Unwind and relax

Last week the Globe was taking some downtime to celebrate Khmer New Year. But while our screens were dimmed and swivel-chairs empty, we've got a few quirky bits of history to tide us over until we resume normal service this week. We look at the life and legacy of little-known Karen revolutionary leader Saw Ba U Gyi, delve into the memoirs of British photojournalist Jon Swain from his time in Cambodia and Vietnam in the 1970s, as well as cast an eye to the anti-opium movement of the Straits Settlements in the 19th and 20th centuries

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August 24, 2020
Unwind and relax

Witnessing tragedy: Journalist Jon Swain revisits 1970s Phnom Penh

For journalist and writer Jon Swain, the wars of Southeast Asia made a dramatic backdrop for life and love. Globe reporter Alexi Demetriadi caught up with Swain to talk about his landmark memoir, River of Time, which recently gained approval to be made into a feature film.

Region’s filmmakers offer their visions of the Mekong river in 2030

Creative storytelling has long given popular voice to pressing social and political issues. This year’s upcoming Luang Prabang Film Festival in the Laotian capital took that to task, setting its participating film directors to examine the future of the mighty Mekong, which has suffered under the effects of environmental degradation.

Not settling for less: Anti-opium movements in the Straits Settlements

Today, opium is widely banned around the world. That wasn’t always the case though and, in places like the small British colony of the Straits Settlements – an area encompassing Penang, Singapore, Malacca, and Dinding ruled by the British Empire between 1826 and 1946 – more than half of the territory’s revenue once came from the opium trade until residents decided they’d had enough of the production and its harmful effects on their society. As Globe reporter Wanpen Pajai writes here, their campaign against this colonial cash-crop would spark a global movement to end the trade for good.

The enduring legacy of Karen revolutionary leader Saw Ba U Gyi

Little-known outside Myanmar – or even within it – Saw Ba U Gyi lives on in the country’s Karen State as a leading figure in the ethnic minority group’s ongoing fight for recognition and sovereignty in the war-torn country. Contributor Oliver Slow examines the legacy of the man within the long-running conflict between the Karen people and the Bamar majority.

The teens bridging Thailand’s wealth chasm with everyday human stories

In a society marked by high levels of wealth disparity, members of the Thai upper class don’t often mix with their countrymen of lesser means. A high-school-student-led media program is aiming to change that. Globe reporter Tara Abhasakun got the story here.

[Photos] Celebrating Vietnam’s ethnic minorities through portraiture

With 54 registered minority groups, Vietnam is a land of immense cultural diversity. Photographer Alden Anderson and his Vietnamese partner Trinh Nguyen have set out to capture this heterogeneity, traversing the country to capture portraits of each group.

[Photos] Feel the pulse of a fast-changing Vietnam in the 1990s

Spurred on by rapid economic growth, Vietnam has been one of the fastest evolving nations on earth by virtually every metric for decades. This collection of photos from the 90s, showing a country markedly different from today’s Vietnam, lays testament to that.

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