Here are the best reads of the last month or so! To get your weekly update, upgrade for $5 a month or $50 for the year:
I didn’t get up to much this week publishing-wise, because I was working full time AND doing a language intensive. Dang, that’s a productive month! Sure is, my brain melted. For the Diplomat I looked at how food prices have become central to the Indonesian presidential campaign (for now). Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was surely set to soil the bed on his first (and likely last) summit season. For Eureka Street, I checked out the status of the death penalty around half the region as well as an explainer-type piece on Facebook and Myanmar.
This is super Guardian and South China Morning Post heavy this month. Not sure exactly how, although I do think the commissioning editor at the SCMP magazine has been doing a cracker job lately. Please, feel free to send me recommended links - it’s a big region stacked with talented reporters and brilliant stories, so I appreciate any and all help!
See you next month,
This isn’t quite a long-read, more a fascinating black hole on the Malay language which I jumped into yesterday. Brilliant idea and I can’t wait to see it develop further.
True Philippine Ghost Stories were a cult read in the early-2000s. Unashamedly flogged off the Singaporean series, the Philippines version featured local ghosts and folklore and conventional horror stories recontextualised into the Philippines. The books hit at just the right moment. Internet proliferation hadn’t yet begun and the Philippine pulp press was still thriving. This from Young Star looks at the series and features a brilliant Q&A with TPGS’s in-house fact checker, hired at the age of 18 for her clairvoyant skills.
Over in the weekly DMKM, we spoke recently about the 50 year anniversary of what became known as the Thanksgiving bombings. On Thanksgiving 1968, that year falling on November 28, US President Lyndon B Johnson ordered dinners to be flown into American troops in Vietnam. As this was happening, bombs fell over Laos. An estimated ”million pieces of unexploded ordnance” were left behind. This piece from SCMP looks at efforts to remove UXO from Laos. It’s expected to be another 200 years before Laos is completely safe. Isn’t that just rotten?
Is Southeast Asia chilling out on marijuana? I’m not totally convinced but there is legs to it. Recent shifts in Thailand and Malaysia suggest medicinal marijuana may be a thing of the future. I do think the line about the medical tourism in both countries is the most compelling angle and I would be very interested to follow that over the course of debate. I would be equally as unsurprised if the entire debate turns out to just be a passing fad. All I know is, I’m not getting stitched up like Schapelle, thanks.
Everybody loves Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for Indonesia’s national disaster agency. He’s the first face when disaster strikes, from the tsunami and earthquake in Central Sulawesi to the Lion Air crash in to the Java Sea, there he is managing expectations telling it like it really is. I really respect him, I think more public figures everywhere should learn from him. He’s also dying. He has stage 4 cancer, but tectonic plates and flooding rains can’t stop him and neither has this.
I have a real beef with the way Western media has tried to force non-Western women’s movements into the #MeToo-related verticals, so I’m thrilled the Conversation Indonesia has taken matters into its own hands with its series. This piece relating to the Gadjah Mada University Yogyakarta scandal, in which a student was allegedly blamed by the university for her own assault, is a great place to start. This case has been particularly potent in Indonesia, prompting loads of conversation.
Earl Forlales is 23-years-old and smart as hell. He just won first prize in a contest held by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors for his house design. The bamboo house he named Cubo is made from low-cost materials, is sustainable and (GET THIS) can be constructed in four hours. Inspired by his grandparents’ place just outside Manila, the Cities of our Future entrant was picked for its creative and innovative approach to solving adequate housing shortages. What a smartie, I love this story!
All around Jakarta, warung are turning yellow. One down the street from Lotte Mall (my fave mall, just FYI) turned yellow awhile back. It had become a Warung Pintar, a smart warung, meaning that in addition to selling darts and Hydrococo it also ??? I didn’t know. I never bothered looking into it. Thankfully Resty at SCMP did. Now, the roadside kiosks have gone digital. I love it so much. To outsiders, warung look like a quaint relic of an old Indonesia, to Indonesians warung are hyper-convenient necessities. And to Warung Pintar they look ripe. Amazing!
Oh, Bandung! It’s weird this city gets rare coverage. Now that Nazi cafe has gone all of the culture reporting seems to be Yogya, Yogya, Yogya! That’s why I was thrilled to read this one in the Guardian about how the West Java capital has produced a brilliant underground music scene. Now, shows are being organised to undermine slum removal policies. It also claims Ridwan Kamil keeps winning elections because he loves metal and mmm you know what, pair that with Jokowi and maybe? Is the metalhead vote as influential as the hardline Islamist vote? Imagine!
Back in June, American-national Will Nguyen went missing during a demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City. Photos emerged online very quickly, showing the 32-year-old student being manhandled by authorities, seemingly confirming suspicions he’d been swept up in Vietnam’s crackdown on dissent. He later appeared on state TV saying he was sorry for his actions and faced up to seven years in jail. Diplomatic pressure sprung him. Here’s his own story of that time for Mekong Review.