Some Tuesday ASEAN links:
A non-profit organization in Singapore is reaching out to foreign workers in the wake of December’s Little India riot by offering free yoga lessons and motivational talks at company dormitories. The Art of Living Centre, which is sponsoring the outreach, hopes that the stretching and breathing techniques being taught will help stressed-out foreigners relax.
“We have been interacting with hundreds of workers in the last few weeks,” Karuna Malhotra, a facilitator for the Centre, told Channel NewsAsia. “We have been welcomed by several dormitories across the island and the workers seem very happy and they seem to enjoy the sessions, and over here we believe that in Singapore, the government and the society, it does its best to ensure that all residents have a good life here.”
According to the report, however, the free stress relief has an ulterior motive: Keeping the kind of people that were involved in the Little India riot off the streets on weekends.
Meanwhile, two months after Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) wrought havoc on the central Philippines, schools on the hardest-hit islands of Leyte and Samar reopened on Monday. Though many schools were destroyed by severe winds and flooding, temporary classrooms were constructed with tarps and plywood.
“Only about 50 percent of our school’s nearly 1,000 pupils are back,” Maria Evelyn Encina, the principal of a school that once stood near Tacloban, told The Inquirer. “They could be in evacuation centers or taken in by their relatives in the mass evacuation that followed, but we can’t know for sure … wherever they are, we are here waiting for them.”
The United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has initiated a campaign that hopes to return more than half of a million students, teachers, and day care center workers to schools. The organization believes that returning to a daily school routine will help children return to “normalcy.” It will also give parents more time to focus on rebuilding their communities.
With the memories of the typhoon fresh in their minds, many parents refused to leave their children’s sides on the first day of classes.
“I still see my neighbors being taken away by the waves in my dreams every day,” said one mother. “I am not yet prepared to leave my boy and entrust him to anyone.”
Over in Malaysia, a legal battle is taking shape over the funding of Hollywood blockbuster The Wolf of Wall Street. A whistleblowing website called Sarawak Report questioned the source of the Leonardo DiCaprio-led film’s financing – paid for in part by Riza Aziz, the stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Blogger Clare Rewcastle Brown, the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, “[implied] that the film was at least partly financed by government corruption,” according to Buzzfeed.
Aziz’s film production company, Red Granite Pictures, has threatened to sue the site’s operator, claiming that Brown’s expose was an “irresponsible, shoddy, malicious screed that was clearly concocted by a writer or writers (and/or editor or editors) intent on pressing a transparent, political agenda.”
The media coverage of the fiasco has energized the Malaysian opposition, with multiple opposition press outlets calling for Aziz to report the sources of his income and the purchase of a multi-million dollar condo in New York.