of the hour and his own volatile will. He was also a film-maker, journalist, editor and impresario as well as a leading, and often dominant, politician for more than 60 years.

He began adult life as a young king chosen by the French as a puppet. But, aided by the upsets of the second world war, he outfoxed the colonial power and led his country to independence. The epic tale continued as the prince protector shielded his people from the worst of the Vietnam wars, then as he held on through the dark years of usurpation and Khmer Rouge rule.

Cambodia returned to something resembling normal life, with Sihanouk once again on the throne. But his country's rehabilitation was terribly flawed, and until his abdication in 2004 he found himself presiding over a poor, corrupt and divided nation, ruled by a bizarre duopoly of enemies. Over the years he sometimes succeeded in using his power and influence to avert the worst. But this domineering, mischievous and hyperactive man was undoubtedly the part-author of his own and his country's misfortunes.

Sihanouk managed to keep his country out of the conflict between the Americans and the Vietnamese for many years. But he must also bear some of the responsibility for the tragedies that then overtook Cambodia as it was drawn into the war, suffered from massive American bombing, and fell under Khmer Rouge rule.

How much responsibility is the great question raised by his life. Some would say that he dominated Cambodian politics because the political class was untalented, shortsighted and faction-ridden, and, as far as the left was concerned, too influenced by inexperienced and mediocre intellectuals. When Sihanouk was removed in the 1970 coup, these vices came into full play, at first in the incompetent, corrupt and unrealistic rightwing regime of Lon Nol and then, devastatingly, in the incompetent, ruthless and even more unrealistic leftwing regime of Pol Pot.

Others have argued that the failings of the political class, left and right, were in part Sihanouk's handiwork, since he undermined every development that might have led to multi-party politics. In abandoning his policy of balance, he forced many of those on the left, who would otherwise have continued in conventional politics, into the jungle, where they joined the Khmer Rouge. And although he joined forces with the Khmer Rouge after the coup, he proved wholly unable to influence them or to protect his people from them.

Sihanouk was a man of eccentric charm. Journalists who visited Cambodia in the difficult final years of his personal rule, when he was trying to manipulate both the US and North Vietnam, came to relish his extraordinary performances at press conferences. He would read out press clippings in his high voice and follow up with a stream of jokes and imprecations. He was a great talker, but his assumption of expertise was often false.

Born into the royal family in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, Sihanouk received his early schooling at the main French lycée in the Vietnamese capital of Saigon. But he received no significant further formal training in political or military affairs, or in the artistic and scholarly pursuits in which he dabbled throughout his life, and for which he had some talent. Never subject to any discipline and never facing any serious criticism in his artistic endeavours, he remained, as some would say he did in politics, an egotistical if gifted amateur.

His early private life was flamboyant. During the 1940s and 50s he took at least six wives and consorts and fathered at least 14 children. The political management of such a large family, with its inevitable rivalries between different consorts and their sons, remained a problem for the rest of his life. Monique Izzi, daughter of an Italian father and a Cambodian mother, was his principal partner from the late 1950s.

The French – representing the Nazi-puppet Vichy regime – placed Sihanouk on the throne in 1941, setting aside more qualified candidates, including his own father. Sihanouk was 18, interested in football, jazz, riding, movies and girls. But an early sign that the French were mistaken about his pliability came after the Japanese ousted them in early 1945.

Sihanouk followed the unavoidable, Japanese-managed proclamation of independence with laws reinstating the Khmer alphabet and calendar.

The French were soon back in charge and gave Cambodia a democratic constitution in 1947, reserving most power, however, for themselves. Sihanouk sometimes played the French game, as they had expected, but increasingly came to use French techniques of political manipulation on his own behalf rather than theirs.

He took the independence card from Cambodia's embryonic middle-class politicians, launching, in 1952, his own "royal crusade for independence". Aided by events in Vietnam, he effectively showed the French the door. In 1955 he abdicated in favour of his father.

This shrewd move enabled him to avoid the constitutional problems of trying to be king and the country's leading politician at the same time. Yet as "monseigneur" – the head of state – he never lost his monarchical aura, and indeed continued to exploit it in full.

The great loss was that between 1947 and 1958 pluralist politics could have emerged in Cambodia around the middle-class Democratic party, but Sihanouk, with the French egging him on in the early years, seized every opportunity to undermine that party and eventually destroy it. Cambodia became a quasi-dictatorship and one-party state under Sihanouk and the Sangkum Reastr Niyum (Popular Socialist Community). Nor were his hands as clean as he liked to maintain. His regime killed, imprisoned and intimidated opponents – admittedly on a scale dwarfed by later excesses.

Sihanouk's peak years came between 1955 and 1962, when his touch was sure and his dominance nearly absolute. He picked the candidates for the national assembly in 1958 and 1962, and expertly managed the cabinets. By sudden changes of direction, he managed to throw his rivals and allies off balance. As soon as a cabinet was formed or an assembly had gathered, even though he had chosen them himself, he immediately undercut the strongest groups and individuals.

He had a sharp sense of the peasantry's needs and aspirations and continually played these off against the urban elite. On the radio, he endeared himself to rural folk with his jokes and rough language. He also gained popularity by a programme of school, road and factory building, though many of these ventures were ill-conceived.

In the 1960s Cambodia's international position deteriorated. Sihanouk resisted pressures from South Vietnam and Thailand, including at least one serious plot, which he characteristically used as the basis for a film, Storm Over Angkor. He tried to keep in with communist and western states and to play them off against each other.

But such tactics were less effective with outside powers than they were domestically. In 1963 he ended US military and economic aid. For the rest of that decade a gradual loss of his control was apparent. In Phnom Penh, a restive, rightwing elite was becoming impatient with his foreign manoeuvrings and resentful of his restrictions on their economic and political privileges. In the jungle, the North Vietnamese were more heavily ensconced, and a Khmer communist movement was growing up under their protection.

Internationally, Sihanouk was never able to repair the rift with the US, despite efforts at the end of the decade. He grew visibly disheartened, turning for distraction to film-making and the entertainment of foreign guests. "It is almost as if he despaired of governing the country," David Chandler wrote in The Tragedy of Cambodian History (1991).

When the plot against him took shape in 1970, he was in France. He did not rush home, as he had done on other occasions when his position was threatened, but seemed to dawdle in Russia and China. The coup brought Cambodia into the Vietnam war, a conflict for which, in spite of the boasts of Lon Nol, the new leader, it was wholly unprepared. Sihanouk, encouraged by the Chinese, went into a united front with the Khmer communists.

He spent the five years of war that followed mainly in Beijing and the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, both governments providing him with lavish accommodation. He did make one trip to the Khmer Rouge zone of Cambodia with Monique, who wrote happily of the pleasant chalets prepared for them. But it was an alliance without warmth. After the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975, they discarded the united front, and Sihanouk was soon a prisoner in the royal palace. He could do nothing about the Khmer Rouge's terrible mismanagement of the country, with its hideous human consequences. Five of his children died during this period, and he was probably lucky to escape execution himself.

But after the Pol Pot regime provoked the Vietnamese into a full-scale invasion in 1979, Sihanouk again lined up behind the Khmer Rouge to oppose the occcupation and the Vietnamese-influenced communist regime of Heng Samrin. Apparently reckoning Vietnam to be a worse evil than the Khmer Rouge, he resisted occasional efforts by the Vietnamese to bring him over to their side. His decision helped to isolate the new regime, which, whatever its faults, had rescued Cambodia from a time of horror, and also contributed to the survival of the Khmer Rouge as a formidable force.

Many of Sihanouk's friends in the west found this course of action hard to accept. Had he made his peace with the new regime, he would have given it international respectability.

That would have made it more difficult for the Khmer Rouge to win the foreign support they did. Western and Chinese policy was aimed at punishing Vietnam and cutting it down to size. The welfare of the Cambodian people was a lesser consideration for them, but ought not to have been for Sihanouk. However, the argument may overlook the deep-seated Cambodian fear of being absorbed by Vietnam, which Sihanouk certainly shared with his countrymen, including Lon Nol and Pol Pot.

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, their ally and patron, the Vietnamese could no longer sustain their intervention in Cambodian affairs. They withdrew their troops in 1990, and in 1991 a Cambodia peace conference in Paris led to the installation of a temporary government consisting of the Cambodian People's party and the three opposition factions, with Sihanouk as head of state. UN forces were sent in to disarm the factions, UN officials to supervise elections, held in May 1993. They were won by the royalist party Funcinpec, which had been founded by Sihanouk in 1981 as a guerrilla movement, and the Cambodian People's party, now headed by Hun Sen and which had ruled in Pnomh Penh since the invasion in 1979. Funcinpec's success was undoubtedly due in large part to the still potent Sihanouk magic.

In June he was formally made head of state and in September restored as king. In spite of his age and ill health, he played politics with much of his old vigour, and often with no more sense of responsibility than before. Encouraged by Hun Sen, Sihanouk had suddenly proclaimed himself president, prime minister and commander-in-chief without consulting either the UN transitional authority or his son Ranariddh, leader of the royal party. The votes in the election were still being counted. It was an attempted coup that reminded those who knew him well of the high-handed tactics with which he had divided and ruled Cambodia in the past.

Sihanouk then played a leading part, along with the UN transitional authority, in persuading Ranariddh to form a joint government with Hun Sen. Ranariddh's party had won the election by a wide margin, and joint government represented a dismal conclusion to the democratisation effort. The country has never recovered from the consequences of this concession to Hun Sen's entrenched power. The two sides have not co-operated except in a wary sharing of the spoils of office and in making empty promises to the international donors whose aid keeps Cambodia going

Sihanouk had early on offered the Khmer Rouge cabinet posts in return for a ceasefire, amending this to advisory posts when it was pointed out that cabinet positions had to be filled by members of the assembly. He continued to pursue the idea of reconciliation with the Khmer Rouge, in spite of its record, perhaps on the principle that the more players are involved, the easier it is to manipulate them. Both Hun Sen and Ranariddh were soon vigorously pursuing reconciliation themselves: their competition for Khmer Rouge allies led to a coup by Hun Sen in 1997, of which Sihanouk initially seemed to approve.

His direct political influence, whether for good or ill, diminished as his health worsened, involving long absences from the country. But he displayed some of his old divide and surprise tactics when he insisted on abdicating in October 2004, forcing the government to form a royal throne council to approve his choice of Prince Norodom Sihamoni as his successor. In his remaining years, Sihanouk spent much time in China, where he died.

To Cambodians, Sihanouk represented continuity when so much in their country had been destroyed. They valued his warmth and his evident concern for his people, while recognising that he had made many mistakes. It was typical of Sihanouk that he started his own website, offering a running commentary on politics, by turn witty, acerbic or just dotty; and typical of Cambodians that the site attracted as many as 1,000 visits a day – a lot in a country of 13 million people with limited computer literacy.

Cambodia's extreme weakness – the mystery of how a power that once made all of south-east Asia tremble has fallen so low – has obsessed all its modern leaders and encouraged excessive and mystical solutions. Sihanouk, Lon Nol and Pol Pot all seemed to share the idea that there was some fount of strength and power to be found in the nation's traditions which, if tapped properly, would solve its problems.

Sihanouk saw it partly in his own person and in the monarchy: "I carry on my shoulders the overwhelming responsibilities of 16 centuries of royalty," he said in 1952. Lon Nol found it in the stars while Pol Pot and his associates believed that a total mobilisation of the population was the key. "If we can build Angkor, we can do anything," Pol Pot is supposed to have said – a sentiment all three men undoubtedly shared.

Sihanouk was a Cambodian patriot who lacked neither energy nor courage. He was also often a conniving, arbitrary ruler who can be accused of never allowing his country's politicians the time or the room to reach maturity. After the 1970 coup, Sihanouk was written off as a man who would never again play a significant role, but he remained an important figure. His return to the throne was a piece of theatre intended to reassure Cambodians that in his person, there was some kind of connection with a better past and therefore a bridge to a better future. His orchestration of the succession had the same end in mind. Whether such a continuity was really re-established remains to be seen.

• Norodom Sihanouk, monarch and statesman, born 31 October 1922; died 15 October 2012

Cambodians valued King Norodom Sihanouk's warmth and his evident concern for his people, while recognising that he had made many mistakes.

The Guardian, First published on Monday 15 October 2012 14.38 BST
King Norodom Sihanouk obituary

Cambodian monarch who offered the prospect of continuity, but subverted the growth of democracy
By Martin Woollacott

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Cambodian culture

Amid a pile of debris at the Entri Sam Virak pagoda, the painted, smiling faces of the Buddha and a cohort of angels peer out.

The mural is on a wall that was, until two weeks ago, part of a vihear – or monastic temple – cherished by historians and visitors, in part, for its unusual paintings.

Unlike many monastic temples in Cambodia, it survived the civil war and the Khmer Rouge’s atheistic destruction, only to be demolished last month on the orders of its abbot, Seang Sok, who did not ask for permission or inform local authorities.

About 20 metres from the debris, a group of workers were fixing into place a billboard showing the blueprints for a new 38-metre-tall temple, as a layperson nearby called for donations for the new religious sanctuary.

Built in 1948, Entri Sam Virak’s central structure was certainly not old by Cambodian standards, but historians recognised it for being representative of the architectural period under French protection leading up to the Sangkum era, and for its murals documenting the political climate of the period. In 2007, it was declared a national heritage site by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

The news of its demolition went viral on Facebook and sparked an outpouring of criticism. Among the first to call attention to it was Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith, who commented on his Facebook account that the chief monk ordered the destruction “without any regret”, though the abbot has since issued a formal letter of apology. Many other users cursed Sok for not considering its value, while others blamed the authorities for their lack of oversight.

When the news reached Michel Tranet, an expert in Cambodian history and culture, as well as the former Deputy Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, he said he broke down in tears.
“It was terrible news,” Tranet said. “All my life, there is nothing I love more than Cambodian culture, and now an important part of it is gone forever.”

Locals, too, criticised the decision. Noun Nang, 73, a Kampong Thom native, said he had visited the temple since he was a child.

“I was born into a Buddhist family, and we usually came to this pagoda to pray and offer food to the monks. The temple gave me a perfect, peaceful atmosphere for meditation,” he said.

For Sam Bopha, a 54-year-old businesswoman, the temple was more than just culturally and historically important. It was the last place where she saw her father before he was killed by Khmer Rouge cadres in 1977.

“My father was arrested and sent to that pagoda, which was used as a prison at that time,” she said. “I secretly followed him, and saw him being pushed by Pol Pot’s soldiers into the temple. The next day, he was no longer there.”

Painted politics

Tranet remembers visiting the temple as a young man and falling in love with its architecture and paintings.

“Apart from ancient temples, I love studying monastic temples because they describe Buddhism, a big part of Cambodian culture, in different stages of history,” he says.
According to him, the structure was “built to represent Khmer religion with influence from French architecture”, an aspect found especially in monastic temples constructed from the 1940s to the 1960s.

One of the paintings, completed in the early 1960s, depicted an array of historical figures receiving blessings from Buddha. Among them is the young King Norodom Sihanouk, alongside People’s Republic of China founder Mao Tse Toung, former Indonesian President Sukarno, former Burmese Prime Minster U Nu, former leader of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev, first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and former United States President John F Kennedy.

Sombo Manara, another prominent Cambodian historian, sees the murals as representative of the Kingdom’s foreign affairs in the 1950s. Although he does not know who painted or commissioned them, to him it is clear that that the person was faithful to King Sihanouk’s policies.

“As we can see, there are almost all forms of ideology in the painting. Even the communists and the liberals were seen together, receiving blessing from Buddha.”

Danielle and Dominique Guéret, an anthropologist couple who have documented the country’s monastic temples, called the overall architecture “nothing original” but highlighted the paintings, both religious and historical, as standing apart.

“This mural was created with the help of several photos, as these leaders were never in the same place in Cambodia. The loss of [the mural] is ‘historical’ . . . it is also a loss of the [sentimental] attachment on the part of the loyalists towards Sihanouk,” they wrote by email.

No easy fix

When approached by Post Weekend at the pagoda this week, abbot Sok declined to answer questions and instructed the pagoda’s monks to prevent reporters from speaking with the laypeople. But according to Chan Thorn, 56, a builder and repairman who had overseen repairs to the temple before it was torn down, the reason for the demolition was its fragility.

Thorn said that at first Sok only wanted to fix the roof. While doing so, however, workers discovered cracks on the walls and columns and, afraid that the temple would soon collapse, the abbot decided to knock it down.

“There were hundreds of bats living in the temple,” Thorn said. “They came in through the holes in the roof, and their guano weakened the structure of the temple.”

Thorn said that although the structure had been a heritage site since 2007, there had not been any official ceremony or documents from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and the abbot and the local people did not realise its status until it was demolished and the news went viral.

He added that Sok should not be blamed since the demolition was to prevent an accident.

His account, however, differs from that of the provincial Culture Department. Sorphorn, the Kampong Thom deputy Culture Department head, claimed that inspections had been made by his working group suggesting that the structure of the temple, with the exception of the roof, was “still pretty sturdy”. However, he admitted officials could not inspect the structure often because they were busy with other tasks.

“But one day before the temple was destroyed, we went to see the abbot and asked him not to destroy the temple,” Sorphorn said. “He seemed to agree with us, but the next day it disappeared.”

On Wednesday, Sok released a letter of apology for ordering the demolition of the temple. In the letter, posted on Facebook, he asked for the public’s understanding.

“After being informed that the monastic temple was a listed national heritage [site] . . . I was deeply regret and gravely upset, for I should not have been so careless and ignored the value of the national heritage,” he wrote.

Sok also blamed himself for not waiting for advice from the ministry. He asked the people and authorities to let “bygones be bygones” and promised to make up for what happened by putting his efforts towards preserving existing national heritage.

As of yesterday, it was unclear what legal measures, if any, would be taken against the abbot. When contacted on Wednesday, Culture Ministry spokesman Heu Virak told Post Weekend that his ministry, which is responsible for maintaining and preserving national heritage, would meet with the Ministry of Cult and Religion to decide how to deal with Sok.

Article 69 of the constitution states that “the state has the obligation to preserve and protect” historical sites, and says those who breach the clause should be “severely punished”, although such punishments are not specified.

“This is a very important issue, and the Ministry of Culture cannot make the decision alone,” he said on Wednesday. “We expect the joint decision to be made in a few days.”

The Ministry of Cult and Religion could not be reached yesterday for further details.

Acccording to provincial culture official Sorphorn, the incident at Entri Sam Virak should serve as a lesson for future protection of the country’s inventory of heritage. In Kampong Thom alone, there are 440 such sites.

However, Dominique and Danielle Guéret expressed concern that many significant religious buildings fall under the radar.

“Many other sanctuaries have disappeared without being declared national heritage structures, but nonetheless, having a heritage value,” they wrote.

The historian Tranet suggested the ministry set up clear regulations and penalties for such destruction. Meanwhile, he called for legal action against the abbot.

“If our ancestors had been easy on destroying what their ancestors built like that, we would not have Angkor Wat right now,” Tranet said.

The mural of the cremation featuring young King Sihanouk and world leaders.

Phnom Penh Post, Published: Friday, 15 September 2017
A slice of history turned to rubble
By Rinith Taing

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下総鮮魚街道(しもうさ なまかいどう)





 そう聞くと、渡良瀬川は利根川につながっているのでは? と思うかもしれません。











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 「やった! 僕は1人で汽車に乗れたんだ!」




我が故郷「小海線」――写真家・櫻井 寛はここから始まった
文・写真/鉄道写真家・櫻井 寛





鉄道のプロ櫻井 寛(鉄道フォトジャーナリスト)が選ぶ車窓からの眺め
JR指宿枕崎線 キャベツ畑から撮った開聞岳のきれいな形

 櫻井寛さんとはどんな人なのか? 著書とあわせて紹介する。




#『世界鉄道切手夢紀行』(日本郵趣出版 刊、2017年8月)

#『鉄道でまわるフランスの旅』(朝日新聞出版 刊、2015年7月)

#『知識ゼロからの駅弁入門』(幻冬舎 刊、2014年3月)

T-SITE LIFESTYLE、2017年9月8日(金)15:28配信
櫻井寛ってどんな人? 駅弁本も紹介


 今日9月23日土曜日秋分の日、ビックカメラ有楽町店地下2階カメラコーナーで「オリンパス、カメラグランプリ2017三冠受賞記念、櫻井 寛先生によるスペシャルセミナー」があったのです。

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The Guardian, Published: Thursday 21 September 2017 07.58 BST
Hurricane Maria leaves Puerto Rico in total blackout as storm batters island

Caribbean storm heading to Dominican Republic after punishing 155mph winds and life-threatening floods knocked out the US territory’s electricity
By Amanda Holpuch in New York

A look at the devastating path of Hurricane Maria. The storm has lashed Puerto Rico, knocking out power supplies and causing major flooding. Aerial footage shows the destruction on the island of Dominica where at least seven people have died. 

Video shows the extent of flooding caused by Hurricane Maria in Cataño, Puerto Rico. The third hurricane to pummel the Caribbean in as many weeks, Maria made landfall early on Wednesday morning as a category 4 storm with winds of 155mph


Officially called a “Free Associated State or Commonwealth,” Puerto Rico has been exploited as a US colony since 1898. Its elected governor is powerless – little more than a potted plant ruled by Congress with America’s president its head of state.  

Washington never granted islanders control of their lives, welfare and destiny. They have no say over foreign relations, commerce and trade, their air space, land and offshore waters, immigration and emigration, nationality and citizenship, currency, maritime laws, military service, US bases on its territory, constitutionality of its laws, jurisdictions and legal procedures, treaties, radio and television, communications, agriculture, its natural resources and more.

Independence supporters aren’t tolerated – men like Oscar Lopez Rivera, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, wrongfully imprisoned for wanting Puerto Ricans to live free, behind bars for over three decades.

Washington wants to continue exploiting its Caribbean colony for profit – raping and pillaging it at the public’s expense, much like what’s happening to Greece.
Washington calls activist islanders “domestic terrorists.” Oscar Lopez Rivera is one of thousands wrongfully imprisoned for their political beliefs since 1898.

Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million people live in an open-air prison – exploited under imperial rule, heading toward hardening by greater forced austerity, hitting its majority impoverished population hardest.

Puerto Ricans suffer from internal government mismanagement, political greed and dereliction of duty, widespread corruption, deplorable social services, rich and powerful monied interests exploiting ordinary islanders, and police brutality like US citizens and residents face.

One local observer describes two Puerto Rico cultures. On the one hand, its “language, music, art, history and affection.” On the other, its “crime, corruption, deceit and entitlement.”

The latter is killing the former. It’s “dying a slow, painful death.” Puerto Rico is on a downward cycle to oblivion – ordinary people devastated by an uncaring US Congress, its own corrupt government and monied interests demanding tribute, a lethal economic combination.

Global Research, July 25, 2015
Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis
By Stephen Lendman


Luis Fonsi - Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee

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Moon, Trump

On the agenda at the high-stakes bilateral meeting Thursday between President Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in: North Korea's nuclear arsenal, the bilateral trade deal and Hillary Clinton.

As he's shown repeatedly, Trump just can't seem to let go of his 2016 opponent, and Trump made a joke at her expense during a meeting with Moon on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly here.

An interpreter for Moon used the word “deplorable” in translating his remarks about the North's provocations, prompting Trump to cut in: “I'm happy you used the world 'deplorable.' I was very interested in that word.”

During the campaign, Clinton had told reporters that she put many of Trump's supporters in a “basket of deplorables” whose views were repugnant. That galvanized much of Trump's base, and the word “deplorable” was used as a rallying cry among some of his most ardent backers, who attached it to their Twitter handles and otherwise embraced the term.

As people in the room chuckled, Trump added in front of television cameras and reporters, “I promise, I did not tell them to use that word. That's been a very lucky word for me and many millions of people.”

Moon, waiting for a translator to repeat Trump's remarks, appeared uncomfortable but did not say anything. Clinton has been on a promotional tour for her new book about the campaign, “What Happened.”

Wrapping up the introductory remarks, Trump also bashed the bilateral trade pact signed by President Barack Obama in 2011 as “so bad for the United States and so good for Korea.” He has vowed to try to renegotiate the deal, raising concerns in Seoul and Washington that it could create a rift at a time when the two countries are trying to work together, and with Japan and China, to confront Pyongyang.

While meeting South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sept. 21, President Trump said the two countries are making “a lot of progress” on a trade deal and imposing additional sanctions on North Korea, and praised Moon's use of the word "deplorable."

The Washington Post, Published: September 21, 2017
Trump makes ‘deplorable’ joke in meeting with South Korean president
By David Nakamura

U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will hold talks on North Korea’s nuclear crisis on Thursday amid tensions over whether Trump’s harsh rhetoric against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could lead to a miscalculation.

U.S. officials scrambled to stress diplomatic options remained open after Trump used his U.N. General Assembly speech on Tuesday to threaten to “totally destroy” nuclear-armed North Korea and blast Kim as a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.
Trump and Moon are to sit down at midday on the last day of Trump’s four-day visit to New York, where he met with a flurry of foreign leaders gathered for the annual U.N. event.

Trump will first meet Moon, then have lunch with Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, then meet separately with Abe.

Publicly, the South Korean government described Trump’s speech as an expression of how serious the United States views the North Korean nuclear challenge.

“We view the speech as portraying a firm and specific stance on the key issues regarding keeping peace and safety that the international community and the United Nations are faced with,” Moon’s office said in a statement on Wednesday.

But two senior South Korean diplomats, interviewed by Reuters, expressed concern that Trump’s rhetoric could provoke a miscalculation from Kim and prompt him to launch an attack.

The diplomats also said the two governments are not communicating the same message, with South Korea saying it cannot afford another war on the Korean peninsula.

“Any allies can’t be on the exact same page on every matter but it’s concerning that we are giving the impression that the two countries have different voices,” one diplomat said.

A senior U.S. official dismissed the South Korean diplomats’ worries about a miscalculation and said a cautious approach by past U.S. administrations had not stopped North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

“They’re always worried about that,” the official said. “The cautious, go-slow approach of strategic patience has gotten us to where we are.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on Wednesday night that U.S.-led sanctions against North Korea are starting to take effect with the North experiencing fuel shortages.

Trump and Moon are also at odds over trade. Trump has complained about the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea, but has so far been persuaded by his top advisers not to terminate a U.S.-South Korean trade agreement as he has threatened.

Moon, speaking at a business event in New York, urged greater U.S. investment in South Korea and defended the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement known as KORUS.

“It is a fact that the Korea-U.S. FTA is an agreement that benefits both countries by expanding their trade, enhancing market accessibility and increasing their investment and jobs,” Yonhap quoted Moon as saying.

It said he added that the U.S trade deficit with South Korea was limited to products and was shrinking while South Korea continued to post large trade deficits with the United States in the service sector.

Reuters, Published: SEPTEMBER 21, 2017 - 1:06 PM - 2 DAYS AGO
Trump, South Korea's Moon to meet amid tensions over North Korea
By Steve Holland, John Walcott

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LIMA − Paris was awarded the 2024 summer Olympics and Los Angeles the 2028 Games on Wednesday, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) broke with decades of tradition to vote on a unique double allocation.

Paris, which has hosted two previous Olympics, will stage the event 100 years after its last Games in 1924 while Los Angeles will also organize its third Games after 1932 and 1984.

IOC President Thomas Bach embraced both cities' mayors on stage after a unanimous show of hands by IOC members ratified the awards.

The announcement was celebrated in Paris with the unveiling of a giant set of interlaced rings, the symbol of the Games, in a heavy downpour on the Trocadero square with lights glittering on the Eiffel Tower in the background.

"In the coming seven years we will prepare the Olympic Games with all our energy," French President Emmanuel Macron, who had personally campaigned for the bid, said.

"Together we must do everything in our power to ensure that Paris hosts a magnificent games in 2024."

The IOC decided in July to award both Games at the same time, following the withdrawal of four of the six cities bidding for the 2024 Olympics, amid concerns about the size, cost and complexity of organizing the world's biggest multi-sports event.

Los Angeles then dropped its bid for the 2024 Olympics, for which it had been campaigning for over two years, in return for receiving the 2028 edition. This paved the way for Paris as the sole 2024 bidder to win the Games unopposed.


"This is a momentous day for the people of Los Angeles and the United States," said LA mayor Eric Garcetti. "For the first time in a generation, we are bringing the Games back to the City of Angels."

Paris, with a Games budget of 6.8 billion euros ($8.09 billion), had failed with previous attempts to land the 1992, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

The LA Games have a budget of $5.3 billion and will essentially follow the plan they had in place for 2024, including housing athletes at the UCLA campus.

Both Paris's bid co-chair Tony Estanguet and LA bid chairman Casey Wasserman are to stay on and lead the host cities' preparations, mayors Anne Hidalgo and Garcetti confirmed in a news conference after the announcement.

It is the first time the IOC has awarded a Games 11 years in advance, as it traditionally gives the next Olympic host city seven years to prepare.

The Olympic body, however, was eager to secure the future of its prime product after Boston, Budapest, Rome and Hamburg all pulled the plug on their 2024 bids mid-race.

Bach said the unanimous IOC decision would secure the future of the Games and ensure successful Olympics.

"It is hard to imagine something better. Ensuring the stability of the Olympic Games for the athletes of the world for the next 11 years is something extraordinary," he said.

Both the 2014 winter Games in Russia's Sochi and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics were mired in controversy over corruption, embezzlement and doping allegations, dealing a major blow to the reputations of the event and the IOC.

Tokyo, the host of the next summer Games in 2020, has also had to fend off allegations of corruption regarding the decision to award it the Games four years ago.

The New York Times, Published: SEPT. 13, 2017, 4:12 P.M. E.D.T.
IOC Crowns Paris 2024, Los Angeles 2028 in Unique Double


PARIS/SEOUL (Reuters) - France’s Winter Olympics team will not travel to the 2018 Games in South Korea if its security cannot be guaranteed, France’s sports minister said on Thursday, the first major doubts by a participating nation about growing North Korean tensions.

The games organizer said on Friday that it is closely monitoring the current geopolitical situation with the South Korean government, adding that safety is the top priority.

Tensions in the region have escalated since North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 3, prompting global condemnation.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un said on Friday the North will consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the United States in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to destroy the North.

France’s Sports Minister Laura Flessel told RTL radio that if the crisis deepened and “our security cannot be assured, the French Olympics team will stay at home.”

But she added: “We’re not there yet.”

Participants in the Games - the first Winter Olympics hosted by an Asian nation outside Japan - had not previously raised safety concerns publicly.

The games are scheduled for Feb 9-25 next year in Pyeongchang, just 80 km (50 miles) from the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, the world’s most heavily armed border. The two countries remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty.

“Safety and security is one of the most important aspects of Games preparations,” Sung Baik-you, a spokesman for the organizing committee, said in a statement to Reuters on Friday.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday the country is pushing to ensure security at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. In a meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, Moon said South Korea is well aware of the concerns.

The Japanese Olympic Committee said on Friday it is not considering the cancellation of its plans.

“We will continue to prepare in the same way as with other international competitions that we take part in,” a spokeswoman for the committee said.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) said it was working with all the relevant authorities to ensure its athletes would be safe.

“Each host city presents a unique challenge from a security perspective, and, as is always the case, we are working with the organizers, the U.S. State Department and the relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.

The Chinese Olympic Committee said it had no immediate comment.


The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), which has representatives in South Korea, said the safety of its team was always its main priority.

“The safety of our entire Canadian Olympic Team is always our main priority, no matter where the Games are held,” the COC said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

“The Government of Canada does not currently have travel advisories in place for South Korea and recommends that Canadians exercise normal security precautions, which is the lowest of four risk levels.”

Australia, one of Asia’s largest participants at recent Winter Games, is monitoring the situation.

“The safety of our team is of the highest priority but we are comfortable with the priority that the (International Olympic Committee) and the Org Comm are placing on security and safety of the Games and its participants,” the Australian Olympic Committee said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

“We are relying on advice from DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and working with the Korean Ambassador and if their advice changes, we will advise our team accordingly but for the moment there is no suggestion that the Games will not go ahead or their safety is compromised.”

The chief of the International Ski Federation, Gian-Franco Kasper, dismissed any fears among athletes, saying the Pyeongchang Olympics would be the “safest in the world”.

He conceded, however, that ticket sales among overseas visitors could be affected.
The IOC has said it is not contemplating any ‘Plan B’ for the Games.

IOC President Thomas Bach said last week that considering any scenario other than holding the Olympics in South Korea could hamper diplomatic efforts.

France Minister of Sport Laura Flessel gives a speech at the presentation of Paris 2024 at the 131st IOC session in Lima, Peru September 13, 2017.

Reuters, Updated 17 hours ago
France to skip 2018 Winter Games if security not assured
By Richard Lough, Hyunjoo Jin

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Mai Khoi, a Vietnamese musician

HANOI, Vietnam − By the time President Obama arrives here Sunday night, all-day voting in tightly controlled elections for members of the rubber-stamp Parliament will have just finished.

In this Communist-ruled nation, the names that were not allowed to appear on the ballots tell more of a story than the 870 scrupulously vetted candidates permitted to compete for 500 seats.

Nearly two dozen activists registered to run as pro-democracy independent candidates this year. The government first allowed independent candidates to run in 2002, but this was the first year so many activists tried.

After enduring harassment and denunciations orchestrated by the Communist Party, all of them were forced out during a pre-selection process.

Among those who ran unsuccessful campaigns for office were Mai Khoi, 32, a popular singer-songwriter known as the Lady Gaga of Vietnam (*), and Nguyen Quang A, 69, a former member of the Communist Party, businessman and founder of the Civil Society Forum.

Even a trusted member of the governing elite, the former deputy head of state-controlled Vietnam National Television, Tran Dang Tuan, did not pass the vetting committees run by Communist Party stalwarts.

On paper, Vietnam’s Constitution allows any citizen to run as a candidate. But in reality, the country remains a one-party state, with people allowed to vote only for the candidates handpicked by the party. “We want to change the fake right to participate in the elections into a real right,” Mr. Quang A said.

Mr. Obama’s three-day visit also comes in the midst of mounting public anger over tons of dead fish that washed up on the shores of central Vietnam close to a newly opened steel plant. The police have quashed demonstrations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City against the Taiwan-owned plant in the last month, and hundreds of protesters have been detained, organizers said.

Last Sunday, leaders of the protests in both cities were blocked from leaving their homes by security guards posted outside, and more than 300 police officers watched 10 protesters hold banners on a street in Hanoi before arresting them.
Vietnam remains one of the most repressive states in Asia, and while the Obama administration has called for the release of political prisoners and criticized the election process as “neither free, nor fair,” Washington is walking a delicate line.

The administration wants to coax Vietnam toward a stronger military relationship with the United States as both countries see a confluence of interests in keeping China at bay. But Vietnam’s new Communist Party hierarchy, in place for just a few months, seems more ideologically conservative and suspicious of American intentions.

Human Rights Watch has urged the United States and other Western countries to use their economic leverage to press for democratic overhauls. “Vietnam’s donors, who regularly call for free and fair elections in countries such as Burma and Cambodia, should publicly call for pluralistic elections in Vietnam and an end to one-party rule,” the group said.

Those activists who tried to participate in the nominating process faced a gantlet of procedures organized by a party group, the Fatherland Front, an independent journalist, Pham Doan Trang, wrote in a report. In all, there were 162 so-called independent candidates but only about two dozen were activists, and none made it onto the ballot, Ms. Trang said.

Almost all the people selected by the Front to participate in the vetting meetings were older, loyal party members, she said.

In Ms. Mai Khoi’s constituency, most of the party members involved in vetting were about 60, the singer wrote on her Facebook page. In the end, she was rejected, she said, because of her youth.

Some candidates also faced intimidation. A month before the party called the meeting in Mr. Quang A’s neighborhood to select the candidates, party propagandists made a video in which his neighbors were asked to denounce him. In the video, shown on a state-run website, he was called a reactionary aligned with foreign forces, he said.

A few days before the selection meeting, in March, he was detained for six hours at a police station, he said.

When he appeared at the meeting, called a “voters’ conference,” all 75 selectors were members of the Communist Party, veterans groups or the Fatherland Front, he said. “I thanked them for gathering, even though I didn’t agree with the process,” Mr. Quang A said.

Intimidation from the security forces frightened some of the independent candidates. When a Western ambassador asked some of the candidates to come to his residence, only Mr. Quang A, the most experienced, dared to turn up, a diplomat who arranged the invitation said.

The next election for the General Assembly is not for another five years. After she was rejected as a candidate, the police closed down a concert planned by Ms. Mai Khoi. She has told supporters she is not sure what she will do next.

But Mr. Quang A says he will continue to press forward in what he calls a “difficult but bright journey.” He is not depending on support from the United States, he said. “They have many interests here,” he said. “Political and human rights is just one.”

An election poster in Hanoi, Vietnam, last month. By the time President Obama arrives Sunday night, all-day voting in parliamentary races will have just finished.

Mai Khoi, 32, a popular singer-songwriter known as the Lady Gaga of Vietnam, was forced out during a tightly controlled pre-selection process.

The New York Times, Published: MAY 20, 2016
Obama’s Vietnam Trip Follows Controlled Parliamentary Elections


Mai Khoi, a Vietnamese musician, tried to run as a candidate for the country's National Assembly in Sunday's elections.

However, her application was rejected.

She is hoping to meet US President Barack Obama during his three-day visit to discuss what young people in Vietnam want.

BBC News, 23 May 2016
Mai Khoi, Vietnamese singer not allowed to run for parliament

HANOI − Reuters:
Google Inc's parent firm, Alphabet, will work with Vietnam's communist government to stamp out "toxic" and illegal information on its platform, the South-East Asian nation said.
Vietnam tolerates little dissent and human rights groups and western countries have criticised its arrests of anti-government bloggers. 

In February, Vietnam complained about "toxic" anti-government and offensive content on Facebook and Google's YouTube application, pressuring domestic firms to withhold advertising until the social media firms found a solution. 

Alphabet made the assurance during a meeting of Chairman Eric Schmidt and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi on May 26, the government said on its website. 

"Mr Eric Schmidt said (he) will tightly cooperate with Vietnam to remove toxic information violating Vietnamese laws and will consider opening a representative office in the country," it said in a statement. 

Google said it had no immediate plan for an office in Vietnam, however. 

"We have clear policies for removal requests from governments around the world, and those policies have not changed," spokesman Taj Meadows said in an email. 

"We rely on governments to notify us of content that they believe is illegal through official processes, and where appropriate, will restrict it after a thorough review." 

Besides meeting the prime minister, Schmidt met Vietnamese people engaged in fields ranging from technology to healthcare and art, including singer and activist Mai Khoi. 

"I told Eric about Vietnam's internet censorship issue and he said he knew about it and would try to improve Internet freedom here in a delicate way," Khoi told Reuters.
Vietnam makes up a very small part of the business operations of companies such as Facebook and Google, but is one of Asia's fastest growing economies and a hot investment target for global consumer brands. 

YouTube and Facebook account for two-thirds of digital media market share in Vietnam, the domestic agency Isobar Vietnam says.

Google has assured the Vietnamese government that it will "tightly cooperate with Vietnam to remove toxic information violating Vietnamese laws," the Vietnamese government said in a statement.

The Star, Published: Friday, 26 May 2017 8:03 PM MYT
Vietnam says Google will cooperate in removal of ‘toxic’ content

Vietnam is a young and dynamic country. Out of Vietnam's total population of around 90 million, 40 percent are 24 years old or younger. The economy is growing quickly and in the metropolises of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, skyscrapers are shooting up out of the ground.

But politics in Vietnam isn't as young and dynamic. The Vietnamese Communist Party (CPV) has been in power longer than any other communist party in the world. The CPV does not tolerate any political forces alongside it. Elder party members have warned for a long time that a "peaceful evolution" to a more pluralistic system could undercut the CPV's monopoly on power.

During National Assembly elections in May 2016, Vietnamese singer-songwriter Mai Khoi stirred up controversy by announcing she would run as a candidate. She was unsuccessful, but her action ignited a debate over political participation in Vietnam. That same month, then-US President Obama travelled to Hanoi and met with the singer and other political activists. And her candidacy was not the first time that Mai Khoi stood up for democracy, human rights and countering violence against women.

Right now, Mai Khoi is working on a new album and her music is connecting to an influential and rich tradition of political songs.

DW invited the signer and activist to speak at the 2017 Global Media Forum and provide musical accompaniment to the Freedom of Speech award. The prize has been given out since 2015 to people or institutions that have made outstanding or unique contributions to human rights and freedom of speech.

DW: When and how did you begin to develop an interest in politics?

Mai Khoi: I really began to develop an interest in politics after I was encouraged by friends to run as an independent candidate for the National Assembly. That was in February 2016 and for me it started there.

I had already been involved with different social projects, and at the time, I found many things with politics and the political system to be problematic. This sense has become stronger since my candidacy. Since that experience, I see much clearer how many barriers there are in Vietnam. I also met many people who share similar feelings.

How can you explain why Vietnamese - especially youth- are not interested in poltics?

In my view, this has a lot to do with the educational system in Vietnam. This narrow system leads people to fear coming in contact with politics. They think that this is the job only of the state system and the government - it has nothing to do with them and they shouldn't speak about it.

They are also afraid of endangering themselves. This is especially true for young people who don't have the courage to ask political questions. Unfortunately, this also means that they don't think about many social and civic issues.

What can be done to get more people interested in politics?

Foremost, it is important to attract people to political issues - young, old and across all social groups. Every decision in our lives is influenced by politics. Whether we can get divorced, what schools our children will attend, if we have green spaces in our cities.

All of these are important questions and we can all contribute to them. With my candidacy, I wanted to demonstrate that everyone should have the right to be politically active and help shape policy. It is ultimately about our lives.

Politics doesn't have to be difficult or complicated. We have to inspire people - especially youth. Everyone should feel that they can accomplish something, that they are a part of a society and a nation and that they can help improve living standards. We must demonstrate to young people that this is important.

What do you want for the future?

I want there to be place given for independent candidates at the next National Assembly - especially for young people. It would only be a small change, but this is how we could reach something step by step and soften the government. We have to also insist that freedom of speech and of assembly finally achieve a place in Vietnam.

Human rights organizations like HRW and AI frequently report about activists and bloggers being attacked in Vietnam and put under pressure. Are you afraid of this?

As an activist in Vietnam, you need to have a sense about what is okay at certain times and what isn’t. But that is not simple. In Vietnam there is no legal certainty and you don’t know if you have crossed a "red line."

Right now an example of a sensitive topic is the Taiwan-owned steel factory. (ed: The factory pumped highly toxic water into the sea and poisoned fish). Or the conflict with China over the South China Sea. With these issues, there is a danger that you may be arrested.

Nevertheless, we must continue to fight for human rights and freedom of opinion. But when we talk about problems or write blogs, we must - just like in Hanoi traffic - wind our way thorough with skill. This is the only way we can reach people.

Deutsche Welle, Published: 06.07.2017
Vietnam singer Mai Khoi adds a youthful tone to aged politics

The Vietnamese singer and activist Mai Khoi is an outspoken advocate for human rights and freedom of expression in Vietnam. After her performance at the Global Media Forum she spoke with DW about her political activism.
By Rodion Ebbighausen

Deutsche Welle (DW) is Germany’s international broadcaster. Peter Limbourg has been Director General since 2013. Around 1,500 employees and nearly as many freelancers from 60 countries work in DW’s headquarters in Bonn and main studio in Berlin.


Mai Khoi is a Vietnamese celebrity, singer, songwriter, musician and social activist. She has been playing music since she was 12 when she was the pianist in a wedding band with her father, a music teacher, in the coastal city of Nha Trang. Her music draws on a wide variety of influences, from traditional Vietnamese folk to blues, soul and rock, seamlessly melding disparate styles, melodies and rhythms. Her music is also distinct in terms of its emotional variation, her wide vocal range and the angelic tonal qualities of her voice. In 2010, Mai Khoi won the highest award for music composition in Vietnam, the Vietnam Television song and album of the year awards. After nominating herself for the National Assembly and being unfairly rejected in 2016, she met with President Obama and spoke to him for an hour about freedom of speech and artistic expression and protecting the right to peaceful protest. Mai Khoi has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street, ABC News and BBC.

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 今は亡き著名人のインタビューを再録する「もう一度読みたい <平和と民主主義>」第10回は、「ベ平連」を結成するなど、行動する作家として知られた小田実さん。

<2007年6月21日 東京本社夕刊2面から>

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その後の小田さん…人が読む 今も生かされている言葉

2007年6月21日 東京本社夕刊2面



ひとりの国際的な反戦運動家が、己の死を目前にし、最期の言葉を市民のために遺そうと、今にも消え入りそうになる自らの命の炎を感じながら、必死で語って いる姿が浮かんで来た。




 北朝鮮戦争終結から94年まで、韓国軍は約1万4000人の武装工作員を北朝鮮に派遣し、その6割は戻ってこなかったという (青木 理『北朝鮮に潜入せよ』)。彼らは北で情報収集、破壊工作などを行い、兵士や農民などを南に拉致してくることもあった。北も、同様に「南派工作員」を送ってきた。こうした工作活動の一部が、日本人拉致事件と考えられる。
 戦争が終結し、安全保障上の脅威がなくなれば、初めて北の人権問題が課題として浮上してくる。「アテネの春」(南の民主化) に続き、「プラハの春」(北の民主化) が生じるという、韓国民主化運動が描いていた「夢」が、おぼろげながら現実の過程に入ってきたのではないか。



 その15年の間に、民間人は南ベトナムと北ベトナムを合わせ て200万人以上が犠牲となった。
 ベトナム人兵士は、南ベトナム政府軍側で22万人、解放戦線と北ベトナム軍側で合わせて110万人が斃れている。南ベトナム政府軍側の兵士は、サイゴン正規兵、地方軍兵士、民兵の総計で優に100万人を越えていたが、米国からの派兵延べ数も15年間を 通算すると250万人に達していた。
 各国からジャーナリストや写真家が参集し、サイゴンの南ベトナム軍事支援米軍司令部(U. S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam:通常 MACVと略称された)では広報官による記者会見が毎夕開かれた。米国はもちろん、英国やフランスの通信社、新聞社からの特派員のほか、世界各地のフリーランサーも少なくなく、日本からやって来た石川文洋(1938−)もフリーランスの写真家であった。
 戦後日本のいわゆる「高度経済成長」は、沖縄に広大な軍事基地を維持することを容認する代償として、米 国からいわば最恵国待遇を受け続けた結果である。
 石川文洋のベトナム写真を具体的に検討するに当たり、ここでは1971年に朝日新聞社から刊行された『写真報告 戦争と民衆』を取り上げる。先述のとおり、石川は現地で撮影済みのフィルムを 通信社等に売ることで生計を立てていたため、この写真集も石川の手許に残された作品群から作られている。あらかじめその構成について述べておくと、『写真報告 戦争と民衆』は全部で6つの見出しをもってカテゴライズされている。そのうち、ベトナムに派遣された米兵の行動にまつわる群は、「ベトナムのアメリカ兵」、「ひとつの村の出来事」、「戦火の中の民衆」の3つであり、南ベトナム政府軍の行動にまつわるのは、「憎しみ殺しあう同胞」である。
 残る2つは、1968年5月5日の解放戦線によるサイゴン総攻撃を取材した「市街戦」と、「虐殺・カンボジア ラオス」である。

2013年立教大学紀要『応用社会学研究』No.55 43-57頁

 やっぱり、命が何より大切だということ―― 沖縄の言葉でいう「命どぅ宝(命こそ宝)」ですね。ベトナムでは、ジャーナリストが日本人だけで14人が亡くなっていますから、私が死んでいても不思議ではなかった。私は運良く生きて帰ってくることができたから、その後も船で地球一周の旅をしたり、アメリカ縦断や日本縦断をしたりと、本当にいろんなことができたけれど、死んでしまったら何もできないんだ、戦争は人の殺し合いで、民間人が犠牲になるんだ、という話をします。

 例えばアフガニスタンで撮影した、地雷で足を失った子どもの写真や、学校が破壊されてしまって野外で授業を受けている―― 授業といってもノートも鉛筆もないんだけれど―― 子どもたちの写真を見せながら、「みんなは今、ここでこうして勉強しているけれど、同じ瞬間にこんな状況にいる子どもたちもいる。戦争だけでなく、食べ物がないためにどんどん命が失われていっている国もあるんだよ」という話をします。

 沖縄戦のとき、集団自決のあったチビチリガマに行くと、そこで命を落とした人たちのそのときの年齢が書いてあるんですよ。中には3歳とか5歳というのもあって… 私はそれを見るたび、「この子どもたちが生きていれば、いろんな人生が送れただろうな」と思ってしまいます。大人の戦争によって、子どもの夢が絶たれたのですよ


『マガジン9』記事、2014年06月25日 12:10


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The Vietnam War

Metropolitan Police Lt. Robert Klotz found himself in a thin blue line of officers decked out in riot gear. In front of Klotz that November day in 1969 stood a barricade formed out of 57 city buses. Behind the buses came the constant thrum of thousands of unseen anti-war demonstrators. And behind Klotz was the White House.

Richard Nixon was inside, watching the Ohio State-Purdue football game on television.

As the 30-year-old Klotz stood his ground, a sergeant to his left went down in a heap. A bottle clattered to the pavement nearby.

"When you get involved in a situation where they're throwing things, you don't look straight ahead," recalled Klotz, who retired from the D.C. force as deputy chief in 1980. "You look up."

It has been a long time since D.C. police have had to master the intricacies of rock-and-bottle trajectory. But things were different in the '60s, when Washington served as a fulcrum for the forces that swirled around the divisive war in Vietnam. Every year from 1967 to 1971, a major march occurred in the District, including four of the biggest anti-war demonstrations in American history.

As the nation endured perhaps its greatest turmoil since the Civil War, Washington stood at the center, headquarters of an unpopular war, symbol of boundless power, rallying point for those who would challenge that authority. From as far as Berkeley, Calif., and as near as George Washington University they came, mainly young and bluejeaned, ardent and at times insolent for their cause.

"It was a time in which there was a very great deal of turbulence on the one hand, but also a period in which citizenship took on the form of real action," recalled Marcus Raskin, 65, a participant in many of the marches and now a public policy professor at George Washington. "It was an absolute moral choice that people took."

The orderly demonstrations of the mid-1960s snowballed into a serious attempt to shut down the government in May 1971, an occasion that set a U.S. record for people arrested in a single day.

"A lot of them came down because they felt very strongly about what they were doing," said Klotz, now 60, who worked all of the demonstrations. "And a lot of them came for adventure. And adventure meant confrontation."

The first major anti-war rally in Washington featured little confrontation. Students for a Democratic Society staged it on April 17, 1965, just one month after the United States had sent its first Marines, its first combat troops, to Vietnam. But U.S. forces there still numbered fewer than 25,000 and had not yet fought a major battle.

In that first demonstration, about 16,000 people picketed the White House and marched on the Capitol. They sang and carried earnest signs -- "No More War," "We Want Peace Now." Some wore gas masks. Many wore suits and ties. Only four arrests were made.

But things were molting rapidly, as they tended to do in the '60s. The March on the Pentagon on Oct. 21, 1967, became a cultural touchstone of the decade, a defining moment of American history limned in the leonine prose of Norman Mailer's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Armies of the Night." For the first time, the counterculture openly confronted the Establishment at the seat of American power.

By now, 13,000 Americans had died in Vietnam and "flower power" had been loosed throughout the land from the streets of San Francisco. The draft had become a bone of contention between the generations, turning war protest into a mass effort known simply as the Movement.

The Pentagon march was the culmination of five days of nationwide anti-draft protests organized by the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam -- "the Mobe." But a singular spark was provided by the Youth International Party (Yippies), a fringe group whose leaders, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, had announced that they planned an "exorcism" of the Pentagon. They would encircle the building, chant incantations, "levitate" the structure and drive out the evil war spirits.

The crowd drawn to Washington for the March on the Pentagon and a rally at the Lincoln Memorial numbered more than 100,000. For the first time, there were significant numbers of hippies, with long hair and fanciful garb. Hoffman donned beads and an Uncle Sam hat. Speakers included Mailer, poet Robert Lowell and pediatrician Benjamin Spock. Protest signs now brimmed with counterculture wit: "LBJ, Pull Out Now, Like Your Father Should Have Done."

Mailer and Hoffman were among the 681 arrested, most for disorderly conduct and breaking police lines. More than 2,500 Army troops protected the Pentagon, which did not levitate (although Hoffman claimed to have urinated on it). Hippies pressed forward to place flowers in the barrels of soldiers' bayoneted M-14 rifles.
"Will you take my flower?" a dancing girl asked the soldiers. "Please do take my flower. Are you afraid of flowers?"

The Pentagon's steps were spattered with blood. Tear gas was unleashed on the crowds. "People became frightened," recalled Raskin, one of the speakers that day. "They began running every which way. At that moment, it turned into something else. A sense of chaos takes over."

By 1969 the Movement -- now known as the "New Mobe" -- had grown large enough to stage the biggest anti-war demonstration in the nation's history, the Moratorium rally on Nov. 15. More than 250,000 protesters -- some estimates went as high as 500,000 -- poured down Pennsylvania Avenue and spilled out onto the Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument.

But the rancor and energy of the 1967 march seemed lacking this time. LBJ was gone. Nixon was trying to Vietnamize the war. Big marches had lost some of their novelty.

And the government had figured out how to handle the huge crowds, monitoring the demonstration with 3,000 police officers, 9,000 Army troops (who were kept out of sight in reserve), 200 lawyers and 75 clergymen. The New Mobe had recruited thousands of its own armband-wearing "parade marshals" to help keep order.

The march was generally peaceful, except for a couple of clashes between police and demonstrators, including one led by the Yippies at the Justice Department.

Police and protesters traded tear gas canisters for rocks and bottles. Windows were broken in about 50 buildings, and 135 arrests were announced.

By 1971, in the wake of Nixon's invasion of Cambodia and the killing of four students by National Guardsmen at Kent State University the year before, anger had returned to the Movement.

The intent now was to shut down the federal government by stopping the flow of traffic into the District on May Day. Klotz -- by then a captain -- recalled that police agents infiltrated the demonstrators, obtaining their "tactical manual" for the shutdown.

"They looked at all of the major access routes coming into the District from Maryland and Virginia, and they made assignments to demonstrators where they could go to block the streets," Klotz said. "They were going to come out in waves, so that when the first wave got arrested, the second wave would fill the streets and then a third wave and so on. They had done a pretty good job."

But Nixon had vowed to keep the city open.

"The Titanic was heading toward the iceberg," Klotz said.

The events began peacefully nearly two weeks before May Day, with more than 200,000 people attending rallies under the auspices of the National Peace Action Coalition. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War camped out on the Mall.

When the date for shutting down the government approached, the VVAW and most of the other protesters departed, leaving behind a hard core organized by the Peoples Coalition for Peace and Justice, and its more militant Mayday Tribe. The plan was to combine massive traffic disruptions with marches on the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Capitol over three days.

"The aim of Mayday actions is to raise the social cost of the war to a level unacceptable to America's rulers," the Mayday Tribe wrote in the tactical manual.

But after years of demonstrations, the police were ready for them.

First, they planned to make arrests on a scale never before seen. "We talked to courts to find out what was the minimum amount of information needed for an arrest," Klotz said. "How many people one person could legitimately arrest and still remember the details."

They created fill-in-the-blank field arrest forms to substitute for the standard, lengthy narratives. They equipped arrest vans with Polaroid cameras, so an officer could have his picture taken with his arrestee as a memory aid for a later court appearance. And they used a new kind of handcuffs -- plastic "flexi-cuffs" -- pre-
numbered with badge numbers of the arresting officers.

Then they created "arrest teams" -- composed of arresting officers, handcuffing officers and transporting officers, who would bring the efficiency of a production line to the task.

Finally, they launched a preemptive strike.

Before dawn on May 2, D.C. police got on a public address system and commanded 30,000 sleeping protesters to vacate West Potomac Park, the intended rallying point. People were told to leave because they were in violation of their permit.

The reason: "rampant" use of drugs.

The reason was a pretext, like Capt. Louis Renault being shocked, shocked about the gambling at Rick's Cafe in "Casablanca." The drug use had gone on uninterrupted for days -- two stations were set up to treat overdoses -- but police chose to discover it just as the protesters were set to muster.

The preemptive strike worked, driving off many of the protesters. Police estimated that only 12,000 stayed around. "They were obviously somewhat bewildered," Klotz said. "When they were dispersed from the park, a lot of them just went home. It just sort of screwed up what they were going to do."

The next day, police used tear gas and mass arrests to keep the streets open. By 8 a.m., they had arrested 2,000 people, thwarting an attempt to tie up key bridges into the city. There were so many arrests that police stopped using arrest forms and simply scooped people up in vans. Lacking jail space, police held the arrestees outdoors at the Washington Redskins football practice field near Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. The day would end with more than 7,000 arrests, a record, but with surprisingly little violence -- 155 injuries were reported -- considering the stakes.

After rush hour on Monday, May 3, Attorney General John N. Mitchell declared: "The traffic is flowing. The government is functioning."

Mayday leader Rennie Davis held his own news conference in mid-afternoon. "We want to make clear that we failed this morning to stop the U.S. government," Davis said, but he described the day's events as "almost the most major nonviolent demonstration" in the nation's history. His inarticulateness captured the surreal tenor of the moment.

To Klotz, it was just a fine piece of police work. "It was a very smart tactical maneuver. And it was carried out very well."

A few smaller protests would follow in the District but the high-water mark had been reached. The war was winding down. U.S. combat troops pulled out in 1972. The next year, the United States signed a peace treaty with North Vietnam in Paris.

No march in Washington marked the occasion.

"I don't think most people, myself included, thought [the demonstrations were] more than an existential gesture at the time," said Raskin. "But after we read the Pentagon Papers, it turned out the marches were very, very important in changing the direction of the war."

The Washington Post, Published: Monday, Sept. 27, 1999
The Vietnam Protests: When Worlds Collided
By Jeff Leen, Washington Post Staff Writer

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, who a decade ago co-directed "The War," about World War II, have now made "The Vietnam War."

Written − like that series and other Burns projects running back to "The Civil War" − by Geoffrey C. Ward, it begins Sunday on PBS, with 10 episodes running some 18 hours.

The series is both long, and somehow not long enough. Vietnam, a conflict kept alight by official lies, naive idealism and a shark-like inability to go any way but forward, was as deep a well as the country has ever gone down; half a century later, we have still not climbed out.

There are many good reasons to watch “The Vietnam War.” Unless you are very well informed, it will teach you things you do not know and correct things you thought you knew. It may be, if you are of those generations for whom the words "the war" call to mind only Iraq or Afghanistan, that you know nothing of Vietnam at all.

But there are lessons in this misadventure worth learning regarding the crooked course of human events and the collision of interests and individual lives. Its multiplicity of voices, from both sides of the war and the war at home, might make you a more thoughtful, less judgmental person in the end if you pay attention.

And you should pay attention.

“It was so divisive,” one commentator remembers. “It’s like living in a family with an alcoholic father − ‘Sssh, we don't talk about that.’ Our country did that with Vietnam."

Still, this is not the first time television has looked at Vietnam; indeed, it was the first "television war," played out in millions of living rooms on the nightly news. Burns’ project is not even the first long examination; "Vietnam: A Television History" ran 13 hours on PBS in 1983.

But Burns is America's Documentarian; there is a built-in weight to his work − not appropriate to every subject he’s tackled, but it works for war.

Burns’ reputation gives him access to people and pictures. He has the drive to be definitive, which is of course impossible. As huge as “The Vietnam War” is, parts of the story are left unexplored; for example, it barely touches the ways in which American forces interacted with the civilian society of South Vietnam, and how one might have changed the other. Subjects that might have whole documentaries of their own − drugs, the children some soldiers left behind − are dutifully noted and dropped.

But if there is never another series on the subject, this one will serve posterity very well. It is something to reckon with: fact-filled, fascinating, infuriating, dreadful, beautiful, nerve-wracking and numbing. There are so many bodies, burning and blown apart, that they fail to register after awhile. (It’s possible that we have seen too much artfully simulated screen-glamorized violence to fully appreciate the real thing; in any case, this is not a show for young eyes.) But as the series moves on past the war to passages of reflection and reconciliation, it grows moving to a degree unusual in Burns' work; whatever you have managed not to feel in the preceding hours comes back to get you.

The story goes back to its French colonial origins, with a young Ho Chi Minh looking for Western support for Vietnamese self-determination, jumping ahead every so often to remind us that an American story is coming. (There is a sequence at the beginning where the footage is actually run backward, back through Presidents Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower and Truman, with bombs returning to planes, Buddhist monks and draft cards emerging from flames.)

Given the scope of the subject and the size of their series, and how many participants in the war and the war at home are still available, Burns and Novick use relatively few commentators to move their story along. But each has personal experience of Vietnam; there are no remote scholarly voices, but a well-chosen cast of soldiers, citizens, politicians, protesters and reporters.

As is his wont, Burns threads personal journeys through the history that shaped their course, which grows more chaotic and out of control, and a conflict few Americans paid mind to in the early ’60s gives way in the ’70s to massacres at My Lai and Kent State.

Seen from afar, Vietnam may have been for nothing, or less than nothing; Burns and his collaborators clearly regard it as tragic. (For North Vietnam, of course, it was a successful war for national liberation and reunification.) But up close, history is only a way of describing in a general, theoretical way many individual experiences, each of which is beyond theory or argument, and all of which are true.

R. Richter, 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade, and Sgt. Daniel E. Spencer wait with the body of a comrade, in an image from the PBS documentary series "The Vietnam War."

Los Angeles Times, Published: September 16, 2017, 5:00AM
Review: Pay attention to Ken Burns’ ‘The Vietnam War’ on PBS, there's much to learn
Robert Lloyd, Television Critic

For Americans who grew up learning social studies, watching Jeopardy! and playing Trivial Pursuit, history is supposed to be about answering questions. For documentary filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, however, the point of history has always been to ask them.

That’s especially true with respect to their latest film series, The Vietnam War, premiering Sept. 17 on PBS. Barely a minute into the first episode, Vietnam War veteran Karl Marlantes articulates the burning question to which Burns and Novick have devoted 10 episodes and 18 hours.

“For years, nobody talked about Vietnam,” says Marlantes, a former Marine Corps officer. “It was so divisive. It’s like living in a family with an alcoholic father: ‘Shhh! We don’t talk about that.’ Our country did that with Vietnam, and it’s only been very recently that the baby boomers are finally starting to say, ‘What happened? What happened?’ ”

Because there has never been a consensus answer to that question, Burns and Novick spent the past decade asking it of witnesses and historians. The resulting piece of cinematic scholarship is not only a monument to art and history, but also a testament to the hard work that is filmmaking.

The right time

Of course, Burns has made war documentaries before: 1990’s The Civil War and 2007’s The War, about World War II on the home front. This time, however, there’s a personal connection, as Burns experienced the Vietnam era as an adolescent in Ann Arbor, Mich., where his father taught at the University of Michigan.

“I didn’t go to the University of Michigan, but the campus there was a hotbed for antiwar demonstrations and unrest,” says Burns, who co-directed The Vietnam War with Novick and co-produced it with her and longtime collaborator Sarah Botstein. “One of the war’s first teach-ins occurred in the anthropology department there in 1965. My father worked in that department … so I was very much aware of the war and followed it closely.”

Although Burns was not drafted − he turned 18 in 1971 − the war still left a deep and lasting impression. So much so that he has long wanted to make a film about Vietnam. Because the wounds were so fresh, however, the timing never seemed right.

“We’ve been talking about doing something with Vietnam for as long as I’ve known Ken,” Novick says. “The Vietnam War was the most important event in American history since World War II. So being as interested as we are in American history, we felt we had to go there at some point. But when Ken and I started working together in the late ’80s, the war was still relatively recent. We wanted to wait for more time to pass.”

In 2006, as they were finishing The War, they decided the time was finally right. It had been three decades since the war ended.

“Since the fall of Saigon, we have gained massive new scholarship and the ability through our contacts to access Vietnam − including not only the physical country, but also its archives and, most importantly, its human beings,” says Burns, who began shooting the film in 2010 after four years of pre-production. “That made now an ideal time to make this film.”

Timing is one reason Burns and Novick tackled the Vietnam War.

Patriotism is another.

“This was a very traumatic, difficult and painful moment in American history, and we as a country have never really dealt with it,” Novick says. “Our hope was that we could delve into it, try to understand it, put the pieces together in an organized way and perhaps help our country talk about something it really needs to talk about.”

Finding facts

Because The Vietnam War is equal in length to 10 feature films, putting the pieces together was a herculean effort, Novick says. It took a team of about 30 people six years to untangle a complicated history, then weave it into a compelling story, she says.

“A film like this requires an enormous amount of research,” says Novick, whose team reviewed approximately 100,000 still photographs during production, not to mention thousands of hours of video footage, 1,000 musical tracks, countless sound effects and hours of presidential audio recordings. “We have a team of producers, associate producers and researchers that spent six years combing archives around the world, building relationships with individual photographers, people who lived through this experience and have their own personal collections, archivists at presidential libraries, and archivists at the world’s most respected photo houses and commercial news organizations so we could have access to all that raw material, which then had to be thoughtfully collected, organized, catalogued, labeled and tagged so we could find it and ultimately license it if we needed it for the film.”

Then there were interviews with veterans and witnesses: Their personal contacts referred more than 1,000 people to the film’s producers, who ultimately interviewed 100 of them on camera, 80 of whom made it into the film.

“Just finding the people and figuring out who to talk to took us the better part of two years,” Novick says.

The intensive research extended to writer Geoffrey C. Ward, who says he used 1,000 books as source material for the script and for The Vietnam War: An Intimate History, a companion book co-authored with Burns.

Archival materials and interview subjects alike came from both the United States and Vietnam, where producers obtained both North and South Vietnamese perspectives that only recently became available to American scholars.

“This is a war, which means there’s two sides,” says Burns, who interviewed Vietnamese soldiers and civilians from both North and South, and even former Viet Cong guerrillas, in pursuit of a holistic story that stands in stark contrast to Hollywood portrayals of the Vietnam War in films like Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. “It’s really important not to demonize the enemy and turn them into faceless things … We’ve got a complicated story to tell, and presenting different points of view allows us to paint a more complete picture. I think people are ready for that.”

To be sure, The Vietnam War argues neither in favor of the war nor against it. Thanks to an advisory panel of veterans and historians who consulted on the film and helped fact-check it, it’s an objective look at history as it actually happened.

“We don’t have an agenda; we’re just umpires calling balls and strikes,” Burns says. “Because we’ve created a space in which all these disparate points of view can co-exist, it doesn’t matter what your politics are, whether you’re young or whether you’re old. This film is for everybody and will hopefully remind us all to have the kind of civil discourse that we’ve forgotten how to have.”

Filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick discuss their new PBS documentary series 'The Vietnam War' and the importance of remembering the war at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Official trailer for the new PBS documentary series, 'The Vietnam War' a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

The USA Today, Updated 11:04 a.m. ET Sept. 15, 2017
Why Ken Burns decided this was the time to make a Vietnam War documentary
By Matt Alderton, Special for USA TODAY

Why America Lost the Vietnam War (Full Documentary)

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 会場の日比谷野外音楽堂に、反核「NO NUKES」と反戦「NO WAR」を訴える幕が掲げられ、メンバーは5月1日発売の24枚目シングル「会津磐梯山」を「リメンバー・福島」の言葉で締めくくった。

東スポ、2015年04月28日 11時00分

2011/08/31 に公開『ダッ!ダッ!脱・原発の歌』PV

2012.5.1リリース35th Album『THE PROTESTER』より「悪魔 NOだっ! 民主党」




子どもの未来 守るため歌う シンガーソングライター・橋本美香さん/strong>

制服向上委員会「OHずさんな!(諸悪の根源自民党)」ママデモ 元気女子会@渋谷ハチ公前

「質問」橋本美香 作詞:寺山修司 作曲:田中未知

今、私はフリースクールの移動教室で沖縄の離島鳩間島に来ています。島にはバナナがなり、ヤモリやでっかいコウモリがたっくさーんいて、きれいな青い海には生き物がいっぱいです!私はここで 校長の木幡先生や、一緒に来られた麻布化学実験教室の先生から生き物や生態系について学んでいます。








2017年 夏 鳩間島にて。
制服向上委員会 RAY

制服向上委員会オフィシャルブログ、2017/8/9 16:50

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Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Today should be recorded in our history books: the day when the United Nations opens the signing ceremony for the first global nuclear weapons ban treaty. This groundbreaking initiative, backed by 122 states, opens the door to achieving a nuclear-free world and goes beyond the status quo approach of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In these turbulent times, when the US-North Korea crisis is a stark reminder that nuclear war is a real possibility, it's an indication of how seriously the majority of states take this issue. They are tired of decades of prevarication by the nuclear weapons states and, well-understanding the impact a nuclear exchange will have on their own nations, have decided to force progress on the nuclear club. Their concerns are timely.

Yesterday, Donald Trump addressed the United Nations, telling the world that he may “have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea”. This comes after his now well-known promise to unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang; the authorisation of US-led military drills over the Korean peninsula; and the deployment of the THAAD missile defence system. North Korea itself has conducted a series of provocative missile launches and last month claimed it had tested its first hydrogen bomb.

Commentators have pointed out the similarities between Trump's UN speech and that given by President George W. Bush in 2002 which named North Korea, Iran and Iraq as the “axis of evil”, terrorist states seeking weapons of mass destruction to threaten the US and its allies. We know how that unfolded with Iraq, but less well-known is that not long after that speech, North Korea announced it would leave the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, on the grounds that it had a “deterrent” need to develop nuclear weapons. This, together with the ever-present consequences of the disastrous war on Iraq, is a stark reminder of the failure of Bush’s belligerent approach to solving complex problems – and indeed demonstrates how such an approach makes things incomparably worse.  This is not a lesson that Trump has yet learnt.

Donald Trump's decision to talk once more about North Korea and Iran as “rogue regimes” – as well as name-checking a number of others that he deemed sufficiently “evil” to merit action by the “righteous” – not only indicates his bombastic contempt for the international community but a dangerous disregard for the outstanding diplomatic work which resulted in the agreement between Iran, the US and others, limiting the scope of Iran’s nuclear power programme to remove the potential for nuclear weapons development.

There is rightly grave concern over the consequences if Trump trashes that valuable and highly regarded agreement. The very real danger is that Trump’s approach will lead to more nuclear proliferation not less, more takers for the “deterrent” argument, who note what happened to an Iraq which turned out not to have weapons of mass destruction.

So nuclear brinkmanship – in particular the war of words between the US and North Korean leaders – has led to growing fears about a war that will certainly involve nuclear weapons should it begin. The fears are well founded: there will be no winners from war between the US and North Korea – millions will be killed, not only directly in the blast from the attack, but slowly and terribly, across the world through the impact of radioactive fallout. There is no barrier which can prevent that poison blowing at will across the world, no wall that President Trump can build to protect himself and the American people from that fallout.  

The present crisis clarifies what most states have long felt: that the world can only be safe when nuclear weapons are abolished. Living with them is just too dangerous.

Those who would retain nuclear weapons argue that nuclear disarmament is a utopian ideal – a wonderful vision, but impossible to deliver in practice. Others even take the line that nuclear weapons have delivered stability, have kept the peace.

But which world do they actually live in? With the present crisis in north east Asia, 16 years of wars in the Middle East, and conflicts and war so numerous that we are unaware of many of them, human suffering on a devastating scale across the globe, grappling with climate change, resource shortages, vast movements of refugees, these arguments have never been less credible or less relevant.

Britain needs to get serious about how it can help address the real security problems that Britain and the global community face, before the global disaster movie that we are increasingly experiencing can no longer be held back. Part of that is facing up to the reality of our nuclear folie de grandeur and abandoning the notion that playing a role in the world has to mean having the capacity to kill millions of people indiscriminately.

Just for a start, we need to sign the global ban treaty, rule out British military involvement on the Korean peninsula, and throw the weight we have into backing the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. To follow any other path is to help take the world down the short road to nuclear catastrophe.

The Independent, Published a day ago
The UN launches its nuclear weapons ban treaty today – if only Trump would sign up

The very real danger is that Trump’s bellicose approach will lead to more nuclear proliferation not less
By Kate Hudson


2017-09-21 天木直人のブログ

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia joins the chorus of call for global elimination of nuclear weapons by signing a treaty in the on going 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman signed on behalf of Malaysia in the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, sending a strong political message that nuclear weapons are unacceptable.

By signing it also Malaysia joins other States from the international community in calling for the “complete and total elimination as soon as possible”, according to a statement issued by the ministry.

“This treaty is legally sound, feasible to implement, and strengthens the global norms against nuclear weapons. The treaty is inclusive, with pathways open for other states to become a party in the future.

“It is hoped that the political and legal impact of this treaty on nuclear disarmament will provide the much needed direction for further initiatives aimed at the elimination of nuclear weapons and the maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons,” the statement added.

The treaty was the outcome of two conference sessions that were called to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons leading towards their total elimination from Mar 27 to 31 and June 15 to July 7 this year at the UN in New York.

The conference was attended by UN member States and representatives of civil society organisations.

Malaysia had played a constructive role throughout the negotiations on the treaty, including working with other States to further refine the language of Articles 5 to 7 of the Treaty on National Implementation, Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation, and International Cooperation and Assistance.

Malaysia also had suggested several constructive amendments to further strengthen provisions under Article 11 (Settlement of Disputes) and Article 18 (Relationship with other agreements) of the treaty, the statement revealed.

“By signing this treaty, Malaysia reaffirms its unwavering commitment and support for the longstanding principle of general and complete disarmament, in particular nuclear disarmament and measures towards achieving a nuclear weapons-free world.

“It is our hope that other States will also sign this Treaty, and that all will work together towards its entry into force, which is when 50 States submit their instrument of ratification,” it added.

The treaty was mooted in the 70th UN general assembly in 2015 where a resolution titled “Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations” was adopted.

It mandated the convening of an Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) in 2016 to discuss effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms needed to attain a world without nuclear weapons.

In response to the recommendations in the OEWG report, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 71/258 on Dec 23 last year of the same title, which calls for the convening of the two negotiation conference sessions in New York this year.

The first session from Mar 27 to 31 served as an avenue for UN member States to suggest the framework, issues and concerns the treaty should address. Based on the inputs, the first draft of the treaty was released on May 22 and served as the basis for discussion for the second session of the conference from June 15 to July 7.

The Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) were of the view that the treaty did not add value and will be counter-productive towards nuclear disarmament. The NWS remain convinced that the nuclear disarmament should be conducted through a step-by-step approach.

The Treaty contains 20 articles that cover the pertinent aspects relating to the issue of nuclear weapons prohibition – such as prohibitions, declarations, safeguards, measures of elimination, victim assistance and environmental remediation, international cooperation and assistance, meeting of State Parties, amendments, and settlement of disputes.

Despite the overwhelming desire to adopt the treaty by consensus, it was put to a vote at the request of the Netherlands on July 7 and a total of 122 member states, including Malaysia, voted in favour of the adoption, 1 voted against and 1 abstained.

Following the adoption of the treaty, representatives of the United States, United Kingdom and France issued a joint statement stating that they “do not intend to sign, ratify, or even be party to the treaty.”

New Straits Times, Published: September 21, 2017 - 8:49am
Malaysia takes firm stand for nuclear disarmament at the UN

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Trump’s ‘testosterone tub-thumping’ performance

Donald Trump’s United Nations performance on Tuesday was dangerous. It was dangerous not for the testosterone tub-thumping and infantile imagery. It was dangerous for being based on a lie. Trump said: “If forced to defend ourselves and our allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

Choice is the privilege of power – and moderation is its obligation. Trump understands neither. The two objects of his vitriol, Iran and North Korea, apart from being wholly unalike, are seeking to defend themselves with the same weapons as are deployed by America and its allies. No outside force is likely to stop them, nor is it clear by what right it might do so. We may not like nuclear proliferation, but we can hardly lecture others on the subject.

Meanwhile the idea that North Korea, for all its posturing, poses an existential threat to America is paranoid absurdity. Were its ruler to go mad and direct a nuclear missile at Guam or Hawaii or Oregon, it would cause a terrible mess, and a crisis in Chinese-American relations. Few would argue against retaliation. But the greatest danger is that it would suck America into another Asian land war and probably a defeat. As in the case of America’s war in Vietnam, that again would be a choice, but not a necessity.

On coming to office, Trump hinted at a policy of radical non-intervention abroad, under the plausible rubric of “America first”. He declared himself sceptical of the Iraq and Afghan wars, fed up with Nato, averse to the Saudi alliance and eager for a rapprochement with Russia. Even in terms of past American isolationism, this was dramatic stuff. We waited eagerly to see how it might work in practice.

The answer is clear – not at all. Even faster than George W Bush, Trump has slithered into the militarism, bullying and bombast that is the seduction of high office. His daily tweets amount to little more than “my adjective is bigger than yours”. He thrills to the call of the pipe and the drum. He whams bombs into Syria, and sends more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. He wants to “win” in the only way he knows how, by belligerence. His greatest weakness is constantly to imply he has no choice.

Britain should have nothing to do with this lie. We are at the 20th anniversary of Tony Blair’s 1997 recasting of Anglo-American relations. There would be no more “blue water”, as over Vietnam, Ireland and the Falklands. Blair’s aide Jonathan Powell told the new ambassador to Washington, Christopher Meyer, that his job was simply “to get up the arse of the White House and stay there”.

Blair did just that, and his successors have remained ensconced there ever since. The cost has been appalling, in British soldiers’ lives and taxpayers’ money, and in the galvanisation of domestic terrorism. Yet it is impossible to detect a jot of world peace, let alone British advantage, in these two decades of craven support for America’s every misguided venture.

We remain trapped in Blair’s bind. We are still inexcusably bombing civilian targets in Iraq and Syria. We are still building carriers and outdated jets to meet Nato targets unrelated to any strategic need. We are still crippling the defence budget to pay for a useless nuclear “deterrent”. We still have 500 troops fighting a war in Afghanistan.

The Afghan war demonstrates the ailment at the heart of British foreign policy – its inexplicability. When asked why we were in Afghanistan, Blair would say we were “defending freedom” and “building a better nation”. Gordon Brown said we were “keeping British streets safe”. David Cameron said we were “driving terrorists out of that country”. What is it about Downing Street that obliges its occupants to talk such rubbish?

An intriguingly frank debate on Afghanistan took place last week at the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall. With commendable frankness, present and past soldiers, diplomats and politicians reviewed Theo Farrell’s Unwinnable, a devastating account of the Afghan saga, in which every British military failure down the ages has been compressed into the cesspit of expense, death and misery called Helmand.

Apart from its sense of “lions led by donkeys”, the book shows what happens when soldiers and politicians dare not speak truth to Downing Street power. Seminar participants kept asking each other: “Who is to blame?” It was hard not to shout: “You lot!”

British fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan were due simply to Blair’s eagerness to backrub George Bush in his grotesque responses to 9/11. We are now doing the same to Trump. North Korea is a tinpot dictatorship utterly in thrall to China, whose painful responsibility must one day be to cut its throat. Its leader has mastered the art of taunting to distraction one American president after another. Each week Trump rises to the bait.

Korea is no threat to Britain, or to Nato, or to any known British interest. Yet Theresa May went to Tokyo last month to discuss with its prime minister “what can be done” about Korea. She brought, according to an aide, “a message for China’s President Xi Jinping, telling him in no uncertain terms that it is his responsibility to rein in Kim Jong-un”. This was opium war talk. Britain even refused to rule out a military or cyberwarfare response. London, said May, stood “shoulder to shoulder” with America. Why? Harold Wilson resisted that temptation over Vietnam. It was, and still is, nothing to do with Britain.

British foreign policy is like an ancient shamanic ritual. Coated in dust, it is taken down from its shelf whenever a prime minister feels in need of a plane ride, a red carpet and an urge to lecture the world. Like her predecessors, May has to incant the gospel according to Tony, that any of Kipling’s “lesser breeds without the law” who dare to upset Washington are “completely unacceptable” to London. She then bombs an occasional Muslim village to show she is “right behind America on terrorism”. A crusty retainer duly puts the policy back on its shelf.

No other European country feels the need to behave like this. It costs lives and money, and is in no conceivable national interest. British policy is as shaming as Trump’s is dangerous.

Donald Trump’s ‘testosterone tub-thumping’ address to the United Nations General Assembly.

The Guardian, Last modified on Wednesday 20 September 2017 22.00 BST
Ignore Trump’s lies. North Korea is no threat to Britain

Kim Jong-un does not present an existential threat, and in the end it will be up to China to cut him down to size
By Simon Jenkins


2017-09-21 天木直人のブログ





2017/09/20 18:45 ステトスコープ・チェロ・電鍵

posted by fom_club at 14:12| Comment(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


 朝、ペナンを7時半に飛び立つMH1137便に乗り8時半にKuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)着。immigrationカウンターで出国のためのパスポートチェックも済み、さ、国際線へ乗り継ごうとAerotrainへと歩を進めましたが、なんか様子が変。乗客はプラットフォームを通過してまた階段を下りていきます。

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) has blamed its aging trains for the latest breakdown at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) today which led 20 people to walk on its tracks back to the terminal building.

The breakdown happened at 5.30pm and a video of the incident has since gone viral.
The 30 second clip that was made available to the New Straits Times showed over 20 passengers walking along the tracks.

MAHB managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said their two existing trains which have been operating for nearly 20 years were due for an overhaul.

He said a major overhaul would be done on the two trains by the end of the year.

“We are also half way through heavy maintenance work on the two trains,” he said after confirming the incident.

On the latest breakdown, he said an engineer was on site one minute after they received the alert.

“However, passengers had already prised open the aerotrain doors and started walking on the tracks even before the engineer arrived.

“Five passengers however remained on the train as seen in the video.

“As per standard operating procedure there should have been an announcement, but the passengers were too impatient so they started to walk,” he said, adding that the engineer later manually drove the train to the building.

The breakdown is the second in three months.

He said passengers then did the same thing and started to walk on the tracks even
before engineers could rectify the problem.

As an immediate solution, Badlisham said engineers would be stationed on the trains to ensure there were no more such incidents.

Meanwhile, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi urged MAHB to resolve the issue as soon as possible to prevent a reoccurrence.

However, Abdul Aziz said despite the reported malfunction, the train could still be used for another five years as maintenance had been carried out as per schedule.

“Sometimes mechanical issue occur that have nothing to do with wear and tear.”

Passengers walk along train tracks as KLIA aerotrain breaks down

New Straits Times, Published: September 4, 2017 - 11:38pm
Passengers walk along train tracks as KLIA aerotrain breaks down again

By Veena Babulal


 第1・第2旅客ターミナルビルの双方で既存のターミナルビルを延伸し、 固定ゲート(ボーディングブリッジが付いたゲート)をそれぞれ2カ所ずつ、計4カ所増設するための工事が進行中だ。
 成田空港は、お客様から、そして航空会社から選ばれる空港であり続けるため、 サービスレベルの向上により、国際空港間競争力強化を図る。


posted by fom_club at 08:30| Comment(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする



Toys “R” Us announced late Monday night that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, though the company’s leadership assured customers its 1,600 stores around the world would continue to operate normally. The company, once America’s powerhouse of toys, has been struggling for years even as the toy industry grew.

Instead, it plans to restructure the $5 billion of long-term debt with which the company is saddled in hopes of keeping it afloat in a marketplace that has vastly changed with increased competition from both big box stores such as Walmart and Target, and online retailers such as Amazon.

CEO Dave Brandon called the filing the “dawn of a new era” in a news release.

“We are confident that these are the right steps to ensure that the iconic Toys’R’Us and Babies’R’Us brands live on for many generations,” Brandon added.

He also assured customers that both its physical and online stores would be open for the coming holidays, “and our team members around the world look forward to continuing to put huge smiles on children’s faces.”Toys “R” Us announced late Monday night that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, though the company’s leadership assured customers its 1,600 stores around the world would continue to operate normally. The company, once America’s powerhouse of toys, has been struggling for years even as the toy industry grew.

Instead, it plans to restructure the $5 billion of long-term debt with which the company is saddled in hopes of keeping it afloat in a marketplace that has vastly changed with increased competition from both big box stores such as Walmart and Target, and online retailers such as Amazon.

CEO Dave Brandon called the filing the “dawn of a new era” in a news release.

“We are confident that these are the right steps to ensure that the iconic Toys’R’Us and Babies’R’Us brands live on for many generations,” Brandon added.

He also assured customers that both its physical and online stores would be open for the coming holidays, “and our team members around the world look forward to continuing to put huge smiles on children’s faces.”

Charles Lazarus opened the first Toys “R” Us in Rockville, Md., in 1957 after running a baby furniture store named Children’s Bargain Town in his hometown of Washington. The “R” in the logo was backward, so it would seem like a child wrote it, according to the company’s website.

That logo and the company’s mascot, a cartoon giraffe named Geoffrey, which first appeared in a television commercial for the toy store in 1973, quickly become known worldwide. Geoffrey had lived a previous life though, as Dr. G. Raffe, the mascot for Lazarus’s first store.

The company grew coast to coast and then globally to the 1,600 locations it occupies today. It purchased one of its biggest competitors, FAO Schwarz, in 2006.
But, alongside so many other big brands, such as Payless ShoeSource, it fell victim to the shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online retailing.

Amid a long decline, the company was sold to a team of private equity firms and a real estate developer − Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Bain Capital Partners and Vornado Realty Trust respectively − in 2005. Many suggested the deal was more about the real estate owned by Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us stores, than about the shrinking businesses themselves.

The deal, though, presented a significant fallout for Toys ‘R’ Us: the assumption of $7.5 billion in debt, Bloomberg reported. While the company somewhat clawed its way out of this debt, the bankruptcy filing will allow a financial restructuring to better address it.

The company also struggled to remain relevant in an age when board games and Barbie dolls can be purchased with a click of a mouse, often at lower prices than in stores. Or they can be bought in one-stop shops like Walmart or Target alongside groceries and household goods, at a fraction of the price. There wasn’t necessarily a compelling reason to visit a Toys ‘R’ Us.

Toys, after all, are made for play.

“The biggest change you are going to see over the next year is that we want to bring our toy stores to life. I want kids to be dragging their parents to our stores because they want to see what’s going on at Toys ‘R’ Us this weekend,” Brandon told Bloomberg. “I want kids to come in here and not know where to go next because there are so many things going on.”

He wasn’t the only one who considered this strategy. CNBC’s Carol Roth, for example, argued in 2013 the company “needs to give kids and their parents a reason to need to go to the store or to use its website, above and beyond the draw of its current toy offerings. … While it used to be entertainment to shop the store, now with so many other sources of entertainment, there is no critical pull into the Toys R Us store.”

But it didn’t work. The company’s sales sank 1.4 percent in 2016, even though the toy industry as a whole saw a 5 percent increase in sales, The Washington Post reported.

With Monday’s filing, Toys ‘R’ Us joins a several other brands − such as Payless ShoeSource, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, RadioShack and The Limited − that once seemed invincible but are now financially distressed. This steep decline of traditional brands in the United States has been dubbed the “retail apocalypse” by some.

Judging from Internet reaction, though, many consumers have fond memories of the toy giant. The mere idea of the company filing bankruptcy caused many to take to Twitter in mourning.

One user wrote that Toys “R” Us is “The only store to suffer from the retail apocalypse that brings me pain.”

Many seemed to think the company was closing down, which is not the case, at least not yet.

“I know it’s a big box store, but walking around Toys R Us as a kid was like going to Disney World,” one user wrote. “Can’t imagine it gone.”

“This is absolutely disappointing,” wrote another user. “Toys R Us is going bankrupt before the holidays. This is just horrible.”

The Washington Post, Published: September 19 at 3:18 AM
Toys ‘R’ Us files for bankruptcy, the latest victim of the ‘retail apocalypse’
By Travis M. Andrews, Staff Writer

KUALA LUMPUR: Toys 'R' Us Inc, the US’ largest toy store chain, has assured toy enthusiasts that its 1,600 Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us stores around the world – the vast majority of which are profitable – are continuing to operate as usual, despite it filing for bankruptcy protection on Monday.

The toy retailer said the vast majority of the stores are profitable.

In a statement today, Toys ‘R’ Us said customers can also continue to shop for the toy and baby products they are looking for online on its newly-launched www.toysrus.com and www.babiesrus.com web stores.

Customers should expect its loyalty programs, including its Rewards ‘R’ Us, Geoffrey’s Birthday List and Babies ‘R’ Us Registry, to continue as normal, it added.

Toys ‘R’ Us said its operations outside of the US and Canada, including its 255 licensed stores and joint venture partnership in Asia, which are separate entities, are not part of the Chapter 11 filing and CCAA proceedings.

“Today marks the dawn of a new era at Toys ‘R’ Us where we expect that the financial constraints that have held us back will be addressed in a lasting and effective way,” said chairman and chief executive officer Dave Brandon.

“Together with our investors, our objective is to work with our debtholders and other creditors to restructure the US$5 billion of long-term debt on our balance sheet, which will provide us with greater financial flexibility to invest in our business, continue to improve the customer experience in our physical stores and online, and strengthen our competitive position in an increasingly challenging and rapidly changing retail marketplace worldwide.

“We are confident that these are the right steps to ensure that the iconic Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us brands live on for many generations,” he said.

Toys ‘R Us said it had received a commitment for over US$3 billion in debtor-in-possession financing from various lenders is expected to immediately improve its financial health and support its ongoing operations during the court-supervised process.

“Toys ‘R’ Us is committed to working with its vendors to help ensure that inventory levels are maintained and products continue to be delivered in a timely fashion,” it said.

In conjunction with the Chapter 11 process in the US, the company has filed a number of customary motions with the bankruptcy court seeking authorisation to support its operations during the restructuring process.

New Straits Times, Published: September 19, 2017 - 2:23pm
Toys 'R' Us stores worldwide including Malaysia operating as usual, despite bankruptcy filing

Toys R Us(トイザらス)が連邦破産法11条をバージニア州の裁判所に申請した。日本法人の営業は継続する。..
ITmedia ビジネスオンライン,2017年09月19日 15時33分 公開
米トイザらスが経営破たん 日本法人は「営業続ける」

posted by fom_club at 22:49| Comment(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

ASEAN and North Korea crisis

SIR Winston Churchill was well known for his stirring speeches and witty quips. One very apt phrase, even if frequently misquoted, was that “meeting jaw to jaw is better than war”. As someone who had experienced war at first hand, Churchill was convinced that talking was better than fighting. At a time when the crisis on the Korean peninsula is escalating, with one side threatening “fire and fury” against the North Korean “rogue regime” and the other threatening “to reduce the United States to ashes”, the need for a dialogue has never been more important.

While North Korea conducts numerous missile and nuclear tests, and the US urges harsher sanctions and deploys military assets to its allies in Northeast Asia, talking may seem a far-fetched proposal. Informal US-North Korean conversations between diplomats have occurred intermittently since this year’s crisis began, but little, if any, progress has been made. The other major powers directly involved have been unable to have an impact either in bringing the two main protagonists together or in fashioning their own solution to the crisis.

China, although reluctant to see the collapse of North Korea, has become increasingly irritated by Kim Jong-un’s actions. Its calls for all sides to “remain calm” and for a “deal” on mutually suspending tests and military exercises to bring everyone back to the negotiating table have been ineffective. The Trump administration is losing faith in Chinese efforts while the North dislikes being told what to do by its bigger neighbour. Russia has been trying to edge back into Korean affairs, but is not considered important enough yet.

South Korea, under a new president who came into office committed to dialogue, has found itself marginalised and frustrated as the North rejects every conciliatory gesture it proposes and the US zigzags in its attitude to its ally. Finally,

Japan, subjected to two North Korean missile over-flights in the past month, finds itself more vulnerable than it thought, yet is handicapped.

So, is there space for countries and organisations outside this group of closest actors to provide a mediating role that might defuse tensions? Two organisations that have founded their development on the ability to bring peace and stability to their immediate neighbourhoods: the European Union (EU) and Asean are likely candidates.

The European members of the United Nations Security Council and EU itself have supported US in the imposition of further sanctions on North Korea, though with the caveat that such measures are an instrument to encouraging a credible political dialogue to emerge. Certainly, EU has shown, through its involvement in the Iran nuclear issue, that its key member states can play a constructive role in facilitating a mediated solution, but North Korea has made it clear that it is not a second Iran, while the Trump administration seems to give less weight to EU in international politics.

At the Asean Regional Forum meetings last month, EU officials gained the impression that Asean members were “keen” for EU to be involved in the solution of the crisis, but distracted by Brexit, terrorism, migration and other challenges the EU may not be ready yet to be proactive. Which leaves Asean itself − or, at least key member states − as the most likely to be able to play some kind of mediating role.

Asean has, of course, also supported critical resolutions on North Korea’s recent actions, but its statements are usually accompanied by the hope that a peaceful solution to the crisis might be achieved. The North appealed, in vain, to Asean as an organisation as recently as April this year to assist in countering US policies, but Asean, nonetheless, has urged restraint and dialogue as the only way forward.

The Philippines, as the Asean chair, could have a decisive role; it has close, albeit recently somewhat tempestuous, links with the US, so its decision earlier this month to cut off all trade with North Korea fits well with US priorities, but puts it beyond the pale as far as the North is concerned.

Malaysia has strong links with the US, reinforced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s recent visit, and until this year had a relatively open relationship with North Korea, but the fallout from the Kim Jong-nam assassination makes it too sensitive for Malaysia at this stage to play a leading role.

Although Cambodia has strong links with the North, it does not have the equivalent linkage with the US, while Singapore is probably in the reverse situation. Indonesia seems to be taking a back seat in regional security leadership, focusing on enhancing its economy.

So, that leaves Vietnam as the most likely interlocutor for both sides. Not only has Vietnam had the longest relationship with the North of any Asean member, but its rigid party rule, its past war with the US and its successful drive for reunification, make it an appealing ideological partner for the North.

At the same time, as shown by the visit to Washington in May by its prime minister, Vietnam has also strengthened its economic and security links with the US. Becoming more comfortable with a higher diplomatic profile, the Vietnamese might be able to use some persuasion on the two protagonists.

With the North’s geographical neighbours and the US too entrenched in set policy positions, Asean, and Vietnam in particular, could provide the impetus for talking about peace rather than war.

A combo picture showing the launch of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic missile Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location in North Korea. With the North’s geographical neighbours and the United States too entrenched in set policy positions, Asean, and Vietnam in particular, could provide the impetus for talking about peace.

New Straits Times, Published: September 20, 2017 - 9:20am
ASEAN as a mediator in North Korea crisis?
By Dr Brian Bridges
Based in Melaka, the writer is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Political Science, Lingnan University, Hong Kong

posted by fom_club at 22:20| Comment(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


G25 HAS often been labelled by its critics as “liberal”, a word which is becoming a derogatory term in Malaysia to describe Muslims who believe in the universal values of democracy, human rights, gender equality and respect for multiculturalism and diversity. It is a word which has been abused by the religious authorities and extremists to demonise those who have different opinions on matters of race, religion and politics.

We, the members of G25, would like to remind our critics that in the Rukunegara, the word “liberal” has pride of place in the five principles of the national ideology aimed at bringing the various races together for national unity and development. The preamble to the Rukunegara states that one of Malaysia’s aims is: “Menjamin satu cara yang liberal terhadap tradisi-tradisi kebudayaannya yang kaya dan berbagai corak”. In the English version, it is translated as: “Guaranteeing a liberal approach towards her rich and varied cultural traditions”. Note that the word “liberal” is used in both versions in the context of something positive and beneficial to our ambitions of becoming a united, happy and prosperous country.

Members of G25 subscribe fully to the aims of the Rukunegara and would like to take this opportunity to express our admiration that at the recent National Day Parade at Dataran Merdeka in front of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to celebrate the 60th anniversary of our independence, the whole crowd from different races recited in unison the five principles of the national ideology and waved the flag with pride and emotion that we have achieved so much to become a successful country.

While there is much to celebrate, there is also much to be concerned about the growing intolerance for our differences. G25 observes that tolerance and respect for our diversity in languages, religions, cultures and traditions have been declining. This is regrettable considering that diversity is universally recognised as a valuable asset for successful development. Indeed, it is for this reason that there is emphasis on the Rukunegara to uphold the Constitution and rule of law so that we can protect the multicultural character of our population and human rights in the country.

This will also ensure moderation in the application of Islam in the daily life of Muslims. We are encouraged that during his visit to the United States recently, our Prime Minister reiterated to the world that Malaysia believes in moderation and diversity.

G25 has made several proposals for reforms in the administration of Islam and governance system of the nation so that there would be transparency and accountability among public institutions in the running of the country. Such openness will strengthen our democracy and protect citizens from abuse of power by those holding positions of authority.

In view of the financial scandals happening in the public sector, there is urgency for reforms to cultivate a culture of integrity among all the institutions of government.

We in G25 will defend the country’s secular democracy based on the Federal Constitution as our supreme law. The Constitution was written with the intention that while Islam is the religion of the Federation, the laws of the country should follow the universal values of justice which were in existence long before independence.

The system of government provided for in the Constitution is a government of the people, by the people and for the people, which means that it is the rakyat who ultimately decide on how they should be ruled. Our nation’s founding fathers decided this formula was the best for our multiracial country. They have been proven right.

With a constitution that satisfies the aspirations of all races for a united country, Malaysia has remained peaceful, making it one of the most successful countries in the developing world.

We, the members of G25, do recognise that as Muslims, we must respect the status of Islam as the religion of the country. We urge the ummah to practise the teachings of our religion faithfully in order to be blessed by God in this world and hereafter. All Muslims must observe the five pillars of our faith and avoid the sins forbidden by God in the Quran.

We are also aware that we must respect the role of religious institutions in guiding Muslims towards the right path. We acknowledge that under the Federal Constitution, Islam is the religion of the country and that the Constitution grants authority for the administration of religion to the states.

On the other hand, when religious authorities go beyond the limits of the Constitution in exercising their powers and introduce laws to control and police the behaviour of Muslims against the principles of democracy and human rights, G25 has a duty to respond by raising the issues of law and order on behalf of the moderates and the silent majority. We believe that in line with the constitutional guarantee on the freedom of speech and expression, we are free to comment and oppose when it is necessary to do so for the benefit of society and the country.

G25 wishes to make it clear that we do not condone the permissive and sinful behaviours that are detrimental to our religious values and which are also alien to Malaysian cultural norms and etiquettes. In Islam, homosexuality, free sex, adultery and liquor are all sinful and forbidden. We agree it is not wise for Muslims to raise doubts about Islamic rituals such as the korban in a manner that arouses anger in the community.

We also disassociate ourselves from those who question the validity of the Quran or its divine purity as happened during a public forum recently.

G25 has been consistent in its view that while these deviations in behaviour and belief are forbidden in Islam, they are personal sins and therefore should not be criminalised under any law. Let God punish those who disobey His commands. The nation state should concentrate on its intrinsic role of providing for the basic human needs of the people and ensuring security, fairness and justice for all. This concept of responsibility of the modern state is in line with the principles of Wassatiyah and Maqasid Syariah.

On the criticisms against the G25 regarding its book Breaking the Silence: Islam in a Constitutional Democracy and the recent public forum in which an invited foreign professor was a speaker, we would like the authorities to accept the reality that there is bound to be differences of opinion when scholars from different backgrounds and countries meet in open debates. Some of their views may be very controversial and radical, such as we often see on social media where eminent scholars at the highest centres of learning in the West, with all the freedom that they have to express themselves freely and openly, interpret the spiritual meanings in the holy texts in ways which we in Malaysia would regard as unacceptable.

Our religious authorities should tolerate the differences of views as a healthy sign that Muslim scholars are contributing their knowledge towards a deeper understanding of Islam.

G25 believes in being friendly to all so that we can be open in expressing our views. In most countries, civil society organisations are accepted as partners with the government in finding solutions for the good of the nation. Such partnership is the best way to facilitate the reforms and changes needed for the country to accelerate its development process to become a high income country with advanced social and cultural values of respect and tolerance for our differences.

Letter to The Star, Published: Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017
Acting for the good of the nation
By 25 MALAYSIA (*)

(*) Mission of "25 MALAYSIA":
G25 is committed to pursue a just, democratic, peaceful, tolerant, harmonious, moderate and progressive multi-racial, multi cultural, multi religious Malaysia through Islamic principles of Wassatiyah (moderation) and Maqasid Syariah (well-being of the people) that affirms justice, compassion, mercy, equity.

Malaysia is to be led by rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and upholding the institution of the country.

We aim to ensure, raise awareness, promote that Syariah laws and civil laws should work in harmony and that the Syariah laws are used within its legal jurisdiction and limits as provided for by the federal and state division of powers.

There should be rational dialogues to inform people on how Islam is used for public law and policy that effects the multi ethnic and multi religious Malaysia and within the confines of the Federal Constitution, the supreme law of the nation.

We work in a consultative committee of experts to advise the government and facilitate amendments to the state Syariah laws, to align to the Federal Constitution and the spirit of Rukun Negara.

It is imperative to achieve a politically stable, economically progressive Malaysia and to be able to enjoy the harmony, tolerance, understanding and cooperation in this multi diverse country.
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THE past few weeks have been a grim reminder that natural disasters know no borders; they can strike countries at opposite ends of the globe simultaneously.

Whether in Asia or North America, images of people being overwhelmed and their livelihoods destroyed by extreme weather conditions are disturbing.

Typhoon Hato, tropical storm Harvey, hurricane Irma and intense flooding all raise questions about what more can be done to both mitigate the risks of extreme weather conditions and improve relief operations.

Natural disasters are becoming more frequent and intense. The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in its recent report on disaster resilience for the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Leaving No One Behind” shows that natural disasters were responsible for the loss of two million lives and cost the region’s economy US$1.3tril between 1970 and 2016.

Over 90% of deaths were due to earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones and floods. The poor and vulnerable bore the brunt of these disasters, suffering a death toll five times higher than the rest of the population.

By 2030, 50% of the Asian population would be living in urban areas. The combination of unplanned urban sprawl and new cities means increasing numbers of people and economic stock would be exposed to future disasters we cannot predict. In urban megacities, over 50% of the population already live in disaster-prone areas where inequality is high. Our focus must be on identifying potential scenarios, determining risk tolerance levels and building response capacity where it is inadequate.

Policy makers need to strengthen the science and policy interfaces to allow countries to deal effectively with these risks. The report offers a clear set of recommendations on how to build resilience and reinforce sustainable development in the region.

The importance of early warning cannot be overemphasised. In 2004, the world experienced the Indian Ocean tsunami which killed over 250,000 people and was one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded.

Unlike the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean had no early warning system in place for coastal communities. Thanks to a founding contribution of US$10mil from Thailand, the ESCAP Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness has helped to plug this gap.

But for a tsunami warning system to be sustainable, it needs to address multiple coastal hazards. Regional cooperation can help share vital innovations in science and technology to strengthen tsunami early warning systems. ESCAP’s Trust Fund has helped to empower people through improved early warning of disasters and supported knowledge transfer from countries with strong disaster risk management capabilities to other Asia-Pacific countries.

To take just one example, technical support, modern equipment and online technologies helped upgrade the Myanmar National Earthquake Data Center to meet international standards for tsunami warning centres.

ESCAP, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, is holding an event at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

Titled “Disaster Risk Reduction in Asia Pacific: Achievements in Regional Cooperation for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness”, it will be held on Sept 21 and showcase ESCAP’s research and the ESCAP Trust Fund’s contribution to building people’s resilience to disasters.

Grim reminder: A tourist walks past damaged trees at the Wynn casino resort )*) after Typhoon Hato hit Macau. The intensity of monsoon floods and tropical storms have raised questions about what more can be done to both mitigate the risks of extreme weather conditions and improve relief operations.

Letter to The Star, Published: Wednesday, 20 Sep 2017
Building regional resilience
By Dr SHAMSHAD AKHTAR (**), Under-secretary-general, United Nations Executive Secretary, ESCAP


本7月22日午後2時から約30分間,岸田文雄外務大臣は,来日中のシャムシャド・アクタール国連アジア太平洋経済社会委員会事務局長(Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific:ESCAP)と会談を行いました。概要は以下のとおりです。
1 冒頭,岸田外務大臣から,アジア太平洋地域の様々な局面に対する支援を通じて地球規模の課題に取り組むESCAPは我が国の重要なパートナーであり,今年我が国は同委員会加盟60周年を迎えることができた旨述べた上で,これまでの支援,協力に謝意を伝えるとともに,協力関係を一層強化していきたい旨述べました。
2 これに対して,アクタール事務局長から,長きにわたる我が国の貢献への謝意が表明されました。また,特に力を入れていることは,地域間の連結性の強化と,国連が取り組んでいる持続可能な開発の取組をサポートしていくことであると説明があり,それらの活動への日本の支援を期待している旨述べました。
3 また,岸田外務大臣から,我が国が人間の安全保障の理念を重視していることや,女性が輝く社会の実現に向けてESCAPと協力していきたいことを述べた上で,アジア太平洋地域は過去に多くの災害に見舞われており,ESCAPが防災の推進に積極的に取り組んでいることを評価する旨述べました。これに対し,アクタール事務局長から,日本の活動を評価するとともに,ESCAPに対して,今後更なる支援を期待する旨の発言があり,岸田外務大臣から,今後もESCAPの活動に協力していきたいと述べました。

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Walk more!

THE MORE I WALKED, the more I realized how often I chose not to walk. Instead, I drove my car, or sat on my couch.

Until recently, I did not think I was sedentary. I do yoga, or something active, five or six days a week. I teach yoga. Then I read “Move Your DNA,” by biomechanist Katy Bowman, and I was determined to move from a sedentary life into an active one. One big item on my agenda? Walk more.

Bowman says 10,000 steps a day should be the minimum we walk. A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity showed postal workers who walked 15,000 steps a day had no heightened risk for heart disease. Workers who sat added risk for heart disease for every hour beyond five that they sat in a day.

Time to get moving.

I know from experience that 10,000 steps is a challenge, so I decided that also was a reasonable starting goal. In addition to more actual walks, I started walking to things I already had to do.

I looked first at my commute. I recently moved to South Seattle, and I teach in South Lake Union, so hopping on light rail was an easy first step. The walk from my car to the station, then to the studio, and circling home nets me about 6,000 steps. At first I disliked that it took more time. But then I found the train is a lovely place to work. I loved my new pattern.

I took on walking challenges. One day, I walked 3 miles to an appointment. When I ran out of time for the return, I took the bus. That day, I hit 15,000 steps. On another day, I walked 1 mile from light rail to my gym, did Olympic weightlifting for two hours and walked back to the station. I took light rail downtown, and walked to Belltown. In the rain. It proved I could walk on days I lift or do yoga, and also in any weather. Winter, I’m ready for you.

I walked during work calls. If I was 10 minutes early to an appointment, I walked. I proposed walks with friends. Sometimes, I imitated my mom and walked around my house in the evening to get my last couple thousand steps.

The best and easiest days are when I hike. I hit 15,000 to 20,000 steps, and revel in fresh air, the mountains and all those glorious steps.

I still have days I don’t reach my goal. If you have ever tried, you know the struggle. After months of focused effort, I hit my goal on average four days a week. Sometimes, I justify fewer steps by thinking I did yoga or lifted, though I know I can do better.

Other major lessons:

• Walking more equals less driving. It seems obvious, but it was a surprise. I have cut my weekly driving by 30-plus miles, which adds up to more than 1,500 miles per year. Seeing those numbers motivates me, plus I am overjoyed to skip traffic.

• Walking means less screen time. I walk instead of staring at social media during gaps in my day.

• I used to always walk at a quick clip. Sometimes, when I’m sluggish, I walk really slowly. It’s a new mindset that helps me get out the door.

My goal was to make walking a lifestyle rather than the exception. I’m making progress.

Even in umbrella weather, a walk through Golden Gardens Park (or anywhere, really) adds valuable steps to your daily goal.

The Seatle Times, Published September 18, 2017 at 7:00 am
Taking the first steps toward a healthy daily goal

Assess your lifestyle, and get on your feet − the steps will add up as you walk around.
By Nicole Tsong, Special to The Seattle Times
Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Learn more or reach her at nicoletsong.com.

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Time to quit driving

ARE YOUR elderly parents still driving? If they are fit and able, there's no reason why they shouldn't do so. But as they age, their health may -deteriorate.

So when do you ask them to hang up the car keys for good?

Going for a short test run with your parent at the wheel will give you an idea if he/she is still able to handle the car.

Does he/she drift into other lanes, or keep the signal lights on long after making a turn?

Is he/she often startled by cars or -pedestrians who "suddenly" appear out of the blue? Does he/she often reverse into curbs?

What about any problem reading road signs? Is he/she having difficulty turning his/her neck around? Does he/she drive at turtle speed?

Remember, our elders may be -displaying a couple of the symptoms above, but it does not mean they are unable to drive safely.

Still, it may be prudent to start -curtailing their driving if they are getting on in years. Limit them to town driving during the day, for instance.

If they have been having too many -minor scares or near-misses, it's high time to have a candid talk with your parents about quitting driving. Don't wait until an accident occurs.

A case in point: My 70-year-old aunt had been having dizzy spells but she -continued to drive, until one -unfortunate day when she crashed her car into -someone's house.

What if your parents will not -cooperate? For a major part of their lives, they have been used to having the freedom to -move around as and when they please.

Not being able to drive is tantamount to losing their independence and self--sufficiency.

Present other options so that they do not feel debilitated by their lack of wheels.

If they live near a bus or train station, public -transportation might work for them, provided they are -physically able.

They also have the option of taking a taxi, Uber or Grab.

Be prepared to offer your services as their personal chauffeur.

This will be the most attractive option to them, as they would get to spend time with you as well.

If you have siblings who live in the area, arrange some sort of roster among yourselves.

If none of your close family members live in the same vicinity as your parents, you can enlist the help of friends.

Despite preparing alternative plans for their transportation, your parents may still be reluctant to relinquish their freedom.

Don't be afraid to bring in professionals if the situation warrants it.

Get a -physician or an optometrist to prescribe the "no -driving" solution. Elderly people tend to regard doctors' advice highly.

But if your parents are stubborn, or medical -professionals themselves, then this tactic won't work.

In that case, ask a persuasive senior who has given up driving to coax them with his experience of being chauffeur-driven to wherever he wants to go. A strong -testimonial may change their minds.

If despite everything that you have said or done, your parents still refuse to hand in their car keys, there is one last resort: confiscate the keys.

Give them the advice they constantly dished out during your growing up years: "I'm doing this for your own good."

The Sun Daily, Last updated on 4 July 2017 - 06:54pm
Time to quit driving
By Lydia Teh

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In a palpable display of their "bromance" last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi exchanged a bear hug on the tarmac after Mr Abe touched down in Mr Modi's home state of Gujarat for their annual talks.

India and Japan, which share a mutual unease over China, have been great friends. Tokyo had this April even launched a parliamentary league to promote the ancient Indian discipline of yoga.

The two countries share a "growing convergence in political, economic and strategic interests", noted a joint statement after the summit.

Mr Abe called it a "historic day" that marked the start of a new chapter in bilateral ties as he kicked off the construction of India's first high-speed rail line. The 1.08 trillion rupee (S$22.6 billion) project taps on Japan's flagship shinkansen bullet train technology and will connect Gujarat's capital Ahmedabad to the financial hub of Mumbai.

He also committed his support for Mr Modi's flagship "Make In India" policy that relaxes caps on foreign investment so as to establish India as a manufacturing hub.

The two leaders, too, vowed to enhance defence links through surveillance and unmanned system technologies, and to look into holding joint field exercises between their armies next year. Also on the cards are reciprocal visits by their air forces, while the two navies already take part in the annual Exercise Malabar alongside the United States.

Dr Rupakjyoti Borah, a visiting research fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies at National University of Singapore, told The Straits Times: "This is very significant as it represents a coming together of high-end Japanese technology with India's immense scientific and human resources."

Dr Borah, an expert on Indo-Japan ties who has worked at Japanese think-tanks, added: "The joint field exercises could represent a big development in their growing strategic ties."

The closer ties come amid simmering disquiet over Chinese assertiveness. India and China were recently engaged in a border stand-off, while Japan has its own maritime territorial row with China.

Tellingly, tucked into their 60-point statement were oblique references to China, which has a Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to build infrastructure to connect Asia, Europe and Africa, and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Mr Abe has said Japan was "ready to extend cooperation" to the BRI, but with the caveat that projects must be economically viable and financed by debt that can be repaid, while India snubbed China's watershed Belt and Road Forum in May.

In the statement, the two leaders stressed the importance of ensuring the "development and use of connectivity infrastructure in an open, transparent and non-exclusive manner based on international standards and responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment".

They also shared their commitment to "tackle excess capacity in steel", urging the "removal of market-distorting subsidies", in another veiled reference to China.

At last year's summit, the two nations came together to form the "Asia-Africa Growth Corridor", seen as their answer to China's BRI. Dr Borah said it "could very well represent a different model of infrastructure development".

Japan is the largest foreign investor in India's infrastructure market and this involvement would continue to accelerate, according to a report by BMI Research last week.

It said: "India has a massive infrastructure deficit with planned projects spanning urban transit and sewerage systems to nationwide electricity transmission and highway networks, all of which will generate contracts that Japanese companies can take advantage of."

There is much potential for the two nations to cooperate in infrastructure projects in neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh, the report added, "partly as a way to balance increasing Chinese investment and influence in the region".

Mr Narendra Modi and Mr Shinzo Abe sharing a bear hug in Gujarat last week - a sign of warm relations between their two countries.

The Straits Times, Published 6 HOURS AGO
The China factor in Abe-Modi 'bromance'
By Walter Sim, Japan Correspondent

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How will U.N. react to Trump?

United Nations (CNN)President Donald Trump totes his "America First" stance this week to the United Nations General Assembly, the annual inundation of diplomats and world leaders who this year await the new US leader with uneasy anticipation.

The summit in Trump's hometown -- New York City -- has become the quickest-paced diplomatic event on the calendar for an American president. Trump arrived to the soaring, green-hued assembly hall facing open questions about his approach to hot-button issues like climate change and the Iran nuclear accord.

His schedule over four days is stacked with one-on-one talks with foreign counterparts eager to discuss those global flash-points, as well as the deepening standoff with North Korea. The centerpiece, however, comes Tuesday during Trump's first UN address, a landmark foreign policy moment at the eight-month mark of his presidency.

"This will be a great week, we look forward to it, as far as North Korea is concerned, I think that most of you know how I feel," Trump said as he strode into the UN headquarters building on Monday.
Once deeply critical of the UN -- right down to its iconic emerald marble -- Trump as President has achieved his principal diplomatic wins at the body's Security Council, which has passed waves of sanctions on North Korea.

His first formal comments inside the headquarters building, however, focused not on diplomacy but on real estate.

"I actually saw great potential right across the street," he said at the beginning of a session on UN reform, referring to the Trump World Tower apartment building on United Nations Plaza.
He said it "turned out to be such a successful project" due to its proximity to the modernist headquarters building nearby.

He offered a more skeptical view of the UN's efficacy or its value to the United States.
The UN "has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement," Trump said at the start of a session focused on reforming the institution.

"We seek a United Nations that works to regain the trust of people around the world," Trump said, insisting that member states "cut through bureaucracy" to better drive positive change.
"I encourage all member states to look at ways to take bold stands at the United Nations with an eye toward changing business as usual," Trump said.

Adhering to tradition?

For Trump, Tuesday's speech and the ensuing flurry of diplomacy presents an opportunity to more fully articulate a global agenda that has confounded allies and foes alike.

"The world is still trying to take the measure of this President," said Jon Alterman, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "For a number of leaders, this is going to be their first chance to see him, to judge him, to try to get on his good side ... they will have been preparing for a chance encounter for weeks."

Administration officials say Trump is unlikely to unload on the UN in the way he has in the past.

Instead, the President's aides are preparing an address that largely adheres to tradition by rallying countries behind condemnation of rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran. Trump dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with a new nickname over the weekend, labeling him "Rocket Man" on Twitter in reference to the rogue nation's recent missile tests.

Speaking Friday, Trump's top national security aides previewed a UN message centered on themes of "accountability and sovereignty" over the course of Trump's four days in New York. The President hopes to relay the message that countries must become more responsible for their own security while signaling the days of US lecturing over issues like human rights are ending.

"He slaps the right people, he hugs the right people, and he comes out with the US being very strong in the end," Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said in a preview of Trump's remarks.

"He will urge all states to come together to address grave dangers that threaten us all," added H.R. McMaster, the White House national security adviser.

Since taking office, Trump has dug rifts with allies on climate change and trade. But he's also spoken inconsistently on those issues, fostering a degree of confusion over his stance by issuing vague and sometimes contradictory statements.

In most areas, however, Trump has demonstrated a level of restraint on executing the types of foreign policy shifts that he promised when running for office. He followed the Pentagon's advice to send additional troops to Afghanistan, despite the urging from some of his conservative advisers to pull out entirely. He's postponed, at least for now, moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a campaign promise that would upend his efforts to broker a peace agreement in the region.

And he has yet to discard the Iran nuclear deal, though he is considering steps to weaken it, potentially as early as this month. That issue is expected to dominate parts of Trump's agenda this week, including talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

Ahead of that meeting, Trump said "you'll be seeing very soon" his decision on the Iran deal. He faces an October deadline for re-certifying Iran's compliance with the agreement. Iran's leader, Hassan Rouhani, addresses the UN body on Wednesday.

'Speed dating from hell'

In New York, Trump will spend the evenings at Trump Tower, his longest stretch at home since taking office in January. He'll be joined on the trip by Haley, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, each of whom will maintain their own schedules of talks. Tillerson has mandated the State Department reduce its footprint at the General Assembly this year, part of a broader effort to streamline the agency's activities. The centerpiece diplomatic event is seen as a test of Tillerson as his standing in the administration comes under scrutiny.

Like most years, some major world leaders are sending envoys to the General Assembly instead of attending themselves. China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin are both remaining at home, as is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who faces reelection next weekend.

But Trump will still convene talks with more than a dozen world leaders over the course of his four-day stay in New York. He will meet individually with the leaders of France, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Turkey, Afghanistan and Ukraine, the White House said. He'll meet jointly with the leaders of Japan and South Korea for lunch on Thursday.

And he'll host two large gatherings for Latin American and African leaders on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.

"It's kind of like speed dating from hell," Alterman said of the yearly diplomatic spree.

Trump's advisers insisted Friday the sessions would be substantive.

"They're going to find out we are going to be solid, we're going to be strong," Haley said. "No one is going to grip and grin. The United States is going to work."

When President Barack Obama first attended the UN General Assembly in 2009, he was met with widespread adoration from world leaders, who broke protocol by applauding during his largely optimistic address. Eight years later, Obama delivered a far darker speech, implicitly rebuking then-candidate Trump's views on trade and immigration. Obama himself will deliver rare public remarks in New York on Wednesday.

There are few expectations Trump will be met with similar adulation from the UN body. Trump has largely discounted the United Nations in the past, characterizing the 72-year-old institution as underperforming and overspending. During his presidential run, he impugned the body as "not a friend to freedom."

Earlier this decade he waged a public battle with the UN after officials refused his offer to
oversee renovations of the iconic headquarters building on Manhattan's East Side. He even sniffed at the Italian marble on the General Assembly hall rostrum, offering on Twitter to "replace (it) with beautiful large marble slabs if they ask me."

The acrimony dates back to a dispute over the Trump World Tower, once the tallest residential
building in the world. UN diplomats, including then-Secretary General Kofi Annan, questioned how Trump secured zoning rights, saying the gray glass skyscraper would cast shadows on the UN headquarters nearby.

Legal challenges were unsuccessful, however, and today Trump's building stands across the street from the UN garden and a Soviet statue depicting St. George slaying a dragon, titled "Good Defeats Evil."

'America first' Trump makes debut at UN

CNN, Updated 2054 GMT (0454 HKT) September 18, 2017
Iran, North Korea expected to dominate Trump's first UN General Assembly
By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer

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A new generation of Rohingya

BALUKHALI, Bangladesh − Nazir Hossain, the imam of a village in far western Myanmar, gathered the faithful around him after evening prayers last month. In a few hours, more than a dozen Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army fighters from his village would strike a nearby police post with an assortment of handmade weapons.

The men needed their cleric’s blessing.

“As imam, I encouraged them never to step back from their mission,” Mr. Hossain recalled of his final words to the ethnic Rohingya militants. “I told them that if they did not fight to the death, the military would come and kill their families, their women and their children.”

They fought − joining an Aug. 25 assault by thousands of the group’s fighters against Myanmar’s security forces − and the retaliation came down anyway. Since then, Myanmar’s troops and vigilante mobs have unleashed a scorched-earth operation on Rohingya populations in northern Rakhine State in Myanmar, sending hundreds of thousands fleeing their homes in a campaign that the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing.

From its start four years ago as a small-scale effort to organize a Rohingya resistance, ARSA − which is known locally as Harakah al-Yaqin, or the Faith Movement − has managed to stage two deadly attacks on Myanmar’s security forces: one last October and the other last month.

But in lashing out against the government, the militants have also made their own people a target. And they have handed Myanmar’s military an attempt at public justification by saying that it is fighting terrorism, even as it has burned down dozens of villages and killed fleeing women and children.

This radicalization of a new generation of Rohingya, a Muslim minority in a Buddhist-majority country, adds fuel to an already combustible situation in Rakhine, Myanmar’s poorest state.

Increasingly, there is also concern that both the relatively few Rohingya who have taken up arms and the broader population − hundreds of thousands of whom are crowded in camps in neighboring Bangladesh − will be exploited by international terrorism networks, bringing a localized struggle into the slipstream of global politics.

ARSA’s attempt at insurgency politics has been disastrous so far − a cease-fire that they declared this month was rejected by the military, and they are reported to have suffered lopsided casualties compared with the government’s. But the men caught up in the cause insist that resistance is worth the steep cost, even to their families.

“This fight is not just about my fate or my family’s fate,” said Noor Alam, a 25-year-old insurgent whose family was sheltering in a forest in Myanmar after their village in Maungdaw Township was burned. “It’s a matter of the existence of all Rohingya. If we have to sacrifice ourselves for our children to live peacefully, then it is worth it.”

Myanmar’s military, which ruled the country for nearly half a century, has systematically persecuted the Rohingya, subjecting them to apartheidlike existences and stripping most of their citizenship.

The nation’s civilian government, led since last year by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has justified the recent violent crackdown in Rakhine as a counterstrike against “extremist Bengali terrorists.” Although the Rohingya claim long-held roots in Rakhine, the official narrative in Myanmar holds that they are recent illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

“We’ve talked about the risks of radicalization for years, and the writing was on the wall for some sort of militant activity,” said Matthew Smith, a co-founder of Fortify Rights, a human rights watchdog group based in Bangkok. “In our view, the best way to deal with risks of extremism and radicalization is to promote and respect the rights of the Rohingya, which is not what the Myanmar military is doing.”

Since Aug. 25, these so-called clearance operations have caused more than 400,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.

Rohingya who have tried to escape the latest violence have also had to contend with ARSA insurgents who want young men to stay back and fight. Rohingya informers, who may have leaked details of the Aug. 25 strikes to the Myanmar military, have been executed, according to rights groups.

ARSA has also been accused of killing other ethnic populations in Rakhine, such as Hindus and Buddhist Rakhine. At least a dozen non-Rohingya civilians have been killed since Aug. 25, according to Myanmar’s government, along with at least 370 Rohingya militants.

The radicalized population in Bangladesh’s overcrowded refugee camps does not hide its fervor.

“Even if I stay in my home, I could get killed by the military,” said Abul Osman, a 32-year-old madrasa instructor and ARSA fighter who spent three months hiding in the jungly hills on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border after the group’s attack last October. “I might as well die fighting for my rights, as directed by my almighty God. My sacrifice will earn me a place in heaven.”

But not everyone wants to be sacrificed. When vigilante mobs and Myanmar’s soldiers burned down his village, Noor Kamal, 18, tried to flee with his 6-year-old brother, Noor Faruq. Both were hacked in the head by ethnic Rakhine armed with machetes and scythes.

At a bleak government hospital in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Noor Kamal shivered with outrage at the ARSA insurgents from his village in northern Maungdaw Township, who attacked a local police post last month. “We are the ones who are suffering because of Al Yaqin,” he said. “They disappeared after the attack. We were the ones left behind for the military to kill.”

The besieged villages in Rakhine and squalid refugee settlements in Bangladesh, where at least 800,000 Rohingya now live in desperate conditions, make for fertile ground for transnational militant groups looking for recruits, even if ARSA said this past week that it had no links to such groups.

“We have seen how democratic and nationalist movements can be taken over by transnational terrorist groups,” said Ali Riaz, a professor of politics and government at Illinois State University who studies Islamic militancy in Bangladesh and surrounding areas. “The presence of legitimate discontent, despair and desperation among hundreds and thousands of people, growing radicalization of a movement, asymmetry of forces engaged in the conflict and a religious dimension to the crisis all provide a conducive environment.”

Mr. Riaz noted how in the southern Philippines, the Islamic State had grafted itself onto a local separatist insurgency, dispatching foreign fighters and threatening regional stability.

“Neither the Myanmar government nor the regional powers should let this situation happen with the Rohingya,” he warned.

Earlier this month, in a video message, a leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen urged Muslims in Asia to show solidarity with the Rohingya by launching attacks on “enemies of God.”

The military has only intensified its retribution in Rakhine. As international outrage mounted, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi blamed the Rohingya and their supporters for creating an “an iceberg of misinformation.” Myanmar’s military has accused Rohingya of burning down their own homes to garner international sympathy.

ARSA, which was founded by a Rohingya named Ataullah, who was born in Pakistan and raised in Saudi Arabia, does not yet have the kind of firepower that can pose a serious threat to one of Asia’s biggest armies. Its Aug. 25 strike involved thousands of men but killed only about a dozen security officers. Its first assault, in October, killed nine police officers.

By contrast, other ethnic rebel forces, which have battled the state for decades, have clashed far more violently with the Tatmadaw, as Myanmar’s army is known. The Arakan Army, an insurgency fighting for ethnic Rakhine rights, killed at least 300 soldiers in the first half of last year, according to a military document.

Unlike ARSA, neither the Arakan Army nor other ethnic militant groups have been designated as terrorists by Myanmar’s government.

“Why does Burma call us terrorists?” asked Dil Mohammed, a university-educated Rohingya now living in Bangladesh, using the former name for Myanmar. “It’s one word: Islam.”

ARSA was formed four years ago, in the wake of sectarian clashes between the Rohingya and the Rakhine. Dozens were killed, mostly Muslims. Since then, many Rohingya have been barred from leaving their villages or sequestered in ghettos. Young men have no jobs. The military shuttered mosques and madrasas, leaving the faithful idle.

The military’s heavy-handed response to the ARSA strike last October served as a turning point. Nearly every Rohingya village in northern Rakhine now has an ARSA cell with at least 10 members, according to fighters who fled to Bangladesh.

“We realized that it’s only through Al Yaqin that we can get our message to the international community that we exist,” said the 70-year-old father of an ARSA fighter who arrived in Bangladesh with two bullet wounds. “Otherwise, we will all just die.”

During their strikes, ARSA insurgents often dress in black and rouse themselves with the chant “Speak loudly! God is the greatest!” In their initiation rites, the militants promise that their families will not object if they die as martyrs. A dearth of weapons, beyond homemade explosives and crude knives, has increased the chances of such deaths.

Mohammed Jalal, whose cousin is the village ARSA chief and is still fighting back in Rakhine, said he was willing to forfeit his son for the cause. “It is dangerous, but if he dies for his people and his land, then it is Allah’s will,” he said.

Next to him, Mohammed Harun, 10, nodded his head. “I would go to fight,” he said. “I am not scared.”

Rohingya refugees after crossing the Naf River that separates Myanmar and Bangladesh, as villages burned in the background.

“By far the worst thing that I've ever seen.” The New York Times reporter Hannah Beech describes a huge exodus of civilians into Bangladesh after a new military offensive against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

The New York Times, Published: SEPT. 17, 2017
Rohingya Militants Vow to Fight Myanmar Despite Disastrous Cost

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Ban on the sale of small packets

WE would like to respond to the letters “Tobacco is bad but industry creates jobs” and “Stop calling it kiddie pack” (The Star, Sept 14).

While we sympathise with Retrenched Worker who claims he lost his job due to declining sales in the tobacco industry, we can’t help but notice he contradicts himself by quoting Health Ministry figures that pointed out;

> the number of smokers is increasing;

> the number of youth smokers is increasing; and

We do not quite understand how, despite the worsening smoking habit in our population, the industry can claim that it is experiencing loss in sales and retrenching people. In our opinion, there are some things that your bosses are not telling you. Research elsewhere shows that jobs lost in tobacco manufacturing are not due to government-mandated health campaigns or decrease in the number of smokers but to automation in the industry and moving of businesses to cheaper locations and labour costs.

In our opinion, the workers who are being laid off should not have a problem finding other jobs as the industry does not require skilled workers. There are many similar job skills needed in other manufacturing industries that are being carried out currently by migrant workers. While Retrenched Worker is deeply concerned for several of his colleagues who are being laid off by the tobacco industry, possibly for their own financial gains, our main concern should be the health and wellbeing of the estimated 32 million people who live in the country, especially our young ones.

The industry often cites economic gains from tobacco excise taxes that the country collects. However, in 2017 alone, it is estimated that we will be spending RM5.54bil on three tobacco-related diseases and their complications. That’s just economic losses calculated for three diseases alone. We can think of many more.

The other writer says we should not call it “kiddie packs”. Why shouldn’t we? It is exactly that – cigarettes re-packaged in smaller numbers that makes it more affordable and more appealing to the younger ones. The packaging of the “kiddie packs” is also dangerously similar to the sizing of those illicit cigarettes which, the industry claims, are flooding the market.

Asean countries have already unanimously agreed to curb cigarette smoking among youth by opposing the “kiddie packs”, which is in line with Article 16 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Sales to Minor – “Each party shall endeavour to prohibit the sales of cigarettes individually or in a small packets which increase the affordability of such products to minors.” Reintroducing kiddie packs will only mean, as a nation, we are going one step backwards.

Let us safeguard our future generation by preventing our young ones from taking that first step down the slippery slope of addiction to cigarette smoking.

Letter to The Star, Published: Monday, 18 Sep 2017
Cost of care more expensive than job losses
The Association of Leaders and Advocators of Non-Communicable Disease Malaysia (LeAd-NCD)

SEPT 16 not only commemorated the 54th year of the establishment of the Malaysian Federation, it also marked the 12th year of Malaysia’s ratification of the WHO Frame-work Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Since 2005, the Malaysian Government has made numerous achievements in tobacco control, consistent with the legal obligation of this important international health treaty.

To protect minors, Article 16.3 of the Convention clearly states: “Each Party shall endeavour to prohibit the sale of cigarettes individually or in small packets which increase the affordability of such products to minors.”

A ban on the sale of such packs, also known as kiddie packs, was implemented on June 1, 2010. This prohibition, constituted in the Con-trol of Tobacco Products Regula-tions 2004, only came into effect after several delays and many calls by non-government organisations.

These retailer associations have allowed themselves to be led astray. The coffeeshop association should focus on serving food in a clean and smoke-free environment for their customers who include children. People serving food should not even be smoking or selling cigarettes.

The bulk of the cigarette business in Malaysia is controlled by just three foreign transnational tobacco companies. It is arrogant and disrespectful of them to think they can undermine our public health laws. Their addictive and hazardous products take away 20,000 lives every year in Malaysia but they are trying to scare the Malaysian Govern-ment with unsubstantiated claims of economic losses.

We, the Malaysian Women’s Action for Tobacco Control & Health (MyWATCH), on behalf of women, children and families, wish to tell the tobacco companies to stop bullying the Government and the Malaysian people. Kiddie packs are banned – keep it that way.

Letter to The Star, Published: Monday, 18 Sep 2017
Everyone must try to stop sale of small packets
http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2017/09/18/everyone-must-try-to-stop-sale-By of-small-packets/

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Rethinking the Malaysian economy

MALAYSIA has to come to terms with the political economy of investment from China. This is because there are various factors that are at play in evaluating the costs and benefits of China's investments.

Twenty years ago, China was hardly worthy of any mention. But China's growth and global ambitions have been rising.

China's accession into the World Trade Organisation can be treated as a watershed event. It has signalled more participation in the world economic system.

The move from being a "workshop for the world" to being a major economic player on the global stage has been rapid.

China has structured its own global financial infrastructure by establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). AIIB complements the "one belt, one road" (Obor) initiative. While AIIB is the financial side of China's success story, Obor is the physical counterpart.

Obor complements AIIB and so strengthens China's hand in extending a lending hand to developing countries.

There is a danger that Malaysia, fuelled by its own weakness, could be absorbed into China's orbit. What appears to be China's largesse in extending investment opportunities and helping to develop Malaysia's infrastructure could be a part of China's foreign aid diplomatic manoeuvre.

Foreign aid could collapse into debt, if one is not vigilant enough.

Colonialism has been known to follow trade, as India's experience with the East India Company documents.

The added element of complexity in the Malaysian case is that of being caught between two superpowers, one on the decline (the United States) and the other impatiently on the rise (China).

When Japanese or Swiss companies invest in Malaysia, it is just the companies that invest in Malaysia. These companies are interested in the profits that they can make. Their geopolitical interests are absent or limited.

The cost-benefit analysis that would have to be calculated for China's investments in Malaysia would go beyond the normal exercise that is usually conducted.

It is no longer merely a question of the returns to investment (though that would be important and cannot be excluded), or the cost of capital, the cost of environmental degradation and the riskiness of the projects.

It would be necessary to take into account the terms of financing, the cost of credit, the domestic employment that will be generated, the multiplier effects and the technology transfer that would be accomplished. None of these factors are out of the ordinary.

Equally important will be to assess the geopolitical impact of such investments. This is probably a factor that is difficult to measure. It is also a factor that we may not have had to measure in most other transnational investment projects previously.

One crucial point that we have to concede is that an investment from China is not a private sector investment in the same way as it is when a US or a Swiss company invests in Malaysia.

Remember, the Communist Party of China runs the country. State-owned enterprises from China cannot be treated as you would any company from a democracy. There are obvious differences.

When state-owned enterprises are involved, government involvement is deeper. The degree of engagement gets even deeper when the investments are about resources that have strategic and geopolitical value to the country in question.

This is particularly true with ports.

In the face of these multiple layers of involvement it would be extremely naïve to think that all investment is created equal and that more investment of such type is better than less investment.

China's investments in Malaysia open a whole new box of issues that we have not had to deal with in the past.

China's investments bring with them their own complexities. We have to deal with them honestly and maturely.

The SunDaily, Posted on 18 September 2017 - 08:04am
Not all investments are alike
By Shankaran Nambiar
Author Shankaran Nambiar offers food for thought on the problems and dilemmas besetting the economy.

THE past few years have chimed with talk of reform, transformation, inclusiveness, equity and sustainability, and renewed zeal to achieve high income, fully developed status as prescribed by Vision 2020. But before these ideas trended up and into the forefront of public consciousness, some among us were already articulating the need for fundamental change. As slogans fade, and hazy ambitions face up to hard reality, it helps to read commentary that stays lucid, critical and methodical amid the fleeting buzz.

Dr Shankaran Nambiar, of the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research, has been thinking hard about Malaysia’s development experiences, achievements and shortfalls. He vouches for a rethinking of our approach and method of advancing the economy toward maturity and better quality of life. From 2001 to 2013, he wrote consistently on these issues in local English language dailies (including The Star). These essays are now compiled into a book, The Malaysian Economy: Rethinking Policies And Purposes.

The book’s central claim, a theme woven through these writings spanning a dozen years, is one we do not often hear about: an economy’s progress over the long haul is directed and sustained by its institutions.

It is not investment rates, stock market rallies or development spending, not even transformation programmes or regime change, that ultimately matter, but institutions, defined as “those habits and organisations that encourage the practice of capitalism, the efficient working of the economy, that promote efficient public delivery systems, and that are compatible with ease in doing business”.

Strikingly, capitalism features prominently, unlike in economics textbooks and popular discourses that revolve around seemingly more innocuous, or at least less contentious, terms like “the free market”. Capitalism entails lopsided power, sees economics and politics as intertwined, and sometimes polarizes opinion. The author plainly recognises that the economy we have is a capitalist one, with potential for dynamism and imbalance, so let us strive to get the most out of it.

The book’s support for a functional capitalism certainly does not entail pandering to the wants and demands of capitalists, or giving free rein to markets through privatization and deregulation, or letting our affairs be ruled by the mentality that financial profit supersedes all other intents and purposes. The author laments how economics as taught in our universities “completely misses the relationship between the firm and the greater good of society”, and probably perpetuates dogma that privilege private interest over public benefit.

Malaysia will do well to tap our capitalist system’s creative and productive potentialities while bridling its power-seeking and destructive tendencies. The author thus argues for more competition and economic freedom, for maintaining an open economy, while also advocating minimum wage, a continuing steady and flexible hand of government in development planning, and a firmer strategic role of the state in international finance and trade.

Malaysia’s economy has increasingly had to grow and mature through raising efficiency of markets, dynamism of businesses, and efficacy of government since the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, which ushered out an era of booming investment, massive infrastructure growth, and reliance on low wage assembly lines for export competitiveness. Over the past decade and a half, and in decades to come, development will need to be driven by promoting innovation, improving governance, cultivating talent and negotiating new sites of opportunity in international trade and investment.

This book’s broad range of topics delve into these challenges, succinctly setting the scene and helping us think through problems, dilemmas and uncertainties.

Malaysia’s successes deserve credit, and the author gives that quite amply, but never effusively or heedlessly. Among other things, our government is commended for promoting private sector growth and public-private partnerships, for giving priority to the knowledge-based economy, and for putting in place a good legal and regulatory framework for government procurement.

The book expresses critical dissent over other matters, such as overly ambitious planning and targeting, deficient accountability and transparency in public procurement, fiscal spending and official statistics, and lack of clear strategic positions in Malaysia’s Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

In all, 37 essays are clustered into six chapters. While the essays can be read independently, they piece together a bigger picture of ways Malaysia should rethink the foundations, objectives and mechanisms for moving forward.

Still, the book would be aided by an introduction to each chapter, for better overall cohesion as well as to point out important topics receiving less coverage, like the schooling system, the future of manufacturing, and corruption.

Nambiar does not quite explicitly reach a general assessment of the sufficiency of Malaysia’s institutions for lifting our economy to a higher plane, but one gets a distinct sense that much work remains to be done, that time is not on our side, and success considerably rides on political will to do the necessary but difficult. Of course, these are huge questions, and the author offers no “grand analysis”. Its bite-size offerings are bold, crisp and good.

I hope more will pick up this book and chew on its ideas.

The Star, Published: Tuesday, 28 October 2014 | MYT 12:00 AM
The Malaysian Economy:
Rethinking Policies And Purposes

Lee Hwok Aun is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Development Studies, Universiti Malaya.

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Japan in start-up mode

During the 2008 financial crisis, Japan experienced a surge in the numbers of Internet cafe refugees who could not afford rent.

Their plight led Mr Hiromitsu Kuwahara, 45, and Mr Masahiro Takasaki, 32, to ponder: "How can we help them, and the millions of impoverished workers around the world, get back on their feet?"

They have since come up with a payroll system that allows workers living from hand to mouth to cash out their wages in real time.

In 2015, when the duo were setting up their own company, they decided to do so in Fukuoka, a vibrant port city of 1.5 million people in south-west Japan.

Less than two years later, Doreming has become quite a success. It entered a partnership with Seven Bank, of the Seven & I Holdings that runs the 7-11 convenience stores, and was named one of the world's top 100 fintech firms last year.

Also from Fukuoka is Sefuri Inc, a mobile app developer run by former Tokyo-based lawyer Yoshi Haruyama, 36. Having grown restless in his corporate job, the avid mountaineer decided to return to his hometown, where he has developed top global trekking app Yamap. It has been given kudos for its accurate offline maps that can be used during disasters.

For a long time, the city of Fukuoka has been better known for its food - ramen chains Ichiran and Ippudo and teishoku set meal restaurant Yayoiken are from the city - and as the hometown of pop diva Ayumi Hamasaki.

But it is now grabbing attention in Japan and abroad for a different reason: Fukuoka has been designated the regulatory sandbox for start-up policies that, if proven successful, may progressively be rolled out elsewhere in the country.

And the early signs are somewhat promising.

Fukuoka not only boasts the highest proportion of those aged 15 to 29 in Japan, but is also the fastest- growing major city outside of Tokyo. Its foreigner population has quadrupled over the last five years.

Japan, which for years had little appetite for start-ups, now has to play catch-up amid intensifying competition for investor dollars in the region. Consider these statistics: Japan, the world's third- largest economy, raised over 200 billion yen (S$2.5 billion) in private equity and venture capitalist investment for the first time last year. This is but a fraction of China's US$31 billion (S$42 billion), and even eclipsed by Singapore's US$3.5 billion.

South Korea has also signalled its intent by appointing its first minister for start-ups and SMEs, Mr Park Seong Jin, 49, in June. Under the new Moon Jae In administration, 2.5 trillion won (S$3 billion), or about 7 per cent of the total budget, will be allocated to support start-ups as well as small and medium-sized enterprises yearly.

In March, Singapore was named the world's No. 1 for start-up talent by the US-based Startup Genome project, beating Silicon Valley. The report said the Republic's tech start-ups enjoy significant government subsidies and have access to quality talent and lower costs.

Japanese mobile games mogul Taizo Son in April ditched Japan to set up a business incubator in Singapore, which is also home to Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

Explaining the move, Mr Son said his native land is "too big and very slow to move", unlike "innovation- minded" Singapore.

The government, too, recognises the problem. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a 2015 speech at Stanford University, said innovation is crucial to jump-start Japan's dormant economy. The dynamism and room to stomach failure seen in Silicon Valley, he said, are traits that Japan needs to emulate.

In June this year, the government pumped US$10 million into 500 Startups Japan, the Tokyo arm of the San Francisco-based venture capital firm 500 Startups. That marked the first time it has backed a non-Japanese venture capital firm.

For Fukuoka, it all began in 2010 when the city elected its youngest mayor, Mr Soichiro Takashima, then 36. A year later, he visited Seattle, the western US city that bred companies like Amazon, Starbucks, Costco and Microsoft.

Inspired by the parallels between the two cities, he lobbied Tokyo to allow Fukuoka to take a more active approach to woo start-ups.

"Creative ideas are most likely nurtured in a liveable urban environment with easy access to rich nature and culture, good transport networks and excellent and open universities," he told The Straits Times.

Start-ups have been key to job creation, Mr Takashima noted. Only 8.5 per cent of all Japanese firms are aged three years and below, but they collectively account for 40 per cent of the jobs created in the past three years. "What is more important than anything for Japan is to create a society where those who take risks and challenges are respected," he said. "This is crucial to overcome the pessimistic prospects associated with a declining birth rate and an ageing population."

At the heart of his vision is the Startup Cafe, which serves as the first stop for entrepreneurs looking to bring their ideas to fruition.

Set up in October 2014, it is managed by the city government and staffed by civil servants and volunteers who not only assist with the paperwork, but also connect start- ups to experts such as lawyers, accountants and consultants who may offer pro bono advice.

Mr Kenichi Takamasu, the city's assistant director for business start-ups, said innovation is possible only when there is support.

The Startup Cafe moved to the defunct Daimyo Elementary School in April this year, breathing new life into the 144-year-old institution. The school, shut down in 2014 because of falling enrolment, was recently converted into a dedicated space for new business owners.

Now called Fukuoka Growth Next, it retains the wooden flooring, chalkboards and even the low toilet seats that were for young pupils. But what were once classrooms are now office spaces for start-ups.

The city is also trying to woo foreigners with a "Startup Visa" that gives them six months to achieve the basic hiring and capital requirements needed for a business visa.

One beneficiary is Newrocare, the brainchild of Singaporeans Xia Qian and Li Xiaoping, retired lecturers from the National University of Singapore (NUS). Their business, which is also registered in Singapore, is developing brain-related products - including one to help people sleep better. They are working with institutions such as NUS, Harvard and Kyushu University.

Since 2015, the Startup Cafe has helped more than 100 local companies - mainly in the food and beverage, technology and welfare industries - set up shop in Fukuoka.

A further 14 are foreign-owned.

The dynamism arising from the start-up push has also helped the city attract other businesses, said Mr Takeshi Saito, director-general for Kyushu-Okinawa of the Japan External Trade Organisation.

A recent case in point is Chinese bike-sharing firm Mobike, which launched its Japanese subsidiary in Fukuoka in June. Its head of international expansion, Mr Chris Martin, said the city's innovation-centric culture makes it a "natural partner" for the firm.

Line Corporation, which is best known for its messaging app, also chose Fukuoka as its second base outside Tokyo in November 2013. As of this May, 894 people from 16 nationalities were working in the Fukuoka office.

Mr Noritaka Ochiai, chief executive of Line Fukuoka, said the city's location allows it to be closer to other key Asian markets such as Taipei and Seoul, while its high proportion of youth lets the city get a better reading of its core users.

But some companies have noted that despite the optimism on the ground, it is still early days yet for Fukuoka. After all, the city has yet to produce a "start-up unicorn" that is valued at over US$1 billion.

Entrepreneurs such as Mr Ichiro Kimura, 29, of Anect said most of the seed money is still in Tokyo, where most pitch events are being held. Anect, which creates secure online shopping services, has rolled out two apps in Indonesia.

And despite the growing population and high proportion of young people in Fukuoka, the demand for talent still outstrips its availability.

"Good marketing can only do so much," said Mr Mark Gaensicke, who developed "Japanese", a dictionary and study app that was one of the first apps to hit the iPhone App Store 10 years ago. The 34-year-old German added: "There is commendable effort by the government to help with taxes, management, and to provide documents in English.

"But who builds the product? What are they doing to attract developers? That really is the elephant in the room."

Some, like Doreming and Mr Gaensicke's mobile app development firm Renzo Inc, are going abroad to places with the talent pool. Doreming, which has offices in Silicon Valley and London, opened an office at Singapore's start-up hub JTC LaunchPad @ one-north on Sept 1. Singapore will serve as its business hub for South- east Asia, a market of about 600 million people, Mr Takasaki said.

The Startup Cafe helps entrepreneurs seeking advice on how to start a business and provides services such as assistance with paperwork and pro bono access to lawyers and consultants.

[Watch the video]
Fukuoka is Japan's regulatory sandbox for start-ups str.sg/japanstart

Straits Times, PUBLISHED: SEP 12, 2017, 5:00 AM SGT
Japan in start-up mode

Fukuoka is a sandbox for start-up policies as the risk-averse country plays catch-up
By Walter Sim, Japan Correspondent In Fukuoka

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Mindful eating

WHEN I first went on a long-stay retreat at a Buddhist monastery, I anticipated struggling with two things: the 4am rises, and eating only one main meal a day.

I wasn’t a big eater at the time, so having what was, essentially, dinner at 11.30am didn’t bother me. Rather, it was having the choice taken away from me of eating whenever I felt like it. Having worked in politics and journalism, I was used to eating on the go, which often meant eating whatever I could find at all kinds of hours. I was in my early 20s then and I had never before experienced any restrictions on my eating habits.

Lay guests who spend time in Buddhist monasteries are encouraged to live the monastic way of life as much as possible. There are eight basic precepts to follow, including the commitment to take no food after noon every day.

Part of the reason for this precept is to help remove any distractions from leading a contemplative life. Knowing that there are no more meals after noon saves you from wondering what you’ll have for dinner. As such, you’re free to focus on the present.

It also encourages us to have a deeper appreciation for the food we receive. Since all the food is literally offered by the lay community (Buddhist monastics are forbidden to grow or cook their own food), the awareness that one meal will provide your sustenance for each day makes you more thankful for it.

It’s with this in mind that you’re encouraged to eat your meal “mindfully”. In other words, you take the time to savour your food with a sense of gratitude and contentment. Getting over my initial nostalgia for chocolate biscuits, I found a new appreciation for food that I had never known before.

I discovered that, rather than scoffing down the meal, I took the time to enjoy it as much as I could. And when “poor me” thoughts crept in, it was humbling to remember that many people throughout the world can and do go days without as much as a cup of rice.

I had no idea that eating could be such a meditative and transformative experience.

It turns out that the Buddha was onto something when he laid down this guiding principle for the consumption of food. Not only does mindful eating have beneficial spiritual effects – such as developing gratitude, awareness, and heightened experience – it also comes with abundant physical benefits.

I’m sure most of us know what it’s like to be so engrossed in a film at the cinema that we barely notice the amount of popcorn we shovel into our mouths. Even after consuming large quantities – and despite having just taken in more calories than a large cooked breakfast – we find that we’re still hungry.

This is because, unless we’re paying attention to what we’re eating, the brain fails to register how much we’ve consumed and, as a result, fails to signal a feeling of being full.

Researchers at the Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada found that people who engaged in a 15-minute mindfulness exercise before eating consumed 25% fewer calories compared with those who took part in a simple relaxation session.

Further research at the University of California discovered that mindful eating helps obese people to lose weight and lower glucose levels in their blood, which predicts a lower risk of developing diabetes.

I remember, as a child, my mother would often tell me, “chew your food properly”, and teachers would add to this advice by suggesting that each mouthful of food should last for 20 chews before swallowing. While perhaps not scientific, the point was nevertheless valid: take your time over the food you eat – don’t rush it.

At the time, I viewed the advice as just another bureaucratic rule designed to spoil my fun. As it turned out, the advice is well worth heeding for all sorts of reasons.

As my first stay at the monastery unfolded, I discovered that the more mindfully I ate, the more I could taste and appreciate, and I came to enjoy even the most basic foods such as brown rice and vegetables.

To eat mindfully, one isn’t required to sit like a Zen master in front of one’s meal. All that’s needed is to take the time to enjoy and savour our meals and to consciously bring feelings of gratitude to mind for the food that we’re able to eat and share with others.

Practising mindful eating with even just one meal in the day can show us the difference it makes compared to how we often eat our food. Not only do we become more thankful (benefiting from a boost in happiness), but it’s also great in a number of ways for our physical health – and the food tastes much better, too.

The Star2, Published: SEPTEMBER 17, 2017
Stop scarfing down your food and eat mindfully

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Healthy eating

CHRONIC non-communicable diseases (NCDs) pose one of the greatest threats to public health and economic growth at national and global levels. In addition to healthcare costs, NCDs contribute substantially to costs associated with lost productivity.

According to a report from our Health Ministry, 73% of deaths among Malaysians are caused by NCDs. Such diseases are also being detected among young people every year.

Diseases categorised as NCDs are hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. NCDs are directly associated with people’s unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking, being sedentary and bad eating habits .

Choosing healthier foods is easier than many people think. By changing just a few eating habits, we can make a big difference to our diet.

On the other hand, slow food means food is fresh, locally produced and consumed, should be free of chemicals and also tastes better. These foods are more nutritious and beneficial to both producers and consumers.

Replace white food. Avoid refined sugar and white flour as these have been stripped of their nutritional benefits (empty calories) and contain simple carbohydrates that are very harmful to the human body. Simple carbohydrates will quickly enter the blood stream and spike our blood sugar level. Replace refined sugar with jaggery (gula merah) which is nothing but sugar cane juice evaporated to dryness without adding any chemical or additive.

Jaggery is a complex carbohydrate that is a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorous, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.

For refined white flour, all the good nutrients (bran and germ) have been removed from the grain, leaving only the endosperm which has little nutritional value and empty calories.

White flour is also a high glycaemic food that can cause quick spikes in blood sugar levels and produce obvious problems for diabetics.

The glycaemic index (GI) ranks carbohydrate foods based on how quickly the body turns them into glucose (blood sugar), provoking an insulin response. It is usually interpreted in the glycaemic index scale to check how good or bad they are:

> 55 or less – Low (good)

> 56- 69 – Medium

> 70 or higher – High (bad).

Unfortunately, most of the food we eat today, like bread, white pasta, cookies, pizza and other baked goods, are made mainly with white flour. Food made of whole wheat flour are good alternatives.

Reduce salt, red meat and dairy products. Commonly cited guidelines suggest that excess salt causes our body to retain water. This, in turn, causes pressure on our heart and blood vessels. High blood pressure is the most troublesome result.

Three-fourths of our salt intake comes from processed foods while 5% is added in cooking and 6% at the table. Another 12% occurs naturally in food. Managing our salt intake is actually very difficult and the only alternative is to cook all our food from scratch.

Reduce dairy products together with red meat as they are high in saturated fat and have been convincingly linked to NCDs. There is some evidence suggesting that milk probably protects people against some cancers but processed cheese and diets high in calcium have been shown to increase risk of disease.

Revive the good old past. In olden times, vegetables and fruits were the main components of people’s diet. Increase the consumption of grains such as wild rice, barley, brown rice and millet and legumes in their natural state. Researchers have found that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day can reduce the risk of certain cancers.

The World Health Organization recommends eating 400g of fruits and vegetables daily and up to 10 portions per day.

However, there is no one food that can give all nutrients our body needs. Three important keys to healthy eating are variety, balance and moderation.

Letter to The Star, Published: Monday, 18 Sep 2017
Important keys to healthy eating
By DR SIVAKUMAR KALIYAMOORTHY, Faculty of Hospitality & Tourism, Lincoln University College, Petaling Jaya

For Your Reference:
5 keys to a healthy diet
Breastfeed babies and young children
# From birth to 6 months of age, feed babies exclusively with breast milk (i.e. give them no other food or drink), and feed them "on demand" (i.e. often as they want, day and night)
# At 6 months of age, introduce a variety of safe and nutritious foods to complement breastfeeding, and continue to breastfeed until babies are 2 years of age or beyond.
# Do not add salt or sugars to foods for babies and young children.

Eat a variety of foods
# Eat a combination of different foods, including staple foods (e.g. cereals such as wheat, barley, rye, maize or rice, or starchy tubers or roots such as potato, yam, taro or cassava), legumes (e.g. lentils, beans), vegetables, fruit and foods from animals sources (e.g. meat, fish, eggs and milk).

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit
# Eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruit
# For snacks, choose raw vegetables and fresh fruit, rather than foods that are high in sugars, fats or salt
# Avoid overcooking vegetables and fruit as this can lead to the loss of important vitamins
# When using canned or dried vegetables and fruit, choose varieties without added salt and sugars

Eat moderate amounts of fats and oils
# Use unsaturated vegetable oils (e.g. olive, soy, sunflower or corn oil) rather than animals fats or oils high in saturated fats (e.g. butter, ghee, lard, coconut and palm oil)
# Choose white meat (e.g. poultry) and fish, which are generally low in fats, in preference to red meat
# Eat only limited amounts of processed meats because these are high in fat and salt
# Where possible, opt for low-fat or reduced'fat versions of milk and dairy products
# Avoid processed, baked and fried foods that contain industrially produced trans-fat

Eat less salt and sugars
# When cooking and preparing foods, limit the amount of salt and high-sodium condiments (e.g. soy sauce and fish sauce)
# Avoid foods (e.g. snacks), that are high in salt and sugars
# Limit intake of soft drinks or soda and other drinks that are high in sugars (e.g. fruit juices, cordials and syrups, flavoured milks and yogurt drinks)
# Choose fresh fruits instead of sweet snacks such as cookies, cakes and chocolate


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Environmental degradation

AT THE Asean Dialogue session during last week’s Pangkor Dialogue, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar did not mince words when he spoke about environmental degradation.

The Natural Resources and Environment Minister warned the audience of the dangers of mismanaging our natural resources. We have pristine jungles and forests that are the envy of many. Yet, there are those who wantonly destroy these precious assets in the name of development.

The minister believes strongly that it is impossible to carry out development without sustainability in mind.

The truth is, we are callous and disrespectful towards the environment. Development is taking its toll on our natural resources. Our jungles are new battlegrounds, with those who are concerned about the environment pitted against those who see nothing but ringgit and sen. More and more trees are being cleared for plantations and farms. Humans are encroaching into wildlife enclaves.

Look at what is happening the world over. Far from home, Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma have wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and the US states of Texas, Florida and Louisiana. These are no ordinary hurricanes; they come with so much rain that many areas are inundated by water.

The US is not alone in dealing with massive floods. India and Bangladesh are reeling from one of the worst floods in years. This year’s floods have killed 1,000 people in India and 144 in Bangladesh. Many more casualties are expected before the year ends.

And we are all too familiar with the state of the ice at the poles. Global warming is already here.

There will be 8 billion humans by 2040 and by 2050, the world population will breach 9 billion. Imagine the resources to feed them. According to reports, there are 20 billion chickens, 1.5 billion cattle and 1 billion sheep competing with 7 billion humans for food today. We will need more of those animals in the future. And more land to be cleared for their food and ours.

For far too long, we have been taking the environment for granted. Developed nations are blaming developing nations for deforestation in the name of development. Developing nations are saying, “Who are you guys to call the kettle black?”

Rich nations are destroying the environment in many ways. We have the Montreal Protocol, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Accord, but with US President Donald Trump making it an election promise to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, things are not going to get any better. He even pledged “to get rid” of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

So far, he has made good on those promises. The US did withdraw from the Paris Accord.

Ironically, hardly three month later, Hurricane Harvey came and taught a lesson or two on how not to mess with Mother Nature. People in New Orleans are still recuperating from financial and psychological trauma after being hit by Hurricane Katrina some 12 years ago.

Now Houston, Texas, faced the full wrath of the Harvey. And sadly, the city experienced three major hurricanes over the last 50 years – Claudette in 1979, Allison in 2001 and now Harvey. Those are the so-labelled “500-year floods” that are supposed to happen twice in a millennium. The estimated property damage alone is believed to be approximately RM130bil.

It is not so much the ferocity of Harvey that attracts the attention of the world. Trump’s reaction is equally important, for it is his first major natural catastrophe as President. And the first one after his exit from the Paris Accord. Is he doing the right thing? Or does the withdrawal a death knell for the well-being of this planet?

Where do we go from here? We know the narratives well by now. The environment is not our problem; it’s someone else’s problem. In our case, it rests on Wan Junaidi’s ministry and its relevant agencies.

We will carry on destroying our jungles, polluting our rivers and clogging our drains. We will have to endure the repercussions of our actions. But worst, future generations will have to suffer more.

What is lost will never be recovered. It is time for the Government to stand firm against reckless plantations owners, developers and polluters. Enough is enough.

Wan Junaidi was right – advocacy is critical now more than ever. There is even a necessity to teach about environment in our schools and universities. It is better late than never.

The Star, Published: Monday, 18 Sep 2017
Nature’s ruin is Earth’s death knell
By Johan Jaaffar

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MAS Malaysia Airlines

SURELY, we must have heard from frequent flyers that Malaysia Airlines Bhd has lost its lustre and vigour. Our planes look derelict compared to those of Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Emirates Airlines.

The complaints run the gamut, from food choice to movie selection. The management of Malaysia Airlines must have received this feedback, surely.

Yet, like many Malaysians, I remain loyal to MH. I believe in its Malaysian Hospitality. I have travelled to many countries, got onboard a variety of airlines, and I can vouch that our cabin crew are the best, and truly deserve the many accolades that have come their way.

However, all that can’t gloss over the national carrier’s need to be competitive again. Its troubles haven’t been erased from memory, but faith in the brand is slowly but surely returning.

It didn’t help that the old MAS was declared “technically bankrupt” in 2015. But the dark clouds have blown over. The management has done a remarkable job in turning things around, earning media coverage which said, “so much growth that it doesn’t have enough aircraft to match the demand.”

In June, MAS announced it was buying six second-hand Airbus A330s, and last week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak revealed that the country intends to make Malaysia Airlines buy more Boeing planes, saying: “We are committed to 25 planes of 737 MAX 10, eight 787 Dreamliners and there is a strong probability, not possibility, that we will add 24 or 25 more 737 MAX 10 in the near future.”

So within five years, with the additional purchases, the deal will be worth in excess of US$10bil (RM41.87bil), it was reported.

The 737 MAX 10 will be the airline’s most profitable single-aisle airplane, offering the lowest seat costs ever, while the 787 Dreamliner is a long-haul, mid-size wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner.

The Prime Minister also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum Of Understanding between Malaysia Airlines and The Boeing Company for aircraft purchases and the setting up of a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facility in Sepang, worth US$4.86bil (RM20.35bil).

The discussion with Donald Trump was the highlight of Najib’s 911 working visit to the US, where he was invited by the 45th US President.

Najib said the Government would also try to persuade low-cost carrier, AirAsia Bhd, to purchase US-made General Electric engines.

Reading purely into the political spin, the PM is seen spending lavishly, which the country can ill afford at the moment, but Malaysia Airlines needs those new planes badly, as its chief executive officer Peter Bellew attested, “even after buying six used A330s, it seems the airline is still short of empty seats for its aggressive regional expansion plans.”

A recent report states “this purchase of 40-plus long-haul aircraft is a huge deal for an airline that currently has just 21 long-haul aircraft in active rotation (15 Airbus A330s, six Airbus A380s – which it recently considered selling).”

According to AirFleets, “Malaysia has an additional 24 wide-body aircraft currently stored, half of which are (understandably) Malaysia’s retired 777 fleet, which was the aircraft model involved in both the 2014 tragedies. Three others are Boeing 747-400s, which are known for their fuel inefficiency, compared to more modern aircraft.”

Malaysia Airlines also needs to regain premium destinations it lost. Malaysians can no longer fly MH to New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco. It’s disappointing that we have to hop on another airline to get to these prime locations.

The Paris and Amsterdam routes ceased operations early last year, and before that, in 2015, Frankfurt and Istanbul also lost their service, leaving London as the airline’s sole European destination.

This certainly doesn’t bode well for an international carrier since these are golden ticket routes – popular and profitable.

Incredibly, at one time, the old MAS flew direct into Zimbabwe and Argentina even, when decisions were made by leaders without considering commercial concerns.

Malaysia Airlines now has to consign its past to the history books and move on to compete in the highly-competitive aviation business.

The Government has wisely left the job of running the airline to a professional. Who cares if he’s a foreigner? As long as he does it right.

The management has whittled down its staff size because the airline was simply “bloated” at one point. It has stopped the practice of having over-priced food items for passengers.

Malaysia Airlines must, however, remember that it is a premium brand. It is not a low-cost carrier and passengers expect to get what they pay for.

No compromise can exist in the food quality, entertainment offerings and luxury of the business class, where airlines rake in the bucks. Now, even Wi-Fi is a prerequisite.

Two “new” movies in a movies package doesn’t cut the mustard, especially when other airlines offer hundreds of selections from multiple genres.

Frequent travellers also want the menu to be regularly updated, even if they are able to pre-order their food before boarding (for high-paying passengers). Certain things simply cannot be compromised for long hauls, though.

Our national carrier could do well to remember that we are not mere passengers, but customers, too. As the client, it’s fair game to expect some pampering.

Najib has made the right call to buy more planes for Malaysia Airlines. It is long overdue, more so because planes are not delivered to the buyer the day after purchase.

My choice is clear – a Malaysian airline comes first – whether it’s Malaysia Airlines or AirAsia – because I believe in supporting a Malaysian brand. Give me the satay and sincere smiles, any time.

The Star, Published: Sunday, 17 Sep 2017
Malaysian Hospitality, it’s my choice
By Wong Chun Wai

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Banning phones in schools

French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has touched off a public debate about banning phones in schools as he seeks to implement a campaign pledge by President Emmanuel Macron.

In an interview with Express magazine, the minister suggested that pupils might be asked to deposit their phones in secure boxes when arriving at school or for classes.

"At our cabinet meetings, we drop our phones in lockers before sitting down together. It seems to me that this should be possible for any human group, including classes," he said in the interview published Tuesday.

Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, put banishing mobile phones from all primary and secondary schools in his manifesto ahead of his election victory in May.

Experts and trade unions have pointed out that using mobile phones in class is already outlawed in France, even though research shows that many pupils confess to having broken the rules.

Some teachers view phones as a source of a distraction and indiscipline which can be used for cyberbullying at school, while others believe they can be harnessed for educational purposes -- under strict control.

One of the biggest groups representing parents of French school children, known as Peep, said it was sceptical that a ban could be implemented.

"We don't think it's possible at the moment," the head of Peep, Gerard Pommier, told reporters on Wednesday.

"Imagine a secondary school with 600 pupils. Are they going to put all their phones in a box? How do you store them? And give them back at the end?"

France has already banned the use of mobile phones in the classroom

France 24, Published: 13 September 2017 - 16H00
France ponders phone ban in schools

Fourteen-year-old friends Hannah Cox and Libby Shirnia admitted they were a little taken aback when their school announced stringent new rules on mobile phones, smart watches and Fitbit activity monitors.

“Everyone’s reaction was: ‘This is so annoying.’” said Libby. “But then we chatted about it and thought it might be a good thing. It’s the worst thing when you’re having a conversation and someone is doing that [Libby mimes tapping and sliding on a smart screen].

Hannah said it did get confusing when you tried to keep multiple conversations going on two or three different media platforms. “Maybe you should just talk to your friends in real life – shocking, I know.”

Libby and Hannah’s school, Stroud high in Gloucestershire, hit the headlines this week after it emerged that it was clamping down on mobile devices. What grabbed the attention was the idea that the move was partly because of concerns that some girls were becoming obsessed with counting steps and calories – and skipping meals to make sure they met their targets.

But the drive is not just about that. The school, an academy primarily for girls, is concerned that mobile devices are leading to addiction to social media – as well as counting steps.

When pupils return from their summer break, girls in years seven to nine will be banned from using their devices at all during the school day. Those in years 10 and 11 will be allowed to use their devices at lunch, while pupils in the sixth form – which includes boys – will be allowed to use them freely except in lessons.

Stroud high school is fast becoming something of a pioneer in its determination to address problems caused by mobile devices. Hannah and Libby were among a group of girls who penned a letter addressed to the “boys and young men of Gloucestershire, Great Britain and the world” explaining why they did not want to be pressured to send explicit pictures and did not want to receive such images.

The school has also started to work with local primary schools, mental health services and local government to draw up programmes and strategies aimed at tackling problems caused by social media.

“Girls are constantly comparing themselves to each other,” said deputy headteacher Cindi Pride. “‘She has got longer hair, blonder hair, better clothes, better holidays.’ People only ever post the golden parts of their lives. That constant comparison is hugely detrimental.”

Earlier this year the school ran a survey in which almost three-quarters of students said they check or respond to social media “constantly”. More than half were taking their phones to bed. But the statistic that alarmed Pride was that more than half of key stage three pupils (aged 11-14) said they would like to feel more in control of their use of social media.

“If that wasn’t a cri de coeur, I don’t know what was. They want more control, they patently don’t know how to do it, or they would be doing it. We need to try to help them. School is a place where you should be able to learn, have fun, have authentic friendships, not be talking to each other across the room via Snapchat.”

The findings tally with a string of academic studies. The Office for National Statistics found, for example, that 12% of children who spend no time on social networking sites on a normal school day have symptoms of mental ill health; the figure rises to 27% for those who are on the sites for three or more hours a day.

Around 400 pupils and adults at Stroud high school took part in a week-long “digital detox” when they gave up their devices and at home. Benefits the girls reported included having more free time and feeling less stressed.

Pride said the focus on Fitbits had been blown out of proportion. But she said: “I personally don’t think that fit and healthy young women in an environment like this need to be counting every step. The number of Fitbits and smart watches on young women with perfectly normal body shapes is quite alarming. I don’t know why people have this obsession monitoring every breath they’re taking.”

Jess Hourston, 16, is one of those who took part in the week-long digital detox. “It wasn’t as hard as I expected,” she said. “The first couple of days were odd, but by the end of the week I didn’t miss it.”

Jess said her work improved. “I used to struggle with homework. Usually, you write a sentence and then you check Snapchat. You rewrite the same sentence. Homework that should take half an hour takes an hour and a half. That week I did the best homework I’d done in a while. I wasn’t tired. Usually I would go to bed but be on my phone for an hour before going to sleep. That week I woke up having eight hours’ sleep and woke up feeling better, which was shocking really.”

Actually, Jess thinks banning Fitbits is a shame. “I’ve seen how it can help. I’ve been using one for two years, it’s been instrumental in my fight to lose weight. There will always be a group of people who have the mentality to use it in an unhealthy way.

“Education is the solution. The challenge is to change how people think. The technology in itself isn’t a problem – it’s how people use it.”

Pupils at Stroud high school, which has clamped down on the use of phones and electronic fitness trackers.

The Guardian, Last modified on Monday 17 July 2017 17.04 BST
'Education is the solution': the Gloucestershire high school enforcing a digital detox

Pupils at Stroud high school were outraged by strict new rules prohibiting the use of digital devices, but the results were remarkable
By Steven Morris

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毎日新聞, 2016年7月28日 東京夕刊
映画化 大家族の素顔、22年 テレビ長崎の大浦監督に聞く





第22回上海テレビ祭ドキュメンタリ―部門最高賞マグノリア賞 受賞


Mr Yahho went to the movie house called Gurney Plaza on 15TH Sept (Fri) to watch "Tora-san of Goto" (ナレーション: 松平 健, テーマ曲: さだまさし「案山子」, 特別協賛: 新上五島町、九州商船) -


Filmed over a period of 22 years, this intimate portrait of family follows the Inuzuka clan who reside in the Goto Islands of Nagasaki. Tora rules the roost, running an udon noodle-making business with the help of his wife and seven kids.

As time passes, the household endures various events−from childbirth and upbringing to separation and reunion−providing a remarkably in-depth and heartwarming look into the unique bonds that prevail over generations.


Named 2016’s third best cultural film by Kinema Junpo, Japan’s oldest and most influential film magazine

Walked away with the Magnolia Award for Best Documentary at the 22nd Shanghai International Television Festival

Fêted at the 53rd Galaxy Awards, 24th FNS Documentary Awards, and 20th JPPA Awards, three of Japan’s most sought-after honours of recognition in the television industry


22nd Shanghai International Television Festival Magnolia Award for Best Documentary

90th Kinema Junpo Best Ten Cultural Films of the Year – 3rd Place

24th FNS Documentary Awards Grand Prix

53rd Galaxy Awards – Encouragement Award

20th JPPA Awards – Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Award


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Blue Bottle Coffee


街に惹かれ、数ある候補地の中からこの土地を選びました(135-0023 東京都江東区平野 1-4-8)




Vevey, Switzerland,Sep 14, 2017

Nestlé today announced that it has acquired a majority stake in Blue Bottle Coffee, a high-end speciality coffee roaster and retailer based in Oakland, California.

Over the last 15 years, Blue Bottle Coffee has achieved iconic status amongst discerning coffee drinkers. It offers one of the highest quality coffees available, with an uncompromising attention to taste, freshness and sustainability.

The company operates coffee shops in major US cities and in Japan, with a unique minimalist style that also incorporates elements of the surrounding neighbourhood. The total number of Blue Bottle Coffee shops is expected to reach 55 by the end of 2017, up from 29 at the end of last year. Blue Bottle Coffee has also launched super premium ready-to-drink and roast and ground products, sold online and in the retail market.

Blue Bottle Coffee will continue to operate as a stand-alone entity, while having full access to Nestlé’s well-recognised capabilities in coffee and its strong global consumer reach. The current management and employees will retain a minority stake and continue to run the business with the same entrepreneurial spirit that has made the brand so successful. That includes Bryan Meehan remaining as CEO and founder James Freeman as Chief Product Officer.

Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider: “This move underlines Nestlé’s focus on investing in high-growth categories and acting on consumer trends. Blue Bottle Coffee’s passion for quality coffee and mission-based outlook make for a highly successful brand. Their path to scale is clearly defined and benefits from increasing consumer appreciation for delicious and sustainable coffee.”

With the acquisition of Blue Bottle Coffee, Nestlé is entering the fast-growing, super premium coffee shop segment with an iconic brand for discerning coffee drinkers. Blue Bottle Coffee allows Nestlé to strengthen its position in the US coffee market, the largest in the world, as well as internationally, building on success in Japan. It also offers opportunities to grow in super premium ready-to-drink and roast and ground coffee, largely through online subscription.

Blue Bottle Coffee CEO Bryan Meehan: “My goal as CEO has been to secure a sustainable future for Blue Bottle Coffee that would enable it to flourish for many years to come. I’m excited to work with Nestlé to take a long-term approach to becoming a global leader in speciality coffee. We felt a real kinship with the team and knew it was the right move for us.”

Nestlé is the world’s largest coffee producer, with brands including Nescafé and Nespresso.

Nescafé is the world’s leading coffee brand available in over 180 countries, with nearly 5,500 cups consumed every second. Nespresso has more than 600 boutiques and about 465,000 daily visits to its e-commerce platforms.

Nestlé acquires majority interest in Blue Bottle Coffee

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