Friday, May 28, 2010


Too unfit to run: Two-year-old who smokes 40 cigarettes a day puffs away on a toy truck



Last updated at 2:59 PM on 27th May 2010

At just the tender age of two, Ardi Rizal's health has been so ruined by his 40-a-day habit that he now struggles to move by himself.

The four-stone Indonesia toddler is certainly far too unfit to run around with other children - and his condition is set to rapidly deteriorate.

Truck on bad habits: Ardi Rizal sits smoking on his favourite toy at home in Musi Banyuasin, Indonesia

Truck on bad habits: Ardi Rizal

sits smoking on his favourite toy at home in Musi Banyuasin, Indonesia

But, despite local officials' offer to buy the Rizal family a new car if the boy quits, his parents feel unable to stop him because he throws massive tantrums if they don't indulge him.

His mother, Diana, 26, wept: 'He's totally addicted. If he doesn't get cigarettes, he gets angry and screams and batters his head against the wall. He tells me he feels dizzy and sick.'

Ardi will smoke only one brand and his habit costs his parents £3.78 a day in Musi Banyuasin, in Indonesia's South Sumatra province.

But in spite of this, his fishmonger father Mohammed, 30, said: 'He looks pretty healthy to me. I don't see the problem.'

Ardi's youth is the extreme of a disturbing trend. Data from the Central Statistics Agency showed 25 per cent of Indonesian children aged three to 15 have tried cigarettes, with 3.2 per cent of those active smokers.

The percentage of five to nine year olds lighting up increased from 0.4 per cent in 2001 to 2.8 per cent in 2004, the agency


Gun smoke: Four-stone Ardi puffs one of 40 cigarettes he smokes a day while toting a water pistol

Gun smoke: Four-stone Ardi puffs one of 40 cigarettes he smokes a day while toting a water pistol

A video of a four-year-old Indonesian boy blowing smoke rings appeared briefly on YouTube in March, prompting outrage before it was removed from the site.

Child advocates are speaking out about the health damage to children from second-hand smoke, and the growing pressure on them to smoke in a country where one-third of the population uses tobacco and single cigarettes can be bought for a few cents.

Seto Mulyadi, chairman of Indonesia's child protection commission, blames the increase on aggressive advertising and parents who are smokers.

'A law to protect children and passive smokers should be introduced immediately in this country,' he said.

A health law passed in 2009 formally recognizes that smoking is addictive, and an anti-smoking coalition is pushing for tighter restrictions on smoking in public places, advertising bans and bigger health warnings on cigarette packages.

Puff baby: Ardi blows smoke while trundling around on his truck

Puff baby: Ardi blows smoke while trundling around on his truck

But a bill on tobacco control has been stalled because of opposition from the tobacco industry.

The bill would ban cigarette advertising and sponsorship, prohibit smoking in public, and add graphic images to packaging.

Benny Wahyudi, a senior official at the Industry Ministry, said the government had initiated a plan to try to limit the number of smokers, including dropping production to 240 billion cigarettes this year, from 245 billion in 2009.

'The government is aware of the impact of smoking on health and has taken efforts, including lowering cigarette production, increasing its tax and limiting smoking areas,' he said.

Mr Mulyadi said a ban on advertising is key to putting the brakes on child and teen smoking.

'If cigarette advertising is not banned, there will be more kids whose lives are threatened because of smoking,' he said.

Ubiquitous advertising hit a bump last month when a cigarette company was forced to withdraw its sponsorship of pop star Kelly Clarkson's concert following protests from fans and anti-tobacco groups.

Always having a break: Ardi, who is rarely seen without a cigarette, insists on the same brand, costing £78 a day

Always having a break: Ardi, who is rarely seen without a cigarette, insists on the same brand, costing £3.78 a day

However, imposing a non-smoking message will be difficult in Indonesia, the world's third-largest tobacco consumer.

Tubagus Haryo Karbyanto, a member of the National Commission of Tobacco Control, said Indonesia must also address the social conditions that lead to smoking, such as family influence and peer pressure.

'The promotion of health has to be integrated down to the smallest units in our society, from public health centres and local health care centres to the family,' he was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Globe on Friday.

Health Minister Endang Sedyaningsih conceded turning young people off smoking will be difficult in a country where it is perceived as positive because cigarette companies sponsor everything from scholarships to sporting events.

'This is the challenge we face in protecting youth from the dangers of smoking,' she said in a statement on the ministry's website.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


In THAILAND where we are, the heat is unbearable and the civil war is fiercely intense.

All of us are out on a limb, emotionally drained and physically frustrated.

Hoping for a truce soon, we might as well switch subject, lest we go bonkers.

Whilst the incidents of the past few months were ugly, let us embrace the beauty in women for a change.

It’d be so wickedly wonderful to watch sexy nubile women running down the streets naked as cheerleaders to assure us the worse is finally over, and that business is back to normalcy.

Ahhhh …..anyway ….


The lilting romantic song from the musical SOUTH PACIFIC says it all.



“I touch your hands
And my heart grows strong,
Like a pair of birds
That burst with song.
My eyes look down
At your lovely face,
And I hold a world
In my embrace.

Younger than springtime, are you
Softer than starlight, are you,
Warmer than winds of June,
Are the gentle lips you gave me.
Gayer than laughter, are you,
Sweeter than music, are you,
Angel and lover, heaven and earth,
Are you to me.

And when your youth
And joy invade my arms,
And fill my heart as now they do,
Then younger than springtime, am I,
Gayer than laughter, am I,
Angel and lover, heaven and earth,
Am I with you!

And when your youth
And joy invade my arms,
And fill my heart as now they do,

Then younger than springtime, am I,
Gayer than laughter, am I,
Angel and lover, heaven and earth,
Am I with you.”

Now we are feeling a lot better.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

BYRON PANG lead Actor from controversial film AMPHETAMINE 安非他命. “Now, take a PEEK into the MIRROR of my SOUL.”

BYRON PANG lead actor from AMPHETAMINE talks about his difficult Role as KAFKA.

Outside, the rain is pelting incessantly.

Inside, he appears a trifle miffed by the occasional unwarranted stares he received from passers-by.

Or did I espy a trace of disenchantment on his face as he looks over his shoulders?

He is BYRON PANG, the lead actor from the controversial Hong Kong film AMPHETAMINE.

It’s 8 am in the morning and we are having tea-and-toasts at my suggestion, in a little known street cafe of Wanchai to soak in the old-age charm.

“I’m a loner and I chose to be one,” he implores.

.“Yet I can be pretty lonesome too, at times, especially at times when friends and family do not understand me.”

Yeah, poet Francis Bacon did say:

Little do men perceive what solitude is, and how far it extendeth.

For a crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures,

and talk but a tinkling cymbal

where there is no love.

BYRON PANG plays KAFKA a drug addictive bisexual in AMPHETAMINE.

“I had to appear full frontal naked in principal scenes of the movie. It was extremely awkward at first. I did not like it in fact, but it was part of my responsibility as an actor ….

Fortunately I had an understanding director, a great cinematographer and a marvelous script and this professional team helped to ease the load.

I had to undergo a paradox of emotions from intense joy, pain, angst to manic depression.

How much more could anyone take?

I gave my all, and everything worked out fine in the end and we got a hit movie.”

After two months of emotionally-draining shooting, plunging himself deep into the screen role of a tortuous drug addict, Byron’s persona took a severe beating from being too self-absorbing that he “became KAFKA” subconsciously in real life.

“It was hard, real hard, to “break away” from the doomed character of KAFKA, even after the entire film wrapped, to the point of breaking down,” he adds.

Byron reiterates that he does not aim to be controversial, given the choice.

“I tend to be melancholic as a trait,” he sighs. “It’s hard to find real friends in this industry. Everyone is wearing a facade and an actor is just a piece of cake to be utilized.”

He suddenly breaks into melody, humming the theme song from the award winning movie ECHOES OF THE RAINBOW.

“The lyrics are simple and soulful,” he offers, “and Aarif Lee the singer sings it well.”

” … softly sighs the rainbow,

misty songs of old,

flowing by the skyline,

my secret lullaby.

Softly sighs the rainbow,

stories seldom told,

flowing by the skyline,

my love songs never rhyme.

I stand alone,

lingering by my secret rainbow

Now ….

Ah … My secret rainbow …..”

Are you in a relationship now? I ask.

“No, I haven’t had a proper relationship for a while. When you are in love,” he ponders philosophically,” there’s always this ray of sunshine surrounding you.”

But what when love dies?

“We make mistakes, big and small.

We pledge commitment, in all sincerity, to another person, only to realise later that our love and passion for the person isn’t as deep as we once thought and believed.

From there follows the broken promise, the bitterness and heartache and the guilt of having misled someone despite our best intentions.”

In love and relationship, you either get hurt or you hurt someone.

That’s no two ways about it.

You have to deal with the hurts.

And life has to move on.

We have already taken a peek into the mirror of BYRON’s soul ….

Now, would you like to hear BYRON’s latest favorite song ECHOES OF THE RAINBOW?

Here’s one version from you, but it is dedicated to actor Jerry Yan. Anyway, enjoy!

From COUP 2006 to CLASS WAR 2010. Who will emerge as the eventual WINNER?


That was year 2006.

Now it’s a CLASS WAR 2010,

It’s when the rich get richer

because money enables everything,

And the poor get poorer

because the lack of the baht creates massive fear, discontent and obvious insecurity.

Whatever the case ……

If deadlocks are not met,

Very soon it will be one big nasty civil war!


Unsettling times are here, business, holiday or otherwise.

What on earth is happening to the romantic land of a thousand “wais”?

Where are all those ever ready put-on smiles for the camera?

What has divided ‘the Land of Smiles’?

A Buddhist kingdom, Thailand is polarised between its elites and the poor in a struggle for power that has turned Bangkok into a war zone. The violence is threatening Thailand’s vital tourism industry. Although 800,000 Britons a year holiday in the kingdom, there have been mass cancellations since the Foreign Office warned about the risks to visitors.

What started it?

In 2006, Thaksin Shinawatra, the popular prime minister, was ousted in a military coup:

a miscalculation that made him a hero to the masses. Most polls suggest he would win any free and fair election. But Thaksin, a billionaire telecoms tycoon turned politician, is feared and hated by his rivals in the elite. They will do anything to stop him coming back.

Who are the Red Shirts?

They started out supporting Thaksin but are now a mass movement preaching social change and class war politics. They are a challenge to the old order, which is built around the monarchy and the army. Among their ranks they include students and activists, as well as many down-to-earth villagers.

What do the protesters want?

They regard the prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, a British-born Newcastle United supporter who came to power in December 2008, as a puppet of the military.

They are demanding that he dissolve parliament and call elections.

What’s going to happen?

Thailand’s old hierarchy is on the way out. The gap between rich and poor is too wide. Discussion of Thailand’s most important institution, the monarchy, is stifled by strict laws. The revered King Bhumibol is old and sick. A privileged class of courtiers, soldiers and businessmen could see their status threatened, so there could be much more bloodshed before any genuine reform.

Now, when two elephants are fighting ….

The grass beneath gets trampled upon.

Haven’t you heard?


Sunday, May 16, 2010


The world offers everyone a golden opportunity,

In making life more meaningful and with tranquility,

Roses planted in each garden enhances its beauty,
Tendered with care, it continues to grow in prosperity.

Love makes the world go around in peace and harmony,
In places where man had fought with bitterness and hate,

A path of ugly destruction uproots its serenity,
That leads us to find answers to its morbid state.

A fallen world leaves us with many deep uncertainties,
As we investigate its torn threads and gather lost strength …..

To build a bright future, in exploration of the humanities,
Thus, conquers our fears, as we celebrate in great length.

Man’s knowledge and discovery of his inner and outer world,
Creates a playground for changes in the environment,

Be it a simple task that can alleviate human suffering,
In extending life its daily dose of peace and contentment.

Making a difference is a potential desire to be instilled,
As a personal trait to be fulfilled in each and every aspect,

Of the human race, in its vast culture and religion,
A solidarity given to all minds, open with love and respect.