This week, Southeast Asia Globe will round out the year with a sampling of some of our best articles from 2021. Each day will offer a selection of stories published this year that enjoyed some of the highest readership while highlighting the high standards of reporting and writing the Globe provided its readers.
Before launching our week of 2021 greatest hits, today’s feature story is a message from our editorial staff about what each of them plans to pursue in 2022. We thank you for reading this year and hope this taste of things to come will convince you to return as often as you can over the next 12 months.
Power. Life. Earth. Money. These are the four ‘pillars’ on which Southeast Asia Globe has chosen to balance itself as a regional publication.
The pillars could have been labeled Impact, Humanity, Nature, Economics. Or four other words encompassing our intent to publish stories about your liberty and security, pursuits and purpose, the vibrant landscape we inhabit and the financial paths we travel. Regardless of the terms, the Globe aims to provide a wide range of written, visual and audio journalism and commentary within those channels.
These four areas of interest are examined through the lens of what we believe benefits Southeast Asia residents and those with more than a surface interest in the region. Each feature article is driven by the research and reporting of our editorial staff and polished by the combined talents of our photographers and designers. The entire team is passionate and energised to tell our readers about organisations, events and individuals throughout the region, whether they are inspiring, reprehensible or somewhere in between.
Social justice will remain a key focus across our pillars. While perspectives and opinions differ, there is a general level of integrity, compassion and common sense upon which communities stand. We will herald triumphs and highlight transgressions affecting our part of the globe. That is simply who we are.
Our feature stories will not always fit neatly into categories, which is by design. We believe our best reporting crosses the soft boundaries between the four pillars in much the same way as we all experience our daily lives. Among the recent outstanding examples of this mix was an article about misinformation and hate speech by Facebook users in Southeast Asia from reporters Govi Snell and Jack Brook. The clash of money, technology, ideology and propaganda exemplified our intent to address multiple topics of significance and concern, often in a single report.
Among the countless stories contending for attention, there are some predominant topics we already plan to pursue. These include the ongoing human rights abuses under Myanmar’s military junta, upcoming elections in Cambodia and the Philippines, the democracy movement in Thailand, Chinese industrial projects and economic influence and the impact of human activity on the Southeast Asian ecosystem. Sadly, we expect to write more stories about the harm and disturbance Covid-19 continues to cause each day.
Looking to 2022, the Globe hopes to broaden our coverage while remaining firmly anchored to our four pillars. We believe this balanced yet comprehensive approach sets us apart from other media organisations and will continue to do so as we work to bring you the best – and unfortunately sometimes the worst – of Power, Life, Earth and Money in Southeast Asia.
For the year ahead, I want to explore how Southeast Asian economies are revamping themselves to move past the pandemic and how business is preparing for a wider social impact. As we fuel our economies, the way we fuel ourselves is also changing. I want to delve into the smorgasbord of flavours forming Southeast Asia’s food heritage and the technologies and innovations shaping food sustainability.
Singapore, where I am based, has consciously reinforced its standing as a global hub for business. Low unemployment, an enterprise-friendly regulatory environment and a government that champions international trade have all strengthened the commercial credentials of one of the world’s largest port cities. As tensions between China and the US grow, Singapore is in a prime position to become a significant gateway between the East and West.
Smooth sailing is not a guarantee. After a 7% gain, the GDP of the affluent but diminutive nation is set to slow to between 3% and 5% in 2022. Manufacturing and supply chains have been upended by the pandemic, driving inflation in Asia’s most expensive city to its highest point in years. Uncertainty breeds agility and innovation, promising exciting developments next year as the Red Dot races to evolve and adapt.
Business is not just about profit. It is also about people: those who build businesses and the lives they impact. Speaking to some of the Lion City’s entrepreneurs earlier this year opened my eyes to the innovation, camaraderie and creativity necessary to build a company. Whether exploring the benefits of FinTech for those who are unbanked or the dark side of electric vehicles’ supercharged rise, I aim to report on businesses impacting communities across the region.
Food is a cornerstone of Singaporean culture. Sharing dishes here is a way of experiencing a variety of cultures in an urban melting pot of flavours from Peranakan laksa and Eurasian sugee cake to Hainanese chicken rice and Malay-style mee goreng noodles. Growing up in an Asian family in Britain, food allowed us to remember our roots and create our own melting pot favourites from cheesy macaroni baked in sharp soy sauce to Sunday roast lamb marinated in hoisin.
Food conversations are taking on greater urgency among the growing impacts of climate change. A small tropical metropolis heavily reliant on trade, Singapore is especially vulnerable to fluctuations in food supply, triggered by global warming. The government has committed to producing 30% of its food production locally by the end of the decade, prompting a boom in urban rooftop farms and labs producing cultivated meat. In 2022, I want to get a taste of how food has formed a vital part of Singapore’s cultural heritage, the innovations and technologies shaping future food security and the new flavours in the recovering Food and Beverage business.
I primarily cover issues of power. In 2022, I will aim to go beyond documenting the visible effects of corruption and political repression by attempting to investigate how these processes are carried out.
Rather than simply highlighting the impacts of policies and ideologies, I want to help identify and connect the causes producing and reinforcing them. I’ve already spent months doing in-depth reporting from Ratanakiri, Cambodia, with my colleague, Borin Sopheavuthtey, about the different forces converging to dispossess Indigenous people of their land.
From the ongoing ramifications of rampant microfinance, the myriad influences of Chinese investment and potential repression heading into the commune election season, I hope to dig deeper into what shapes Cambodia.
I also plan to cover human rights issues across Southeast Asia with a focus on meaningful ways people and communities navigate the negative influences of corporate and state power. I look forward to learning more about the region and working on more stories about Southeast Asian countries outside Cambodia.
After spending the latter half of 2021 in Cambodia, I hope to spend 2022 improving my coverage of the environment. My resolution is to produce the types of stories I’ve read by other Globe reporters that make me proud of this newsroom.
I plan to pursue nuanced stories on forest conservation and related issues such as poaching, illegal logging and carbon credits. I hope to add to the great stories about rural agriculture by my colleagues.
My coverage of rural landscapes will include reporting on communities facing the brunt of the climate crisis. I also am piecing together a story about the effect of changing climates on the cultivation of areas recently cleared of landmines.
While pursuing these topics, I also am passionate about combining my reporting with multimedia elements. I plan to provide Globe readers with photos and videos from the frontlines of these stories and cannot wait to share my continuing adventures across this incredible Kingdom.
As we move into 2022, I look forward to examining the future of agriculture in Cambodia, specifically among micro and small-sized enterprises.
Much of the conversation about Cambodia’s next phase of agriculture revolves around large-scale industrial operations, although micro and small-scale enterprises continue to dominate. The plot size of these family operations limits yields and scalability yet farming remains an important part of Cambodian society, education and the economy. Agricultural output also proved to be a nutritional buoy for families during the pandemic.
I want to examine new methods and strategies to increase productivity and promote sustainability among small producers, as well as some pitfalls of industrial agriculture that could be avoided through alternative strategies.
I also plan to investigate the potential, long-term impacts of Covid-19 on education and the pandemic’s legacy in Cambodian schools. Covid-19 disrupted education worldwide, but also pushed an adoption of technology and distance learning that otherwise may have taken years to implement.
Cambodia’s schools are open and the worst parts of the pandemic are hopefully past, but I want to consider the lasting changes to education in the Kingdom. While technological advances in other countries are unlikely to be widespread here, the Covid era may hold important lessons for Cambodian education.
I plan to continue my coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic in Vietnam throughout 2022.
When life was going back to semi-normalcy in the country in 2021, a massive Delta-fueled wave hit the South in July. During over a month of lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City beginning in late August, conversations even between the city’s privileged residents regularly included the question: ‘Do you have enough food?’ Like tens of thousands of migrant workers trapped within southern industrial centres, many did not.
The reverberations of the traumatic summer can still be felt, particularly for those who lost loved ones and healthcare workers who toiled for months in overwhelmed hospitals. Although a vaccination effort has improved conditions, the virus is still very much in the community as the country makes a U-turn from a ‘Zero-Covid’ policy toward ‘Living with Covid.’
My aim is to provide nuanced reporting from Vietnam featuring a wide variety of voices on the reopening of schools, the sputtering return of the tourism industry and international flights and the government’s response to the health crisis.
For me, 2021 was a year of many firsts. My first newsroom. My first byline. My first time reporting in the field. It was not a walk in the park, but every curveball thrown my way made the experience more worthwhile. I have my support system in Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia to thank for that.
Right now, many parts of Malaysia are experiencing the worst floods in decades. The country’s inexperience dealing with climate disasters has left thousands stranded on their rooftops for days. In the coming year, I want to deepen my coverage of the environment in Malaysia and the climate crisis looming above us to explore its relationship with those who have to bear the consequences.
I also aim to report on stories beyond Malaysia’s borders and collaborate with other reporters to develop more nuanced stories. Earlier this year, I co-reported on malnutrition and polycultural ponds in rural Cambodia with my colleague, Anton L. Delgado. I loved collaborating and look forward to more joint projects.