The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, February 18, 2019, Page Page 4, Image 4

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February 18, 2019
Historic candidacy of princess
upends tradition in Thailand
By Grant Peck
The Associated Press
ANGKOK — A Thai political party
named a princess as its nominee to
be the next prime minister,
upending the tradition of the palace
eschewing politics and upsetting all
predictions about what might happen in
the upcoming elections.
The selection of Princess Ubolratana
Mahidol by the Thai Raksa Chart Party
marks a shock realignment of Thai politics
by tying the king’s eldest sister to the
political machine of former Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra, which hardcore
royalists have long dismissed as opposed
in spirit to the monarchy.
And it pits her against the preferred
candidate of the military, which is
considered one of Thailand’s most royalist
Current Prime Minister Prayuth
Chan-ocha, who led the 2014 coup that
government, accepted his selection as
candidate to lead the next government by
Palang Pracharat Party, widely seen as a
proxy for the military.
Prayuth had been considered the
frontrunner for the March 24 polls because
changes in constitutional law and election
rules were implemented by his govern-
ment in a manner making it difficult for
political parties without military backing
to capture the premier’s post.
LOYALTY CAMPAIGN. Students make story boards depicting North Korean flags being raised during a
multimedia production class at Pyongyang Teachers’ University, a teacher training college, in Pyongyang, North
Korea. North Korea is stepping up a new loyalty campaign that began with the introduction of a song in praise of
the nation’s flag. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
North Korea pushing flag at
center of new loyalty campaign
By Eric Talmadge
The Associated Press
YONGYANG, North Korea —
North Korea is stepping up a new
loyalty campaign as leader Kim
Jong Un prepares for his second summit
with President Donald Trump.
The campaign began in January with
the introduction of a song in praise of the
nation’s flag.
A video now being aired on state-run
television to promote the song — called
“Our National Flag” — shows repeated
images of the flag being raised at
international sports competitions and
being formed by a sea of people holding up
colored lengths of cloth at a parade and
rally on Kim Il Sung Square. Other images
show recent improvements in the economy
and standard of living, a reflection of a
current government policy shift that
focuses on development and prosperity.
The video is a departure from the tone of
propaganda that dominated just two years
ago, when tensions with Washington were
escalating and the focus was on North
Korea’s successful missile tests.
In the summer of 2017, the country’s
most popular musical group, the
all-female Moranbong Band, released
“The Song of the Hwasong Rocket” to
commemorate the successful launch of
North Korea’s first intercontinental
ballistic missile. They also performed at
concerts with big-screen images of the
ICBM behind them.
The new video incorporates imagery
from the most recent mass games event,
which was staged last September to mark
the country’s 70th anniversary. It briefly
shows troops at attention during a
Have a safe
and prosperous
Year of the Pig!!
February 5, 2019 to
January 24, 2020
The Asian Reporter’s Lunar New
Year special section in honor of
the Year of the Pig is available
online at <>.
military parade and fighter jets creating
smoke trails in the national colors of blue,
red, and white. But it also is interspersed
with shots of civilians marching at the
same parade, clips of new high-rise
apartments in the capital, Pyongyang,
fireworks displays, and rows of students in
their school uniforms.
Lyrics to “Our National Flag” have been
distributed widely. Large posters showing
the flag and the lyrics are being displayed
in factories.
The song opens with the lines, “As we
watch our blue-red banner flying sky high,
our hearts are bursting with the blood of
patriotism. We feel the breath of our
nation as the flag strongly flaps in the
wind. The flag as important as life carries
the fate of our people. We will love the
shining flag of our nation. Please fly until
the end of this world.”
A note above one poster seen by The
Associated Press urged workers at the Kim
Jong Suk Textile Factory in Pyongyang to
study the song closely.
Coming after years of what had seemed
to be deepening hostility, Kim’s outreach
to Washington and his Chinese and South
Korean neighbors presents a bit of a
conundrum for North Korea’s propaganda
Few details of Kim’s negotiations with
Trump over the future of North Korea’s
nuclear arsenal have been made public in
the North. The official media have instead
focused on how Kim has been welcomed on
the world stage and asserted that he is
leading the way to defuse tensions on the
Korean Peninsula.
But the nationalist call for unity and the
less-militaristic message of the new video
are in keeping with an effort in North
Korea to dial back its public displays of
overtly anti-U.S. propaganda and redirect
attention to Kim’s current priority of
mobilizing the entire country behind
improving the economy.
Kim unveiled that shift in his New
Year’s address last year, opening the door
to a stunning series of summits with
Chinese leader Xi Jinping, South Korean
President Moon Jae-in, and, last June,
with Trump in Singapore.
Kim has since made some big strides
with Beijing and Seoul toward undercut-
ting support for the U.S.-backed sanctions
that have constrained his development
Though little progress has been made on
Washington’s main concern, denucleari-
zation, Trump announced during his State
of the Union address that he will again
meet with Kim, this time in Vietnam on
February 27 and 28.
Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung in
Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.
N. Korea exploring sanctions-
proof energy technologies
By Eric Talmadge
The Associated Press
Power-strapped North Korea is
exploring ambitious alternative
energy sources — tidal power and
coal-based synthetic fuels — that could
greatly improve living standards and
reduce its reliance on oil imports and
vulnerability to sanctions.
Finding a lasting energy source that
isn’t vulnerable to sanctions has been a
priority for North Korean officials. Leader
Kim Jong Un used his New Year’s address
to call on the country to “radically increase
the production of electricity” and singled
out the coal-mining industry as a “primary
front in developing the self-supporting
Since further development of atomic
energy is unlikely anytime soon, the
power-scarce country is developing
technology to “gasify” coal into substitute
motor fuels. It also is looking into using sea
turbines to harness the power of the
ocean’s tides.
Two South Koreans arrested in
Croatia trying to smuggle eels
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatian
police say two South Korean citizens were
arrested after trying to smuggle about
252,000 live eels out of the country.
The two, ages 38 and 47, were caught
with the young fish packed in eight cases
at Zagreb’s international airport. Their
names were not provided.
They were arrested because European
eels are a protected species. Croatian
media say their market value is estimated
at 180,000 euros ($204,000).
Eels are commonly used in Korean,
Chinese, and Japanese cuisine. The dishes
are popular but can be expensive.
Croatian authorities said the two face
charges of “destroying protected natural
goods.” They could end up in jail if
Police said the fish were handed over to
the Zagreb zoo.
ROYAL CANDIDATE. Thai Princess Ubolratana
Mahidol waves to Thai people outside the Grand Pal-
ace in Bangkok, Thailand, in this October 27, 2017
file photo. The Thai Raksa Chart Party has named the
princess as its nominee to be the next prime minister,
upending the tradition of the palace eschewing politics
and upsetting all predictions about what might happen
in the upcoming elections. (AP Photo, File)
But Ubolratana’s de facto alliance with
the forces of the exiled Thaksin — whose
comeback the military has made every
effort to block — puts Prayuth’s supporters
in an extremely awkward position.
Because she will be seen as a
representative of the monarchy — the
nation’s most revered and respected
institution — it will be difficult to block her
political rise.
“This is a game changer,” said Allen
Hicken, a political scientist at the
University of Michigan specializing in
Southeast Asian studies. “In the event
Thaksin-aligned parties win the election,
Continued on page 13
Malaysia crowns
Pahang state’s Sultan
Abdullah as 16th king
Continued from page 3
monarch is highly regarded as the
guardian of Islam and Malay tradition,
particularly among the ethnic Malay
Muslim majority.
The king is the nominal head of the
government and armed forces. All laws,
cabinet appointments, and the dissolution
of parliament for general elections require
his assent. The king also issues pardons
for criminals. Malaysia’s constitution
allocates some 5 million ringgit ($1.21
million) a year for the expenses of the king
and his household, including palace
maintenance, although the sum can be
increased with cabinet approval.
Study says a third of
Himalayan glaciers can
no longer be saved
Continued from page 3
ing average global temperatures from
rising by more than 2º C, or 1.5º C if
According to a recent report by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, emissions of the most abundant
greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, would
need to be reduced to a level the planet can
absorb — known as net zero — by 2050 to
keep global warming at 1.5º C as envisaged
in the agreement.
The International Centre for Integrated
Mountain Development said the study
included work by more than 350
researchers and policy experts from 22
countries. It said it had 210 authors and
125 external reviewers.
The Kathmandu-based center said it
countries, non-regional countries such as
Australia, Austria, Norway, Switzerland,
and the United Kingdom, and other
international programs such as USAID.
Associated Press writer Elaine Kurtenbach
in Bangkok contributed to this report.