Going against the grain

This week we focused on the brave people who use their careers to challenge social conventions.

Julija Veljkovic
January 17, 2020
Going against the grain

From a personal story about Vietnamese art curator Đỗ Tường Linh’s artistic journey towards challenging postcolonial perspectives, to Kem Sohka’s daughter Monovithya’s advocacy efforts prior to her father’s treason trial, and Indonesian female stunt bike rider Devi Apriani overcoming conservative attitudes, meet these empowering individuals going against the grain. 

Cambodia’s former opposition leader Kem Sohka went to trial on Wednesday on charges of treason. As he finally received his day in court, we spoke to his daughter, Monovithya, to learn about the man behind the politics. 

Reminiscing about her upbringing, Monovithya told us how Cambodia’s former opposition leader gave her “a lot of freedom, trust and space the moment I became a young adult, allowing me to grow into my own person. This is what is most special about him as a father”.

Hanoi-based art curator, Đỗ Tường Linh, partly structures her art around unlearning and resisting the typically Western hierarchical representations of art, especially when depicting Southeast Asia. Her latest exhibition aims to deepen people’s understanding of politics through art, where she hopes to create a Global South-led art scene.

“I once fell from a motorcycle while in action, I got blisters on my hands and broke my shoulder. As a result, I had to stop playing for a few weeks for recovery. Even now sometimes I still feel pain”.

As an Indonesian female stunt bike rider, Devi Apriani faces death head on each night. She gets paid the equivalent of $280 per month, and the rest of her income comes from tips from the audience. Accompanied by her husband and child, Devi’s life is far from easy. 

As we near the end of our eight-part Future Forum series, we turn to Cambodia’s future of learning. While there is potential for Cambodia to embrace new technologies and explore innovative approaches to learning in the next two decades, the journey to there won’t be easy.

“I think technology is an effective way to address the rural-urban divide in terms of equitable access to quality education. Most of the qualified teachers, they are in towns, in Phnom Penh, and not many of them want to go into rural areas,” said Theara Khuon, a programme manager for education and training at Future Forum.

Finally, we revisited our Top Read from 2007, looking into the darling favourite tuk-tuk origins as well as exploring how it transformed itself into one of the most popular modes of transportation in the developing world.

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