LINES OF THOUGHT ACROSS SOUTHEAST ASIA

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Editorial

Saving Vietnam’s biodiversity and setting sail with Cambodia’s literary pirates

This week, we spoke with Myanmar anti-coup protestors from the country’s ethnic minority groups, detailed the rough relationship between the Thai press and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ocha (a former junta boss himself) and got a look at the “world’s saddest zoo”

March 20, 2021
Saving Vietnam’s biodiversity and setting sail with Cambodia’s literary pirates

This week, we had a wide-ranging lineup of features to keep us busy as the Covid-19 infection count continues to rise here in Cambodia, leaving our local Globe staff (including yours truly) to catch up with the rest of the world and get used to working from home. 

For those of us facing isolation, a good book might have to pass for companionship. Luckily in Cambodia, securing great reading material is as cheap and simple as finding a PDF file online and taking it to your local copy shop. Our own Kiana Duncan explored the longstanding role of literary piracy in Cambodian book culture, tracing its historic roots in the Khmer Rouge era to its modern impact on the nation’s young literary scene. Some great reading here, if I do say so myself — just don’t steal it, please.


Part of that has included living a bit through beautiful photos of elsewhere while typing away in city apartments. Globe reporter Govi Snell in Vietnam helped in that effort with this great feature on the astonishing biodiversity of the karst mountains of Kim Bang in northern Vietnam. These dramatic mountains are being mined at a fast clip, potentially destroying species we haven’t even discovered yet. Hit the link to see what this dramatic landscape looks like and why conservationists are fighting to protect it.

For a much more sobering (read: depressing) look at wildlife conservation, we need look no further than Thailand, where a grim menagerie of animals held at a Bangkok shopping mall continues to be the “world’s saddest zoo”. Even amidst multiple public calls to close Pata Zoo, the creatures there continue to languish in concrete cells. This photo essay from contributor Mailee Osten-Tan tells the story of this place much more effectively than I can, so give it a look.

Also in Thailand but well away from Pata Zoo, we find our latest from Globe columnist and associate professor Mark S. Cogan on the often-fraught relationship between Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ocha and the national press. Why embattled, you might ask? Prayut, an orchestrator of Thailand’s 2014 coup, recently ended a recent press conference by refusing to answer questions about potential candidates to fill Cabinet posts, choosing instead to spray sanitising alcohol at reporters. Not very informative. Mark writes here that this isn’t the first time Prayut has shown his disdain for the press, nor is it something that should be taken lightly. Tap the link to read why it matters.

Speaking of junta leaders, our final feature comes to us from Myanmar, where the violence of the military’s February 1 coup has united the country’s diverse ethnicities in a rare show of solidarity. Contributor Mary Malone spoke with several anti-coup protestors of various ethnic backgrounds to hear why they’re joining the popular movement against the new junta and what they hope to see in whatever comes after. Really nice piece of reporting here centreing people who often go unheard.

That’s the week from the Globe! Join us every day for new stories from around the region and, as always, stay in touch with us online.



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