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.

The Malaysian scientist pioneering an alternative cancer treatment

By: David Hutt - Photography by: Darshen Chelliah - Posted on: August 17, 2016 | Featured

Malaysian scientist Chern Ein Oon has been lauded for her cancer research seeking an alternative to chemotherapy. She discusses her work, societal expectations and the difficulties women face in her field

There are two reasons why Chern Ein Oon has travelled six hours by bus from George Town to Kuala Lumpur: she has been extremely accommodating for an interview with Southeast Asia Globe, and she wants to go shopping.

“I love fashion and cosmetics,” says the senior lecturer from the Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine, University of Science Malaysia, as we sit in an al fresco restaurant at the opulent Suria KLCC shopping mall. Indeed, when she returned to Malaysia three years ago after earning her PhD in oncology at the University of Oxford, and completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, she says she worried about how people would respond to her.

Malaysian scientist Chern Ein Oon
“Freedom encourages creativity and individuality”

“Would my students respect me? And how would my colleagues and bosses think of me? In Malaysia, it’s still an expectation for a female scientist to be a certain type – my Mum tells me to wear glasses, but what has that got to do with anything? I said I would get respect through my work,” says Oon.

Today, the hard work is paying off for the amiable and loquacious 33-year-old. In 2014, she was the Southeast Asian winner of the Exiqon Young Scientist Award. Last year, she was selected to participate in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany, and received the L’Oréal-Unesco For Women in Science National Fellowship research grant – worth more than $7,500 – for her work in the field of cancer research.

Here, she speaks to Southeast Asia Globe about scientific research in Malaysia, the struggles of being a woman in this industry, and why a meritorious society means an educated society.

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Can you explain a little about the work you are doing?

As everyone knows, cancer is the growth of cells, and any cells growing by more than two millimetres needs to have vessels to bring nutrients. My research is to find something that will block the formation of these vessels or cease the distribution of blood, so that they do not feed the tumours.

To starve the tumours?

Exactly. It’s by targeting a particular molecule called sirtuin. It’s a different form of treatment than conventional chemotherapy, which kills the healthy cells as well. And a lot of patients are resistant to chemotherapy and other drugs, so the more options you have, the better.

Why did you decide to get involved in cancer research?

It all started because I’ve been very interested in anatomy. So, when I did my undergrad research, I majored in molecular biology and, after that, I did attachments at hospitals and got to experience how patients feel when they go through the disease. I feel for them, and I knew I had to try to do something about it.

What is the future of your research?

Usually, drug development takes 15 to 20 years. We’ve just started testing on mice and, so far, the results are good. The next step is to go for a clinical trial but, at the moment, we’ve only had five years of research. It will probably take ten years to actually see some real progress.

Why did you want to be a scientist?

After I finished my A-levels, I was contemplating between science and medicine, and my mum said that, as a woman, I would have a family at some point and I’ll want to take care of my kids and my husband, so it’s best to be an educator. She said: ‘If you do medicine, you’ll end up getting married to the hospital.’ At that time, I was a very different person. I thought I would give up my job for my husband – family was first, and I thought I’d get married and have kids by 28. So I decided to go into science. Now, I’m a totally different person. [Going to] the UK changed me a lot.

How so?

One thing I loved about the UK is there is so much freedom. I could do whatever I wanted, wear whatever I wanted, and everyone accepts you for who you are. Here, you can’t. And freedom encourages creativity and individuality. In Malaysia, you’re not taught to think; you’re taught to believe in what you were told.

How have you found working in the field of scientific research in Malaysia?

It’s usually focusing on how research can generate money for the economy. When you go to university, most of the science research is focused on natural products, and few [professors] would understand the point of what I’m doing. And because they don’t understand it, they don’t value it.

And what are your thoughts about women in science in Malaysia?

It’s really strange. In universities, when I lecture, I see that 80% of students are female. And when teaching post-grad, 60% to 80% are female. But after that, I don’t know where they go to. In Malaysia, people say we are equal, but guys are expected to be the breadwinners. And when women say they want to do a master’s or a PhD, a lot will say they also want to get married, and then pregnant, and then they just drop out. I said to my students: ‘Are you doing your post-grad studies because you have nothing to do?’ I wrote them an email and said there are two types of women: first, those who study because there’s nothing else to do and just to pass the time, and second, those who are really interested in science and want to achieve something.

Is it about social expectations?

Yes, it’s very unfortunate in Malaysia, because the family or parents will have a lot of say in what you should do.

Is anything changing?

I also do a lot of work on cancer education, and you’d be surprised to hear what I hear. Some people think cancer is superstition or some kind of black magic. Or, sometimes, the husband won’t let the wife go see a doctor, especially for breast cancer, because he says the wife is not being loyal to him.

I’m also working with the Penang Education Council, and I should be getting funds from them to run workshops with under-privileged children in the area. They have parents or family that tell them to stop studying because they have to earn money for the family – and what do they want, children to give up their future? So we’re trying to reach out and educate them that they can go to universities and can have dreams – you can’t not have a dream just because you come from a poor family. But if merits were the strong point in Malaysia, it wouldn’t be such a problem.

Are you concerned the pulls of a family will take you away from science?

When I think about getting pregnant it scares me. I don’t know when I became a workaholic, but the thought of being three months away from work – no!

And how did it feel to win the L’Oréal-Unesco research grant?

I was very thrilled and happy. It has given me the platform for my work, and to talk to Malaysians about the importance for women in science, because women can be really, really interested in science.