Longs: Coffee, Sambal And High Drama

Hello friends,

My plan is to have this longread wrap come out the last Monday of every month. So far, so good. But it does feel super early this month, not my fault though blame calendars and Pope Greg 13.

This has been a BIG MONTH for Crazy Rich Asian takes and I, for one, have loved it. But rather than flood this with my fave reads please make sure you’re subscribed to Splice Shorts and we’ll be taking a look at it over there!

And just a reminder, if you’d like to get the weekly email blast with the most important analysis and the biggest headlines AND the emerging trends subscribe now for $5 a month/$50 a year wow what a bargain.

Erin Cook

Dangerous News: How two young reporters shook Myanmar - Reuters
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were just doing their jobs. Investigating reports of a massacre in Rakhine state, the two Reuters reporters were caught up in a farcical sting operation. Reuters have, understandably, owned this story since the pair were arrested in December. There has been a lot of coverage from the wire but this piece is very much the comprehensive play-by-play of how we ended up here with the two facing a lengthy jail term. The verdict in the case is due to be handed down today, so stick to Reuters. From what I’ve gathered via Myanmar watchers on Twitter, it’s a matter of being hopeful but realistic.

Why Facebook is losing the war on hate speech in Myanmar - Reuters
Still in Myanmar and still with Reuters, this is another investigation which has bubbled away in the conflict-struck country. Facebook has helped spread junk news and hate speech all over the world, so why has Myanmar been particularly volatile? This piece gets to the bottom of it – a half-arsed response from the social media giant misunderstood the severity of the issue and is struggling to close the gap. Zuckerberg said it was sorted, but how’s this post quoted in the story: “We must fight them the way Hitler did the Jews, damn kalars!” Good Lord!

Never one to be outdone - TLS
There’s two things I really love: talking about Duterte and anything written by Michael Vatikiotis. How lucky am I this month! Reviewing Jonathan Miller’s Duterte Harry and Richard Javad Heydarian’s the Rise of Duterte for the Times Literary Supplement, Vatikiotis makes much of the two author’s different understandings of how Duterte became the man he is. Baby Duterte isn’t that interesting to me, so I got hooked on the “Duterte presents himself as the antidote to the weaknesses of his predecessors in the liberal post-Marcos era” take. I’ve started the Miller book, but the Heydarian one is still a bit steep for now so I’m going to take MV’s word on it.

A first test for Timor-Leste’s cohabitants - Inside Story
It’s been a busy couple of years in Timor-Leste, where political turmoil has seen the country at the polls repeatedly. Change for Progress Alliance (AMP) won the May election and it looked like we’d cast aside the stagnation of the previous parliament. Ooh boy. WRONG. Is it a matter of the odd ‘semi-presidential’ system complicating things? Maybe. Fretillin’s Francisco Guterres remains president and he is not happy with some of the AMP’s choices for ministers, with dozens of nominees under suspicion of corruption. How long can this coalition last?

Farmers in Asia’s Golden Triangle seek a coffee high - OZY
We haven’t heard much out of the Golden Triangle lately. Been real quiet since Mr X got life in the slammer back in March. Not worth it! Instead, now farmers and village communities are using their land to grow coffee and in turn developing what could be the world’s next big coffee spot. I love this story, I think coffee production, roasting and cafe culture in the region is brilliantly dynamic and this sort of story is why!

Sambal, a Pungent Reminder of Home and Hardship - New York Times
I love this story. I love this story! One of the most important things Southeast Asia has taught me is a heat tolerance I never had before. (I would honestly chuck out the chilli sauce part of the Indomie troika) But pieces like this remind me that sambal is far more than just an absolute necessity, for millions of families it’s an integral part of life. This beautifully written family history of sambal ℅ Singapore and the US is a delight to read. “There’s a rich and labor-intensive history in the ritual of preparing sambal that should be remembered, and perhaps even revered.”

Walking a Tightrope on Religion - New Naratif
Vietnam and religion is fascinating. As a communist state, religion isn’t too cool but with the opening up of the country religion has started sneaking back in too. This from New Naratif looks at the South Korean-linked World Mission Society Church of God which believes it’s founder is God. CULT ALERT. Backlash has struck the ‘church’ this year after investigations into the group found widespread instances of belieber being forced to give up family relationships. But it’s not just WMS under siege, even the Catholic Church has come under the ire of the government.

How A War in the Middle East Changed My Family in the Philippines Forever - Catapult
This is a personal, moving piece. Let it speak for itself.

I'm a Gay Man and I'm Not Voting in Indonesia's 2019 Election - VICE IndonesiaWhen President Jokowi announced he had picked Ma’ruf Amin as his running-mate the response was swift. ‘Bummer, but pragmatic,’ said the watchers (myself included). Ma’ruf is a deeply conservative Muslim leader who doesn’t like any sort of minority and really hated Ahok. ‘Expect progressive voters to peel away from Jokowi,’ said the watchers (myself included). But there’s seeing it, saying it, predicting it. And then there’s living it. Amahl S. Azwar voted for Jokowi in 2014 but he won’t in 2019, not if it means voting for a man who fundamentally disputes his right to exist.