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.
Oct. 18 to Oct.24 To chief engineer Kinsuke Hasegawa, the completion of the Taiwan Railway Hotel was just as important as the launch of Taiwan’s first north-south railroad. Many guests — most notably Japan’s Prince Kotohito — would be coming to Taiwan for the Western Trunk Line’s inauguration ceremony on Oct 24, 1908, and it was imperative to host them at the extremely lavish new establishment. Hasegawa personally presided over its construction for the final months, which carried on day and night with over 1,200 workers toiling in shifts. They just made it — four days before the official ceremony. Designed
Yuguang Island (魚光島) is a rarity among islets. It wasn’t formed by volcanic action, by the natural accumulation of sediment or by humans dumping rocks. Like Kaohsiung’s Cijin (旗津), it was a peninsula until the authorities decided, for the sake of economic development, to sever it from “mainland” Taiwan. Back in the 17th century, at least 11 barrier islands made of mud and grit flushed out from inland Taiwan dotted the coast near Tainan. Likening them to humpbacked sea creatures, early Han settlers dubbed them kunshen (鯤鯓), and numbered them from north to south. Due to the huge amount of sediment washed
It’s not even a road yet. At the moment it is merely a hint of upturned sod off Highway 11. When I visited last week the digger was sitting there unattended for the holiday. And yet, there it was, terrifying. On the site plan the locals obtained, the road goes down to the south end of Taitung County’s Shanyuan (杉原) Beach. That beach now hosts the infamous Miramar hotel, built on land taken from aborigines by the government in 1987 and handed over to a developer to build a hotel in 2004 as a build-operate-transfer (BOT) project. The hotel became the
Wu Shih-hung (吳識鴻) isn’t an avid reader of comics or Taiwanese literature. An animator by trade, Wu first became involved with Fisfisa Media (目宿媒體) through its acclaimed documentary series on Taiwanese writers, contributing his distinct ink brush-style artwork to the 2011 feature on Wang Wen-hsing (王文興), The Man behind the Book (尋找背海的人). “When I first joined the company, people were talking about how good the animations in The Man behind the Book were,” editor of Fisfisa’s comic division Lee Pei-chih (李佩芝) says. “Every new employee had to watch it.” When Fisfisa decided to launch its long-discussed comic venture featuring acclaimed