Posted by: ghostdawg2 | June 21, 2009

Across Asia,Dalliances Are News (Sex Scandals Fascinate Asia) by Seth Mydans / June 18th 2009

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HANOI — She was young, she said. She was innocent.

She was blinded by love. And “long after I’m dead, the video will continue to live on in the Internet.”

She is Katrina Halili, 23, a Philippine starlet who was caught on video having sex with her plastic surgeon, and she is at the center of a scandal that has transfixed the Philippines in recent weeks.

It is the latest in a stream of video scandals that have become a popular form of entertainment in Asia, complete with tears, angry denials, a senate investigation and the spectacle of ruined careers in entertainment and politics.

Ms. Halili joins actresses in Vietnam, celebrities in Hong Kong and government ministers in Malaysia and Indonesia whose public lives have suddenly become defined by something they did in bed.

The usual script is a quick and abject apology, like the one delivered two years ago in Vietnam by a 19-year-old actress named Hoang Thuy Linh.

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She was the epitome of innocence in her role on a popular soap opera until she shocked her viewers in 2007 with a racy home video that found its way onto the Internet.

“I made a mistake, a terrible mistake,” Ms. Linh said in a televised farewell as her show was taken off the air. “I apologize to you, my parents, my teachers and my friends.”

More enterprising than some others, though, Ms. Linh turned her bad publicity into a

career opportunity.

She transformed her public image from innocent to sexy and is now much in demand for fashion shows, television appearances and advertising, said Khuat Thu Hong, co-director of the Institute for Social Development Studies in Hanoi.

“Actually her sexiness is quite well exploited,” Ms. Hong said.

Other actresses and singers took notice, Ms. Hong said, and quite a few have since sought publicity by posting sexy pictures of themselves — nude or semi-nude — on the Internet.

It is certainly a quick way to get attention, for better or for worse.

The videos speed through cyberspace on YouTube and other Internet sites, multiply on video discs and hop from one cellphone to the next.

“I got mine on a USB stick,” said Michael Tan, chairman of the anthropology department at the University of the Philippines, speaking of the Halili video on his data storage device.

At a recent international conference on sexual mores in Hanoi, he said, researchers busily shared their data.

“One of the Vietnamese came up to me and gave me copies of a film on a USB stick,” said Mr. Tan. “I gave it to an Indian colleague. It’s almost like international solidarity: ‘You might want to study this.”’

Early last year, the scandal to watch involved Edison Chen, a Hong Kong actor whose intimate photographs with several leading ladies were reproduced in cyberspace and in print.

He, too, retreated into apology.

“I am filled with pain, hurt and frustration,” he said.

In Malaysia not long after that, Health Minister Chua Soi Lek, 60, was defiant after he was filmed having sex in a hotel room with a woman who was not his wife.

“I am the man in the video,” he said at a news conference, and he denounced political enemies for underhanded tactics. His mistake, he said, was to use the same hotel room for his trysts, allowing someone to set up four hidden cameras.

He then resigned from the cabinet, from Parliament and from his executive position in a major political party.

In Indonesia in late 2006, in what newspapers called the country’s first political sex scandal, a prominent politician was caught naked with a well-known pop singer in a blurry, one-minute video.

The politician, Yahya Zaini, was forced to give up his seat in Parliament and his position as head of religious affairs in the Golkar party. In his case, it was the political party that issued the abject apology.

But no place can stage a scandal with the panache of the Philippines, and the country has been consumed with the drama of Ms. Halili and her surgeon friend, Dr. Hayden Kho, 29, who performed liposuction on her before becoming her lover.

“I gave my heart and soul wholly to a man who turned out to be doing his own movie,” Ms. Halili said. “I was stupid. Instead of a doctor, he was a director.”

She was speaking last month at a special hearing of the Philippine Senate, where several members introduced legislation that seemed intended to outlaw immorality.

When Dr. Kho’s turn came, he was contrite. “This is something I’m very ashamed of,” he said in testimony that was carried live on television, radio and the Internet. “This is a sin.”

But if the goal was to salvage his reputation, Dr. Kho and his handlers may have gone a little overboard.

“He has admitted the fact that he is sick,” his former manager, Lolit Salis, said in an apparent bid for sympathy. “That he is a deviant. That he is a pervert.”

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