Under the surface.

This week we’re looking at Southeast Asia’s hidden pirate problem, the bumpy start of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, how Aung San Suu Kyi took her country backwards and more.

Written By:
July 15, 2019
Under the surface.

The faith that there is a deeper truth beneath the world that we’re confronted with is the foundation of all the world’s religions. For journalists, this, too, is an article of faith: that if you scratch beneath the surface, you’re going to find a story that someone doesn’t want you to tell.

They might not be swinging across the rigging with a cutlass clenched between their teeth, but pirates are still roaming the region’s waterways. On Monday and Tuesday, we’re diving into Southeast Asia’s unspoken pirate problem to investigate how changing economic forces have driven the practice underground – and fostered a system of rampant corruption among the authorities most responsible for fighting it.

Last year, Khmer Rouge ringleaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were finally found guilty of committing genocide – though not of the almost two million Cambodians killed by the regime, but the Kingdom’s ethnic Cham and Vietnamese minorities.

But for many Cambodians who watched the once-untouchable architects of the nation’s ruin dragged from their homes to answer for their crimes, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal has been a way for countless victims of the regime to see some small justice done. This week, for World Day for International Justice, we look back at our print archives from February 2008 to chart the court’s messy beginnings.

Myanmar’s opening up to the world has been a masterclass in contradiction. Under civilian rule, the military has launched a bloody crackdown in Rakhine State the likes of which the nation hasn’t seen for decades. The country has opened its doors to foreign investment, but civil society groups find their space to speak out against their government shrinking.

And while cities like Yangon heave with high-rises promising a new age of prosperity, many who migrate to the urban hubs in search of opportunity are reduced to scavenging a living in the slums that ring the cities. On Thursday, we’ll be wading through the waste with the children scraping their way through their childhoods one broken bottle at a time.

This Saturday marks 30 years since Aung San Suu Kyi was first sentenced to house arrest for her efforts to bring democratic rule to the people of Myanmar. From that imprisonment, she now reigns over the nation as state counsellor as the nation slowly sheds the shackles of military government. On Friday, we’ll be breaking down the former freedom fighter’s gamble to wrest power from the nation’s armed forces – and how badly it seems to have backfired.

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