Photo: Chardchakaj Waikawee / Facebook

Weekly Southeast Asia Radar: Ultraman Buddha hotly traded; Course on democratic dissent cancelled in Singapore

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:


Before it opened in 2013, the college had faced criticism from Yale’s faculty members due to Singapore’s restrictions on protests and on student political activity. Photo: Yahoo Singapore


Yale probes cancellation of ‘dissent’ course by Singapore campus
Yahoo Singapore

Yale University has launched a probe into the cancellation of a course on democratic dissent at its Singapore campus in what one activist described as the “irony of a liberal arts college in an authoritarian state.”

Yale-NUS College, a partnership with the National University of Singapore, cancelled the “Dialogue and Dissent in Singapore” programme last week, two weeks before it was scheduled to start.

A summary of the programme archived online said students would learn about democratic dissent from interactions with artists, filmmakers and journalists in the city-state.

It also included a visit to Speaker’s Corner, the only outdoor area where citizens can hold demonstrations without a police permit and a screening of a film about Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong, according to playwright Alfian Sa’at, who co-led the project.

[Read more…]


Sabah-based art collective Pangrok Sulap’s woodcut works capture the sentiments of the local community and are often completed with the involvement of all and sundry. Photo: Pangrok Sulap


5 community-based groups that are shaping the Malaysian arts scene
Star2, Malaysia

All across Malaysia Baharu, the collective spirit behind community arts, culture and theatre initiatives cannot be denied.

There are hundreds of groups either making sure that traditional art doesn’t die, ensuring that theatre culture is developed in far-flung places or that community art can evolve into an inspiring force to galvanise not only a small community but an entire nation.

Here are five community-based groups shaping the arts scene.

[Read more…]


Chardchakaj Waikawee and the painting he bought for a whopping THB2million. Photo: Chardchakaj Waikawee / Facebook


Sale of ‘Ultraman Buddha’ paintings rise to 2.6M Thai baht
Coconuts Bangkok

Nothing adds values to art like a scandal. It happened with the Mona Lisa when stolen in 1911 and it happened this weekend when a second controversial painting in the so-called Ultraman Buddha series, depicting the religious leader as a Japanese superhero, sold for a staggering THB2 million (US$65,600.)

After the first painting was auctioned off for what was a jaw-dropping THB600,000 (about US$20,000) on Thursday, Pakorn Porncheewarakun told Coconuts Bangkok this morning that as of Saturday’s sale, he’d raked in a total THB2.6 million (US$85,200) for both paintings.

Not bad for work by a university art student.

[Read more…]


‘M for Malaysia’ directors Ineza Roussille (left) and Datin Dian Lee are pictured during the documentary’s premiere at GSC Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur September 10, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
What does ‘M’ in ‘M for Malaysia’ mean? Director explains
Malaysia Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — Director Datin Dian Lee has revealed her interpretation of what the letter “M” in the documentary M for Malaysia means.

Lee, who is also producer and executive producer for the documentary, spoke about the title of the film that documents the 14th general elections on May 9, 2018.

“M for Malaysia // When we decided on the title of the film, Ruby our creative producer was against it. She said it was a bad idea to have the name of a country in the title. But Ineza and I were pretty firm about it despite going against the norm,” she wrote on Twitter yesterday evening, referring to the documentary’s Oscar-winning creative producer Ruby Yang and director Ineza Roussille.

[Read more…]


DJ Zig Zach will spin at the final NWHR after party at Location X this October. — Photo by DJ Zig Zach.
NWHR to push electronic-music scene with three after parties during WAK
Borneo Post

KUCHING: Through a trifecta of events for WAK, NWHR (pronounced “nowhere”) aims to push the limits of Kuching’s electronic music scene.

Emphasising musical curation and audio-visual stimulus, each event will showcase local and international DJs spinning a unique stream of music.

The first after party on Sept 28 will start at 10pm in Location X (former Ting & Ting Supermarket) by local talents such as Keeyushee, JORL, Brainer, and Wu as What About Kuching (WAK) 2019 commences.

A music executive by day and a DJ by night, Keeyushee is a founding member of SFDP (Same Faces, Different Places) collective which throw parties regularly in and around the city.

[Read more…]


Scene from ‘Verdict’ starring late independent film actor Kristoffer King (right), who died due to diabetes and complications last February. Pilipino Star Ngayon/File


Filipino film is Southeast Asia’s only winner at Venice Film Fest 2019

MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino film about domestic abuse has won the Special Jury Award at the 76th Venice Film Festival.

“Verdict,” a crime-drama feature starring Max Eigenmann, Jorden Suan, Rene Durian and the late Kristoffer King, directed by Raymund Ribay Gutierrez and produced by Brillante Mendoza, was the only film from Southeast Asia that made it to the prestigious film festival this year.

The film received positive reviews from international press, including Screen Daily, the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

[Read more…]


Directed by Caylee So and Sok Visal, In the Life of Music explores love, war and a family’s relationship across three generations, depicting the lives of people whose world is inevitably transformed by the emergence of the Khmer Rouge regime. Photo supplied


Award-winning film In the Life of Music on journey to Oscars 2020
Phnom Penh Post

After winning the Audience Choice Narrative Feature award at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF) in November, In the Life of Music has followed this up by being selected to represent Cambodia in the International Feature Film Award at the 92nd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California, in February next year.

The Cambodia Oscar Selection Committee (COSC) on Friday officially announced that the film will head to Hollywood after it received substantial support from the judging committee of famous directors, producers and veteran artists.

Directed by Caylee So and Sok Visal, the 92-minute film explores love, war and a family’s relationship over three generations, depicting the lives of people whose world is inevitably transformed by the emergence of the Khmer Rouge regime.

An important part of In the Life of Music is Champa Battambang, a love song made famous by Sinn Sisamouth, one of Cambodia’s most influential singers in the 1950s until the 1970s.

[Read more…]


Dancer Belle. Photo supplied. Via Khmer Times


Howe — Her Sounds an exhibition of Cambodia’s women artistes
Khmer Times

WITHIN a week of launching the multimedia exhibition, ‘Her Sounds’ at the Mirage Contemporary Art Space in Siem Reap on Aug 23, American academic Emily Howe was back in the US where she plunged immediately into teaching at a new (for her) college and, despite “going a bit crazy” managed to communicate some of her thoughts about her exhibition via email by typing on her phone as her computer had just went on the blink.

Which perfectly illustrates the dedication, not to mention passion, to her cause which drives the academic who, as an ethnomusicologist, performer, teacher, scholar, and music conductor, knows a fair bit about being busy.

Since March this year, Emily and her collaborator – the Phnom Penh-based conceptual photographer Neak Sophal – have been travelling the country gathering stories, photos, graphics and audio grabs for ‘Her Sounds,’ a collaborative multimedia research project and exhibition celebrating Cambodia’s women artistes.

URBAN ART: The painting by Truong Sinh in the 1980s features various labourers, including intellectuals, factory workers, farmers and soldiers. VNS Photos Doan Tung
Outrage over plan to demolish historic street art

Artists and researchers have expressed outrage over the plan as the paintings are important artefacts from a historic period in the country’s development.

Researcher Khuat Tan Hung posted images of the two paintings on his facebook page, among other relics on Dai La Street that will be destroyed for the infrastructure project.

“The two wall paintings were made by painter Truong Sinh in the 1980s,” the director of the Urban Heritage of the Architecture Faculty, Ha Noi Architectural University, wrote. “More importantly, they are the only two large paintings remaining in the city.”

[Read more…]


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. 

About the author(s)

Kathy Rowland is the Managing Editor of, a registered charity that she co-founded with Jenny Daneels in 2016. The site is dedicated to supporting and promoting arts criticism with a regional perspective in Southeast Asia. Kathy has worked in the arts for over 25 years, working in the areas of critical writing and arts advocacy, with a special interest in media platforms for the arts. She is the Project Lead for ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asian Arts and Culture Censorship Documentation Project, launched in 2021. She has written extensively on censorship of arts and culture in Malaysia. She was a member of the International Programme Advisory Committee of the 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture, 2019.

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