Public Lectures 2017
Grand Prize 2017: Pasuk PHONGPAICHIT & Chris BAKER
- Of Love and Loss: Three Thai Literary Classics and their Human Messages Today
- Sunday, September 24, 2017 (11:00-13:00)
- Main Hall, ELGALA HALL 8F
Public lecture was held at Main Hall, ELGALA HALL by inviting Prof. Pasuk PHONGPAICHIT & Dr. Chris BAKER, laureates of the Grand Prize.
Part 1 Keynote Speech
Literary works pose questions to contemporary society about the role of love, the importance of cooperation, and tolerance
Love, the power of attraction, and loss, the pain of parting, are perhaps the most powerful human emotions. We will examine the themes of love and loss in three classic works of literature from Thalaind.
The first story, Suthon-Manora, Everybody in Thailand knows it. Manora is a kinnari, a fabulous creature, part-bird, part-human, and very beautiful, and Prince Suthon are married and love each other in the human world. But politics intervenes and she escapes. The main part of the story is a quest, in which the Prince overcame difficulties for a long time in order to be reunited with his loved one. This story is a means of teaching people in these very mixed cosmopolitan societies about the importance of tolerating differences between people.
Our second literary work is Lilit Phra Lo, a narrative poem of 4,000 lines. While Phra Lo, the young ruler of a city-state, secretly makes love with Phuean and Phaeng, two young princesses in a nearby city-state, they are massacred because they come from families that are in conflcit. The king, father of the princess, has the three lovers placed in one coffin and cremated together in a magnificent ceremony. Then the relics of the royal three are divided in two parts. The story which the extraordinary massacre ends in reconciliation represents for the compassion of the Buddhist.
Our third text is The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen, a long narrative poem developed in an oral tradition of performances for local audiences. The plot is a love triangle. Khun Chang and Khun Phaen are two men who compete over one woman, Wanthong. Khun Phaen is handsome and dashing, but poor and hopelessly unreliable. Khun Chang is rich but fat, ugly, and crass. Wanthong represents a familiar female dilemmachoosing between the passion offered by Khun Phaen and the comfortable domesticity offered by Khun Chang. The king condemns her to death for failing to make this choice.
All three of these old literary works are, at heart, boy-girl stories, but address broader important aspects: the role of love and the importance of cooperation. The great human messages found in classical literature remain relevant in today’s dangerous world, which we must never forget
Part 2 Panel Discussion
The collaboration between these two people that transcends their cultural differences is the epitome of the love and cooperation found in Thai classical literature
Professor Shimizu gave his impressions of the keynote speech, saying, "This couple has, through their own experiences, continued to transcend their cultural differences with love and cooperation. Their perfectly timed dialogue felt just like a recitation of a Shakespeare play."
Professor Udo provided some background comments about the era classifications, major works, and general characteristics of Thai classic literature on which the keynote speech was based, and said, "The three works discussed in the speech are outstanding examples of the genre."Referring to Khun Chang Khun Phaen, which is a subject of Professor Udo's own research, he described it as "an important work that conveys excellently the politics, economics, society , culture, customs, and private worship of Thailand's Ayutthaya Period" and as a "treasure trove of proverbs and aphorisms." He gave high praise for the couple's work of translating this work into English over many years. He extolled their achievements, commending them for the passion they have poured into classical literature from their different positions as an economist and an historian and their wonderful joint work that has produced results that would put any researcher of literature to shame.
In response to a question from the audience, "In the story, there is a scene in which the character escapes into the forest. What significance does the forest have in Thailand?" Professor Pasuk and Dr. Baker explained, "As well as being a place that is fraught with danger, it is also a place of hiding for forces of resistance against society and authority."
Academic Prize 2017: WANG Ming
Research and Possibility of the Cooperation between China and Japan in Environmental
Issues: Today and the Future of Civil Society
- Saturday, September 23, 2017 (13:00-14:30)
- Main Hall, ELGALA HALL 8F
Public lecture was held at Main Hall, ELGALA HALL by inviting Prof. WANG Ming, laureate of the Academic Prize.
Part 1 Keynote Speech
Environmental problems in China resulting from its economic growth and the development of NGOs engaging in solving those problems
First, I will explain the major problem of environmental pollution in China that lies behind China's rapid economic growth. Since China's reform and openness policy began, China has achieved the greatest economic growth in history. On the other hand, there has also been an explosion of environmental problems, such as air , water and soil pollution, desertification, droughts and floods, destruction of biodiversity, problems with waste disposal, food safety, and dam construction, and increased incidence of cancers and pollution-triggered diseases. In terms of air pollution, there have been days when the concentration of PM2.5 exceeds 500 and people could be seen commuting in gas masks.
As environmental pollution has become increasingly serious, we are witnessing the development of NGOs with an en vironmental awareness that are taking action to remediate and solve those problems. Whereas in 1988, China had only several thousand NGOs, today, there are some 700,000 such organizations, 6,689 of which are working in the environmental field.
The primary activity of environmental NGOs is the disclosure of information. A prominent example of this is the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE). This group publishes maps of water and air pollution on the internet. It works with companies to build green supply chains, develops apps, and publishes the processes and outcomes of governance. In this way, it has kept the public informed about the government’s and companies’ environmental information and about local pollution sources.
Green Earth Volunteers, which conducts river source surveys and dam opposition campaigns, and Huaihe River Eco-Environmental Science Research Center, which works with villagers to protect rice paddies, are just two of the many NGOs that are engaged in environmental campaigns such as forest plantation projects, public-interest environmental lawsuits, disaster relief, waste countermeasures, and wildlife protection. China’s NGOs realize that they have much to learn from Japan, and consider Japan-China environmental exchange as one of their strategies for environmental protection activities. I, personally, have brought Chinese NGOs and media agencies to Minamata and I have spread the word about Japan’s NPO activities to the people of China through my books and other publications.
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Act came into effect. As China enters a new phase in its environmental problems, we can expect to see the growing gravity and complexity of environmental problems, the development of legal systems, greater coordination between central and regional government policies, and the invigoration of civic and corporate participation in environmental issues. Demands will also be placed on China’s NGOs to build platforms and networks, become more specialized, and to coordinate with government. Japan-China cooperation will meet new challenges as the demand emerges for the relationship to transform from financial aid to cooperation and collaboration, from nation-based to community-based, from project-based to issue-based, and from government- led to private sector-led. I believe, however, that this will present an excellent opportunity for our citizens to cooperate with each other.
Part 2 Panel Discussion
What are the challenges for China's NGOs going forward and the possibilities for environmental cooperation between Japan and China?
Professor Amako presented Professor Wang's achievements based on his wide-ranging networks and energy, and praised the significance of his being awarded the Fukuoka Prize this year, the 45 anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China diplomatic relations. Mr. Otsuka presented the background to the birth of NGOs in China, describing how the first NGO was launched by a journalist, and talked about new moves being made by young Chinese. In response to a question from the audience expressing concern about the relationship between NGOs and the government, Professor Wang explained the way their activities are changing. "Today, government efforts alone are not enough to solve the problems and, while progress is being made with legislation on the one hand, young leaders are receiving assistance from the government and corporations." On the question of cooperation between Japan and China, he responded," Japan's solutions to environmental contamination and pollution are a good model for China. To learn from those lessons and experiences, collaboration at the grass-roots level is needed." Professor Amako expressed high hopes that this new style of environmental cooperation would help to build good relations between Japan and China.
Arts and Culture Prize 2017: KONG Nay
- Cambodia’s Soul toward the Future: The World of Kong Nay’s Chapey Music
- Saturday, September 23, 2017 (16:00-17:30)
- IMS Hall,IMS 9F
Public lecture was held at IMS Hall by inviting Master. KONG Nay, laureate of the Art and Culture Prize.
Part 1 Dialogue
Cambodia's rich, unique performing arts culture as seen in its music and Khmer art
Professor Terada described how, during a visit to Cambodia in 2005, he saw a newspaper article about Master Kong Nay that described him as "the Ray Charles of Cambodia", and immediately set out to meet him, and how he was moved by the musician's wonderful powers of expression. He then used photographs and recordings to give a commentary on Cambodian music.
He began his talk by explaining the diversity of Cambodia, where 90% of the population is Khmer, but Vietnamese, Chinese, and 21 minority ethnic groups all live there. He explained that music is classified as either traditional, comprising court music, folk music and religious music, or popular music imported from the West. Court music is, as the name suggests, music that developed in the royal court and includes dance, shadow puppetry, and masked theater. Folk music consists of ceremonies for life and for the spirits. Master Kong Nay's recitations accompanied by music fall into this category. The audience listened intently to Professor Terada's descriptions of Cambodia's unique culture and customs and the instruments and sounds that accompany them. Professor Terada went on to talk about the days of the Pol Pot regime, when some two million Cambodians were massacred. He described the tragedy of 90% of the nation's musicians and dancers losing their lives and expressed his joy that Master Kong Nay miraculously survived those dark times and has continued to create music, commending his receipt of the Fukuoka Prize.
During the demonstration, there was a discussion between Professor Terauchi and Professor Terada and Master Kong Nay, and Master Kong Nay himself gave a commentary about the chapey, the instrument he uses to accompany his recitations and about the rhyming lyrics he improvises during performances. While his profound recitations and his cheerful character drew laughter from the audience, when he talked about the dark times, when he was forced to sing about the merits of the Pol Pot regime, the hall fell silent.
In the second half, Ms. Kubo gave an explanation of Khmer art and the influences on that art by Hindu culture. She told how the poem, Reamker, which is often performed in recitations, is actually based on a long epic poem from India called Ramayana, and that the sculptures at Angkor Wat and other historical ruins were influenced by this poem. It sian adventurous tale of the divine prince Rama, an avatar of the god Vishnu, who is forced into exile with his wife and sent to live on an island, where he battles cruel demons before returning to his kingdom. The tale has been passed down over the generations, changing with the times, and eventually made its way to Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia. There, it has mutated to suit the local culture, and scenes from the poem have been depicted in sculptures at Cambodia's historical ruins and in paintings.
The audience listened with interest to these detailed explanations of Cambodian music, Khmer art, and stories, which are still relatively unknown in Japan, and to Master Kong Nay's recitation. They appeared to gain a deeper appreciation for the topic.
Part 2 Live Performance
Part 2 of the lecture featured a concert by Master Kong Nay. The first piece was a passage from Reamker, the poem that Ms. Kubo had described in her talk. In his sonorous voice, he recited the tale of Ream who, having lost his throne, departs the palace for the forest. The audience listened intently to the rhyming lyrics and the simple tones of the chapey. His next piece, Kat Kang Thrah, told of the feelings of a mother as she sends her daughter off to be married. This was followed by A Life without Sight, a song that Master Kong Nay composed especially for the occasion, describing the circumstances of his own life. He ended the concert with an upbeat performance of Ram Reau, which had the audience clapping along. It was a very enjoyable concert that united everyone in the venue. Professor Terauchi described the remarkable pace of reconstruction being achieved in Cambodia today and drew the forum to a close by expressing the hope that Cambodia's musical traditions would be passed down to the younger generations.
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