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Human rights, law and development Online The Asia Sentinel, Hong Kong: www.asiasentinel.com The Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong: www.humanrights.asia The Historical Justice and Memory Research Network at the at The Swinburne Institute for Social Research, Australia: www.historicaljusticeandmemorynetwork.ne DIGNITY - The Danish Institute Against Torture, Copenhagen: www.dignityinstitute.dk Human Rights Monitor Quarterly for the International Service for Human Rights, Geneva: www.ishr.ch Groundviews, Sri Lanka: www.groundviews.org The Guardian, London: www.guardian.co.uk Open Democracy, London: www.opendemocracy.net Oxford Human Rights Hub, Oxford: ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk Penal Reform International, London: www.penalreform.org/blog The Social Science Research Network: www.ssrn.com Say-NO-UNiTE (UN Portal): http://saynotoviolence.org/ University of Essex Human Rights Centre Blog, blogs.essex.ac.uk/hrc UN Women: www.unwomen.org Books, Journals, Reports and Newspapers Article 2, Hong Kong Criminal Law Reform and Transitional Justice: Human Rights Perspectives for Sudan, (as sub-editor), Ed. Lutz Oette of the Redress Trust, UK DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture, Publication Series on Torture and Organised Violence (Report), www.dignityinstitute.org Ethics in Action, Hong Kong The Jakarta Post, Jakarta The International Crisis Group (Reports), Brussels The Inter Press Service, Rome The International Service ... Read the full article

Between the lines

South China Morning Post, 1 November , 2009 Bali has become home base for the pan-Asian literati With its old craft culture, mildly bohemian cafes and array of misty hilltop vistas, Ubud in Bali seems to have grown almost to fit its twin industries of art and tourism; travelers here have been feeling the pull of poetry, paint and drama for decades. But where this reputation had always been more of a well kept secret or a nice surprise, it is now official: bottled, capped and priced for the greater good each October, as the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. Now for four days every autumn the town’s venues – its museums, restaurants, bars and yoga studios – become host to professional wordsmiths and their fans as they grapple with literary themes over thick Bali-grown coffee. Sound good? Well it is, mostly. With its ... Read the full article

A Great Dame

  September 2010, The South China Morning Post, Hong Kong Veteran British actress Jane Seymour shares about life beyond Bond, her run-ins with Cantonese cuss words, and her recent renown as a Hollywood 'cougar' Guys and dolls I started out with a speech impediment and flat feet – I had to practice my Rs and take dance lessons. I ended up dancing with the Kirov Ballet at Covent Garden, hurt myself and became an actress by default. I started with a James Bond movie at 20 and I clearly didn’t know what I was doing. I finished that and went into theatre and shocked the newspapers, who kept saying I’d failed miserably because I was now being paid 12 pounds a week playing Nora in Ibsen’s Doll House instead of being a movie star... I just felt that I had a lot to ... Read the full article

A Brit Above

South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, 25 June 2010 British designer Tom Dixon brings his glam rock style to Hong Kong It isn't often a designer has to rein in his vision for Hong Kong's high-end club scene. Yet as Tom Dixon surveys his latest landscape, he has a few lingering regrets. Tazmania Ballroom in SoHo, the latest nightclub from the creators of Dragon-i, already boasts geometric wall buttresses, clustered globular chandeliers and brass pool tables, with imitation book shelves in white plaster that give it an ironic scholarly tone. Yet, "I was thinking water dripping down granite, and moss on the walls", Dixon laments. "And there was going to be a small fish and chip shop. But there wasn't enough ... Read the full article

Walls of Fame

South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, 10 May 2010 For four decades Maya Romanoff has been leading interior fashion into realms both bizarre and beautiful Brace yourselves: tie dye is back and it is trying to take your home by sneak assault. Wall-ware emperor Maya Romanoff may be best known for surfaces swathed in Swarovski crystals and tortoiseshell, but he has marked his brand’s new milestone with a nod to simpler times, when he was largely known as the man who could tie dye a wall. Celebrating four decades, the brand’s Anniversary Collection brings back the psychedelic patterns of its seventies debut, but contemporized and camouflaged with colours by New York-based designer Amy Lau. It is a nostalgia being indulged. New York’s Museum of Art and Design ... Read the full article

The World’s Forgotten

‘The World's Forgotten', Asia Sentinel Hong Kong, 19 April 2010, reprinted as an Op-ed in the Jakarta Globe, Indonesia Millions of detainees across the globe remain in filthy, crowded and unsanitary prisons (See online version here) As the UN's top investigator into torture and punishment prepares to end his term later this year, he has focused on a group people whom he has long called the globe's "most vulnerable" to discrimination and to neglect. Detainees, says Dr Manfred Nowak, have become the world's forgotten. The theme has become central to the Austrian professor's six-year tenure, and in the most recent session of the Human Rights Council this March he strongly reiterated his call for a new convention to protect them. Where other forms of discrimination are strongly represented in global social movements, the plight of those considered "criminal" tends ... Read the full article

A Luang Prabang guide

For Smart Travel Asia, written in 2007, regularly updated. First you have to get to Laos. Then you can enjoy the incredible temples, the charm, shopping, and laid-back lifestyle, not to mention some fine Luang Prabang boutique hotels. THERE IS a reason why Luang Prabang remains the town that time forgot. It’s bloody hard to get to. Snuggled well in the treacherously undulating northwest of Laos it was, until recently, served by just two alarming modes of travel. The first was Lao Airlines – a carrier essentially blacklisted by the US Embassy, the UN, and other companies that prefer their employees whole. The second was a punishing ten-hour bus journey from the capital Vientiane, at the mercy of bandits, and a million sharp turns. Yet the lure of gilded spires, ... Read the full article

Philippines Massacre: ‘They Made a Monster’

January 8, 2010, Guardian Weekly, UK Reprinted in the Sri Lanka Guardian For an uncut version of the interview, click here. (Link coming soon) Joseph Jubelag narrowly escaped the November massacre in Maguindanao, the Philippines, which claimed the lives of 57 people – 31 of them fellow journalists. They were allegedly murdered by a candidate for governor, part of a ruling family dynasty accused of war lordism. Jubelag expects the trial to bring a backlash against the private militias that are allowed to be kept by politicians for reasons of national security, as well as against President Arroyo for her past protection of the notorious clan. In the Philippines, local governments are allowed to ... Read the full article

The China Challenge

Prestige, Hong Kong, October 2009 US-trained designer Lyndon Neri had a hard time getting used to the mainland, but now he's revelling in the challenges. Though passion is imperative in any good designer, it can be taken too far. This is something Lyndon Neri learned on the day he accidentally collapsed his own lungs. “I wasn’t well and I hadn’t slept for three days straight. So I spent two days in hospital then went straight back into studying again,” chuckles the designer of his breakdown at Harvard. “It probably wasn’t the best approach.” Back then the man who would later co-found the Neri and Hu Design and Research Office in Shanghai had been throwing himself full tilt into his thesis, about a pocket of a Californian Chinatown ... Read the full article

Full Steam

October 2008, Discovery Magazine, China Jo Baker takes the waters in Taipei   The air was dark and tinged with cool, old trees struck dramatic poses against the night sky and below them, a near-naked elderly man waxed lyrical about the stars. “This is a good place,” he said, a blue towel twisted jauntily around his head. “Out in the open air with the stars, the moon. It’s a very good way to relax.” The scene was a hopping Friday night at a Taiwanese public hot springs; the place, a sleepy town called Xin Beitou, just north of Taipei. When the Japanese gave up Taiwan after World War II they left a number of lingering legacies, among them great sushi and a penchant for orderly queues. But their ... Read the full article

A Thankless Task

August 22, 2009, South China Morning Post, Hong Kong August 27, Sri Lanka Guardian, Sri Lanka, and and as ‘Thankless tasks: Rights defenders in Sri Lanka & Pakistan’ in Selected Articles on politics, human rights & the rule of law in South Asia, Article 2, Vol. 08 - No. 03, September 2009 (PDF) As a truth commission secretary MCM Iqbal helped gathered evidence on thousands of forced disappearances in Sri Lanka, only to see it disappear itself As President Mahinda Rajapaksa speaks of ushering Sri Lankans into a new era of peace, a slight, bespectacled man in his sixties watches him from across an ocean with the weariness of a man who has tried and failed to call his bluff. MCM ... Read the full article

Polo Returns to China

March 2008, Prestige Magazine, Hong Kong Jo Baker delves into the Middle Kingdom’s new highlife on horseback Download original: Prestige Polo A line of Australia’s finest polo ponies fidget unhappily in their stalls, one picking moodily at the stable planks with his well-bred teeth. China is in the throes of its worst winter in fifty years, and it’s not only the people here that are suffering. “They don’t really like being inside,” says Romiro Pellegrini, a young vet and skillful Polo player from Argentina. “They’re athletes. They want to be out playing, and this snow just gets them down.” The ponies of China’s new Nine Dragons Hill Polo Club may well be dreaming of last October; three days in which man and horse tussled on a field of verdant grass to a backdrop of fizzing champagne, hats of architectural daring ... Read the full article

Love is in the wear

  South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, April 24, 2009 Architecture with a lived-in touch is winning hearts When architect Bill Bensley was asked to design a hotel in Phuket not long after the tsunami, he found himself wanting to give it a deeper layer of meaning. That layer was found by his team of Thai and Indonesian designers at salvage auctions in the area, where they bought driftwood and other bits of wreckage wrought by the giant wave, and incorporated them into the hotel, Indigo Pearl. “We picked up a whole lot of materials and in various innovative ways reused them, in the structure, in sculptures,” he recalls. The hotel, which also uses a lot of old tin in tribute to the area’s tin mining history, has received rave reviews for its vision and its sensitivity. Using architectural salvage like this is ... Read the full article

Stay Overnight in a Turkish Mansion

May 14, 2009, Time Magazine "Make yourself at home" may be a refrain heard in guesthouses the world over, but it takes on new meaning when it comes from one of your host country's wealthiest families — and when your temporary "home" is their mansion. The Buyukkusoglu family, who made their fortune in the automotive industry, converted their 48,400-sq-ft (4,500 sq m) modern manor house in Bodrum, Turkey, on the edge of the Aegean Sea into a 12-suite hotel, and in 2007 opened it to paying guests as the Casa Dell'Arte. "We wanted the hotel to still feel like a house, and to be very social," says owner Fatos Buyukkusoglu, who led the hotel's design team and lives in a ... Read the full article

Basic Instincts

South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, March 27, 2009 Keeping it simple is the order of the day as people seek comfort in uncertain times The opening of high-end serviced apartments in Sheung Wan last month saw a rare aesthetic for Hong Kong: the Yin’s 42 studios offer glimpses of brickwork, flashes of exposed piping, and baths carved out of stone blocks. This kind of warehouse-hip has been run-of-the-mill in other cities for years, yet in Hong Kong it has always struggled, and usually drowned, under heaps of suede, crystal and polished wood. Still, Philip Liao of design firm Liao and Partners thought that now might be the time to give it a go – albeit with a sanitized and slightly Zen-like twist. “I ... Read the full article

Dalian Wonder

March 2009, Silkroad Magazine, China A colourful past has created a bright future for this cosmopolitan city “You won’t find much of China in Dalian,” one foreign resident recently observed over coffee, and he has a point. At one time Russian, another Japanese and with a host of names and identities in its recent past, Dalian is as famous today for its female ‘mounties’ on horseback and its links with Canon and Mitsubishi, as it is its excellent sea food.  But on one of its famously clear days in one of the many squares, watching couples parade and old men practice water calligraphy, Dalian can also be the best of China. Many agree, and it has been voted one of the most ... Read the full article