ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar features articles and posts about arts and culture in Southeast Asia, drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region. In the weekly Southeast Asia Radar, we publish a round-up of content that have been scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms.
Here is this week’s Southeast Asia Radar:
Myanmar Court Gives Actors 1-Year Jail Term for Satire
A court in Myanmar on Wednesday sentenced five members of a traditional theatrical troupe to a year in prison for their gibes about the military.
The members of the Peacock Generation thangyat troupe were arrested in April for performances during celebrations of Myanmar’s traditional new year in which they poked fun at military representatives in parliament and military involvement in business. The military is a powerful political force in Myanmar even though the country has an elected government.
Thangyat combines dance and music with verse that often has a satirical edge. The five were convicted under a law prohibiting the circulation of information that could endanger or demoralize members of the military.
“This is an appalling verdict. Punishing people for performing a piece of satire speaks volumes about the dire state of freedom of expression in Myanmar,” said Joanne Mariner, research director for Southeast Asia for the human rights organization Amnesty International.
Hanna Alkaf novel turned into digital comic
The Star Online, Malaysia
Earlier this year, local author Hanna Alkaf created much excitement in the Malaysian publishing scene with the release of her debut young adult novel, The Weight Of Our Sky.
The novel tells the story of Melati, a teenage girl struggling with mental illness. The tale is set against the backdrop of the May 13,1969 riots in Malaysia.
Hanna’s book was picked up by international publisher Simon & Schuster (under its imprint Salaam Reads), and released to much critical acclaim.
Now, fans of the book can also experience it in an exciting new format, as The Weight Of Our Sky has been turned into a webcomic at the portal Webtoon (webtoons.com).
The book was adapted by US-based Webtoon producer Susan Cheng and writer Alya Rehman. Both Americans are working with an all-Malaysian team of illustrator Nisrina AN and colourists Nurel and Toadfrogs (yes, that is the name he goes by).
Sabah artists demand better protection of their creative rights
Free Malaysia Today
KOTA KINABALU: A group of Sabah artists has appealed for better protection of their creative rights after a plagiarism controversy involving the Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK).
They said the government should be more proactive in the protection of their rights as not only do they contribute to the economy but also carry the burden of representing the culture and art of their communities.
Mural artist Crig Francis, 41, said although he was glad the whole conflict with DBKK had now come to an end, he was disappointed that many Sabah artists had become victims of plagiarism.
“City Hall has graciously apologised and I accept it.
Filipino – Foreign writers: on the way to dominance?
The realization started dawning on me when I became cognizant with the upsurge in poetry and fiction being published by Fil-Am authors well over a decade ago.
Participation at the 5th Filipino American International Book Festival in San Francisco last month could only validate a forecast: that literature in English being written by Filipinos residing abroad would soon prove more notable, in both quantity and quality, than that being produced by Filipinos who stay home.
Last summer at the Siliman University National Writers Workshop in Dumaguete, I said as much to newly minted National Artist for Literature Resil Mojares. Knowing this longtime friend to be a nationalist at heart (and in superb mind), I wasn’t surprised when he took quick exception to my proposition.
All he acceded was that his fellow nationalist and National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera had been proven wrong when he declared the death knell for English writing by Filipinos in the 1970s at the height of the bilingualism divide. I knew then that Bien’s forecast could only turn out wrong, since English as a literary language would necessarily remain in force among non-Tagalogs.
Vietnam’s confusing film censorship needs changing: insiders
Tuoi Tre News
In 2013, Vietnamese film fans flocked to Facebook to show their disappointment when the highly-anticipated crime action blockbuster Bui Doi Cho Lon (Cho Lon’s Gangsters) was banned from screening as the central film evaluation council said it contains violent scenes that “falsely depict the reality of Vietnamese society”.
Bui Doi Cho Lon is densely packed with gory and dramatic kungfu fights that depict the ruthless gang wars in Cho Lon, a neighborhood in Ho Chi Minh City where a large number of Chinese-Vietnamese and Chinese nationals have long settled.
When the production company behind the film asked to know what is considered true depiction of the reality of Vietnamese society, they received no answer from those who issued the ban.
The same fault-finding scrutiny is, arbitrarily, not applied to foreign films.
UNESCO designated 66 new ‘Creative Cities’ and we checked if Southeast Asia is on its list
5 more Southeast Asian cities have been added to UNESCO’s prestigious list of ‘Creative Cities.’
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay has revealed the 66 cities who will now join the 180 designated UNESCO Creative Cities championing sustainable development through the creative economy across the world.
The cities are submitted into one of the seven UNESCO categories: Gastronomy, literature, design, film, music, crafts and folk art, and media arts.
“All over the world, these cities, each in its way, make culture the pillar, not an accessory, of their strategy,” Azoulay said. “This favors political and social innovation and is particularly important for the young generations.”
And here are the newly added cities from Southeast Asia.
Singapore introduces living heritage award scheme for craftsmen and artists
The Straits Times, Singapore
SINGAPORE – Like the cultural hubs of France, Japan and South Korea, Singapore now has an award and recognition scheme for master craftsmen and artists to keep the island’s heritage alive.
Announced on Wednesday (Oct 30), the National Heritage Board (NHB) will be recognising four such master practitioners every year, starting next year.
For instance, a dikir barat master, Nonya beadwork and embroidery craftsman, or a practitioner of Ayurveda medicine, can apply for the $5,000 cash award as long as they have been in the field for at least a decade and fulfil some other criteria, the most important being efforts to pass on their skills and knowledge.
It is part of the board’s efforts to safeguard, promote and elevate Singapore’s Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) locally and internationally, under its Our SG Heritage Plan.
Mauy the graffiti artist: spraying a wall near you
The Phuket News, Thailand
Perfectly painted colonial-style shopfronts make up the community shopping area, a mismatch of patterned Mediterranean tiles line the floor, and talented graffiti artists from across Thailand are spraying any expanses of blank wall in sight.
One such artist is Piyasak Khiaosaard, better known by his tag “Mauy”. Inspired by the burgeoning street art scene he saw on a trip to Germany, Mauy sold his noodle shop in 2013 and began painting full time, scraping by on his limited savings. Back then, he lived to paint. Now that he’s gained notoriety, he paints to live too.
Mauy is renowned for his art in his native Chiang Mai and is making a name for himself abroad too. His vibrant works decorate walls in Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines and France, and the commissions keep rolling in. To keep up with demand and increasingly challenging projects, he’s enlisted a team of eight other artists to support him as he zips around the kingdom and beyond.
ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar is compiled every week. All sources and credit belong to the original publishers and writers. Click here for past editions of Southeast Asia Radar.