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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        25  May 2011

Film stand-off in Indonesia

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A stand-off between the Indonesian government and film importers - over back taxes - has kept new films from six big Hollywood studios, such as the latest Pirates of the Caribbean installment, off the country's 700-plus screens for four months.

“Each time I step into the cinema, there's nothing I want to watch,” said a freelance designer. “The movies that are showing are mostly Indonesian and usually about ghosts. I'm not going to pay for lame movies even though I do enjoy the cinema experience.”

That complaint echoes that of Indonesian moviegoers, especially the rising middle class who can afford the ticket prices of between 25,000 rupiah (US$2.90) and 50,000 rupiah.

Earlier this year, the Tax Department - which is in the process of being cleaned up after a former mid-ranking official's high-profile embezzlement scandal last year - sent three film distributors an invoice for 310 billion rupiah. This was for unpaid taxes including customs duty on the value of each roll of film, and a fine for late payment. All three distributors are linked to the largest cinema operator Group 21 cineplex, which owns around 520 screens.

One of the three - which brings in mostly independent flicks - paid up last week. But the other two - which distribute Hollywood blockbusters - have not budged. Last Wednesday, Widhi Hartono, the head of audits at the Customs Office, urged them to follow suit. It was the only way for films to return to movie screens, he said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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