Hong Kong mainstreams protests, votes for rights

November 25, 2019

Sunday’s election results that give pro-democracy representatives control of 17 of 18 District Councils show that Maggie Wong Shing-wah has plenty of company and gives a glimmer of hope for resolution of the conflict that seemingly ripped this great city’s social fabric to shreds.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming, contributor to Forbes, columnist/correpsondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Fear and loathing in Bali with Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh

November 24, 2019

At the Ubud Writers Festival in Bali, Scottish writer Irvine Welsh riffs on writing, aging, privacy, politics and pharmaceuticals.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming, contributor to Forbes, columnist/correpsondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Cambodia online casino ban snuffs Sihanoukville surge

November 16, 2019

Beach resort Sihanoukville’s construction boom is going bust because, at Beijing’s urging, Cambodia has banned online casinos that mainly target mainland Chinese players. The Philippines’ cross border gaming business may extend its regional leadership thanks to the Cambodia shutdown.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Bangkok sightless simulation opens eyes

November 15, 2019

Visiting the National Science Museum’s Science Square’s Dialogue in the Dark proved to be a highlight of our family vacation in Bangkok. Stop by in the morning – it opens at 10am on weekdays, 10.30am on weekends – to request an English speaking guide, which can usually be arranged later that day. Combined with a visit to the Red Cross Snake Farm next door, it’s full day of learning. Chamchuri Square, the shopping mall and office complex that’s home to Science Square has a variety of food options from food court to fancier options, with a station on the Thai capital’s MRT subway system in the basement.

Enough from me. I’ll let my 12 year old daughter tell you what she thinks.

During my recent trip to Bangkok, my father and I decided to go visit Dialogue in the Dark. This program first caught my attention when I was surfing the web for activities in Bangkok. It was a very intriguing concept: a simulation of the everyday life of a blind person in complete darkness, with a visually impaired tour guide.
While my mother was busy sketching, my father and I walked to NSM Science Square [at Chamchuri Square, 4th floor; MRT to Sam Yan, exit 2]. There, we were greeted by an employee at the counter, who gave a brief guide to how the simulation would work. He showed us how to use a white cane (a stick used by the visually impaired to navigate their surroundings). After his explanation, he led us to the simulation, which was a series of many large rooms, designed to replicate everyday places. The thing is it was completely dark.

Our tour guide Jacky spoke English and was very polite. He introduced himself and told us not to be shy if we had any questions. The rooms he lead through were resembled the real world so much that, if nobody had told me that it was all fake, I would have believed that it was the real world. As we journeyed through, we had to perform certain tasks, like walking across a rickety bridge in a park or trying to guess which fruits or vegetables I was holding in a market.

One of the highlights was the tuk-tuk ride. In this part of the simulation, we boarded a tuk-tuk. and it was so realistic that I’m still unsure whether it moved or not. The ride was accompanied by whipping winds, mud splattering on us and the vehicle swaying from side to side.

At the end of the journey, Jacky and us sat down on a sofa, ate snacks and talked. We asked questions, and he was very friendly.

Dialogue in the Dark is a unique and enlightening experience that made me understand and feel empathy for the blind population around the world. I wholeheartedly recommend it for all people of all ages. It changed my perspective of the world.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a contributor to Forbes Asia, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Philippines defies China on cross border gambling

November 14, 2019

Beijing has declared war on online gambling operators targeting Chinese citizens. But Asia’s leading cross border gaming center Manila won’t surrender its lucrative position easily. For the Philippines, online gaming boosts government revenue and stimulates office space demand.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a contributor to Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

Happy FU Day, today and every day

November 13, 2019

Greetings for Felix Unger Day, November 13. For Americans, thanks to our elected officials in Washington, now every day is FU Day.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a contributor to Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

#UWRF19: Richard Fidler uncovers Viking women

October 27, 2019

At the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali, Australian popular historian Richard Fidler told tales from Constantinople, the subject of his best selling Ghost Empire, and Iceland, chronicled in Saga Land with his friend Kari Gislason. Our vision of Norse legend – and that of Marvel Comics movie makers – traces to Iceland,

“In the Viking concept of honor, honor is not something that can be earned. It’s something you must take from someone else. It’s like currency, there’s only so much to go around,” Fidler explained.

“A woman’s honor is as important as a man’s, and she will go to any length to preserve it, including killing the men she loves.” Who knew there were so many Viking women among us?

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

#UWRF19: Reza Aslan says we’re born religious

October 26, 2019

At the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali, God: A Human History author Reza Alsan declared, “The religious impulse dates back to before our species exists.” Evidence of organized religion goes back 14,000 years, but evidence of religious impulses, such as cave paintings that depict fantasy beings rather than actual prey, burials and idols can be found as far as 350,000 years back, some 200,000 years before the rise of homo sapiens.

Aslan believes that evidence points to an innate belief in a higher power. “What is without doubt is that this is a universal impulse,” the Iranian-American religious scholar asserts, one that’s hardwired into all of us.

Of course, there’s an alternate explanation: beings that don’t hold this belief in a higher power get struck down before birth by the terrible swift sword of the Almighty.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

#UWRF19: Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler gets the bomb

October 25, 2019

A great charm of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali is being able to rub elbows with the incredibly talented attendees on and off stage. At a panel on the Karma of Comedy with James Roque, Lindsay Wong, Rhik Samadder and Maeve Marsden, I found myself sitting next to Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler.

During the session, Roque, an ethnic Filipino who grew up in New Zealand, referred repeatedly to his mother soothing herself with a bath bomb. Wheeler, a living legend of travel who has made the world accessible for millions of people, turned to me and asked, “What’s a bath bomb?”

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

#UWRF19: Democracy aids Indonesian Islamists, Harsono says

October 24, 2019

At the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali, Indonesia Researcher for Human Rights Watch Andreas Harsono enumerated three tools of democracy and rule of law that Indonesia’s Islamists use to advance their cause in the world’s third largest democracy.

First, there’s the Blasphemy Law, enacted in 1975 and used six times until Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took office as Indonesia’s first directly elected president in 2004. Under SBY, the law was used 120 times, and 40 times more during the first five year term of current President Joko Widodo, prosecuting people for a variety of alleged offenses to religious beliefs, almost always non-Muslims accused of offending Islam. “And when you’re accused under the Blasphemy Law, you go to jail,” Harsono, author of newly published Race, Islam and Power: Ethnic and Religious Violence in Post-Suharto Indonesia, adds.

Islamists have also tried convert the constitutional guarantee of religious tolerance to a focus on religious harmony. “That means the majority should protect the minority, and the minority must respect the majority,” Harsono says. In practice, it means the majority has veto power over minorities – to “maintain harmony” – and it’s led to the closure of more than a thousand churches, as well as a handful of mosques in Muslim minority areas. Harsono notes that Christians represent 10% of Indonesia’s population, but churches represent 17% of the archipelago’s 100,000-plus houses of worship, so Islamists say thousands more should be shuttered.

Local jurisdictions have enacted more than some 770 Sharia-style laws. Harsono says he’s surprised that Islamists have even continued to expand their Sharia ambitions in Aceh, the only place in Indonesia where full-scale Sharia law is permitted.

Harsono sees the Islamists gaining further in President Widodo’s newly commenced second term due to new Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, a dedicated Islamist who supports the religious harmony view and wants to criminalize sex acts that convene hardline Islamic views.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.


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