The Globe as you know it is changing.
Coming June 2019

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  • Member engagement with our journalists

To understand more about why you are so important to our member-supported initiative, we encourage you to read the following from our managing editor ~ Read more

The Globe as you know it is changing.

Since 2007, Southeast Asia Globe has been a space for some of the region’s best writers and photographers to take our readers behind the headlines into the stories that shape people’s lives. Every month, you could expect to pick up our latest print edition and find high-quality journalism, analysis and artwork waiting on every page. And since 2007, we’ve fought to uphold our promise of quality and independence to you, our readers.

But, like we said, the world is changing. Print publications just aren’t reaching the audiences they need to fulfil their promise of informing, educating and entertaining the public. Advertisers continue to invest in digital platforms while printing costs creep ever higher. Print may not be dead, but it’s fighting for its life. And we’re tired of waiting by a sickbed for its condition to improve. We want to be present at the birth of something new.

That’s why Southeast Asia Globe is relaunching as a member-driven platform featuring daily long-form features combining world-class journalism with enthralling art design and data-centered tech. Through our core pillars – Power, Money, Life and Earth – we are focusing in on the central issues that our readers have always engaged with most, with the same in-depth coverage of politics, business, social affairs and the environment that you’ve come to expect since 2007.

But leaving print behind us doesn’t just save our backs from lugging stacks of magazines across Southeast Asia. It opens up a global readership who don’t just want to read the news, but have a say in the stories that we tell and the way that we tell them. We’re not asking you to take out another magazine subscription – our stories are open to all. What we’re offering our members is a space where they can pitch and vote on the stories that they think deserve to be told. We want to inspire an engaged and active community of members who vote for, comment on and contribute to the stories that matter most to them. We want to work with our members to curate the way they engage with the news – not just as readers, but as an active extension of our editorial team.

That’s how we’re changing to bring you great stories. Here’s how we’re not.

We’re independent. Always have been, always will be. We’re not owned by any corporation or aligned with any state. We choose the stories that we tell, and the way that we tell them.

We’re creative. We’re not interested in churning out breaking news stories on the hour, every hour. We believe that the best stories are the ones that come alive on the page, digging deeper into the issues that shape Southeast Asia – and bringing you along for the ride. From our dedicated designers to our new software development team, our commitment is to constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways of reaching out to our readers.

We’re open. Challenging governments, NGOs and businesses to be transparent with the public means nothing if we keep our own readers in the dark. That’s why we will be completely open about why we tell the stories that we tell – and how we pay for them. Work with us to build something that endures where many media fail, and decide with us exactly where that money is going.

Above all, we’re optimistic. And yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Faced with impending climate collapse, the rise of right-wing authoritarian governments across the world, widening wealth and income inequality and deepening divisions rooted in race or gender or creed, it’s hard not to open the papers and feel the weight of the world pressing down. But we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe that when people work together, they can make their little corner of the world a more just, open and equal place.

And that’s why we can’t do this without you. We believe that across the globe is a community of people who care deeply about social justice, environmental action and press freedom – and who will join in to help make those ideals a reality. We’re not just holding our hand out – we need your voice to play a vital role in building Southeast Asia Globe into a leading space for progressive causes in the region. Tell us what stories the mainstream media is missing. Share with us the causes that matter most to you, and how we can champion those causes not just across Southeast Asia, but the world.

Our vision is clear. By 2025, we want to be recognised for building a great space for outstanding journalists from across the region to explore new ways of telling Southeast Asia’s most vital stories. Let’s bring together a community of engaged and loyal members who want to help reshape the media rather than just read it. And we want to reach a point where our readers, not advertisers, are the ones working to support our shared vision of an inclusive media.

We can’t do this without you. Let’s get together and build something that we all believe in.

If you’re interested in joining us, sign up to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. And watch this space.

Blazing souls during the Hungry Ghost Festival

By: Marco Ferrarese - Posted on: September 16, 2012 | Culture & Life

When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the streets of Malaysia and Singapore, looking for mundane entertainment

By Marco Ferrarese

On the stage tonight, a scantily clad Chinese Venus is seeking some serious attention. Spotlights play hide and seek on the tiny cloth wrapped around her long legs, which bend provocatively as she drizzles pure pop sugar into the mic. Under normal circumstances, such a performance would command roses thrown at her feet and frenzied calls for an encore. But not tonight. Tonight she performs to a row of sad, empty seats.

Yu Lan, or the Hungary Ghost Festival takes place in Malaysia and Singapore during the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar – starting around mid- to late-August

“Do not sit in the front rows!” screams Ang Hoi over the pounding dance beats. He is a Chinese shop owner-turned-medium for the occasion. “Those chairs are reserved for the ghosts!” he insists.

During this seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar – starting around mid- to late-August – one of Southeast Asia’s most colourful and entertaining festivals takes place in Malaysia and Singapore: Yu Lan, or the Hungry Ghost Festival. Far from being steamrolled into a steel and concrete mass grave in these quickly modernising nations, the traditional beliefs of the huaren (overseas Chinese) are alive and well, and celebrating the time of year when the king of hell, Tai Su Yah, opens the gates of Hades and unleashes these hungry ghosts upon Earth.

“You do not want to mess with them,” Mr Hoi continues frantically. “They deserve our utmost respect, as they are back from hell… such a bad, hard place. They are hungry for life.”

Visitors need not fear, however, as they do not pitch up in this world with a taste for human flesh. On the contrary, they look for the comforts they have been deprived of in the poorly stocked aisles of HellMart: tasty food, respectful prayers and trivial entertainment.

For a whole month, the Chinese community winds down from the usual six ‘til nine daily grind and ushers in a display of burlesque devotion. On most street corners, impromptu homemade shrines display towers of fruit, cold beers and barbecued pigs. Devotees with coloured joss sticks come and go all day long, drawing slow, smoky circles in the air. Tai Su Yah, realised in six-metre-high cardboard form, enjoys the show from his paper throne, his grin revealing a pair of menacing fangs.

A deep-rooted respect for the deceased is what makes the industrious huaren halt their daily business to please the spirits by praying to the small shrines, organising Chinese opera performances, or staging saucy singing shows that have a special VIP ghost section. Those of the mortal world are only permitted to sit at the back.

The spectacular show of unity with the dead does not find favour with all of the two countries’ diverse ethnic groups. “I think they are crazy,” confesses a Malay Muslim passer-by. “They should not mess with the spirits, it is dangerous… In my religion, we are taught to steer well clear of the supernatural.”

Yet the huaren seem to have a different idea of their cult of the dead. “Our ancestors feel very lonely down there. They miss this world and their past lives,” says Chook Moi, a middle-aged lady pausing from her ghostly errands. “When they come back to us for a month every year, we have to give them something special to help their life in hell.”

She sets fire to a stack of hell notes – replica currency emblazoned with the face of Tai Su Yah – a humble gift to her dead parents. “I am sending them a bit of money for the upcoming year,” she concludes with a smile.

When the end of the month draws closer, with ghoulish hunger satiated, a procession of howling devotees will carry the statues of Tai Su Yah around town for one last glorious ride. As the clock strikes midnight, the remaining hell notes are piled on huge pyres and the king of hell is sent back from whence he came in a ritual street bonfire.

The pretty pop performances continue until the very last and one French tourist caught up in the maelstrom wonders if the shows aren’t a little out of place. But with young and old huaren coming together in a celebration that sees them forget the pressure of business for just a short while, sometimes it is better not to wonder too much and, instead, just enjoy a little miniskirt exorcism.