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Thai Obama sings to a different tune

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Thai Obama sings to a different tune | The Thaiger

SARABURI: While your average Southeast Asian would struggle to make his way in the world as a Gerorge W Bush lookalike, America’s dashing new president is providing some exciting new career prospects for some men across the region.

One Indonesian has already found fame in the Philippines owing to his uncanny resemblance to President Barack Obama. He was well compensated after being flown over to the Philippines to do a commercial for a stomach-ache remedy with a rather less-convincing lookalike of Filipino President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Now Thailand has its very own Obama in the form of 50-year-old Saraburi resident Suphoj Bunseupwong.

Like President Obama, Mr Suphoj will be spreading a message of hope – not through rousing speeches, but through cheerful luk-thung country music songs.

Mr Suphoj, or “Obama Thailand” as he is now known in his village, was until recently preoccupied with running the sports store he owns in Ban Mor District.

A sports fanatic, he shot to local fame after taking part in a football tournament where the announcer pointed out how much he looked like the new US president.

News travels quickly in a Thai village, and before long curious locals were calling in at his shop to see for themselves.

“At first I was a bit shy with everyone calling me the ‘Thai Obama’ all the time. Then I got used to it and changed from wearing my usual open-necked shirt to wearing a navy blue blazer with a neck-tie. At every event I went to, people turned to look at the Thai Obama,” Mr Suphoj said.

Born in Ban Mor, Mr Suphoj is the second of seven children.

“Most of my brothers and sisters look like Indians or Muslims, but we are really 100% Thai Buddhists,” he explained.

Apart from running his “Num Noi Sport” shop, Mr Suphoj also moonlights as a DJ on a local community radio station and sings and plays guitar in a band.

Through his radio work he met up with some composers and record producers who suggested he use his singing skills and striking resemblance to the leader of the free world to make a breakthrough luk-thung album.

Mr Suphoj is now working on 10 songs for his highly anticipated debut album. He says these will be cheerful luk-thung numbers that you can dance to and sing along with to forget your worries – not a bad formula in these trying economic times.

Thailand’s Obama counts among his influences not left-wing radicals or fire-and-brimstone preachers, but popular Thai music artists such as Chatri Srichol, Sayan Sanya and Yodrak Salakjai.

The CD, which should be hitting the shelves in the near future, will be released under the artist name “Barack Obama”.

It was not reported whether a complimentary copy will be sent to the White House.

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NO Plastic Bag! @ Central Phuket

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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NO Plastic Bag! @ Central Phuket | The Thaiger

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China has the most atheists. Indonesia and Philippines the most believers.

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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China has the most atheists. Indonesia and Philippines the most believers. | The Thaiger

China is the least believing country in the world but belief in a God gets 100 per cent mention in countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh and Philippines, according to the survey by Gallup International.

According to the survey exploring religious tendencies of 66,000 people in 68 countries across the world, 62 per cent of people in the world define themselves as religious, 74% of people globally believe we have a ‘soul’ and 71% believe in a God. Another 56% believe in heaven, 54% in life after death and 49% in hell.

China has the highest percentage of atheists in the world with 67% not believing in any religion. Every seven out ten people are atheists, more than double than any other country. 23% consider themselves as non-religious. Less than 10% identify themselves as religious in China.

China’s atheist percentage is followed by Japan, a long way behind in second place at 29%, Slovenia (28%) and Chech Republic (25%). Despite rapid industrialisation and urbanisation religion has stayed relevant in the South Korean region with only 23% identifying as atheist.

China has the most atheists. Indonesia and Philippines the most believers. | News by The Thaiger

European countries like Belgium (21 %), France (21%) , Sweden (18%) and Iceland (17%) also have a large percentage of believing population.

Bangladesh, Indonesia and Philippines are the most believing countries with entire population claiming to believe in God, soul, hell and heaven. Thailand and Pakistan have 99% believing population, followed by India, Vietnam and Mongolia.

The survey shows that the levels of religiosity diminish as income and education levels increase. While 66% of people with low income affirm to be religious, this percentage drops to 50% among people with higher incomes. The same trend is verified in relation to education levels: 83% of people with lower education level are religious against 49% of higher level.

According to the survey there is a connection between religiosity, beliefs and socio-demographic characteristics like age, income and education level. As education and income levels grow higher, religiosity levels tend to go down. Also, the expression of different beliefs is higher among young people.

The level of education has a considerable influence on the perception of religion by the society. Women and young children show higher percentage for spiritual forces.

China has the most atheists. Indonesia and Philippines the most believers. | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Data Leads

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Stunning Malaysian election result ousts Barisan Nasional

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Stunning Malaysian election result ousts Barisan Nasional | The Thaiger

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Malaysia’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition coalition has crossed the minimum threshold of 112 seats needed to form government in Malaysia. The Election Commission continue to count a few remaining votes this morning but have confirmed the win of the Pakatan Harapan party and coalition members.

The result brings to an end the rule of Barisan Nasional (BN) and it’s leader Najib Razak. Barisan Nasional, a nationalist right-wing government with strong links to it’s ethnic Malay constituency, has dominated Malaysian politics for decades.

In a press conference just before the official confirmation, opposition leader and former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad, now 92 years old, said his party had achieved a victory.

He said he hoped a swearing-in ceremony would be held on Thursday. Mr Mahathir will become the oldest elected leader in the world.

The final official results indicate PH had won 115 seats, with BN on 79 (these numbers will alter slightly as the counting finishes today).

The 92 year old pledged a government that would include a “young person”, referring to criticism during the campaign that he was too old to lead Malaysia again. Mahathir said he would honour his agreement to help secure a royal pardon for jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. The two became the odd couple of Asian politics after decades working together, then becoming bitter enemies. Anwar was Mahathir’s deputy PM at one stage but then fell out of favour.

But the two formed a curious coalition to bring down PM Najib Razak who they claimed was corrupt and had stained the country with the 1MDB financial scandal.

Mahathir said Anwar would have to win a by-election or be elected senator in order for him to take over as prime minister from Dr Mahathir, as per their agreement.

An upset was on the cards when unofficial results started trickling in about four hours after the ballot boxes were closed at 5.30 last night.

• 9pm – Bernama reported that caretaker Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, the president of BN component party Malaysian Chinese Association, had lost his Bentong seat.
• Caretaker Health Minister S Subramaniam, of BN coalition party Malaysian Indian Congress, was the next major casualty, losing his Segamat seat in Johor.
• 9.30pm, there was respite for BN when word came in that incumbent PM Najib Razak had successfully defended his Pekan seat in Pahang.

By 9.45pm last night, another four deputy ministers fell. At about the same time, it emerged that Mahathir would make a return to parliament after winning his Langkawi seat.

The result throws into doubt Najib Razak’s position in his party.
While he had been praised for his fiscal policies, he was also unpopular for rolling out a goods and services tax in addition to being a target of unwanted international attention over allegations funds were misappropriated from a state fund he advised, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). He has denied consistently any wrongdoing.

Mahathir had accused his former protege Najib of corruption and abuse of power before quitting UMNO to form his own party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

But Mahathir has vowed: “We are not seeking revenge. We want to restore the rule of law.”

Stunning Malaysian election result ousts Barisan Nasional | News by The Thaiger

92 year old PM-elect Mahathir Mohamad, with a shirt emblazoned with his name, in case he forgot it whilst campaigning for the historic election.

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