Second chances

This week was all about harsh judgements, clean slates, and second chances.

Julija Veljkovic
February 14, 2020
Second chances

We kicked the week off by looking at the EU’s critical EBA decision, which will undoubtedly frame Cambodia’s political and economic landscape for years ahead, before moving on to how Thailand’s railway system is rapidly transforming for better or worse. We also looked into the lives of Phnom Penh’s poorest living on the capital’s margins, as well as how the growth of the coronavirus is breeding anti-Chinese sentiment across the region. 

On 12 February 2020, EU diplomats in Brussels impacted Cambodia’s political and economic fate. The Kingdom will lose around 20% of its EBA preferential trade privileges, citing serious and systematic violations of human rights as the underpinning reason for the partial withdrawal. The withdrawal applies to approximately one-fifth, or €1 billion, of Cambodia’s yearly exports to the EU. What happens next?

As coronavirus ignites fear across Southeast Asia and the globe, it has created space for a different kind of problem to grow and evolve too – anti-Chinese sentiment. We spoke with Chinese citizens living and working in the region about their recent experiences with sinophobia.

68-year-old Sokhom is a long-term resident and community representative of a village along the Boeung Trabek canal in Phnom Penh. Despite mass redevelopment and gentrification presenting limited housing options for the very poor in the city and in the face of land security challenges, for Sokhom, the reasons for staying with her community are simple. 

“Over here, it’s dirty, but it’s close to the public schools and healthcare … The environment is not good but we’re happy to live here because we can access anything and make a career.”

In January 2021, a new $1 billion transit hub in Bang Sue is set to usurp Hualamphong as Bangkok’s main railway station. Photographer Tim Russell guides us through the last months of this iconic Thai structure’s days as Thailand’s main rail hub through a collection of his images.

Inside Philippine’s largest prison, reform happens in the most unexpected ways. Aside from maximum-security inmates, who are kept isolated inside the prison, all inmates learn a trade and are relatively free in their movement. Most work in agriculture, but some inmates are even trained to attend to their sick peers in a health clinic. Many are allowed to live with their relatives. [Top Read of 2017].

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