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.

Have Timor-Leste and Australia turned the page on fractious relations?

By: Sophie Raynor - Posted on: August 1, 2018 | Best of 2018

When Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop arrived in Timor-Leste on her first official visit to the country in nearly five years, it marked a milestone in the countries’ relationship. But the friendly welcome belies the tension remaining between the neighbours

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (L) is greeted by East Timor’s Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak during a meeting in Dili Photo: Antonio Dasiparu / EPA-EFE

The three-day visit began the minister’s ten-day tour of Timor-Leste, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, and came just months after the signing of a maritime boundary treaty bringing an end to the protracted Timor Sea dispute between Australia and Timor-Leste.

But a press conference on 30 July highlighted a host of new issues and priorities between the neighbouring countries now that the maritime boundary is drawn, including Timor-Leste’s flagging economy and pending bid to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

In the brief joint press conference between Bishop and Timor-Leste’s new minister for foreign affairs, Dionísio Babo Soares, the pair stressed their nations’ support for one another and promised a “new chapter” for the bilateral relationship.

“The historic signing of the maritime boundary treaty in New York on 6 March does usher in a new [era],” Bishop said. “We have agreed to open a new chapter in our long-standing relationship.”

“We are pleased with the strong and excellent relationship we have between our two countries, which includes cooperation in many areas,” said Soares, who assumed his role in Timor-Leste’s new government just last month.

An East Timorese activist paints the Australian Embassy’s wall during a protest in Dili. The rights to offshore oil was a highly contentious issue in Timor-Leste before the March agreement with Australia Photo: Antonio Dasiparu / EPA-EFE

A matter of ongoing tension

But the leadup to Bishop’s visit was marred by days of protest against Australia’s decision to prosecute the whistle-blowers responsible for revealing Australia’s bugging of Timor-Leste during Timor Sea negotiations in 2004. Activists held a candlelight vigil outside Bishop’s Dili hotel on Sunday night in support of the anonymous former Australian intelligence operator known as “Witness K” and his lawyer, Bernard Collaery.

Witness K and the lawyer were charged this month with conspiring to breach section 39 of Australia’s Intelligence Services Act in relation to disclosures made about Australia’s spying, which carries a maximum term of two years’ imprisonment.

The pair revealed in 2013 that Australia had installed listening devices in Timor-Leste government buildings in Dili under the guise of an Australian foreign aid–funded refurbishment program to gain advantage in negotiations for oil and gas wealth in the Timor Sea.

The agreement resulting from the skewed negotiations split the Sunrise gas field evenly between the two nations, despite the fact that most of the reserves lay within Timor-Leste’s territory. Timor-Leste subsequently commenced an arbitration process at the International Course of Justice that set in motion this year’s treaty process and delivered a split of up to 80% of upstream revenue to Timor-Leste.

I think it’s entirely appropriate for Timor-Leste to be a member of Asean

Whether Timor-Leste will be able to unlock the untapped reserves contained within Greater Sunrise remains to be seen. Negotiations for the development of the field have stalled, with a coalition of development partners led by Australia’s Woodside Energy adamant that the only viable development options are either floating liquefied natural gas or onshore processing in Australia, due to the depth of the Timor Trough that any pipeline to Timor-Lest must cross.

But Timor-Leste will only consider onshore processing at a new plant on its southern coast, and in March accused Australia of colluding with Woodside and partners to undermine the Timor-Leste processing plan.

Drawing on the accusations on Monday, Bishop repeated that any allegations of collusion weren’t true and that the development of the field was now a matter for Timor-Leste and the joint venture development partners.

“Australia stands ready to support you in your discussion with the joint venture partners to ensure that you can find a pathway to maximise the economic potential of Timor-Leste,” Bishop said. “Greater Sunrise is a resource for you, and we are very keen for its benefits to be realised for the people of Timor-Leste.”

Bishop told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation earlier this week that the unresolved boundary between the two nations had been an ongoing concern that the signing of the treaty had finally resolved.

“The signing of our historic maritime boundary treaty this year in New York has certainly opened a new chapter in our relationship with Timor-Leste,” she said. “It was a matter of ongoing tension. It was a concern for us in terms of our relationship with Timor-Leste. Now we can get on with supporting Timor-Leste with achieving its economic potential.”

Turning the page?

The government of Timor-Leste passed its customary five-year government program last week, setting an aggressive development agenda prioritising economic growth and job creation.

It aims to create 60,000 new jobs for the estimated 51% of the population under the age of 20 and grow the economy at a rate of 7%.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (R) is greeted by her East Timorese counterpart Dionisio Babo during a meeting in Dili Photo: Antonio Dasiparu / EPA-EFE

Economic growth is currently 2.3% and the World Bank reports that the economy contracted by 1.8% last quarter due to curtailed state spending in a caretaker government.

But despite the government’s plan for economic growth via private sector development and Soares’ prioritising of growth, international companies are closing their doors to Timor-Leste due to the economic contraction, as reported by the Dili Weekly.

Four unnamed international companies have reportedly applied recently to the Business Registration and Verification (Serve) to close their business in Timor-Leste due to low earnings, according to the paper. Serve’s executive director, Florencio Sanches, expressed his disappointment and told the newspaper the closure of private companies was concerning because their taxes fund the public sector.

But it’s not all bad news for Timor-Leste. Bishop said on Monday she was strongly in support of the country joining Asean and confirmed she would use her influence during her Singapore meetings with Asean foreign ministers to advocate for Timor-Leste’s inclusion.

Timor-Leste’s application for membership to the group remains in limbo, with group leader Myanmar saying last year the tiny state hadn’t done enough to justify entry to the regional bloc.

“Absolutely we discussed Timor-Leste’s application to join Asean and we would most certainly support it wholeheartedly,” Bishop said of her meeting with Soares. “Even though we’re not a member of Asean, we are quite a strong advocate in relation to matters pertaining to Asean. I think it’s entirely appropriate for Timor-Leste to be a member of Asean.”

East Timorese veterans and youth hold banners in reaction to the agreement to end the maritime dispute between Timor-Leste and Australia Photo: Antonio Dasiparu / EPA-EFE

Bishop also announced an expansion to the Australian government’s Seasonal Worker Program, which has provided lucrative employment in the Australian hospitality and horticulture sectors for approximately 800 Timorese workers since 2012.

Visa requirements for the program have recently been softened, making it easier for Timorese workers to return for multiple stints without paying for several short visas.

Bishop also highlighted Australia’s New Columbo Plan, which offers Australian undergraduate students opportunities to study in the Indo-Pacific, and the Australian Award scholarship program, which provides fully funded higher-education opportunities to Timorese students.

Foreign Minister Soares, like multiple members of Timor-Leste’s new government, is a former recipient of an Australian Award.

“You as an alumnus are a shining example of what can we achieved if you spend some time studying in Australia,” Bishop told Soares, to laughter.

On its face, the relationship seems stronger than ever. New economic opportunities, the chance to close the maritime boundary book, plans for annual ministerial meetings and an event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Australian-led Interfet landing offer new hope for a stronger relationship between the neighbours. But Bishop’s next chapter remains to be seen, and until the Greater Sunrise and Witness K issues are resolved, she may find she can’t yet turn the page.