Chinese human rights attorneys established their sights on smog


BEIJING: Toxic smog has discovered by itself in the dock in China, as the authorities are taken to court about a issue that has choked whole regions, place public wellbeing at hazard and forced the closure of educational facilities and streets.

At the helm is a team of human rights attorneys, who despite increasing governing administration hostility to their operate on some of China’s most delicate conditions, say well-known emotion is at the rear of them when it comes to pollution that is practically off the charts.

“Chinese men and women aren’t far too concerned about societal difficulties and factors that are not occurring to them individually, but this difficulty is distinctive: every person is a sufferer and is individually influenced by respiration polluted air,” law firm Yu Wensheng explained to AFP.

Yu Wensheng states the Chinese governing administration should really bear duty for its function in the pollution. (Photograph: AFP)

He is between a team of six attorneys who started submitting their suits in December soon after a choking cloud of haze descended on China’s northeast, impacting some 460 million men and women.

The campaign comes amid rising public anger about China’s terrible air, which has fuelled protests and spurred emigration between the wealthy.

Yu, who has defended well known civil rights attorneys qualified by the governing administration and men and women detained for supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy motion, mentioned the relevance and influence of the pollution accommodate “considerably exceeds” his earlier human rights conditions.

Even acquaintances opposed to Yu’s politics and law enforcement at a client’s detention centre experienced expressed aid, he mentioned, noting it was “really uncommon”.

‘MOSTLY SYMBOLIC’

Even so, there are worries authorities might be attempting to muzzle on-line dialogue on the difficulty and quell discontent by suppressing data on air high quality.

In December, a week of thick haze forced cities throughout the northeast to go on “purple alert” for virtually a week, closing educational facilities, factories and design web pages and getting all over half of motor vehicles off the streets.

As visibility dropped and airports cancelled hundreds of flights, men and women took to social media to vent their rage versus a governing administration that experienced lengthy promised to fix the issue.

But reviews about the weighty smog swiftly started disappearing from the net.

On Wednesday, the Meteorological Administration also ordered regional weather conditions bureaus to halt issuing smog alerts, which authorities mentioned was meant to boost coordination.

A document submitted by Yu’s affiliate to the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court accused the governing administration of “intense dereliction of duty” in pollution administration and sacrificing human wellbeing in pursuit of “toxic GDP growth” by turning a blind eye to the extreme emissions of regional businesses.

The attorneys have tiny hope of profitable or even effectively submitting their conditions and are viewing the suits as “mainly symbolic”, Yu mentioned.

The document questioned for authorities to publish an apology on-line and in the regional point out-operate newspaper for a week, and hand about payment of 65 yuan ($9.50) for the rate of his smog mask and 9,999 yuan for psychological damages.

He hopes the suits will aid continue to keep the difficulty in the public eye, adding he wants to encourage other individuals to file problems.

“Our main purpose is to increase people’s recognition of pollution and wake them up to how the governing administration should really bear duty for its inaction and ineffectual reaction,” he mentioned.

Notably, China can obvious the skies for critical events this sort of as the 2014 APEC summit or the 2008 Olympics, but does so selectively because of to the higher financial charge.

“They can do it, but they do not,” Yu mentioned.

‘SMOG VICTIMS OURSELVES’

A different law firm Ma Wei, who is suing the city of Tianjin, mentioned he has acquired no formal reaction even months soon after the court was lawfully expected to difficulty one particular.

Instead, the public safety bureau and other authorities have attempted to stress him to retract his accommodate.

“I refused and explained to them, ‘I’m undertaking this so that you can breathe clean up air, far too,'” he mentioned.

The attorneys are utilised to harassment. Because President Xi Jinping arrived to electrical power in 2012, the region has cracked down on civil rights defenders.

Nevertheless the governing administration in the beginning qualified political activists and human rights campaigners, it has increasingly turned its awareness to the legal professionals who characterize them.

In 2014, authorities imprisoned and tortured Yu for 99 days for allegedly “disturbing public order”.

Continue to, he is not fearful.

“We are attorneys,” he mentioned, “but also first and foremost citizens and smog victims ourselves.”

“If we do factors in accordance to the regulation and even now get detained,” he included, “it will be just the point to display men and women the accurate character of our so-named ‘rule of law’.”



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Trump spokesman Spicer slams US media above inaugural crowd coverage


Washington – Donald Trump and his chief spokesman introduced an unparalleled assault on the media Saturday for a US president’s to start with whole day in business, accusing reporters of downplaying the turnout at his inauguration.

Trump, traveling to the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in nearby Langley, Virginia, insisted versus all proof that he drew 1.5 million persons to his Friday swearing-in ceremony.

“I built a speech. I appeared out, the subject was, it appeared like a million, million and a half persons,” he told CIA employees.

“They showed a subject in which there had been almost no person standing there. And they explained, Donald Trump did not draw very well,” he added.

Trump explained just one community approximated turnout at 250,000.

“Now, which is not terrible. But it can be a lie,” Trump explained. He falsely claimed there had been persons stretching from the measures of the Capitol, in which he spoke, alongside 20 blocks back again to the Washington Monument.

“So we caught them and we caught them in a elegance and I imagine they are going to pay back a significant value,” explained Trump.

White Home push secretary Sean Spicer doubled down on the accusation, utilizing his to start with push convention in the White Home briefing space to blast the journalists seated ahead of him for “intentionally untrue reporting” on crowd dimension.

“This was the major viewers to ever witness an inauguration, period of time!” Spicer explained, his loud and abrasive tone catching approximately every person in the space off guard.

“These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and incorrect.”

Spicer left the briefing devoid of using thoughts.

An approximated 1.eight million persons flooded the Nationwide Shopping mall space in 2009 when Barack Obama was to start with sworn in as president, according to federal and community agencies at the time.

Washington authorities reportedly predicted 800,000 to 900,000 would attend Trump’s inauguration Friday, about half of the 2009 crowd.

Aerial shots of Donald Trump’s inauguration (left) and Barack Obama’s in 2009, viewed from the Washington Monument. (Image: Reuters)

‘PACKED’

Spicer appeared eager to lay down the new regulation with the push, whom his boss frequently criticized on the campaign trail and even branded mainstream media outlets “faux news.”

The depth of Spicer’s supply recommended he and Trump had been furious at the coverage of the inauguration, which lots of outlets explained fell very well quick of Obama’s 2009 inaugural in conditions of crowd dimension.

A comparison of aerial pics taken on January 20, 2009 and Friday show up to bear that out.

Washington city authorities do not give official crowd counts but Television footage plainly showed the accumulating did not extend all the way to the Washington Monument as Trump asserted.

Trump’s newest attack on news businesses arrived in the course of a rambling apart as he frequented CIA headquarters on a fence-mending mission soon after his public rejection of the evaluation by US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled to consider to support him acquire the November election.

Trump, standing in front of a place sacred to the CIA – a wall with stars honoring staff members killed whilst serving the country – proclaimed he is totally at the rear of the spy agency.

He finally returned to the problem of media coverage of his inauguration and explained the Nationwide Shopping mall, divided up into sections for Friday’s ceremony, was uniformly crammed with persons.

“You observed that. Packed. I get up this early morning, I change on just one of the networks, and they present an empty subject. I am like, wait around a moment,” he explained.

The outrage above crowd dimension arrived on a day that as lots of as two million persons flooded into streets of metropolitan areas across the United States in peaceful but passionate gals-led protests versus the new commander-in-chief.

At the major “Women’s March on Washington,” organizers put the projected turnout at half a million.



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Using tobacco out the supply of China&#039s smog


QIAN’AN, CHINA: Working day and night time, massive chimneys belch out thick smoke into the often-grey skies on the outskirts of Qian’an city, about 220 kilometres southeast of Beijing.

Steel mills close to the spot have been recognized by the federal government as among the significant emitters of air pollutants in northern China.

Songting village lies at the coronary heart of the spot. It is dubbed “the supply of Beijing’s smog” by some community media and inhabitants have also complained about yellowish floor h2o. 

The seemingly uninteresting village is also closely guarded, tucked amongst metal mills Jiujiang Wire and Hebei Shougang Qian’an Iron and Steel, as very well as a coal chemical plant. 

According to Chinese media experiences, the pollution is so bad that a lot of villagers have died from cancer and other health problems.

On Channel NewsAsia’s initially pay a visit to to the village, we had been tailed by a white car so we did not cease right up until we experienced remaining the spot. But we went back again all over again in the afternoon. 

All through our quick pay a visit to, the village appeared abandoned with a lot of homes overgrown with weed and we did not see any inhabitants. When we exited the village, we had been blocked by a car whose driver bought out to just take pics of our vehicle.

And when we tried out to leave Qian’an, there had been cars tailing us for virtually an hour. It was distinct anyone did not want the tale to be advised. 

Dong Liansai, a local climate and vitality campaigner from Greenpeace, said: “This displays that they lack the awareness, and also, the fines for violating emission targets could be too reduced. So it is not ample to discourage them from polluting the natural environment and they sense that by shelling out some resources to chase absent people today who go there to investigate, it’ll be ok.”

Channel NewsAsia did not get to talk to any villagers in Songting, but inhabitants in the close by village of Ma’ke showed us the sediments that had been remaining powering soon after their very well h2o was provided time to settle. They also said that no matter how a lot of periods they cleaned their property, it was normally protected in a layer of dust. 

Just one of them, Madam Wang, said: “The air pollution is not great for the lungs and we really don’t dare to … drink the h2o. If we have the economic implies to shift absent, of system we want to.” 

Inhabitants in a village in Qian’an say their very well h2o has been influenced by the smog. (Picture: Jeremy Koh)

Other inhabitants echoed her sentiments. 

Just one who did not want to be named said: “Of system we’re fearful about our well being. Several listed here have died from health problems in their 50s. It’s not simple to diagnose. There have been mind hemorrhages and several have died from coronary heart assaults.” 

An additional said: “I’m fearful, but what can I do? No a person cares. I want to leave, but if I leave, how can I endure? If I remain on, at least I can work and endure.”

Additional than 3 a long time of breakneck economic development has put a strain on China’s air, soil and h2o. In recent decades, China has manufactured combating pollution a major precedence, but that perseverance appears to be to have been weakened a short while ago by the need to have to assist development as the Communist Celebration receives completely ready for a as soon as-just about every-5-decades congress afterwards this year.

Just as the federal government declared stabilising economic development final year, severe and prolonged smog returned. 

Mr Dong from Greenpeace said: “We see that there are supervision mechanisms, but why are this sort of mechanisms unable to effect a favourable transform?

“To begin with, can this sort of mechanisms give firms a signal, a warning to exhibit them that items are not how they had been a couple of decades ago, and that you will be punished if you really don’t do a great work in shielding the natural environment? And also, are this sort of mechanisms inadequate?”

A resident of a village in Qian’an exhibiting the layer of smoke on his windowsill. (Picture: Jeremy Koh)

He additional: “Several people today even now feel they can get absent with pollution. In other text, they’re going to feel that there usually are not a lot of cats to catch the rats and everyone’s a rat, so probably they will never be caught.”

For inhabitants residing at floor zero of China’s fight from pollution, the long term is definitely foggy. 



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iKONCERT 2016 Showtime Tour in Singapore – Movie ID



iKON will complete at Singapore Indoor Stadium on 24th July 2016, Sunday. To get your tickets, log on to http://www.sportshubtix.sg or phone 3158 7888. For a lot more information and facts, stop by http://www.unconventional.com.sg.

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The young are suffering from an options paralysis: Najip Ali


SINGAPORE: He has been in the business for over 25 years. During that time, Najip Ali has entertained and no doubt provoked, from time to time.

His love of the arts burgeoned during his time in National Service when he joined the SAF Music and Drama Company and since then, his work has spanned television, theatre and music.

In 1992, he co-anchored Fuji Television’s Asia Bagus and for 10 years, where it became a training ground for him to learn from some of Japan’s best variety show producers. Since then, his body of work has travelled beyond Singapore to TV stations like ASTRO, Indosiar and TV3.

Together with his production company, Dua M, he is also helping define Malay entertainment and promoting Asian artistes overseas.

He went “On the Record” with Bharati Jagdish about the arts, identity and culture, but first, why he decided this was what he wanted to do so many years ago.

Najip Ali: When I was starting out, we didn’t have many things. We didn’t have many channels to look into. So there was possibility – the idea of potential, the idea of possibility was vast. We didn’t have many theatre companies. There was only one Malay TV channel. That gave you the idea that you can do lots of things because there was great potential for development. It was the energy at that time in the 80s, early 90s. You wanted to connect yourself to the bigger world. The Internet was coming. So that idea of anticipating that things will be bigger than who you are and what you are and Singapore is going to be bigger than what it is, made you want to move in that direction. I wanted to do more. I wanted to try out many different things.

AN OPTIONS PARALYSIS

Bharati: How different would you say are things for budding entertainers today?
Najip: I don’t know whether it’s a problem but it’s certainly an issue of choices. When we have too many options, we are paralysed. It’s an options paralysis because what happens is that when we have too many options and don’t have the skills and knowledge to choose what’s good for us, we stop doing things. And I think that’s what’s happening now because the kids say to me: “Abang (Brother) Najib, I want to do this.” But they are not doing anything. They’re just talking about the options and choices they have, but they’re not choosing it because maybe they don’t know who they are, what they are good at in order to evolve with the craft that they want to do.

In the world of creativity, you have to do stuff. You have to carry on doing things to grow because there’s no revolution without personal evolution. You have to evolve yourself, personally with your work.

Bharati: Some might say the availability of more opportunities is actually an advantage. You took advantage of opportunities all those years ago. Why do you think it’s not panning out that way for the people you meet today?

Najip: I think there is a lot of fear. Fear and insecurity. They worry about things like how many “likes” do I have? How many “dislikes” on Facebook? The problem with people who are not confident is that they tend to compare themselves with other people rather than focus on who they are and what they are doing and do it well.

Also, they don’t have the time to do it, because everything is available at their fingertips. But sometimes, going slow can be a good thing. A very good example: When I was younger and if I did not know what the word “schizophrenia” meant; just looking at that word brought great imagination. While you’re waiting to look it up in the dictionary or encyclopedia, you have that sense of imagination. That became knowledge after you looked it up, but that moment of looking for the word created a huge imagination for me.

Right now, you would just Google it. So what does that do to you? I don’t know. Has that stunted your imagination? Or made you lazy? I know in my growing-up years, when I didn’t know something, I imagined. And this imagination led to my creativity, created possibilities of what I could do and what I wanted to do.

Bharati: So instant gratification and a fear of failure could be killing risk-taking and creativity. What do you think can be done about this?

Najip: The world of creativity is very subjective. What I think is good, you may think is bad. So the best thing to do is for all people who have ideas and knowledge to just do it. They need to do it. It’s about doing it and progressing with that and learning from that. By doing, you’re also taking risks. By doing, you’re also learning stuff. By doing, you also know your weakness – what you can do or can’t do. And I think that’s important in Singapore. Rather than being just over-educated and less experienced, they need to mould experience with knowledge.

A very good example is my Singaporean worker who says: “Let’s buy a new computer to edit stuff”, but in Indonesia, I realise that they use the same computer but they know so much about how to use it and take it beyond, because that’s all they have and they work themselves into learning that process, doing with the limitations that they have. That limitation propels them to become better than anyone else, whereas here, they just want to have the best thing, the latest stuff, but have you evolved with the machine? Have you evolved with the idea? Have you understood what is needed as a responsibility to your own craft?

THINKING TWICE

Bharati: The thing about Singapore, and many artists have told me this, is that people think twice about going into the arts and entertainment industry, and this might happen in other parts of the world as well, but may be more pronounced here because we are so focused on making a living. A career in the arts is not as “safe” as some other careers. What made you take that risk all those years ago?

Najip: When I took those risks, I didn’t think of them as risks because I think when you’re an artist, it’s all about what you call passion. They say passion doesn’t pay but I think passion does pay if you are really passionate. If you do it well, the money will come. Other artists might encourage the young to join the arts and entertainment scene. I don’t discourage it, but I do think they should think twice. They should think twice in Singapore because arts and entertainment is a lot of work and it’s a very small market. In a very small market, you have to understand that small market and its limitations. That’s why if you’re a graphic designer, you also have to write something, blog for example. If you are writing about food, you have to try it yourself – cook, be a baker.

In Singapore, no matter how much you do, you will find the wall, the limitation and especially in the arts and entertainment scene. You have only so many theatres. You have only so many companies. How far do you go? If you’re in SOTA (School of the Arts Singapore), and you learn to be the best ballet dancer, where can you go to be a ballet dancer?

Bharati: You could always go overseas or market yourself to an overseas audience online. Even businesses are being urged to internationalise.

Najip: Yes, so you have to be very careful. You have to be very wise. You have to have the determination, extra tenacity, extra passion, extra wisdom to be in arts and entertainment.
And try out things.

SINGAPORE AS A STEPPING STONE

Bharati: You also work to promote and gain recognition for Asian talent beyond Singapore through your work as creative director for Dua M productions. Where are we in regard to propelling Asian talent?

Najip: I’ve been working in Indonesia and Malaysia and in those countries, they have a lot of support. So in order for any talent to really realise their potential, there must be a certain type of industry that’s doing it. An industry that says: “I pick you to be the next big thing”. Then resources will go to you and you will flourish. Do we have that in Singapore? I’m not so sure. I don’t think so because for example, we only have one Malay TV channel which is Suria. Where is the competition? In other countries, there might be five great channels or twenty great channels and they compete for talent. If I pick you to be the star, I will support you. You will speak for me and you will be the hero for the next three to five years.

Bharati: However, one could say that there is competition here too. It’s global competition, isn’t it? Singaporeans have online access to content from all over the world today.

Najip: This is why we need to think differently now. From the beginning, when I became a producer and a director, I told myself I’m not doing things for the 450,000 Singaporean Malays. I am doing things for the 350 million Malay-speaking audience around the world. I think the good thing about Malay Singaporeans is that they can be part of the bigger world. And people like Aaron Aziz have done this. But it’s always about sustaining and maintaining because the wheel of the industry is always looking for the fresh and the new. But Singapore is a good place especially for young people to try out a pilot programme or to do the one music single.

Bharati: So it’s a stepping stone?

Najip: It’s a great stepping stone and always keep yourself aware of what is going on. But I think because there are so many choices now, you have to be really, really good. Work on your craft. Singapore is a very good space where you can get seed money to do a pilot programme or even the film that you want to make. Not many other places have this. Here, you can go to the National Arts Council and even if you get only S$1,000, if you are really passionate about it, S$1,000 is enough to carry on with the ideas.

(Photo courtesy of Najip Ali)

WESTERN SENSIBILITIES AND ASIAN SENSITIVITIES

Bharati: How successfully would you say you have managed to reach out to the 350 million Malay-speaking members of the audience in the region?

Najip: I thought it was easy, but it’s tough. I can interpret an idea with a Singaporean sensibility into one with a Malaysian-ness but there needs to be an openness. Right now, I’m not so sure but there seems to be a nationalistic feeling in other countries. Language and religion are common, but the rest is still flexible. It’s malleable and that’s actually a good thing.

Bharati: So how do you hope to exploit that in the future? In order to get your work out there, influence more people.

Najip: This is the beauty of what today is all about. Technology has created this big monster. At the same time, it’s a good monster because it allows me to reach out. You have to think about who would care about what you have to say. Today, it’s not about reaching a mass audience all the time. For example, in Indonesia, there is different entertainment for the ibus (aunties) and different entertainment for the bapaks (uncles). You cannot pull them all into a variety show for the masses. It’s a variety show for a specific demographic. It’s very segmented, very targeted. And that in itself is a new mindset that I have to adopt. That is progression which I think is exciting.

Bharati: You don’t just do Malay entertainment though. You also do English programming and a variety of other things. What are the challenges there considering the competition? With greater accessibility, again, it’s global.

Najip: I think it’s worse in the English department. Your competition is not TV3. It’s not ASTRO. It’s the whole English-speaking world. The people who compare you are the English- educated who are more exposed and they will say: “I don’t like that. It’s a copy.” So it’s hard. But in the Malay world, you still have some of the Malaysians in rural areas who are not exposed. So if a person for example, copies the Jimmy Fallon show, they won’t know it’s a copy and they’ll think he’s a genius.

Bharati: But why fall into copying to begin with?

Najip: Good question. Because it’s easy to copy and get away with murder. It’s easy to do it. Some people say why reinvent the wheel? I always believe in the culture of interpretation rather than the culture of imitation. For example, I started with a program called “Kopi O, Teh Tarik”, my own talk show that has run for many years. I thought there’s Jimmy Fallon, there’s David Letterman, Jay Leno, so how do I do Najip Ali without calling it “The Najip Ali Show”? So “Kopi O, Teh Tarik” is an interpretation of an idea because every Malay guy, when they want to talk about something, they can’t go to clubs. So where to they go? To the coffeeshop, hence “Kopi O, Teh Tarik”.

Over teh tarik, we have great conversations. So that’s my idea of interpretation rather than imitation. I keep challenging myself in interpreting these ideas. So I think that’s why I’m still around. It’s because I may have Western sensibilities, but I have Asian sensitivities. And when they clash, it becomes a new idea and that has become my principle or my philosophy.

Bharati: You once said the Chinese have Kung Fu, the Indians have Bollywood, what do the Malays have to show to the world? Have you found the answer to that?

Najip: I did a talk when I was invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to go to four cities in America to talk about this. So what do the Malays have? So I said ketupat. I was making fun of the idea of the ketupat because if you look at some of the designers now, you’ll notice they make handbags that look like the ketupat leaves. So I started with that. I’ve noticed that the people in America or even in London where I’ve spoken before, don’t know what Malay actually is. The idea of us being a new breed in the eye of the world is exciting for me.

So if you say “Chinese”, people think Kung Fu. If you say “Indian”, it’s Bollywood. It’s almost become a caricature of the race, but if you think of the Malay, they’re not yet a character in the eye of the world. What can we project into the world before we are being caricatured by the world? That is something we have to think about.

Bharati: While Kung Fu and Bollywood might be a reflection of good branding, the stereotyping isn’t ideal, is it?

Najip: I used to think I wanted the branding, but maybe not.

Bharati: So what do you want to project in terms of identity and branding?

Najip: The ability of this race to progress by interpreting things because most of our work, whether it’s Joget, whether it’s Ghazal, there’s no real originality. It could be Arabic influence or Indonesian influence. Our folk dancing is actually an interpretation, a hybrid, an evolution of the things that came to this part of the world and we took it and mashed it up.

Bharati: So you want to be known as a culture that is able improvise and evolve?

Najip: We have been doing that for many, many years. It’s dynamic. Not only are we able to do that, we are able to embrace it without complaints. We embrace it with great humility also. We are able to say that this comes from another world and we are able to say: “Hey, let’s enjoy this together.” Let’s not be worried about what other people think about it. Sometimes it’s the idea of some people labelling you that is the problem.

(Photo courtesy of Najip Ali)

OVERCOMING PERSONAL INSECURITIES

Bharati: What went into developing your own unique style over the years?

Najip: Well, if you ask me why I wear funny glasses and before, even hats, it’s because I hated my hair and it’s because I’m blind.

Bharati: Well, it looks like you like your hair more now because you’re not wearing a hat today.

Najip: As you get older, you begin to accept yourself more.

Bharati: What has made you more secure about yourself today?

Najip: Because people are talking more about my work rather than who I am. I’ve realised that my work goes beyond who I am. My work speaks for itself. I’ve been in this industry for about 25 years and good enough to say I’ve contributed something. I’m in this industry not to be a role model or an icon. It’s just to know I’m part of the fabric of popular culture that kids can identify with and use as a form of inspiration. So I think that’s important.

VIEWERS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT

Bharati: Who or what has influenced you over the years?

Najip: What keeps giving me the energy and has inspired me through the years is the people, the audience, the viewers. I don’t drive, so I take the MRT, the bus, and I love sitting at nasi padang stalls. The taxi drivers there are the ones who say: “Najip, I want to see a show about 70s songs” or “You know ah, there are so many problems at this moment with our kids, what can we do?”

So all these conversations, real conversations with the viewers who watch the programmes – this perks me up. These people give me the ideas to do what I want to do next. So if you ask how I stay relevant, I would say I’m only relevant because they tell me what they want to see, because I’m sensitive to the consumers, because I’m sensitive to the people who have supported me. And they are always right. The viewers are always right.

Bharati: How are you dealing with new media platforms?

Najip: Even with new platforms, you have to go back to the idea of your craft. The craft is so important. That’s the thing that will make the difference – the quality of your craft. The rest is packaging. On the online platforms, people say you shouldn’t have long-form programmes, but 25 minutes or 2 minutes is just a different mindset, how to look at it. At the end of the day, it’s about telling a story and the authenticity of that storyteller that matters.

Bharati: What have been your biggest challenges?

Najip: I think the biggest challenge in Singapore is that you always have to challenge yourself to be relevant, fresh. And that is the challenge because the agendas change. The brief given by the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) always keeps changing and sometimes you don’t know where your starting point is. So the challenge is always to move forward and do the things they want you to do because they pay the bills, because the government sponsors the show. But at the same time, you have to have a sense of who you are and put that into what you’re doing.

(Photo courtesy of Najip Ali) 

CENSORSHIP

Bharati: Speaking of IMDA, you’ve talked about censorship in previous interviews. How do you deal with it?

Najip: The two things that we cannot talk about which I really accept as part of being an artist or a creator are religion and being rude to the elderly. These two things are ingrained. But the rest, I think you can work around. I actually like the limitations because it makes me sit down with my guys and say: “Guys, we can’t do this. How do we go around it?”

So the idea of sitting down and starting to change or challenge our mindset pushes me to be more creative. We say: “Eh, we can’t do this because the censor says we can’t but we have to get this done. We have to talk about this issue but how do we do it without breaking the rules?” I think it’s healthy. It pushes creativity.

Bharati: Do you wish sometimes that you didn’t have to deal with restrictions on some issues that some people feel you should be talking about, even issues like religion?

Najip: Yeah, but again, I go back to the idea of who I am. What is my responsibility? At the end of they day, I am an entertainer. What does an entertainer do? Entertains, right? How deeply should I go into something? So I stick to the parameters of who I am as an entertainer and how much I can do as an entertainer in Singapore.

TEACHING CURIOSITY

Bharati: But difficult issues are sometimes best talked about via entertainment.

Najip: Correct, and I’ve done that a few times in TV shows. One programme that I’m very proud of is about early marriages and divorces within the community. When the ministry approached me we did a programme and for the first time, I brought in an ustaz, a religious leader. I also brought a sharia expert and someone from the entertainment industry and we sat on a panel and talked. We did this in an entertainment belt. That was an achievement for me. We staged a re-enactment of something very serious but at the same time made it a bit fun. So there is a way of doing it in terms of making it entertaining and putting it on a platform that is palatable to people. I want to make them realise there is an issue and maybe they can do something about it. So I want to give them the seed of intention.

Bharati: You clearly have experience tackling heavy issues, so why is it that you accept that you can’t talk about other potentially difficult issues such as religion?

Najip: Maybe I’m a coward. I like to be liked. I like to be frivolous more than tackling this sort of complicated, complex idea. Whenever I go to that side, I get bogged down.

Bharati: But you have ideas to get people to understand difficult issues better. This is one of them, right?

Najip: So I choose. I’m too fearful to fail on that particular thing.

Bharati: Because if you miscommunicate, it’s worse than not communicating at all?

Najip: And also because of the idea that I’ve built my reputation, and in one day you could destroy your reputation. I’ll choose my battles. When it comes to religion, I think in a multicultural, multiracial society is important. Yes, you can talk about trust. Yes, you can talk about understanding and openness, but I think curiosity is important. My parents taught me to be curious about using chopsticks for example; ask why Muslims cannot touch dogs; find out about why there are stereotypes and if they are true. This idea of curiosity is so important in a diverse society. Curiosity is an ongoing thing. Trust is a long-term thing. Understanding is a long-term thing. I think we need to learn how to teach curiosity again. It’s the best way to understand difficult issues. It’s the best way to become good at something.

NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO HAVE AN ECONOMIC BENEFIT

Bharati: You have an education business as well. It’s called Mini Monsters. You aim to make the learning of Malay language fun. What have been the challenges in doing this?

Najip: It’s become more of an issue for us, the Malays, because we used to take it for granted that we speak Malay at home. But right now, that’s not the case. Many don’t speak it at home. So that is a big challenge. But for me, one of the main issues is IMDA’s guidelines that we have to be very proper in our delivery in the media. So the biggest issue for me is not being able to use the kind of slang, the kind of patois that the young people use in the real world. They use English and Malay together.

Bharati: But if you only reflected street-speak, wouldn’t the learning of the language in its essence be further affected?

Najip: Yeah, there are pros and cons. I’m in the world of popular culture and I like pop culture. I think pop culture does something to young people, does something to us. We have to document it because every generation creates their own tradition and that is interesting for me. But I also believe in making the future better by developing the past. If we want to make the future better, we have to understand the past and develop it. For example, if you want to combine house music with rongeng and make “rongeng house”, you need to understand rongeng first. So when it comes to language, we have to be proper in mainstream media, but nothing’s stopping us from using street-speak online. But the two worlds have to meet.

Bharati: Do people in the community question the need for learning their mother tongue?

Najip: Yes, some of them say: “Eh, why do we need to learn Malay? By learning Malay, can become rich, ah? Can I become Bill Gates by learning Malay?”

Of course you can’t become Bill Gates or Elon Musk by learning Malay, but you need to be proud of something that you are born with. Malay language is just part of you because your name is Mohammad Najip Bin Mohammad Ali. You are not Alexander the Great. You are Malay. The language is important because it’s part of you, not because the language makes you rich.

Bharati: Not everything is about utility, right?

Najip: Exactly, and that’s what sometimes this country is about. It makes you feel that everything has to have an economic benefit. So we need to work hard on that side of philosophy, the soft things. We also need to understand and rethink the definition of success. Let’s explore that in every school, in everything that we do. What is success to you? What is success on TV? What is success for a teacher? What is success for a doctor? What is that definition of success? I think we have to re-think this. We have to consider values too.

Bharati: Over the years, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?

Najip: That you can’t do things on your own. You cannot. No matter how good you are and no matter how much you have a vision of changing the world, you can’t do it alone. So I want to find people. Finding these like-minded people is always a problem. How you get to these people, how you seduce them to your idea – that is another work in progress for me.

Bharati: Tell me about your low points.

Najip: The world works in very surprising ways. Last year, I realised that health is so important. It was a low point in my life because I was sick. I had an intestinal inflammation and I couldn’t work for two to three months because I had an issue with my energy level.
Now, I eat well. I have a good psychologist, a good doctor and I meditate.

Bharati: What do you consider a high point in your career so far?

Najip: I think as Madonna says, the most provocative thing I’ve done in this world is to be here, to be able to do what I’m doing at this moment, to be able to create, to be able to think creatively, to be able to work and influence people and to plant the seed of creativity. To show people that there is a skill, value and soul in it. And when you have soul and spirit in it, you will touch people. That’s what keeps me doing what I’m doing. I want to do this for the rest of my life because I love what I do and that is so precious.

Bharati: What do you want to be most remembered for?

Najip: I want to be remembered as a funny and kind person to everyone. Also everything comes back to the family. I have little nephews and grand-nephews. I want to be the funny kind uncle. It would be nice to be remembered that way.



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Indonesia’s orangutans threatened by enlargement of palm oil plantations


CENTRAL KALIMANTAN, Indonesia: Palm oil plantations are the one premier risk to the existence of orangutans in Indonesia’s quick depleting forests, according to Orangutan Foundation Intercontinental. 

The basis, which supports the conservation and protection of orangutans, estimates that up to 5,000 of the animals are killed each yr in palm oil concessions – a stressing predicament for their survival as a species.

Indonesia, the world’s greatest producer of palm oil, designs to grow its plantations from eight million hectares to thirteen million hectares in four a long time.

The habitat of some orangutans was wrecked in the system and the Orangutan Treatment Centre and Quarantine in Central Kalimantan is a person facility that tends to the primates which were being either held in captivity or orphaned.

“We’ll take care of them 24 several hours a working day and try out to give them normal foods as very well as take them out to the forest for education or university or nursing,” the centre’s senior administrator Waliyati explained.

Holland, a little one orangutan at the Orangutan Treatment Centre and Quarantine in Central Kalimantan. (Image: Sujadi Siswo) 

She included that quite a few of them have stayed in cages all their life and do not know what it’s like to stay in forests.

“Most of the orangutans were being introduced to the rehabilitation centre when they were being still young – amongst the ages of two and three. They will expend about ten a long time in the centre right before they are introduced to the wild,” Ms Waliyati included.

Considering the fact that it was proven about twenty a long time back, the centre has managed to release about 300 orangutans back again into the wild.

However, getting a suitable web page to release them is an increasingly hard activity as 80 per cent of the orangutan’s habitat has been cleared for plantations above the last two a long time. 

Even now, there could be some respite for the threatened species right after the Indonesian government introduced a programme to restore elements of the country’s degraded forest ecosystem.

Rimba Raya Conservation, an environmental organisation awarded a concession place in Central Kalimantan, explained it will lend a hand to conserve the orangutans.

Its common supervisor Antonius Jonatan explained: “We are carrying out a study with the Orangutan Foundation and Rimba Raya to decide a web page. Our aim is to release some orangutans in Rimba Raya conservation place this yr.”

There are various orangutan release web pages in Kalimantan. One particular of the oldest is Tanjung Puting Nationwide Park’s Camp Leakey, which was proven in 1999.

Camp Leakey has been reworked into a vacationer attraction that lets guests to enjoy orangutans in the wild. However, these primates are still fed at certain instances of the working day.

The compromise is vital as it raises the species’ prospects of survival, according to the camps’ main ranger Faisal. “For the rehabilitated orangutans, there are additional now. But for the wild ones it is hard to verify how quite a few there are because they maintain relocating,” he explained.

A rehabilitated orangutan at Camp Leakey, Central Kalimantan. (Image: Sujadi Siswo) 

The Orangutan Conservancy estimates there are only about 45,000 orangutans remaining in Borneo and Sumatra, down from about sixty,000 a decade back.

At this amount, quite a few professionals estimate that orangutans could come to be extinct in the wild in significantly less than twenty five a long time. 



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Oceans (Hillsong)- Jayesslee Asia Tour 2015 Singapore



Sorry you can listen to my pleasure and utter disbelief that they are singing Oceans (even clearer if you convert up the volume ugh uncomfortable) HAHA I was secretly hoping and praying that they will sing Christian music in the live performance and especially Oceans since it is really my one of favourites and holds a ton of indicating to me! (to the extent wherever when they requested what would we like to listen to from them I required to shout out Oceans)

2nd Show (17th Jan 8pm)

one. She Appears to be like So Ideal- five Seconds Of Summer time
two. Neat Little ones- Echosmith
3. Titanium- David Guetta
4. All Of Me- John Legend
five. Make You Feel My Enjoy- Bob Dylan
6. I Can Be The A single- JJ Heller
7. Difficulty- Ariana Grande
8. When I Was Your Gentleman- Bruno Mars
nine. Say Something- A Wonderful Significant Earth
10. Blank Place- Taylor Swift
11. Eyes, Nose, Lips- Taeyang
12. Officially Missing You- Tamia
thirteen. Oceans (Where Feet May Are unsuccessful)- Hillsong
fourteen. Who Am I/Jesus Messiah- Casting Crowns/Chris Tomlin
fifteen. Permit Her Go/Superheroes- Passenger/The Script
16. Joyful- Pharrell Williams

Taken with Apple iphone 6 since no cameras permitted 🙁

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3 killed, at minimum twenty injured just after car or truck rams into pedestrians in Melbourne


MELBOURNE: Three individuals were being killed and at minimum twenty were being injured just after a car or truck “intentionally” rammed into various pedestrians in the centre of Australia’s 2nd-premier city Melbourne on Friday (Jan twenty). 

Some of individuals harm endured serious accidents, Ambulance Victoria mentioned.

Victoria point out law enforcement also verified that a male was arrested. “There is no more risk to the general public at this phase,” Acting Commander of Victoria Law enforcement Stuart Bateson mentioned in a press conference on Friday afternoon.

He included that the incident is believed to be linked to an before stabbing in the southern metro location. 

Law enforcement vehicles at Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall on Friday (Jan twenty). (Photograph: @TommyBick/Twitter)

Nearby media described that the car or truck was driving erratically ahead of the incident, which occurred through the city’s active lunchtime, and at minimum one particular shot was fired.

Law enforcement locked down the city and suspended tram solutions just after the incident in the coronary heart of the popular Bourke Street shopping mall location, a pedestrian and tram-only strip and house to retailers this sort of as H&M, and section outlets Myer’s and David Jones.  

“At this phase it is believed a male driving a vehicle has struck a number of pedestrians in Bourke and Queen St just ahead of 2pm,” Victoria law enforcement mentioned in a statement posted on their official twitter account.

Unexpected emergency solutions are managing the incident as a “mass casualty celebration” and hospitals have been put on “Code Red” to acknowledge casualties.

Melbourne is currently internet hosting the Australian Open up tennis grand slam and is packed with countless numbers of added holidaymakers, only a several blocks from the place the incident occurred.

Victoria law enforcement mentioned that the tennis event was open up and working normally.

Australia, a staunch US ally, has been on heightened inform for assaults by house-grown radicals because 2014 and authorities have mentioned they have thwarted a number of plots. There have been various “lone wolf” assaults, like a 2014 cafe siege in Sydney that remaining two hostages and the gunman dead.



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Singapore, India renew air power settlement for a different five years


SINGAPORE: Singapore has renewed a bilateral air power settlement with India, permitting the Republic of Singapore Air Power (RSAF) to go on its joint military services instruction at Kalaikunda Air Power Station in India for a different five years, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) introduced on Thursday (Jan 19). 

The Bilateral Settlement for the Carry out of Joint Armed service Training and Exercises in India concerning the RSAF and the Indian Air Power (IAF) was concluded in 2007 and previous renewed in 2012. 

Under the settlement, the RSAF will have common prospects to prepare with the IAF’s highly developed Su-30 fighter aircraft.

The renewed settlement was signed by Singapore’s Long-lasting Secretary for Defence Chan Yeng Kit and India’s Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar, and witnessed by Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and India’s High Commissioner to Singapore Jawed Ashraf at MINDEF on Thursday. 

Mr Kumar was in Singapore from Wednesday to Thursday to co-chair the 11th Singapore-India Defence Coverage Dialogue with Mr Chan.

For the duration of the dialogue, which is a common forum for both of those nations around the world to focus on locations of defence cooperation and strategic developments of mutual fascination, both of those sides underscored the “potent and growing ties” concerning the Singapore Armed Forces and the Indian Armed Forces, MINDEF said.

“Mr Kumar and Mr Chan also committed to strengthening bilateral defence interactions and welcomed deeper defence cooperation for mutual reward,” it extra.  

The Indian defence secretary also called on Dr Ng on Thursday, with both of those events reaffirming the potent bilateral defence relations concerning both of those countries and speaking about geopolitical and security developments in the location, the ministry said.

India’s Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar (left) with Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. (Image: MINDEF) 



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