Growing pains

From chatting to the Killing Fields screenwriter, to profiling some of Southeast Asia's bravest environmental activists, here's what we covered this week.

Julija Veljkovic
February 28, 2020
Growing pains

This week, we spoke to The Killing Fields screenwriter Bruce Robinson on the anniversary of the murder of Cambodian actor Haing S Ngor, hearing his reflections on the Oscar winner, as well as the often hilarious process he went through to write the film’s BAFTA award-winning script.

We also profiled some of the region’s most inspiring environmental activists facing violence and repression when fighting the green fight, before wrapping the week up with a photo essay on Uncle Chet, a pig slaughterer in Bangkok for decades who acts as a living relic of a bygone era in the fast-modernising city. 

“We crossed the rickety bridge into Cambodia. On the other side there was this little Khmer kid sitting there holding a Kalashnikov, wearing a red scarf [a Krama as worn by Khmer Rouge soldiers] I’m thinking, “Fuck me, this kid could put me in the ditch right now” you know? And I’m a total coward. I mean, as far as I’m concerned it’s a film.” 

To mark 24 years since Cambodian Oscar winner Haing S Ngor’s murder, we spoke to The Killing Fields screenplay writer Bruce Robinson about the making of the movie, Ngor’s remarkable performance as Khmer Rouge survivor Dith Pran that won him a Best Supporting Actor, and the film’s legacy, both in Cambodia and across the world.

On Tuesday, we turned our attention to some of the region’s most inspiring climate activists. “It [creating awareness or building a movement] is difficult to measure because it’s not something that you do one day and then the next day you see results. It goes and spreads indirectly,” Climate Strike Thailand founder Lynn tells us. She is one of four environmental activists across the region who risks her freedom and faces violence in standing up for climate justice.

Over in Bangkok, one man still holds on to the city’s traditional roots. Amid its rapidly modernising and increasingly sanitised landscape, only small pockets of old Bangkok survive today. Uncle Chet, a pig slaughterer in the city’s historic Chinatown for decades, is one such living relic of a bygone era.

Indonesia’s children are among the most stunted and malnourished in the world, despite being Southeast Asia’s largest economy and a member of the G20. We explore the causes of, and solutions for, this public health crisis in the vast archipelago nation.

Amid the screech of rapid development and progress in Malaysia, the battle is on among conservationists to preserve the country’s historic architectural charm. [Top Read of 2013]

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