Posts Tagged ‘Ubud Writers Festival’

Bali Ubud festivals go virtual

October 28, 2020

With Covid-19 shutting down international travel, Bali’s annual Ubud Writers Festival and Ubud Food Festival have moved online. Kembali – “come back” in Indonesian – begins Thursday, October 29 and runs through November 8 with an all-star cast of Indonesian and international luminaries in each field and most disciplines in between. The festival preview call, featuring founder Janet DeNeefe and several speakers, gives a taste of what’s ahead.

Going virtual means that sessions with the likes of David Byrne, Jonathan Safran Foer, William Dalrymple, and preview call star Bandana Tewari will be available on demand for a month from their release time. So no matter where you are, the festival is on local time and can follow your schedule.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming, a contributor to Forbes, columnist/correspondent 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.

#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.

Fatima Bhutto can’t avoid politics

December 24, 2018

When she came to the Ubud Writers Festival, Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto said she wouldn’t discuss politics or her family’s tragic political dynasty, just her new novel, The Runaways. But the novel, like Bhutto, is unavoidably steeped in politics.

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.

Moving US-North Korea relations ahead to 1994

December 21, 2018

Acclaimed foreign correspondent Barbara Demick believes the Clinton administration got it “most right” with North Korea on nuclear weapons. If the Trump administration is lucky, it can get US-North Korea relations back to where they stood a quarter century ago.

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.

Bali helps Anuradha Roy pen pan-Hindu parable

December 14, 2018

On her first visit to the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Indian novelist Anuradha Roy discovered Bali’s expatriate painter laureate Walter Spies. This year Roy returned to Ubud with All the Lives We Never Lived, a parable for modern India featuring Spies and Nobel Prize winning poet Rabindranath Tagore as key characters.

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.

Fatima Bhutto searches for home as world burns

November 28, 2018

Born into a tragic Pakistani political dynasty, Fatima Bhutto talks about finding a place in “a world on fire”, a theme in her new novel The Runaways, at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali.

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.

Indonesia’s Sakdiyah Ma’ruf battles Islamic extremism, intolerance with laughs

January 25, 2018

Groundbreaker Sakdiyah Ma’ruf is Indonesia’s first female standup comedian, let alone the first to perform wearing a hijab. Ma’ruf has won international awards for her support of tolerance and women’s rights, but most important for a comedian, she’s genuinely funny.

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.

Islam a mother – and daughter – can love

January 1, 2018

Malaysian activist Marina Mahathir uses the Qur’an to champion women’s rights in the Muslim world. The daughter of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is also at the forefront of efforts to stop Arabization of Islam in Asia, where the vast majority of the world’s Muslims live.

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.

FU Day wisdom from Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler, odd coupled with Asian casinos

November 12, 2016

Happy Felix Unger Day, November 13. This year’s odd couple is Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler and Asian casinos.

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.

Ubud encounters: Chauly, Godden, Wibowo explore identity

December 30, 2013

At the 2013 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Salena Godden, Agustinus Wibowo and Bernice Chauly talked about the art and science of the memoir.

All three writers spoke of their complex identities. Godden grew up in Britain with an Irish jazz musician father and Jamaican dancer mother. Chauly was born in Penang, Malaysia, to a Punjabi father and Chinese mother. Wibowo is an ethnic Chinese Indonesian who has written about his extensive travels, including lengthy stays in Afghanistan and China.

Wibowo was raised in the Chinese Buddhist tradition by his parents and taught to think of China as the ancestral homeland. In his most recent book, Titik Nol (Point Zero), he recounts a bizarre scene in his mother’s hospital room. With terminal patients, Indonesian hospitals will summon the approach clergy to minister appropriate rites. However, some of Wibowo’s relatives had converted to Christianity. “My mother’s sisters and brothers tried to baptize her on her deathbed on one side. On the other side, Buddhist monks were performing their rituals.”

During the Suharto years, Chinese language teaching was banned, and Wibowo’s parents took advantage of that in front of their children. “They spoke Chinese when they didn’t want us to understand.” In response to anti-Chinese discrimination under Suharto, his parents infused Wibowo with the idea of China as their ancestral homeland, and they sent him to school there. “But when I got there, I was just a foreigner,” Wibowo recalled, and that strengthened his Indonesian identity. “I used to root for Chinese teams in badminton competitions. But in China, I rooted for Indonesia.”

In the years since Suharto’s ouster, as part of Indonesia’s refomasi legal discrimination against Chinese has ended. “My father always wanted me to take his bones back to China when he died, to bury him in his homeland. He called it returning home,” Wibowo said. “When I asked him after refomasi, he wanted to be buried here. He said, ‘My home is Indonesia.’”

Bernice Chauly said that her father’s death cut her off from her Indian side as her mother moved back to live with her family. “I had a Chinese childhood, but I yearned to be Indian.” In her teenage Malaysian national indoctrination class, she did feel sufficiently tied to each community to apologize for both the Chinese and Indians’ enumerated abuses of Malaysia’s native bumiputera.

“Memoir comes from a great void, an emptiness,” Chauly, who curates Penang’s annual George Town Literary Festival said. Her book, Growing up with Ghosts, uses six different voices to tell its story. “If I hadn’t written this book I’d be haunted by ghosts,” Chauly said. “This book saved me.”

Poet and spoken word artist Salena Godden hopes that crowd funding can save her memoir, Springfield Road. The book follows Godden growing up as the “brown girl” in her school and wondering about her absent father, who, between cruise ship band gigs, visits her for a single day.

“I was craughing when I wrote the book,” Godden said, using the term she coined for the cross between laughing and crying. “When you read it, you’ll craugh after ten lines.”

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is 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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