New year festivities, sex education and better pay

Southeast Asia celebrates the solar new year, a growing sex toy industry brings empowerment and Malaysia's emerging labour movement demands fair wages

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April 16, 2022
New year festivities, sex education and better pay

Hello Globe readers,

This week Cambodia welcomes the first public Khmer New Year celebration in two years that hasn’t been cancelled or muted by Covid-19. The Kingdom’s cultural capital, Siem Reap, is hosting puppet shows, concerts and a massive water fight. 

The rest of Southeast Asia shares the festive spirit to mark the solar new year, signalling the end of the harvest and the beginning of the rainy season. Brian P. D. Hannon reported on the celebration in countries carefully treading back into the festivities with policies allowing festivities with restrictions meant to keep the virus in check. 

As a holiday arrives in some Southeast Asian nations, work issues are causing ripples of discontent in others. Malaysian workers are fighting for better pay and benefits as a forceful fair wage movement emerges among lawyers, healthcare workers and others experiencing economic precarity, Ashley Yeong reported. Through walkouts, protests and motorcycle convoys, workers have called on employers and authorities to acknowledge their plight as they push for reforms.

Another movement has taken off across Southeast Asia – the region’s burgeoning sex toy industry, bringing pleasure and heightened sexual awareness to the region’s consumers, Fiona Kelliher explained. Critics question whether for-profit femtech companies should be responsible for providing proper sex education, while femtech businesses say they are empowering consumers through education. 

In the inaugural State of the Mekong Address, new Mekong River Commission CEO Anoulak Kittikhoun said he would step up the intergovernmental organisation’s “water diplomacy”, Anton L. Delgado reported. In his speech and an exclusive interview with Anton, Kittikhoun outlined plans to enhance data transparency and collaboration in an attempt to reconcile climate change and hydropower development.

Myanmar’s displaced youth will experience the holidays far from home as they struggle to forge new lives as refugees, contributor Sophie Chew reported. Despite grappling with uncertainty over visa status, searching for new jobs and reconciling with the absence of friends and family left behind, Myanmar youth remain resilient.

Finally, in the spirit of the new year, Southeast Asia Globe is offering a special subscription deal. New subscribers can sign up for a year of full site access for just $28 through the end of Sunday 17 April. If you already appreciate Globe journalism but have not yet subscribed, please consider signing up to support some of the region’s best independent media. 

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