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
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To understand more about why you are so important to our member support 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.

Laos dam disaster / Living in fear along the Mekong

By: Socheata Sim - Posted on: August 24, 2018 | Current Affairs

The Laos government’s response to July’s deadly dam collapse was not enough. Socheata Sim, programme manager for Oxfam’s Mekong Regional Water Governance Program, explains why

Dam construction site_Oxfam_Mekong Water Governance Program_Southeast Asia Globe 2018
Dam construction site Photo: Oxfam – Mekong Water Governance Program

The collapse of a dam at the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy hydropower project in Laos was tragic. Immediate assessments say that 39 people died, many suffered injuries and thousands were left homeless, with their means of income lost for the foreseeable future. Beyond these numbers, we’re yet to find out the real damage. The Laos government will investigate what led to this massive calamity, and we urge them to present the findings to the Lao people.

Going a step further, the Laos government announced a review of all dams, both fully operational and under construction. It suspended the plans for new hydro dam projects and committed to reexamining its hydropower strategy and plans. We commend these decisions by the government. But this step in the right direction lost some of its shine because of plans to continue with assessments for the proposed Pak Lay dam. Previous evaluations have failed to identify the risks.

In working with women and men from the Mekong region for over a decade, we’ve realized that positive change can be achieved only through giving these communities a say in the development projects. After all, as locals, they are the intended beneficiaries of development. Unfortunately, they too often end up bearing the brunt of consequences when things go wrong. Policy or practice designed by experts, economists and engineers often lead to mediocre outcomes at best, exactly because they forgot to heed the needs of communities.

Xe Pian Xe Namnoy is not the first deadly dam failure in the region. Yet there was no transboundary impact assessment done before the dam’s construction – nor was there a transboundary evaluation conducted for the Yali Falls Dam before construction, where a sudden release of water into the Sesan River in Vietnam in 2000 resulted in flash floods downstream that destroyed lives, communities, and livelihoods in Cambodia.

From far away in our urban dwellings across Asia, it’s hard for us to imagine what it must feel like to live in a community downstream of a dam. For so long, hydro dams have been touted as milestones of progress. But for the people of the Mekong, now acutely aware of the looming threat and having witnessed the worst come true for those just like them, the reality is bleak – especially given that they have little or no power to lessen the risks and take action to protect their family, home, and livelihood.

This was a human-made disaster that could have been avoided

There should have been effective and timely warning systems in place. Mistakes have been made, and we hope there will be an open public discussion with lessons taken to heart and acted upon. But the people of Mekong have their doubts, However, as our Oxfam partner, My Village, discovered.

Laotian villagers on the Mekong_Oxfam_Mekong Regional Water Governance Program_Southeast Asia Globe 2018
Laotian villagers on the Mekong Photo: Oxfam – Mekong Regional Water Governance Program

“We are still worried and scared to replant the vegetable crops destroyed during the flood. Villagers who have relatives in Laos claim floods from the dam will come again,” said Pheng Sivath, deputy president of a community-based organization in Siem Pang District, Stung Treng Province, Cambodia.

Their worries are well justified because there’s a clear lack of functional early-warning and information dissemination systems in place.

“Mechanisms for information dissemination, such as disaster warning and flood prevention between Laos and Cambodia for tributary rivers like the Xe Kong, are weak to non-existent,” said Pheng.

“Clearly more transboundary cooperation is needed. Perhaps this crisis will drive progress in the conversation,” Brian Eyler, director of Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia program, told the South China Morning Post.

These fears and communication breakdowns can easily translate into unbearable economic losses for poverty-stricken communities downstream in Cambodia that are struggling to make ends meet. Losses like these can tip them into indebtedness, with negative consequences for their families. Their worries remain intact as they have yet to see any compensation for their losses or moves to allay their fears – despite having been directly impacted by last month’s calamity.

Oxfam has been working with communities across Asia and around the world to reduce risks and make their communities safer. We find that early-warning systems – which allow people to access information quickly, reliably and in ways that make sense to them – are effective in saving lives and communities. Properly designed systems allow communities to access the same information as the authorities, and they often cost little. We are piloting such systems with communities across borders in South Asia, but sharing information between countries, even about rising water levels, remains a challenge due to sovereignty concerns.

Across the region and elsewhere, we are already seeing unexpected repercussions of hydro dams affecting downstream communities. Many communities of the Mekong are left worse off due to the reduction of soil fertility exacerbated by climate change, reduced fish stocks impacting their livelihoods and dietary habits, and the resettlement of villages to make way for development. The governments’ and developers’ promises of prosperity have failed to deliver.

If we are serious about learning from this catastrophic collapse, we need to think beyond merely pushing the same development agenda with some safety precautions. We need to look at sustainable long-term development solutions that put people at the centre. We need initiatives that take into account the communities, their lifestyles, viewpoints and other issues, whether they are up or downstream or across the basin.

If we fail to do that, we’ll be left with development that benefits only a few at the cost of the many. And that is too steep a price to pay.

Socheata Sim is Oxfam’s Mekong Regional Water Governance Program Manager.