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

  • More thought-provoking stories that inspire
  • Independent, free and member-supported
  • Vote for, pitch and commission stories
  • 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.

Plastic pollution / Could a shrub be the solution to Cambodia’s plastic bag pandemic?

Posted on: July 4, 2018 | Cambodia

On average, Cambodians use five to ten plastic bags every day, contributing to a serious waste problem in the country. Kai Kuramoto, founder of Cleanbodia, is attempting to change that by introducing an alternative solution: a biodegradable bag made from cassava starch

An example of one of Cleanbodia’s biodegradable bags

How do the bags work?
We can make two types of bags: one made from about 40% cassava starch and the other, a compostable one, made from around 60% cassava starch. We don’t carry the compostable ones in Cambodia because they are even more expensive. The biodegradable bags last about four to six years. The cassava will start to deteriorate first and will produce bacteria that will eat away at the plastic polymers, breaking it up. The compostable ones are similar, except it takes only two years for the bags to break down.

What is your main motivation for wanting to prevent plastic pollution?
The thing that is key for me and what started it is that plastic will stay around for anything from 100 to 1,000 years or more. Seeing waste here in Cambodia in places that could be so beautiful – rice fields, temples, the Tonle Bassac river – it’s really bad to think that if you see a bag there or a water bottle, it’s going to be there for not just generations, but for thousands of years.

If you build an Angkor Wat right now and dropped a plastic bag, the people who are going to visit in a thousand years might still see that bag, and it is dirtying up something that is so beautiful. Living in Siem Reap, I often come across people who have been to Angkor Wat, and I always ask them how it was. Almost always the first thing that someone says is, “I loved Cambodia and Angkor Wat, but… it is so dirty.” So I’ve always said, what if we could get rid of that “but it’s so dirty”? Imagine what could happen for the economy and the local people and for Cambodia as a place – it could be not only beautiful and great to visit, but also a model for other countries. If a country like Cambodia can clean up and abolish plastic, then any country can. That’s the main motivation for me.

The government recently introduced a sub-decree making it mandatory for supermarkets and shopping centres to charge a small fee for plastic bags. This seems like a positive change.
The charge in the supermarkets is a step. It’s a great first step and it is actually being enforced, as far as I know. But there are still some questions. Is it actually reducing plastic use? Where does the money go? Is it going to the supermarket, the government, or going to initiatives to help further reduce plastic? I don’t really have the answers to those questions right now. But I think it’s great that the government actually made a step to do that, and I think at the very least, it is making consumers at those stores realise that this is probably not going to be an exception, it’s going to be a norm coming in the future. Get ready for it.

There’s a culture in Cambodia of single-use plastics. Is it difficult convincing people to switch over?
Absolutely. The idea was really to get these bags into the hands of people who use them most: customers at markets and street vendors, for example. But I realised fairly quickly that it wasn’t realistic. As a business owner, as someone selling at the market, it doesn’t make sense to spend twice as much on a plastic bag, therefore taking money out of what they are likely going to spend on food for their family for that night. I understand that. So we’re kind of using a top-down model. Our customers are typically Western or foreign business owners – places where I think people have seen the impact of plastic and what it can do and want to make sure it doesn’t happen here, or prevent it from happening further.

So hopefully the top-down model will work, and we will see other people adopting it and realising the problem and then eventually – hopefully with government assistance – we can find some way to create an alternative. Whether it is with my bags or not, that isn’t my concern, I just want people to use less plastic.

Will Cambodia be able to manage its plastic problem?
Yeah, absolutely. It’s going to take an army. Just by waking up and going outside, we probably do something that an environmentalist would say is hurting the environment; our phones contain so many natural resources, you can’t come to a country like Cambodia and not buy a bottle of water, producing the cotton on your shirt, etc. It is about finding small ways to limit the damage, and it takes a lot of people to do that. Likewise, I think initiatives in Cambodia – for example, what we’re doing, and also Plastic Free Cambodia and GoGreen – will all help.

It’s going to take a lot of people doing it and a lot of people reacting to it and following suit and figuring out how best people can adjust their lifestyles.