Myanmar or Burma, what’s in a name?

Sanne van Oosten A rose by any other name will still smell as sweet…? Well, Shakespeare, you might just be wrong about that one. The two names Myanmar and Burma are often used interchangeably but have incredibly different implications. Burma was the name that came into fashion during the British colonial period in the second half of the 19th century. Myanmar was the replacement of that name instated by the military junta in 1989. Opposition leader and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi prefers the name Burma because, as she has stated in various media: “the name was changed without any reference to the will of the people.” Even though I tend to side with Aung San Suu Kyi on just about any issue concerning the country’s politics, I think using the  name Burma requires some rethinking. This name might just not smell as sweet to all of the people living in Burma/Myanmar. Read More…

FIFA: Being A Woman Is A Disability


Valerie Achille

FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) constantly pats itself on the back for promoting women’s football. One of FIFA stated missions is to “promote the development of women’s football and pledge to support women’s football financially.” Yet, controversial statements in the official “Laws of The Game” documentation has left people questioning whether this is another example of FIFA’s never-ending sex discrimination.

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pixadores Lotte van Geijn

Last week, I went to see  Pixadores on the IDFA-festival (the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam). It was the world- première. The director was present. He said that he started his project in 2010 and it eventually led to this documentary. A small part of his formal script included ‘train-surfing’, but because this does nor occur in Helsinki, the place where he lives, he decided to go the Brazil. In Sao Paulo he met a group of four guys. They showed him how to train-surf.

When you train-surf, you climb out of the window of a moving metro onto the roof. When you are on the rooftop you take the pose of ‘surfing the metro’, with your nose in the wind. It is a moment you can leave all your problems behind and just enjoy the kick and the adrenalin rush.

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Liberia, the land of signs

Graham Askey

I’d hesitate to recommend a decent and well publicized war as a development policy, but ten years of aid after Liberia’s horrors there are improvements due to foreign agencies which would never have occurred otherwise. If there is one thing aid agencies love doing it’s making sure everyone knows what they have been up to. Thus, crops of signs have sprung up everywhere promoting their good deeds. Even driving through small villages you can pass a cluster of them, counts of the toilets provided or the worthy provision of a school building. Elsewhere signs advocate good health and hygiene practice ( the words pee pee and poo poo spelling things out in language everyone will understand) and combatting violence against women and children. It’s a striking contrast to the crumbling wreck of Guinea where the characteristic white 4×4′s of aid agencies are a rare sight indeed, despite the evident need.

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Are You Sure You Are Pretty?

Whitening lotion

Efi Yanuar

We all know that the media always has their own perspective about the perfect girl/woman. But, I hope you will not get bored if I tell you how media in Indonesia always change their ideal girl/woman.

For the past, maybe, 10-15 years, media in Indonesia changed the criteria of beauty several times. No matter how many times it changes, I’ve never matched their criteria.

When I was 10-12 years old, there was one commercial that I still remember untill now. There were twin girls, Santi and Sinta. They were walking by the beach, but Santi didn’t feel comfortable to walk with her sister. The main reason is she is not as white as Sinta. All eyes (read: boys) are on Sinta.

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A reaction to: Brunei, the most loved repressive regime in the world?

Teah Abdullah

An introduction by the editor: In recent days Brunei has been in the international news for implementing Sharia law including laws that allow publicly stoning homosexuals to death, cutting off limbs by the justice system and floggings for robbery. A few years ago a blog by Sanne van Oosten was written about this subject. Even though these specific laws weren’t implemented then yet, severe punishments for seemingly small or non-existent offences did already exist. Despite these laws, Sanne van Oosten was amazed by the love with which the people of Brunei spoke of their country. One could say that they are afraid to state their opinion as the regime is so repressive, but that really didn’t seem to be the case here. The people of Brunei really love their country. The blog was received with a host of angry reactions from inhabitants of Brunei, thus underlining the main hypothesis of the article. One reaction, however, was very interesting and enlightening. That was this reaction by Teah Abdullah.

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Jakarta on top

Efi Januar

People say the number of skyscrapers in a city’s skyline is a sign of development. The more skyscrapers a region has, the more developed it is. Is it true? I spent almost all of my life in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. I lived in the outskirts of Jakarta. The highest building I see the most is the tip of the mosque in neighborhood, if we put the tower of base transceiver stations aside. Being in my neighborhood is bliss for me. Why? Because we “stay” on the ground, me and my neighbors are equal, we stand on the same ground.

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12 things you’ll only see in the Philippines

Davey Meelker

Having travelled throughout all of Southeast Asia, one country really stood out: the Philippines. Somehow it is completely different from all the other ASEAN countries we’ve visited. Is it because of the strong hold the colonial Spaniards had on the country? Is it because of the influence of the Catholic Church? Does it have to do with American colonial influence? Or does it have to do with the fact that the Philippines consist of a large number of small islands? I can’t give you the answer to this, but what I do know is that there are plenty of things you’ll not encounter anywhere else in the region… or in the world for that matter.

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Just to be on the safe side: scare the population

Davey Meelker

In our trip through China we couldn’t help but notice the many security measurements. In our view this is greatly exaggerated, since China seems like such a safe country. Probably safer than many places in the West. So why are these severe security measures necessary? Many say it is needed to control the population, but is it also plausible that it is needed to justify Chinese repressive policies?

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What will become of China? Maybe the predictions aren’t always right

Sanne van Oosten

When will China overtake the US as largest economy in the world? OECD predicted that this will be by 2015, Goldman Sachs predictes 2025 and the World Bank predicted 2030.  New research suggests it will rather be sooner than later. However, these reports often don’t include many social and political factors, which are hard to predict. China will face many challenges the upcoming years.

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