Oscar win draws unlikely political support for ‘Parasite’s’ Bong

first_imgThe rest of the family then scheme to secure jobs in the wealthy household by inflating their qualifications and pretending they’re not related.Concerns with class and inequality fueled mass protests in 2016 that led to Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and subsequent ouster and propelled Moon into power the next year. While Moon’s administration has since been hit by its own corruption scandals, allegations that the Park administration excluded artists including Bong from state funding complicate any opposition hopes of scoring points from his victory.Bong was among 9,473 artists and cultural figures blacklisted for voicing criticism of how the administration handled the Sewol ferry sinking in 2014, according to South Korea’s culture ministry. Also on the list was CJ Group’s Miky Lee, a relentless advocate for Bong who shared the Oscar stage Sunday and who the Park administration pressured the company to demote.That hasn’t stopped LPK candidates from trying to leverage Bong’s status as a symbol of South Korean soft power. Kwak Sang-do, who was once Park’s senior presidential secretary for civil affairs and later served on the National Assembly’s cultural committee, pledged to expand cultural facilities in Bong’s hometown of Daegu.‘Act of Desperation’Another conservative candidate, Bae Young-shik, suggested erecting a statue of Bong, naming a street after him, as well as restoring his birth home.“The US, Russia, and Europe do not hold back on investing to honor their artists, politicians, academics, and scientists by making streets and erecting statues,” Bae told the DongA Ilbo newspaper. “We must support making Bong’s national contributions known all over the nationwide and worldwide.”Still, it’s unclear how many points such proposals will score with voters.“This is an act of desperation by the South Korean conservatives,” cultural critic Chin Jung-kwon wrote on Facebook. “They are trying to free-ride on director Bong Joon Ho’s glorious victory — that’s some gall.” Topics : “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho is getting support from unexpected quarters in the wake of the film’s historic Academy Awards triumph: South Korean conservatives.Since Bong became the first director of a foreign-language film to hoist a Best Picture Oscar on Sunday, conservative politicians have been rushing to lionize the filmmaker. One candidate seeking election in the country’s upcoming parliamentary election has proposed naming a street after Bong and erecting statues to him and his characters. Another proposed building a film museum in his hometown.The calls are surprising if only because they’re coming from members of South Korea’s opposition Liberty Korea Party, the successor group that backed former President Park Geun-hye. Park’s staff maintained a blacklist that denied state funding to artists such as Bong and more than 9,000 other cultural figures critical of the government.center_img The attempt to capitalize on “Parasite’s” groundbreaking Oscars success highlights a problem facing the LKP as it attempts to take the National Assembly back from President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party in the April general elections.A recent Korea Gallup poll showed 31% of the voters were undecided while 36% supported the ruling Democratic Party and 20% for the Liberty Korea Party, which voters historically associate with the pro-conglomerate policies widely blamed for the social inequality given global exposure by Bong’s film.Class and Inequality“Parasite” tells the story of the poor Kim family whose son Ki-wu gets a job teaching English to the daughter of a tech executive named Park Dong-ik. last_img read more

House demands investigative audits on all state insurers

first_imgThe House of Representatives has called for the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) to conduct investigative audits on state-owned insurers to assess their investment management.Members of House Commission VI, which oversees trade, industry and state-owned enterprises (SOEs), are especially eager for the BPK to conduct an investigative audit on state-owned pension insurance company PT Taspen and social insurer Asuransi Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia (Asabri). The move is meant to prevent the insurers from mismanaging their investments as they manage pension funds for civil servants, police, military and Defense Ministry employees.An audit differs from an investigation as the former assesses financial statements and forms independent opinions about them. Meanwhile,  an investigation is a comprehensive study of financial reports.  Topics : House Commission VI members are also calling for the Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP) to conduct a large-scale investigative audit on Taspen and Asabri, as well as other state-owned insurers, including PT Jasa Raharja, PT Asuransi Jasa Indonesia (Jasindo), PT Asuransi Kredit Indonesia (Askrindo) and PT Reasuransi Indonesia Utama.The commission’s member from Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Evita Nursanty, said the House suggested that audits focus solely on the insurer’s investments to assess their prudence in managing their funds. “They are managing the public’s funds so they need to be able to manage it in a prudent manner and free from the interests of any parties,” she said.In the meantime, Taspen president director ANS Kosasih said he was confident that the company would pass the investigative audit smoothly as it had applied independent investment decisions based on the company’s analysis.“We also asked the BPK to conduct an annual audit on our earnings report to assure that our business is run according to the code of conduct,” Kosasih said.center_img Commission VI member Mukhtarudin from the Golkar Party also said on Wednesday that the move aimed to prevent the insurers from repeating mismanagement conducted by ailing state-owned insurer PT Asuransi Jiwasraya, which led to negative equity and the inability to pay its policyholders’ claims of Rp 17 trillion.The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) last month instructed the Financial Services Authority (OJK) and the country’s bourse authorities to block 800 securities accounts as it investigated Jiwasraya’s investment mismanagement, having named five people suspects, including three former Jiwasraya executives and two business tycoons allegedly involved in the corruption case.Although Asabri could still pay for its claims, its investment mismanagement led the state firm and the government to suffer losses of around Rp 10 trillion.“The government has to intervene to prevent the same thing from happening again. So, I’m suggesting that Taspen and Asabri undergo investigative audits just like Jiwasraya,” Mukhtarudin said during a hearing with state-owned insurers in Jakarta.last_img read more

Bali revises COVID-19 report: Three cases, not four

first_imgThe Bali administration has corrected its report of confirmed COVID-19 cases in its jurisdiction: There are three, not four. The fourth confirmed case left the island for another province in the country.The Bali administration’s regional secretary, Dewa Made Indra, said the fourth person had visited Bali for a work-related trip, but the individual later reported to authorities in another undisclosed province.“Therefore, we have corrected our data, from four confirmed cases of COVID-19 yesterday to three as of today,” said Dewa during a press conference in Denpasar, Bali on Saturday. He added that two of the three confirmed patients had died and they were both foreign nationals.Read also: French national found dead on Bali sidewalk tests positive for COVID-19One of the deceased had been cremated while another remained in a mortuary at a hospital, he said.“We are still in coordination with the general consulate of the country from which the deceased originated, on how to treat the body post mortem. That’s the reason why we still keep it at the mortuary.”As of Saturday, the administration had also performed contact tracing of the 217 people who had been in close contact with all confirmed cases in the province and asked them to self-isolate at home. He also said the administration was closely observing 95 others suspected to have the disease.“On the other hand, we can also confirm that 71 suspected patients have undergone COVID-19 tests, with 68 of them having been declared negative and hospitals have allowed them to go home. We are still waiting for the [test results of the] rest,” he said. (glh)Topics :last_img read more

IOC working toward July-August Olympics in 2021: Yomiuri

first_imgCoates, who is also president of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), said the summer scheduling would be dependent on avoiding clashes with the world championships for swimming (July 16-Aug. 1) and athletics (Aug. 6-15).World Athletics boss Sebastian Coe has said the world athletics championships in Eugene, Oregon could be moved back to 2022 if necessary.Coates told the newspaper the hope was to follow the same arrangements next year that had been planned for 2020, including holding the marathon in the northern city of Sapporo instead of Tokyo to escape the heat.The AOC confirmed the Yomiuri report’s veracity and also told Reuters in a statement that Coates had “proffered a view but confirms a range of options are on the table for the IOC”.The IOC and Japanese government succumbed to intense pressure from athletes and sporting bodies around the world on Tuesday, agreeing to push back the Games by as much as a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.IOC President Thomas Bach said on Wednesday that “all options” were on the table for rescheduling, including holding the Games before the Japanese summer. Topics : The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is working with sports bodies to arrange a July-August window for the postponed Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and hopes to confirm the schedule within a month, Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper reported on Thursday.John Coates, the IOC’s Coordination Commission chief for Tokyo, told the Yomiuri the Games would have to be held between the tennis Grand Slams of Wimbledon, slated to end in mid-July, and the US Open, which starts in late August.”We want to more or less finalize the dates in four weeks’ time,” the paper quoted Coates as saying.last_img read more

Indonesia to issue bonds to rescue businesses affected by COVID-19

first_img“The government will handle the proceeds of the funds to finance all businesses. This is to awaken business activities,” Susiwijono said during a media briefing.Companies looking to receive funds from bond sales were barred from employee layoffs, he said. “If they need to lay off employees, then they must keep at least 90 percent of their employees with the same salary amounts [as before the crisis].”Read also: Battered by virus: Businesses across Indonesia feel the pinchThe government’s plan comes as European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde asks euro zone finance ministers to seriously consider a one-off joint debt issue of “coronabonds” to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.The COVID-19-driven slowdown was likely to slash Indonesia’s growth to just above 4 percent this year, the lowest in 15 years, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said as the government prepares for the worst-case scenario of zero growth. From empty malls to factory disruptions, micro and small businesses have suffered the most.The government would reallocate Rp 62.3 trillion (US$3.9 billion) of state spending from the 2020 budget to tackle COVID-19 in Indonesia, on top of the Rp 120 trillion allocated to stimulate the economy.BI has also spent Rp 168.2 trillion so far this year, buying government bonds in the secondary market to stabilize the rupiah as foreign investors dump Rp 125.2 trillion worth of government bonds. The rupiah, now at around Rp 16,277 per US dollar, is the worst-performing currency in Asia.“The central bank will continue to intervene through the spot market, domestic non-deliverable forwards and bonds if needed,” Perry pledged as the rupiah weakened almost 20 percent since January.As of Wednesday, Indonesia had 790 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 58 deaths. Globally, the pneumonia-like illness has infected over 471,000 people and has claimed at least 21,000 lives.President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has revealed that government officials and legislators are in talks to raise Indonesia’s budget deficit cap, which would allow the state to borrow more money to fund emergency response measures to the pandemic. The budget deficit cap could be raised to 5 percent from the current 3 percent ceiling.Topics : Indonesia is planning to offer government debt papers to the market, the proceeds of which would be used to fund programs that rescue businesses suffering from COVID-19 and prevent layoffs.Secretary to the coordinating economic affairs minister, Susiwijono Moegiarso, said Thursday the government would issue a government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on Friday to facilitate the plan.The so-called “recovery bond” can be bought by Bank Indonesia (BI), as well as exporters and importers, Susiwijoyo said, adding the Perppu would enable the central bank to buy government bonds not only in the secondary market. The existing law on BI prohibits the central bank from buying government bonds except in the secondary market.last_img read more

Wildlife agency rescues bear cub ensnared in trap in Riau oil palm plantation

first_imgThe rescue attempt continued on Thursday after the team drove away the cub’s mother.After the mother fled the scene, rescue team personnel immediately cut the nylon trap ensnaring the cub’s left leg.“There’s only a shallow cut on the cub’s leg. The medical team recommended releasing the animal into the wild immediately,” Suharyono said, adding that the cub chased after its mother after being treated.Police personnel managed to remove three snare traps in the area. The BKSDA Riau team later told village chiefs about the incident and asked them not to install snare traps in the future as it was prohibited by law. (dpk)Topics : They arrived at the location at 6:14 p.m. local time but were unable to rescue the trapped animal immediately.“The sun had already set by the time we arrived in the village. However, the team went to check on the bear cub’s condition,” BKSDA Riau head Suharyono said in a statement on Friday.Read also: Saving wildlife: Rangers find, dismantle hundreds of traps in conservation areas in Riau“We also faced a hindrance as the cub’s mother was waiting near the location. We pulled back while waiting for our medical team from Pekanbaru to arrive.” The Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA Riau) has rescued a bear cub that was stuck in a wire trap at an oil palm plantation in Ringin village in Batang Gansal district, Indragiri Hulu regency, Riau.The agency received a report on the trapped cub from village residents on Wednesday. It later dispatched a rescue team to the village alongside several officers of the Batang Gansal Police.last_img read more

37,000 SMEs hit by COVID-19 crisis as government prepares aid

first_img“Around 87.4 percent of the reports were coming from micro-scaled businesses that have felt the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis,” Fiki said during a virtual press conference. “We are also designing the criteria for businesses eligible for the program so that they don’t receive the same benefits twice.”The government is preparing a stimulus package for SMEs to help them survive amid the pandemic. The stimulus includes loan relaxations, a six-month tax waiver and cash transfers for micro-scaled businesses, Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Teten Masduki said Wednesday.Read also: Indonesia announces Rp 405 trillion COVID-19 budget, anticipates 5% deficit in historic moveThe ministry suggests that SMEs convert their businesses to meet current demand, such as making masks and coveralls as the government’s large-scale social distancing (PSBB) policy has forced business owners to close down shops as demand weakens with people staying home. The government is working on reviewing businesses that are eligible to receive government aid as it receives reports from 37,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.Around 56 percent of the reports are related to declining sales, 22 percent to funding, 15 percent to goods distribution and 4 percent to access raw materials, according to the Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry.The ministry’s specialized staff on creative economy empowerment, Fiki Satari, said on Thursday it would review the reports to determine which ones are eligible to receive government support aimed at protecting SMEs amid the -19 pandemic. “This effort could help fulfill the domestic demand for [PPE] personal protective equipment and masks, as well as help them fulfill their daily needs during this pandemic,” Victoria Simanungkalit, the ministry’s undersecretary for production and marketing, said during the briefing.The ministry is also working together with industrial goods supplier PT Daruma Adira Pratama to help SMEs produce appropriate PPE that corresponds to the Health Ministry’s medical equipment standards.Currently, there are around 330 SMEs from 16 provinces that have joined the program and around 80 have been included in the Cooperative and Small and Enterprises Ministry’s catalog, Victoria said.The SMEs have also received a total of Rp 127.8 million (US$8,145) worth of orders from potential buyers consisting of 10,276 masks, 962 hazmat suits and 25 pairs of shoe covers, she added. Topics :last_img read more

Endangered leatherback turtle found dead near Maluku village

first_imgHe said the turtle was likely swept away by strong currents and may have been killed after colliding with hard objects, such as coral heads.“We are investigating the cause of death further,” Iwan said, adding that Maluku Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) personnel buried the turtle near the BKSDA residential complex in Passo village, Baguala district, Ambon.Leatherback sea turtles, known locally as penyu belimbing, are the world’s biggest turtles and the fourth-biggest reptiles after three species of crocodile.In Indonesia, leatherback turtles are a protected marine species. They are considered endangered as their population has continued to decline over the years.Last December, a 2.13-meter-long leatherback turtle weighing 213 kilograms was reportedly caught and killed by a resident of Sosorgadong district, Central Tanapuli regency, North Sumatra, as it was coming ashore to lay eggs. (rfa)Topics : A leatherback sea turtle was found dead off the coast of Asilulu village in Central Maluku regency, Maluku, on Saturday morning.Iwan Asikin, the head of the Maritime and Fisheries Ministry’s maritime management division in Maluku, said the turtle was found dead by local fishermen.“Fishermen Amin Mamang and Abu Nurlily found the 180-centimeter-long, 140-cm-wide turtle. But it had died before they found it. They then moved the carcass to shore,” Iwan said on Saturday.last_img read more

COVID-19 presents new challenges in forest fire control

first_imgExperts have said that Indonesia, which has struggled to curb land and forest fires in the past, might face a new challenge in mitigating fires: the COVID-19 epidemic.About 1.6 million hectares of land and forest across the country were burned last year, the second-highest in the last five years after the massive 2015 fires that burned roughly 2.6 million ha, according to Environment and Forestry Ministry data.Peatland ecosystems accounted for 44 percent of the total land burned last year, or 727,972 ha; and within that ecosystem, 54.71 percent of which were protected peatland areas (FLEGs) that were also burned in the fires. “In 2019, the fires indeed occurred both in relatively new areas and locations that had regularly been burned. But we have not yet finished our intervention projects there [in regular locations],” Myrna told The Jakarta Post.The interventions include building infrastructure, such as canals and wells, to keep peatland wet. Peatland soil stores a massive amount of carbon. When peatland is cleared and drained for a plantation, it degrades and is highly combustible.Last year, two of the provinces recording the largest area of burned land were South Sumatra with 336,798 ha and Central Kalimantan with 317,749 ha.Madani Foundation predicted five provinces would be prone to land and forest fires this year: Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, Papua, East Kalimantan and South Sumatra.“These provinces must pay attention to the prevention of land and forest fires this year,” Naufal said.Read also: Mass-scale farming on peatland detrimental to environment, experts warnBogor Agricultural University (IPB) forestry expert Bambang Hero Saharjo said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic might divert the government’s attention away from mitigating forest fires.Several regions have already entered the dry season and hot spots are flaring up in Riau and Aceh. About 8,253 hectares of land and forests were burned between January and March, with Riau having the largest area burned at 2,765 ha.The environment ministry’s director for forest and land fire control, Basar Manullang, said the total area burned in 2019 was 37 percent less than in 2015 and that the fires last year were exacerbated by the prolonged dry season.He said fire control this year would be done alongside the pandemic response and in line with health protocols.“Prevention and mitigation efforts on the field will still be conducted with authorities applying health protocols requiring officers to wear personal protection equipment, practice physical distancing and avoid crowds,” Basar told the Post.Read also: On Earth Day, COVID-19 a ‘wake-up call’ to reinvigorate natureThe government is employing weather modification technology in Riau to reduce fire potential, particularly in drained peatland, and South Sumatra, Jambi and Kalimantan will follow suit.The Health Ministry’s communicable disease prevention and control director, Wiendra Waworuntu, said earlier that another issue with forest fires during the COVID-19 pandemic were the similar symptoms between the disease and acute respiratory infections (ISPA), which were caused by the smog. She said pollution from the fires could also exacerbate the condition of COVID-19 patients.“During forest fires, [ISPA] cases usually increase,” she said. “Do not take the situation lightly and do not forget that we are also in the middle of a pandemic.”Topics : “This shows that our peatland ecosystems are still prone to fires,” Madani Foundation’s geographic information systems (GIS) specialist, Fadli Ahmad Naufal, said in a recent online public discussion.More than 1 million hectares of land and forests burned last year, or 63 percent, in areas that had never or rarely been burned in the past and not necessarily peatland.Read also: Indonesia’s 2019 fire season not doomsday for forests, but ecological concerns remainPeatland Restoration Agency (BRG) official Myrna Safitri said some peatland restoration projects had yet to be completed, signaling that it might be a factor exacerbating fires in the highly combustible dry peatland last year.last_img read more

UK records lowest death toll of lockdown as restrictions ease

first_img‘Unenforceable’Scientists and lawmakers are not the only ones to express concern that the government’s “cautious and phased” reopening is moving too quickly.”We’re only able to take these steps because of what we have achieved together so far,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said as he toured Tachbrook Market in central London.London’s Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh said current rules such as those allowing people to gather in groups of six in England were unenforceable.”I don’t think the public are taking much notice of what is laid down in front of them,” Marsh told The Daily Telegraph. “They are doing it how they want to do it.”English parks and beaches have been inundated with people over two successive May weekends that came on the sunniest month ever recorded in Britain.Police had warned after seeing growing numbers ignore social distancing measures a week ago that they were serious about sanctioning those who gather in large groups.But some London parks looked like one giant party on Sunday and police issued just a tiny fraction of the fines they had handed out before people were allowed to leave their homes more freely on May 13.”Policing have told the government that unless it’s a huge gathering, it’s pretty much unenforceable now,” a senior police source told The Daily Telegraph. Topics : Too much, too soon? Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a timeline that allows two million younger children in England to return to school on Monday and older ones from June 15.The devolved governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland are eyeing a return in August and September, while Wales is still weighing the benefits of human contact against the dangers of children catching the disease and bringing it home.A survey conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research found that primary school leaders expect about half the families to keep their children home.Principal Claire Syms at the Halley House School in east London said children who do turn up need to feel comfortable in an unfamiliar setting where the desks are spaced out and many around them wear masks.”We’ve been really conscious about keeping things as normal and as consistent as we can for our children,” Syms told AFP. “We’re really mindful of their wellbeing and their mental health.”The UK government has been encouraged by the positive experience of other European countries that have started to return to something resembling normal life.The House of Commons will debate a government push to get everyone to start voting in person instead of remotely when parliament returns from a break on Tuesday.But critics of the easing believe the so-called R rate of transmission — estimated nationally at between 0.7 and 0.9 — was still dangerously close to the 1.0 figure above which the virus’ spread grows. Younger children went back to schools in England on Monday as Britain began to stir back to life, while the government reported the lowest coronavirus death toll since the start of the national lockdown in late March.Outdoor markets also swung open their gates and car showrooms tried to lure back customers and recoup losses suffered since Britain effectively shut down for business to ward off a disease that has now officially claimed 39,045 lives in the country.Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Britain was making “significant progress” against the virus after its daily toll dropped to 111 — the lowest since the stay-at-home order was issued on March 23. Reporting of virus cases and fatalities is often lower after a weekend and many people still appeared hesitant to start using public transport or shop.”It’s very different from usual,” Danish Londoner John Jellesmark said on a visit to the usually bustling Camden Market in the north of the capital.”It’s still pretty slow. It looks like the market is basically waking up.”last_img read more