Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Where are the pirate copies of The Legend of King Naresuan?

Want to see Spiderman 3? Online or on the streets of Bangkok it's no problem to find a copy. Looking for a pirate copy of 'The Legend of King Naresuan'? It seems you won't find it. Why? It seems that it's tabu to pirate copies of a movie about a Thai King in Thailand. According to a recent AsiaSentinel article:

By all accounts, most pirates have agreed to avoid copying the flag-waving films directed by Chatrichalerm Yukol, a prince’s son. The military leaders have lauded the patriotism of the movies, which offer a pseudo-historical look at how King Naresuan won Thailand’s independence from Burma (for a comprehensive look at the film’s accuracy, see this column by Chang Noi from the Nation Newspaper.)

Another film directed by Chatrichalerm a few years back called The Legend of Suriyothai received similar treatment from DVD pirates. It also dealt with Thais fighting against Burmese invaders, and served as a prelude to The Legend of King Naresuan.

“For King Nauresuan and the Suriyothai movie, although no one has formally documented this, there seemed to be a tacit agreement between producers and distributors that the products would not be found on the streets,” a long-time industry executive in Bangkok said in an interview. “Both Suriyothai and King Naresuan received government financing and royal financing, so they were treated differently. They are in their own sub-class of Thai movies.”

As for reviews of the movie, it seems that while a artful cinimatic display, some people doubt the purpose of this film:

What, then, is the focus of the film? I am tempted to say nationalism. King Naresuan and his associates demonstrate infallible hero qualities—sacrificing own lives to save the rest , mastering the art of war to defeat a seemingly impenetrable fortress and to defend the people’s independence, and respecting the battle rule by letting the opponents collect their dead remains and by never resorting to terrorism. In short, they come to symbolize the ideal Thais, who are, as goes a line in the Thai national anthem, “peace-loving but unafraid to fight”.

And from The Nation, Chang Noi writes:

The fact that Than Mui's films are launched when Thailand is again ruled by the military might be seen as pure coincidence … or as no coincidence at all.


Friday, May 25, 2007

"I Want My YouTube" T-Shirt

Even though there's nothing new under the sun, it's time to let your friends, family, and government know how you feel with this throwback "I Want My YouTube" T-shirt. Perfectly appropriate for the current political climate. Especially one where THE MAN is trying to block your MTV YouTube fix.
i want my youtube

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Rising Awareness of Thailand Net Censorship

From Bangkok Post: "'A major complaint about Thaksin [Shinawatra] was his muzzling of the media and willingness to limit free speech,' said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. 'The military-backed government promised a quick return to democracy, but it's now attacking freedom of expression and political pluralism in ways that Thaksin never dared.'

Censorship of the Internet, which currently is being carried out by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and the Royal Thai Police, in collaboration with the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) and the Telecommunications Authority, has blocked many political websites and blogs.

Wrangling over the blocking of YouTube due to content on the site related to His Majesty the King has also raised global concerns about the future of freedom of expression and the Internet in Thailand.

'The military and government are clearly worried that Thaksin may return to power and are engaging in censorship to stop this,' said Mr Adams.

'But instead of resorting to draconian restrictions on free speech, the Thai authorities need to realise that their promised return to democracy requires opening the political process.' "

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

99 Elephants

These guys know how to protest:
Authorities are preparing to stop 99 elephants and thousands of villagers from entering Thailand's capital to protest the possible dissolution of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's political party, the military said on Wednesday.

"The authorities are trying to convince the elephant owners not to bring their animals to Bangkok. We have to use all means to stop the elephants from joining the political rally," said Prayuth Chanocha, commander of the 1st Army, which is responsible for peacekeeping in Bangkok.

Update: Police chief Adisorn Nonsee says, "Both the mahouts and their elephants would be arrested...."

Elephants will be arrested? Is there an Elephant Jail?


Bangkok Drag Avenue

I had a chance to check out Bangkok Drag Avenue up in Patum Thani (near Alpine golf course). A fun way to spend a Saturday evening. They have a quarter mile track where all classes of car can race side by side. I saw times range from 9-14 seconds. You need a car to go (no taxis around), and there is an entrance fee (240 baht ?). Some YouTube clips here. Photos. Google Map location.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Earthquake felt in Bangkok

This earthquake has just been felt in Bangkok. Update: Media coverage.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What's the deal with those big ass Thai amulet necklaces?

Glad you asked! Those are Jatukarm Ramathep amulets. Who is Jatukarm Ramathep? Well, according to this recent Editoral, entitled, "The facts behind the Jatukam Ramathep talisman nonsense" in The Nation:

As a result they have confused the two guardian deities, Khattugama and Ramadeva, and conflated and corrupted their names, producing Jatukam Ramathep, a single deity without a historical background.

History or no history, if you want to jump on this tailsman fad, you can get yours on EBAY.
You can even get the T-shirt. More thoughts.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Idle threats make big news on Slashdot

Well, whose ever bright idea it was to publish a story that Thailand was planning to sue YouTube got that whole mess Slashdotted. Comment from the site:

when you attempt to censor something, anything, you just give whatever it is free advertising

i'm glad the thais love their king. but if they are secure in their love for their king, the existence of these videos won't mean anything to them. by freaking out at the existence of these videos, they only demonstrate insecurity on their part, and they cheapen and devalue their love for their king

same when deeply religious people freak out at some sort of sacriledge. with dignity and ignoring the sacriledge, they show the depth of their love, by turning into ravenous dogs, they only denigrate their faith, such as with devout muslims and pictures of muhammad, or devout catholics and depicitions of the virgin mary

if your faith or love is storng, idiots and childish pranks don't move you. if it does move you, it only shows your love or faith is cheap and shallow and insecure

Lets add ICT Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom to the list of people not helping Thailand's image.

UPDATE: Now he's not going to sue.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Bomb blast in Thai capital wounds 1

Does this even deserve to make headlines in this day and age? :Bomb blast in Thai capital wounds 1 - USATODAY.com: "Bomb blast in Thai capital wounds 1" In any given day, people are dying from bombs ever, so is "slightly injuring a 22-year-old man" worthy of a USA Today headline?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

USA for innovation - what's it all about?

This quote from Salon.com:

USA for Innovation is a non-profit advocacy group whose primary purpose is to lobby for maximum strength intellectual property protection for American corporations. Its founder and executive director is Ken Adelman, a current member of the Defense Policy Board and long time Don Rumsfeld crony.

USA for Innovation's beef has to do with the decision by Thailand's Ministry of Health to issue compulsory licenses breaking the patents on a couple of AIDS drugs made by multinational pharmaceutical companies, including Merck's Efavirenz and Abbott Laboratories' Kaletra. The showdown has nothing at all to do with the outsourcing of jobs; it is, instead, ground zero in a globally intensifying struggle over making state-of-the-art drugs affordable for sick people in developing countries. Abbott Laboratories was initially so enraged by Thailand's effrontery that the company has threatened to stop introducing any of its new drugs in Thailand, but it has since backed down and offered to sell Kaletra at a greatly reduced price.

And here is the resulting trouble they caused for Thailand. More from other Thai blogs here, here, and here.

2Bangkok.com turns 8 years old.

Congratulations to 2Bangkok.com. After 8 years of coding away, they have finally found themselves a the forefront of news gathering blogs in Thailand. They started back when mWeb (still using blinking text guys?) and eThailand.com (nice front page SQL error) were throwing money around in the dot com bubble. Hey 2Bangkok - these stats should serve as a bit of a reward for sticking with it.

Ron Morris writes: What is 2Bangkok.com? In 1999 we were called a "portal." Today, doing the same thing, we are called a "blog." I have no doubt that in another few years time there will be a new category to place 2Bangkok.com in.

What 2Bangkok does is to continue to focus on news you can't find anywhere else--politics, Thai mass transit, development, and anything interesting in the Thai world.

Keep up the good work guys... but can we expect RSS feeds anytime soon?