The Globe as you know it is changing.
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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.

Drought and government inaction hit Cambodia’s rice industry hard

By: Logan Connor and Paul Millar - Posted on: May 25, 2016 | Business

The effects of Cambodia’s recent drought will serve to exacerbate existing structural weaknesses in the rice sector, say experts

Squatting on a lawn chair in front of her shop near Phnom Penh’s railway station, rice-vendor Ev does not seem too concerned by the worst drought to hit Southeast Asia in more than 50 years. Poker-faced, she brushes aside suggestions that the dry conditions could continue to put the nation’s vulnerable rice industry at risk – a crisis the Cambodian government has done little to address.

rice
Much to grain: rice vendor Ev sits in her shop near Phnom Penh’s railway station. Photo: Paul Millar

“I never think about government support,” she said. “The way I do my business only depends on supply and demand.”

For the Kingdom’s struggling rice-export industry, though, the challenges of the future are harder to ignore.

Despite a rise in global rice prices of as much as 16%, Cambodia’s fragile rice sector is in no position to take advantage of the high price its crop could command.

Despite recent downfalls, the effects of the worst drought in half a century still bite. There is simply not enough water for farmers to plant this year’s wet season crop. This comes on the back of last year’s drought, when producers reached just over half the government’s target of 1m tonnes.

For one of the world’s top ten rice exporters – and a country where about half of the population’s livelihoods are estimated to depend on the rice sector – structural weaknesses continue to undermine what could be a flourishing industry.

CEO of Battambang Rice Investment Company Kann Kunthy says the global price rise is far from ideal for farmers struggling to keep up with increased demand.

“It’s not good because when you have drought, the yield is lower and the quality is not good,” says Kann. “When you have a high price and the weather is good you can store some … but if the weather is not good, you can get two tonnes at the highest price but the quality itself does not justify the cost.”

Structural inefficiencies and government negligence have exacerbated the drought’s effects.

According to the Asian Development Bank’s Chanthou Hem, Cambodia lacks the necessary practical production systems, infrastructure and post-harvest mechanism. Added to this has “a weak link between seed producers, paddy growers and processors [millers] that will promote a secure and profitable system,” he told Southeast Asia Globe in October.

High transportation costs, often cited as a common roadblock to commerce in the country, have made things worse. And in Cambodia, rice millers pay roughly twice as much for electricity than in Vietnam and Thailand.

Kann says that the government is not focused enough on the current rice predicament – especially with the crucial commune and national elections coming up in 2017 and 2018 respectively. “You can see from the government level they are more worried about the voting itself than the industry, at least for the short term period,” he said.

Cambodia also lacks the low-interest loans, government subsidies and bolstered infrastructure of its neighbouring countries. “If you compare Cambodia to Thailand and to Vietnam, their governments are proactive and they have a surplus of financial support,” said Kann.

“Because Cambodia is a less developed country, we don’t have a financial surplus to help us,” Kann added. “And in order to make the Cambodian rice industry or the whole [agricultural sector] competitive, they have to look at the energy costs, transportation logistics and financial costs.”

Song Saran, chairman of Amru Rice, the country’s biggest exporter, says that the rice industry looks to the government to “reduce the cost of logistics and the documentation and energy costs. So we hope the government will help support us”.

While rain showers are predicted for the next ten days, Cambodia’s Ministry of Water Resources says that normal rain patterns will not return until July. Song agreed. “Rain also may be delayed until July, so we’ll see this drought continue,” said Song. “It’s still two months and too long [to wait] and the farmers and the rice industry will suffer more.”

According to Gianpetro Bordignon, the World Food Programme’s country director for Cambodia, the level of rice exports in recent years has been lower then the amount of marketable crop produced by farmers.

“There is no reason why Cambodian rice should not be competitive to other purchases,” he said. “It’s just an issue of other costs.”

On the local level, this means that rice vendors such as Ev and her customers are hit with high prices, roughly 10% to 20% above the norm.

But for Kann, the price of further inaction is one the nation’s rice industry cannot afford to pay.

“What is important is to save the industry within a one- or two-year period,” he said. “Because we won’t have a future if you cannot survive the next two years.”