Cambodia film wins again, Singaporean radicalisation and Indonesian orangutans

By: Will Feuer - Posted on: June 13, 2017 | Southeast Asia

The Region Today: Southeast Asia Globe’s daily rundown of the region’s top stories

Still photo from Chris Kelly's documentary, A Cambodian Spring.
Still photo from Chris Kelly’s documentary, A Cambodian Spring.

The Region Today – 13 June 2017

Cambodian activism documentary continues winning streak

A Cambodian Spring, a documentary detailing the challenges three Cambodian activists faced leading up to the 2013 national election, was awarded the Best Feature Documentary award at the Brooklyn Film Festival.

Created by Irish filmmaker Chris Kelly, the film focuses on land activists Tep Vanny and Toul Srey Pov as they protest against evictions in Phnom Penh, and “multi-media monk” Luon Sovath, who also finds himself struggling against authorities in his efforts to monitor and mediate sometimes violent land disputes.

The film, which has yet to be screened in Cambodia, where the government has a track record of banning hard-hitting documentaries, was also awarded the Special Jury Prize at the international documentary festival in Toronto, Hot Docs. [Cambodia Daily]

Philippine parliamentarian calls for renaming of country

The Philippines’ 119th national day was marked by celebration and remembrance, along with calls from congressman Gary Alejano for the renaming of the country in order to become “truly independent.”

It has been almost five centuries since the colonizers of the Philippines, Spain, named the country after King Philip II. Alejano pointed to examples of other previously colonized nations that regained their former names after achieving independence.

“If we want to be truly independent, we must discard the bonds of colonialism by establishing our own national identity,” said Alejano, who is seeking about $600,000 to establish an expert commission that would be tasked with coming up with a new name within a year. [Express]

First Singaporean woman to be charged on grounds of radicalization

A Singaporean preschool assistant has been detained on charges of radicalisation – the first case of a woman being detained on such charges in the country’s history, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The woman was radicalised in 2013 and since then has been seeking a husband who would move with her to Syria and fight with the Islamic State (IS) group, according to authorities.

The case comes amid mounting fears of radicalisation in Southeast Asia, typified by the violent conflict in Marawi City, Philippines, in which more than 100 have been killed in fighting between government troops and militants affiliated with IS. [CNN]

Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Philippines deploys tanks and helicopters in attempt to reclaim southern city

Thai e-commerce competition heating up

Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com recently announced its entry into Thailand, where market research firm Nielsen expects the e-commerce market to reach $3 billion by 2020, up from $1 billion in 2015.

The market is already dominated by major players such as Alibaba-owned Lazada and South Korean 11Street, leading some to foresee a price war as JD.com enters the market. Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, president of the Thai E-commerce Association, said the market was also set for consolidation.

“We expect JD.com to look for strategic local partners through acquisitions and joint ventures instead of building everything from scratch,” Pawoot said. [Bangkok Post]

Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Chinese e-commerce hegemon Alibaba sets its sights on Southeast Asia

Indonesian orangutans saved on palm plantation

An adult orangutan and her son were rescued from a palm oil plantation in Sumatra, Indonesia, by the Human Orangutan Conflict Response Unit.

Palm oil plantations represent a devastating threat to critically endangered orangutans, with environmental groups estimated that 80 percent of orangutan habitat has disappeared in the past two decades due to expanding plantations.

There are an estimated 7,500 Sumatran orangutans not living in the wild in Borneo and Sumatra, down from 230,000 at their peak. The mother and son saved last week have been transported to Gunung Leuser National Park. [Mail Online]