‘Hunger Games’ Salute, Facebook outage and more: a Belated Roundup of Thai Coup Stories

As I mentioned in my previous post, I traveled to Bangkok to help out with our coverage following the May 22 military coup.

Here are links to a few of the stories I worked on:

And, perhaps most memorably:

The lede:

Anti-coup protesters in Thailand are adopting a symbol of resistance from a science fiction movie in which citizens struggle against a tyrannical government in a dark, dystopian future.

A few dozen demonstrators on Sunday gathered in a flash-mob style protest at a Bangkok shopping mall, where many held anti-army signs and raised their hands in a three fingered salute aimed at nearby troops.

The gestures were similar to those used by heroine Katniss Everdeen and other characters in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” a globally popular movie based on one of Suzanne Collins’s hit trilogy of books. Western films and other popular culture are widely consumed in Thailand.

To hear me discussing the three-fingered “Hunger Games” salute, see the WSJ Live video embedded above and online here.

And finally, for more on the Facebook issue, see this story I wrote just a few days ago:

Our Stories on Anti-Coup Protests and Social Media in Thailand

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I’m here in Bangkok helping out with our coverage following Thursday’s military coup. Here’s our main story as of Sunday early evening local time:

Pop-up protests are spreading around Thailand’s capital in a growing show of dissent against the latest in a long line of military juntas here.

The rallies, lasting an hour or two at a time, aren’t what the generals had in mind when they staged the 12th successful coup d’état in Thailand’s modern history Thursday. Troops seized one pro-democracy leader at a protest site in western Bangkok that day, firing shots in the air to disperse the crowds. Elsewhere in the city, soldiers detained four leaders of populist Red Shirts movement as the coup unfolded and later held two former prime ministers.

Separately, I penned a story yesterday about how social media is flourishing here despite warnings from the army:

In the early days of Thailand’s first coup in the smartphone age, social-media outlets appear to be ignoring warnings not to allow criticism of the military—and users aren’t holding back.

Meanwhile, my advice for following the news remains the same: Keep an eye on our home page and live stream. And check out my Twitter list of Bangkok journalists.

In addition, I’ve been Tweeting text and images, as ever, at @Newley.

Thai army declares martial law — how to follow the news

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Our main story today:

Thailand’s armed forces declared martial law early Tuesday, saying the move was intended to curb the country’s sometimes violent political conflict and wasn’t a coup d’état.

Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha issued a pair of statements at 3 a.m. and later appeared on television to say that martial law was necessary across the country to address the worsening security situation. The army later said it would censor media it deemed inflammatory. Thailand is bitterly divided between supporters of its populist government and its conservative opponents who have been massing on the streets for over half a year in a bid to topple the administration.

In the military’s first announcement, Gen. Prayuth said the escalating violence related to political protests in and around Bangkok have “a tendency to stir riot and serious chaos in several areas, which affect national security and people’s safety.”

Before Gen. Prayuth went on air, Army-run television station Channel 5 ran a ticker message across the bottom of its screen urging the public not to panic.

“The army aims to keep peace and maintain the safety and security of the people of all sides,” it said. “Please do not be alarmed and carry on with business as usual. This is not a coup.”

For ongoing updates, see our live stream of photos, text stories, and Tweets.

I also suggest checking out Bangkok Pundit, Saksith Saiyasombut, and — for academic and historical perspectives — New Mandala.

There’s also my 109-strong Twitter list of Bangkok journalists.

(Image above: The front page of The Bangkok Post on January 27, 2010.)

My story on BlackBerry’s turn-around push in Indonesia

A chance encounter in Jakarta with legendary Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was merely an exhilarating byproduct of my recent Indonesia trip.

I traveled there to cover the debut of BlackBerry’s new low-cost, Foxconn-made smartphone, which it released in Indonesia as part of a high-stakes turnaround plan.

The story includes snippets from my interview with Chief Executive John Chen, and begins:

BlackBerry Ltd.’s latest stab at keeping its storied brand alive is starting here, at a launch event for its $191 smartphone, in the capital city of Indonesia.

The phone maker based in Waterloo, Ontario, unveiled its latest handset, dubbed the Z3, before several hundred people in a packed five-star hotel ballroom on Tuesday. An Indonesian hip-hop trio warmed up the crowd before BlackBerry’s new chief executive, John Chen, took the stage to introduce the phone.

The Z3 represents a number of firsts for BlackBerry, which recently replaced its chief executive and revamped its corporate strategy, after failing to find a buyer for its struggling business.

I also wrote a post with more color from the launch event.

This happened today

Yes, that’s me with Juventus, Fulham and Manchester United great Edwin van der Sar.

That is all.

BlackBerry Takes Preorders for Indonesia Smartphone

That’s the headline of a quick story I wrote today.

It begins:

BlackBerry is now accepting preorders for the low-cost, Foxconn-made smartphone it’s releasing first in Indonesia, where its devices have traditionally been popular.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said Monday it expects the smartphone, called the BlackBerry Z3, to be priced at 2,199,000 Indonesian rupiah (US$189), and that an official unveiling of the device will take place on May 13 in Jakarta. The phone can be ordered from two Indonesian telecommunications providers, Indosat and XL.

As part of a plan to cut its phone making costs amid declining market share in Indonesia and elsewhere, BlackBerry has outsourced much of its hardware business to Taiwan’s Foxconn, officially known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, which produces most of world’s iPhones and iPads.

10 Links

  1. Landfill excavation unearths years of crushed Atari treasure — Ars Technica
  2. Eating Alone by Design: An Entire Restaurant With Tables for One — BloombergBusinessweek
  3. Dronies! — Kottke.org
  4. In Deep: The dark and dangerous world of extreme caversThe New Yorker
  5. Why We’re in a New Guidled Age — Paul Krugman on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First CenturyThe New York Review of Books
  6. How some journalists are using anonymous secret-sharing apps — Nieman Journalism Lab
  7. Ephemeral Apps — Schneier on Security
  8. Why futurologists are always wrong – and why we should be sceptical of techno-utopians — NewStatesman
  9. The Daily Routines of Geniuses — Harvard Business Review
  10. Video embedded above and on YouTube here: “A tour of the British Isles in accents.”

(Previous link round-ups are available via the links tag.)