Stories from China and Indonesia

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20 churches in Aceh face threat of demolition

Twenty churches in Singkil regency, Aceh, have been closed down and are likely to be demolished by the local administration.

According to a lawmaker from House of Representatives Commission III on human rights, Eva K. Sundari, the commission received complaints about the forced closure of 20 churches from the United North Sumatra Alliance on Monday.

The core of the problem is the contradictory regulations between the 2007 gubernatorial decree on the guidance of the construction of houses of worship and the 2006 joint ministerial decree governing the construction of houses of worship.

“Under the ministerial decree, a house of worship can only be built if it has secured the approval of 90 worshipers while the gubernatorial decree requires the approval of 150 worshippers,” Eva said Tuesday as quoted by

The ministerial decree also requires the approval of 60 local residents of different faiths.

Worse still, Eva said, was a local edict that forbade Muslims from approving the construction of houses of worship other than mosques, which made it impossible for the churches to fulfill the requirements.

Not only have new churches been forced to close but also the Pakpak Dairi Protestant Church, which was established in 1932. It too is likely to be demolished, she said.

“Guidance from the home minister is needed so that the local consultative forum and the police can be fair and neutral for all citizens and not bow down to intolerant groups,” she said. (iwa)

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Geishas, flying ninjas, thousand-armed boddhisatvas and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” moves — Coldplay’s latest single Princess of China featuring Rihanna is full of every imaginable Asian visual stereotype you can think of.

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TV station’s bikini girls forced to cover up

The provincial TV station of South China’s Guangdong province provoked cheers and outrage on Saturday when it chose to hire bikini models to deliver weather forecasts as part of its coverage of the final tournament of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship over the weekend.

Photos and videos depicting the women spread quickly on microblog sites after the Guangdong TV sports channel brought the models out to deliver weather reports for Ukraine and Poland, where the UEFA tournament is being held.

The women were the topic of more than 100,000 posts on Sina Weibo, the country’s most popular microblogging site, as of Tuesday afternoon. Some of the comments were positive, such as that of Liu Lai, a manager for computer manufacturer Lenovo.

"A brave breathrough. Bravo for Guangdong TV," Liu wrote.

Other users, however, were incensed.

"I did not see any beauty in them. If female anchors all dress like this, I would rather turn off the TV," wrote netizen "Listening to nature."

An opinion piece published in the Tuesday edition of the People’s Daily said “inviting bikini girls to deliver weather reports is simply an unwise stunt.”

An opinion poll on the newspaper’s website,, showed that 58.5 percent of 3,645 respondents believe hiring the models was a “vulgar” decision and demonstrates a lack of social responsibility.

Another 37.4 percent, however, said there is no need to be offended by the incident.

Another opinion piece in Southern Metropolis Daily compared the models to the “basketball babes” commonly seen dancing in bikinis at halftime during the China Basketball Association’s games.

Guangdong TV chose to ask the models to wear t-shirts for their Sunday night coverage of the game.

"We accepted suggestions from some netizens and made the change," an anonymous employee of the station said.

"In my personal opinion," he said, "Some netizens are making a fuss. Sports and entertainment cannot be separated these days. There are much hotter girls on the sports pages of leading Internet portals."

The employee said most of the girls chosen were in their early 20s, with a healthy and fresh image.

"Bikinis are necessary clothing for beach volleyball players worldwide," he added.

Women wearing bikinis first appeared on Chinese TV in the late 1980s, when beauty pageants made their debut in the country. They are a fairly common sight now, with bikini models hired to promote everything from auto shows to real estate companies.

"Sports channels have large numbers of teenage viewers and have a somewhat public nature. Bikini girls are not suitable," said Xu Fan, a lecturer from the TV department of the Communication University of China.

Filed under bikini girls forced to cover up china guangdong TV UEFA European Football championship 2012 Euro 2012 bikini girls deliver weather forecast basketball babes women wearing bikinis appear on chinese tv

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rezarezeki asked: Hi Indochi, nice to know your tumblr. I was in Beiing last year for several weeks exchange students and Beijing was great for me:) nice to know you

Nice to know you too..

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"Chinese bad guys are vanishing" in Hollywood

Hollywood gripped by pressure system from China

By Steven Zeitchik and Jonathan Landreth, Los Angeles Times

To appease China and gain access to moviegoers and financing, movies include positive references to the nation (no Chinese villains!) and face censorship.

When aliens besiege Earth in Universal Pictures’ recent action film"Battleship,"it is the Chinese authorities in Hong Kong whom Washington credits with delivering the early proof that these invaders aren’t exactly homegrown.

But those aren’t the only Chinese do-gooders on screen these days.

In "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,"romantic comedy about building a dam in the Mideast, Chinese hydroelectric engineers showed off their know-how; the original book included no such characters. In Columbia Pictures’ disaster movie"2012," the White House chief of staff extolled the Chinese as visionaries after an ark built by the country’s scientists saves civilization.

In fact, references to the Middle Kingdom are popping up with remarkable frequency in movies these days. Some are conspicuously flattering or gratuitous additions designed to satisfy Chinese business partners and court audiences in the largest moviegoing market outside the U.S. Others, filmmakers say, are simply organic reflections of the fact that China is a rising political, economic and cultural power.

Meanwhile, Chinese bad guys are vanishing — literally. Western studios are increasingly inclined to excise potentially negative references to China in the hope that the films can pass muster with Chinese censors and land one of several dozen coveted annual revenue-sharing import quota slots in Chinese cinemas.

MGM, the studio behind the remake of the 1984 movie “Red Dawn,” last year digitally altered the invaders attacking the U.S. to make them North Koreans instead of Chinese, as originally shot.

When Sony's "Men in Black 3" was released in China last month, censors had the studio remove or shorten several scenes set in New York’s Chinatown that they believed depicted Chinese Americans unflatteringly. (One portrayed Chinatown restaurant workers as alien monsters, and another showed bystanders of Chinese heritage having memories erased by a U.S. government agent / alien fighter played by Will Smith.)

Sony executives refused to comment publicly, and the scenes remained in versions of the film shown outside China. But privately, studio officials suggested they might have considered changing the locale from Chinatown to another New York ethnic enclave — thus altering the movie for audiences worldwide — had they been aware of the Chinese sensitivities before production.

"Hollywood these days is sometimes better at carrying water for the Chinese than the Chinese themselves," said Stanley Rosen, director of the East Asian Studies Center at USC and an expert on film and media. "We are doing all the heavy lifting for them."

A screenwriter on another Hollywood tentpole was told by the studio to steer clear of any Chinese villains in shaping his script.

The net effect is a situation that movie-business veterans say is unprecedented: The suppressive tendencies of a foreign nation are altering what is seen not just in one country but around the world.

"It’s a clear-cut case — maybe the first I can think of in the history of Hollywood — where a foreign country’s censorship board deeply affects what we produce," said a leading Hollywood producer who, like several others interviewed for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to offend potential Chinese partners.

As overseas box office has become more important to Hollywood, studios have become more attuned to foreign cultures. The industry has been mindful, for instance, about offending Japan, which until recently was the largest foreign market (Japanese characters also play a big part in “Battleship”).

With China, co-financing deals add to the pressure: Under those agreements, foreign films receive funding from Chinese entities and are allowed to bypass the quota system. But such films often must include some Chinese elements — positive ones. Marvel Studios’ “Iron Man 3,” which recently began filming in locales including North Carolina and China, is expected to show a highly friendly side to the Chinese, because the production is accepting Chinese funds from the financing entity DMG.

"We look forward to working alongside DMG to bring ‘Iron Man’ to the Chinese marketplace in a significant way," Rob Steffens, general manager of operations and finance for Marvel, said when the deal was announced. "Adding a local flavor … will enhance the appeal and relevance of our characters inChina’sfast-growing film marketplace."

Some filmmakers say their inclusion of Chinese elements is a natural part of the creative process — such as a sequence in Disney’s "The Muppets"last year in which Miss Piggy, Gonzo and Jack Blackwere portrayed as martial arts experts, with onscreen flashes of their names in Chinese characters. James Bond will be in Shanghai in the next 007 film, “Skyfall,” though the production isn’t receiving Chinese funding.

Simon Beaufoy, the writer of “Salmon Fishing,” said he was under no obligation to reference China, but that the idea came to him spontaneously. “I wanted the biggest and most ambitious idea, and having the engineers from this dam achieved that,” he said. “These days, if you want to put something in a film that’s bold and ambitious, chances are you’re going to end up with China.”

Still, he was mindful of causing offense.

"I thought a lot about it and, yes, I probably was a little more careful" than he might otherwise have been, he said. "With the French and the Brits, for example, we know we can throw bricks at each other and it’s all very cheerful. But with China we don’t really know where the line is yet…. If you go over the line with the portrayal of any country, it can quickly turn into racism."

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Sinkhole swallows van while sitting in traffic

A huge sinkhole suddenly appeared on a busy street in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on June 7, engulfing a passing minibus. 

Authorities believe the 3-meter-deep hole swallowed the bus without warning after weeks of torrential rain washed away the road’s foundations.

The driver is currently receiving treatment for minor injuries. The police have since cordoned off the site. 

The terrified driver explained the hole suddenly opened up beneath him while he sat in a traffic jam.

"I thought it was an earthquake. The ground suddenly disappeared from underneath and there was this tremendous crack and a rumbling," the driver, who had managed to scramble to safety, told police.

"It was impossible to predict. The road looked undamaged on the surface but the weight of the van sitting on it was just too much for it to bear," said a police spokesman.

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Tokay Geckos Wanted by Psychics

A tokay gecko can sometimes be sold for Rp 2 billion (US$211,000) in Jakarta. 

Makmuri, a gecko seller in Pasar Pramuka in Jakarta, said a 2 billion-rupiah gecko weighs about 5 ounces. The average gecko weighs 1 ounce and costs between Rp 75,000 and Rp 100,000 (US$8-10.5), he added.

"If all the geckos are worth Rp 2 billion, I’d already be a rich man," Makmuri said. 
He said many people who buy tokay geckos are psychics who believe that the animal can heal all kinds of disease such as itchiness, leprosy and breathing difficulties.

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Tour de Singkarak Held in Padang, West Sumatra

Cyclists ride past a monkey in the stage six of the Tour de Singkarak in the Beremas River region, in Padang, West Sumatra, on Saturday. Stage six ran 143.9 kilometers from Pariaman to Painan in West Sumatra. 

Tour de Singkarak is an annual road bicycle racing held in West SumatraIndonesia, and named after the Lake Singkarak. First staged in 2009, Tour de Singkarak together withTour d’Indonesia and Tour de East Java is one of Indonesian official tournament series of Union Cycliste International (UCI). It covers more than 900 kilometres — from/to Padangpassing around lake Singkarak and runs through inland West Sumatran cities — and lasted for a week and held annually around May or June.

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Former Indonesian Richest Tycoon Liem Sioe Liong Dies at 95

Former Indonesian richest tycoon Lim Sioe Liong, or widely known as Soedono Salim, the founder of the Salim Group of Indonesia and one of the key business figures in the Southeast Asian region over the past decades, passed away Sunday afternoon in Singapore at the age of 95, according to TV One.

Sugeng Widodo, who works for Anthony Salim, one of Lim’s sons,confirmed the news, saying that right now most of the family members were in Singapore to discuss what to do next.

"We are still waiting for further instructions from the family right now," he told TV One on Sunday.

Lim was once known as one of the late president Soeharto’s closest ally during the new order regime.Many believed that he had experienced his golden periods under Soeharto’s protection.

Lim went to Singapore in 1998 following the May riots that toppled Soeharto from his presidential seat.

An edition of Tempo magazine published on July 2, 1983, revealed that the former mogul had his own reasons for choosing “Salim” as his Indonesian name.

Many Chinese-Indonesians were obliged to change their name to a more Indonesian-sounding name under the New Order regime.

The “Salim” name, according to the magazine, means “three brothers”, and originated from the word “San”, meaning “three” in English.

Liem was born on July 16, 1916, as the second son of three children of a farmer in Fuqing, Fujian, China.

He first came to Indonesia in 1936 when he joined his brother Liem Sioe Hie and brother-in-law Zheng Xusheng on a trade trip to Medan, North Sumatra,.

Liem then moved to Kudus, Central Java, to start up a clove distributorship, which grew rapidly due to the high popularity of kretek (clove cigarettes).

During the Soeharto era, the Salim Group flourished thanks to Liem’s close relations with the late tyrant.

The Salim Group owns consumer goods company PT Indofood Sukses Makmur, the world’s largest noodle producer.

Liem passed away at Raffles Hospital at around 3 p.m. local time on Sunday. He was 95.

The founder of Central Bank Asia (BCA) is survived by his wife Lie Las Nio and children Albert, Andre, Anthony and Mira.

His son Anthony is heir to the Salim Group.

Filed under lim sioe Liong soedono salim indonesia's richest tycoon seodono salim died anthony salim the salim group PT indofood sukses makmur the world's largest noodle producer

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Chinese Indonesians Come Full Circle

Zakir Hussain - Straits Times 

Andrew Susanto did not realize he was Chinese until he was in his teens, when some of his secondary school classmates pointed it out and picked on him.

“It was not a good memory,” he recalls. “But I knew this was my country, and I loved it.”

His doctor parents, like many other civil servants under the New Order — the period under then President Suharto’s rule from 1967 to 1998 — had to downplay their ethnicity. But Susanto could not escape from it being a part of how others saw him.

The 34-year-old businessman heads the Chinese-Indonesian Youth Association (Ipti). Late last year, he helped form the Association of Peranakan Tionghoa, which aims to raise awareness of the community’s culture and how it has been intertwined with other cultures for centuries.

It is part of an ongoing effort by Chinese Indonesians to talk about their identity and role more openly in a society where a number still cling to misconceptions about the Chinese and their loyalties, years after the state formally banned distinctions between pribumi or indigenous Indonesians and non-pribumi in 1998.

More are also increasingly confident of identifying themselves as Chinese.

In the 2010 census, some 3.7 percent of the population, or 8.8 million people, said they were Chinese, making them the third-largest ethnic group after Javanese and Sundanese, and just ahead of Malays.

Ten years earlier, only 1.2 percent, or 2.4 million people, reported they were Chinese — a fact observers pin down as a legacy of the Suharto years and the 1998 riots involving anti-Chinese violence.

Singapore Management University (SMU) academic Hoon Chang Yau, whose research includes Chinese Indonesians, says: “People have become quite comfortable in the past 10 years, and that’s why more Peranakan or Chinese identify (themselves) as such now. There’s a sense of pride in being Chinese.”

But there are also concerns that many Indonesians stereotype them as being rich and aloof because they dominate the ranks of the top industrialists, although many struggle to make ends meet like other citizens.

Two new books also aim to show that the community is far from homogenous and shares the same hopes and dreams as other Indonesian citizens.

Portraits Of Inspiring Chinese-Indonesian Women, by Aimee Dawis, tells the story of nine leading women role models and how they overcame barriers.

They include badminton star Susi Susanti who, when asked about riots targeting Chinese Indonesians while at a tournament in Hong Kong in 1998, said she was an Indonesian first and foremost and would not hesitate to keep representing her country.

Peranakan Chinese In The Indonesian Archipelago by senior Kompas journalist Iwan Santosa depicts how Chinese Indonesians interact with local communities from Aceh to Papua.

Misperceptions of the Chinese are a legacy of history: In 1965, following a failed coup attempt that was blamed on the communists, scores of ethnic Chinese were killed and had their properties looted and burnt as part of a purge of supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party accused of having close links with China.

The Suharto regime urged citizens of Chinese descent to take on Indonesian names to prove their loyalty, closed Chinese schools and imposed curbs on celebrating the culture and the learning of Mandarin.

It was only three decades later, following the riots that toppled President Suharto, that these policies were reversed.

Fourteen years on, many Chinese Indonesians are using Mandarin names and learning the language. Chinese schools, newspapers and community organizations are flourishing once more.

Academic Dawis, who teaches communication and cultural studies at the University of Indonesia, believes much of this renewed interest has to do with the rise of China as a political and economic power. However, many are also opting to retain their Indonesianized family names, and giving Mandarin a pass — like Susanto.

“For many now, Chinese names are not cool and difficult to pronounce,” he quips.

Groups like Ipti are also lobbying to include the contributions of Chinese throughout Indonesia’s history in school textbooks — to get more of the young to follow suit.

Its 4,000 members in 13 provinces organize blood donations, charity drives and political discussions. Susanto believes Chinese Indonesians must balance their rights with the responsibility to give to society.

But SMU’s assistant professor Hoon believes it will take more than 10 or 15 years to clear up misunderstandings.

Susanto is more hopeful, saying: “Chinese have been part and parcel of Indonesia for generations, and much of our food and language evolved from this assimilation and interaction.”

He adds: “We have been different from the start, but difference is what makes this country united.”

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Abandoned baby found alive in plastic bag in East Java

A Larangan district resident in Pamekasan regency, East Java, found a newborn baby dumped in a gutter, wrapped in a plastic bag, apparently abandoned only hours after its birth.

Abdul Malik, 30, said that he was about to attend a friend’s wedding when he heard the baby crying.

When he asked local residents, none of them knew who dumped the baby. He decided to take the baby back to his house.

"I asked the local residents for a cardboard box and some baby blankets so that the baby didn’t freeze on our way home," Malik said on Thursday, as quoted

Once home, Malik’s mother, Suhairiyah, immediately called a doctor.

"I felt sympathy for the baby because black ants had crawled all over the baby’s body. The baby’s entire body was red, and was covered in ant bites. Fortunately, none of the ants have entered the baby’s nose or ears," Suhairiyah said.

The baby’s placenta was also still attached.

The baby has already been reported to local officials.

Abdul’s wife, Nurrahmah, said that she would raise the baby until it reached adulthood.

As of this reporting, the baby remains nameless.

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Made in China: an Austrian village

HUIZHOU, China (Reuters) - A $940 million Chinese clone of one of Austria’s most picturesque villages, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hallstatt, recently opened its doors to visitors in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong amidst some controversy.

In a nation known for its skill in manufacturing knock-offs ranging iPhones to Hermes Birkins, the replica village is perhaps the most ambitious attempt at Chinese reproduction yet.

The “Made in China” version of the lakeside European village known for tourism and salt includes an exact replica of its church clock tower, European style wooden houses and other properties that will be sold to investors.

The project, conceived by a Chinese mining tycoon, initially sparked outrage and surprise among some Hallstatt villagers, who weren’t at first aware of the attempt to copy their unique, centuries-old home.

Half an hour’s ride away from the gritty city of Huizhou, close to China’s “world factory” of the Pearl River Delta, China’s Hallstatt hopes to become a new tourist attraction. Disney-themed photo spots are scattered around the village’s main plaza, which is modeled after Hallstatt’s marketplace.

"The moment I stepped into here, I felt I was in Europe," said 22-year-old Zhu Bin, a Huizhou resident. "The security guards wear nice costumes. All the houses are built in European style."

Taking up one million square meters (yards), cranes and construction sites spread across barren hills above the gabled houses, promising an expansion of the current town. Despite the initial mixed response, local authorities in Hallstatt have since softened their stance, seeing a rare, marketing opportunity at the heart of one of the world’s fastest growing tourism markets.

"It was not so controversial. We were only surprised that a small village in Austria was built, and now we are very proud that it happened," said Hallstatts Mayor Alexander Scheutz, who flew with an Austrian delegation to mark the official opening and signed documents promising future cultural ties.

Visitors and journalists filming on site last Friday were asked to leave shortly before Scheutz’s unannounced visit. Director of Tourism Hallstatt, Pamela Binder, said Hallstatt had made peace with its Chinese replica.

"First we were a bit insecure. Why did it come to replicate Hallstatt, and then we became lucky and proud," Binder said.

Fewer than 50 Chinese tourists visited Hallstatt in 2005, but now thousands fly to the Austrian town every year, according to officials from the Austrian delegation in China. But some Hallstadt residents remained unconvinced.

"I don´t think that it is a good idea. Hallstatt is just unique with its culture and traditions. You cannot copy that. I saw a report and the photos, and the copy seems different. In my opinion it is unacceptable," said resident Karin Höll.

(Reporting by Venus Wu, Editing by James Pomfret and Elaine Lies)

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The Raid Stars Going to Hollywood

JAKARTA: The Raid star Yayan Ruhian says he will fly to Los Angeles, California, in July to help with the remake of the action movie.

Yayan Ruhian

The 43-year-old will team up with actor Iko Uwais to choreograph the remake of The Raid by a Hollywood studio. 

“We will not be in the movie,” he said as quoted by on Tuesday night. 

Yayan said Sony Pictures had shown interest in remaking the successful film.

Iko Uwais in The Raid (2011)


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