Southeast Asian photography

The year in pictures

As 2019 draws to a close, we return to the most striking images and stories published this year from across the region by Southeast Asia Globe

Alastair McCready and Julija Veljkovic
December 30, 2019
The year in pictures

Editor’s note: 2019 has proved a year of great change, and ultimately growth, for Southeast Asia Globe. In keeping with an increasingly digital era, after 12 years in print we relaunched as an entirely online publication in January, as well as starting our new membership scheme in recent months. With great change comes great challenges, but as a new decade dawns, we feel better prepared than ever to provide our loyal readership around the globe with the fearless, independent journalism we’ve prided ourselves on delivering since we first launched in 2007.

Throughout 2019, we’ve continued to be among the few outlets in the region to delve into the unseen and unreported across Southeast Asia through our four pillars (Power, Money, Life and Earth). Motivated by a desire to publish hard-hitting journalism in a region often gagged by oppressive governance, we’ve championed the stories of those at the grassroots, whilst challenging those at the top to do better.

So as 2019 draws to a close, we reflect on the year just passed by selecting the most striking imagery to have emerged from Globe Media Asia’s three flagship publications – Southeast Asia Globe, Discover Cambodia and Focus Cambodia.

As we go from strength to strength in the coming months, we want to thank our readers for their unwavering support and wish you all a happy and prosperous new year.


Illustrations by Séra

In late November, Southeast Asia Globe, in partnership with think tank Future Forum, embarked upon an eight-week series, Cambodia 2040, examining how the Kingdom could fare in the decades to come across six key areas. Already tackled have been international relations, food and agriculture, and energy and the environment. Still to be discussed in the coming weeks is the future of work, the future of law and governance and the future of learning. Find out more about the project here.


Photo: Thomas Cristofoletti

Known for its exquisite photography, in-depth features and comprehensive destination guides, the 2020 edition of Cambodia’s premier travel magazine Discover is set to be published in the coming months. In the 2019 edition, we looked at the island of Koh Trong in the middle of the Mekong River. On the island, travellers can explore a vision of rural Cambodian life untouched by the clamour and chaos of the modern world – and, just a short drive away, an intimate encounter with some of the Kingdom’s last Irrawaddy dolphins. Read more here.


Photo: Sam Jam

At the height of its splendour, the Khmer Empire stretched across all of Indochina, drawing tribute and trade from nations across the known world. Working from 13th century records and scenes of daily life carved into the temple walls, Discover 2019 traced three ordinary lives lived in the shadow of the sacred city of Angkor. Read more here.


Cambodian bboy
Photo: Alastair McCready

Cambodia’s nascent breakdancing scene has fascinating origins. From genocide, refugees and eventually deportees, the social forces that have resulted in Cambodian-Americans championing hip-hop in the Kingdom have been four decades in the making. Read more here.


Photo: Michael Yamashita

In 1991, National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita traversed the length of the Mekong, from source to sea, in a groundbreaking trip documenting the communities for which the river was so central to life. Southeast Asia Globe sat down with Yamashita to reflect on his incredible journey – and images – almost three decades on, as well as hear his thoughts on the dams and environmental degradation blighting the river today. Read more here.


Photo: Skylar Lindsay

What happens when the activists win? Hailing from the Sa-iab Village in northern Thailand, activists have successfully campaigned against the construction of a dam for three decades. With hydropower dams springing up across Asia, what can local communities learn from their struggle? Read more here.


Photo: Lorcan Lovett

Scraping through the refuse of Yangon’s slums for scraps to sell, children and adults alike find themselves caught between economic crisis in the countryside and a rapidly developing city that threatens to swallow their makeshift homes. Read more here.


Photo: Lesly Lotha

Cambodia’s women with disabilities – along with the families struggling to support them – remain shut out from society, leaving them vulnerable to sexual violence. Read more here.

Photo: Caleb Quinley

In May, Thai pro-democracy activist Siam Theerawut fell silent from his exile in Vietnam. But his family have not stopped trying to find him. Read more here.


Photo: Michael-Shaowanasai

Asian artists gathered in Bangkok in late November to explore diverse themes of sexuality in a country commonly regarded as among the most LGBTQ-friendly globally. But as the community continues to suffer in the kingdom, what is the full story? Read more here.


Cambodia's Tonle Sap has provided the Kingdom with nourishment for centuries. Photo: Veng Sonita
Photo: Veng Sonita

Every year, Cambodia’s Tonle Sap river changes course to fill up the nation’s largest lake, bringing life back to the Kingdom. But this year, it ran late, severely impacting communities so reliant on it for survival. Read more here.


A 2,500 tonne power generation ship that was carried inland by the 2004 tsunami and now sits in downtown Banda Aceh as the centerpiece of a tsunami memorial. Photo: Simon Roughneen
Photo: Simon Roughneen

The tragedies of 2018 forced Indonesian authorities this year to better prepare for the disasters that are inevitable across the seismically hyperactive, drought and flood-prone archipelago. Read more here.



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