Cambodia’s union crackdown, mysterious muntjacs and Malaysia’s Jewish heritage

Phnom Penh's NagaWorld casino employees enduring strike, rare large-antlered muntjac images and a Malaysian graphic novel about a forgotten Jewish community

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January 15, 2022
Cambodia’s union crackdown, mysterious muntjacs and Malaysia’s Jewish heritage

Hello Globe readers!

Just a few blocks from the Globe’s office, employees of casino company NagaWorld have engaged in a strike and protest that started in mid-December. Dozens of workers and union leaders have been arrested. The strikers demand better severance pay and the reinstatement of more than 300 employees who lost their jobs, including union leaders. 

Samphors Sao and I spent several days with striking employees to understand more about their motivations. We witnessed a horde of undercover police roughly detain the NagaWorld union leader, force her into a car and later charge her with incitement. 

Despite the intense events in Phnom Penh, elsewhere in Cambodia there was more positive news. Conservationists captured the first known photos of a baby muntjac, — a critically endangered animal known as a “barking deer,” in Virachey National Park. Anton L. Delgado fawned over the baby muntjac but also delved into the urgent efforts to save Cambodia’s endangered species through human intervention strategies such as conservation breeding. 

The Globe’s Malaysia reporter, Ashley Yeong, did not encounter any muntjacs on her recent travels but she did find the legacy of a forgotten Jewish community on the northern island of Penang. A writer and illustrator have teamed up to produce a graphic novel commemorating the community and exploring Malaysia’s complicated relationship with Judaism.

In Vietnam, rural ethnic minority communities are learning culinary and craft skills as part of sustainable vocational training. Christine Redmond from Aide et Action explained how these programmes can have outsized impacts on communities lacking access to opportunities helping them develop employable skills. 

Back in the Kingdom, contributor Ses Aronsakda of Future Forum provides an in-depth look into the sources of Phnom Penh’s affordable housing woes including building regulations, price controls, foreign buyers and gentrification. He also explores possible solutions to improve housing options for residents.

Finally, there is only one day left to take advantage of our New Year Sale on Globe memberships. If you appreciate our work and want to support independent journalism from across Southeast Asia for a more informed, inclusive and sustainable future, please subscribe.

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