Sea eagles and tigers, pandemic teaching, Cambodian opposition

World Wildlife Day puts a spotlight on national animals, educators impart distance learning insights, two contrasting dissidents consider their next steps

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March 5, 2022
Sea eagles and tigers, pandemic teaching, Cambodian opposition

Hello Globe readers,

Temperatures started creeping up this week, signalling the start of the hot season that will last through May. Here’s a handful of stories to read in the shade.

To mark World Wildlife Day, Globe journalists profiled every national animal in Southeast Asia, a project that led us down some strange and unexpected rabbit holes. Following an introduction by Anton L. Delgado, the stories range from the strange mystery of Brunei’s white-bellied sea eagle to the Malayan tiger’s “critically endangered” designation.

Teaching through two years of the pandemic has given Cambodian educators time to reflect on lessons learned, Stew Post reports. Teachers and experts point to lack of widespread internet access and basic materials as central contributors to learning loss, which they say has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities and could lead vulnerable students to drop out.

With commune elections meanwhile looming this spring, Jack Brook and I explored the stories of two divergent Cambodian dissidents and the distinct paths they see for the future of the country. While exiled opposition leader Mu Sochua believes campaigning and voting could still deliver change from the Hun Sen regime, former NGO leader Theary Seng has called for an abolition of party politics.

Although the international community has largely withdrawn support for Cambodian elections, Japan and China have a strong interest in funding them, columnist Mark S. Cogan writes. As China has poured investment money into the country, Japan is “playing the long game” to maintain access to Cambodia’s untapped markets.

In another contributor article, Kuldeep Nagi argues that higher education institutions in Southeast Asia rethinking their approaches should create joint-degree programmes. Partnerships across ASEAN universities could increase English proficiency, equalise curriculums and help students start careers in other countries, ultimately preparing them to solve regional challenges.

Finally this week we have the great pleasure of introducing a new member of our editorial team. Ashley Tan will report from Phnom Penh on various issues affecting Cambodia and Southeast Asia as a whole. In addition to her Globe articles, you can follow her on Twitter @ashleytanwords.

That’s it for now. Stay healthy and cool.

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