In the opening scenes of the most daring film to come out of Singapore this year, a young man accosts the head of the board of censors in a supermarket and declares he is her biggest fan. \n"I know every film you have ever cut in the history of Singapore," he enthuses, before reeling off the names of 24 movies and 99 cuts made and thanking her for "shielding us from the evils of arts". \nThe sarcasm-drenched 13-minute film Cut was made without a permit by one of Singapore's few controversial filmmakers, 27-year-old drama teacher Royston Tan. \nSpeaking to foreign reporters recently, Tan said the movie, which has recorded tens of thousands of downloads from a local Web site, was made out of frustration at the Singapore government's famous "nanny state" mentality. \nIt followed 27 cuts being made to his highly acclaimed feature film last year about Singapore's gang culture, 15, which he said the government censored heavily because gang chants and other aspects were deemed a threat to national security. \n"Trying to enact censorship out of paranoia does more harm than good. Censorship closes the door on debate," Tan said, offering a much more subdued reflection of the issue than his main character in Cut. \n"Being our nanny, you are exposed to all the uncensored and controversial scenes. What I would really like to know [is] who looks after your welfare?" the besotted young man in Cut asks the censorship chief. \n"How do you resist the evil temptations to be a call girl when you watch the uncut version of Chicago, a drug addict when you watch the uncut Trainspotting, a lesbian when you watch Boys don't cry?" \nTan's release of Cut came at a sensitive time for the Singapore government, which has been trying to project a more open-minded approach after years of international headlines ridiculing the city-state. \nLaws banning things such as oral sex between consenting adults, the sale of Cosmopolitan magazine and chewing gum have proved wonderful fodder for correspondents and editors looking for quirky stories. \nOver the past year, the government has modified the oral sex law to allow the act between men and women, has announced gays are allowed to work in the civil service, has introduced reverse bungee jumping, let certain bars stay open 24 hours a day and said people can chew gum, albeit on a restricted basis. \nDeputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who will take over as the nation's leader this year, acknowledged in January that the "nanny state" approach was having some negative impacts on Singaporean society. \n"If we want a more participatory citizenry, the government will have [to[ cut the apron strings and leave more matters to the private and people sectors," Lee said in an address to international businessmen. \nBut Tan and another prominent social campaigner, gay rights activist Alex Au, believe the government's efforts are little more than window dressing. \n"Every announced loosening-up has been followed by waffle and scaling back, if not altogether contradicted by subsequent decisions, as the gay example indicates," Au told foreign reporters in a separate forum. \nAu's People Like Us group, which represents Singapore's gay and lesbian community, has been trying to be registered as a society since 1996. \nHomosexuality is still illegal and the most recent effort by Au's group for registration failed in March. \nIn its rejection, the government said allowing People Like Us to form as a society would be "contrary to the national interest." \nAu said this attitude reflected a still-deeply entrenched conservatism within Singapore's government. The People's Action Party has ruled the majority Chinese population since the nation's independence in 1965. \n"My opinion is that this so-called liberalization... is really driven by economics -- to attract and retain talent -- and not by any belief in the lasting though intangible value of a liberal political culture," Au said. \nAnd despite Lee saying he was in favor of weakening "nanny's" role, he told parliament in April he was still much more comfortable with Singapore's social attitudes remaining 20 years behind those of the US and Britain. \n"If you are absolutely up at the leading edge in matters of social change, you are never quite sure whether the leading edge has taken a wrong turn, needs to back-track and make a U-turn," he said.
One often hears that the people of Taiwan are 98 percent Han, a complicated cultural term that is often used to imply a certain genetic relationship as well. Yet among the pre-1949 population of Taiwan, roughly 45 percent are descended from immigrants from Quanzhou (泉州) in China. Who might these people be? In medieval times Quanzhou was one of the world’s greatest ports, a melting pot of peoples from India and northeast, southeast and central Asia, along with Han and other peoples we now identify as “Chinese.” Merchants from Quanzhou competed in the southeast Asian textile trade, shipping cottons from India
COVID-19 has been racking the world, and there’s hardly a person alive who doesn’t want to see 2020 in the rear view mirror. Taiwan of course has proven to be an island of safety during this epidemic. In appreciation of that as well as giving 2020 an early send off, Brandon Thompson, Adoga, and Taipei Next have prepared a fitting music fest, “Forget 2020” or in the vernacular, “F#ck 2020.” It’s a late-night-early-morning festival where you’ll hear some 30 vocalists and musicians performing many of your favorite songs from the past two decades. Expect hits from the rise of Bruno, Slim,
On the day I rode a 125cc two-wheeler to 2,312m above sea level, the northwestern corner of Taitung County wasn’t merely beautiful. It was “renounce all worldly possessions and walk out on your family, if that means you can stay” sublime. At first light in Chihshang (池上), I rode through jacket-dampening fog. Outside the town, I escaped the morning mists, and zipped inland on an empty road. In the space of just under 6km, Provincial Highway 20A (20甲) exits Chihshang, passes farms, crosses the Sinwulu River (新武呂溪), and merges into Provincial Highway 20. The latter road is also known as the South
A row over a Thai woman who held up a placard alleging sexual abuse in schools has put a spotlight on harassment in the education system even as she draws threats of legal action for misrepresentation and attacks for soiling Thailand’s image. The issue is the latest on which discussion has become more vocal as an anti-government protest movement seeking reform of the monarchy also emboldens people in a society where conservatism has often constrained criticism of the powerful. “I hope my case will raise awareness for people in society, for students in schools, for adults who send children to schools, for