UNESCO and ASEAN joint forces to strengthen the protection of underwater heritage in the Southeast Asian region

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via Unesco, 21 September 2017: I was in Makassar last week to attend this meeting organised by Unesco and ASEAN. On the agenda was the 2001 convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage (of which only Cambodia is signatory to).

Source: UNESCO and ASEAN joint forces to strengthen the protection of underwater heritage in the Southeast Asian region | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

India pivots eastwards to Southeast Asia

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A conference was held last week in New Delhi on the cultural links between India and Southeast Asia with the aim of establishing research links between India and Southeast Asia.

India, Asean reconnect through ancient cultural linkages
Daijiworld.com, 23 July 2015

“Political security and economic cooperation must go hand in hand with the socio-cultural connection and people-to-people linkages,” he said.

Citing examples, he said that excavations have found evidence of Indian links in the first century AD in Myanmar in the city of Beikthano, also known as City of Vishnu. Coins, statues of Hindu deities, and statues of the Buddha have been found.

In central Thailand, evidence of Indian influence is found through Dvaravati form of representing the Buddha, in the 2nd century AD, which is derived from Indian Amaravati and Gupta styles, which were integrated with local art.

In Cham, in southern Vietnam, there is evidence of extensive influence of Indian culture, through many ancient Shiva temples.

Evidence has been found of extensive trade with the Southeast Asian countries from the Gupta dynasty in the 4th-6th century AD. Tamralipti, an ancient Indian city in the Bay of Bengal, was a busy centre of maritime trade, with ships travelling to the Malay peninsula, the Nicobar islands and to the Strait of Malacca.

Trade with the Asean is an important aspect of India’s links with the region, and India is its fourth largest trading partner, he said.

Full story here.

Preah Vihear: ASEAN to send observers

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will send monitors to the disputed border at Preah Vihear to assess the situation there. The sending of ASEAN monitors is seen as a compromise between Thailand’s and Cambodia’s differing stands on resolving the conflict; the former wants to resolve issues bilaterally while the latter is seeking the intervention of the UN. An unofficial ceasefire is currently in effect to prevent further bloodshed and damage to the ancient temple.

ASEAN to send monitors to Thai-Cambodia border
AP, via the San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 February 2011
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Myanmar spearheads initiative to curb antiquities smuggling

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The Myanmarese government intends to spearhead a memorandum of understanding between the 10 ASEAN countries to crack down on the illegal trade of antiquities. I’m sure most of the ASEAN countries would agree, but it would be interesting to see the response from Thailand and Singapore, seeing how they are not signatories to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

ASEAN to crack down on antique smuggling
Myanmar Times, 06 October 2008
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Coming soon to a cinema near you: Cheng Ho the movie!

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15 August 2007 (Antara, Bernama) – An epic TV series based on the life of the Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He), starring no less than two former Indonesian ministers! Yes, that’s the gist of the two headlines about the Cheng Ho seried currently being filmed in Bangkok. The series is a joint production between six ASEAN nations and the two ministers involved play the lead of Cheng Ho as well as an unnamed Majapahit king. Cheng Ho is somewhat of an ancient celebrity in Southeast Asia, a Muslim eunuch who commanded “treasure fleets” and travelled as far as East Africa in search of new territories and tributes. One report says that the drama is intended to reveal how Cheng Ho helped to bring Islam to Indonesia – I’m not sure how big a role Cheng Ho actually played as I am given to believe that the spread of Islam in the region was more of a result of the influence of Arab traders and sufis operating in the region.

Ex-minister plays Admiral Cheng Ho in ASEAN film

Prof. Yusril Ihza Mahendra, former minister/state secretary, is currently in Bangkok for shooting a drama colossal film on Admiral Cheng Ho.

Yusril played the role as Admiral Cheng Ho in the film jointly produced by six member countries of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).

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