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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.

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From prison to parliament

By: Daniel Otis - Posted on: May 1, 2013 | Business

National League for Democracy MP Phyo Min Thein discusses torture, ethnic violence and Myanmar’s long road towards democracy

Text & Photos by Daniel Otis

Back in 1988, Phyo Min Thein took to Yangon’s streets. The second-year university student wanted to change the educational and political systems that he felt were shackling his country. Following the military’s brutal crackdown on demonstrations later that year, the student leader went underground, before re-emerging in 1990 to protest again. He was arrested in 1991 and, despite being sentenced to seven years imprisonment, was not released until 2005. Like many other political prisoners, he was tortured by Myanmar’s secret police.

Phyo Min Thein
Free at last? Phyo Min Thein protested the junta’s refusal to hand over power to the NLD in 1990. His political activism resulted in 14 years of imprisonment


In 2010, Phyo Min Thein helped form the short-lived Union Democratic Party but resigned from his chairmanship before the 2010 general election, citing a lack of real reform. The following year, the National League for Democracy (NLD) asked him to run as a candidate in the country’s April 2012 by-election. He is now one of 43 NLD parliamentarians in a house dominated by current and former members of Myanmar’s military.


How did you survive your protracted incarceration?
I survived because I believed that I was working for the benefit of the people. This gave me a sense of dignity and value. For some people imprisonment and torture made them lose their minds. Most of my fellow student leaders, however, remained strong.

How does it feel to be working alongside those responsible for your incarceration and torture?
I used to think that I would try to hurt them back, but The Lady advised people like me to treat them well. So, when I meet these people, I’m always cheerful and friendly with them. They don’t expect it – it makes them rather uncomfortable.

What has being in parliament taught you about the inner workings of Myanmar’s government?
I’ve developed strong relationships with several high officials. In talking with these people, who were members of the military junta, I’ve learned that there are internal conflicts and power struggles within the government. Right now, the relationship between parliament and the executive is particularly strained.  Also, members of the government lack political ideology – they are only interested in economic development and maintaining their positions.

To what extent is the NLD being allowed to participate in Myanmar’s reform process?
After the statement of the commission on the Lapadaungtaung copper mine led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the government knows that The Lady wants to improve the country. So they decided to allow a constitutional reform process to begin… The Lady is the most powerful person in the country because she is well respected by the people, but she is powerless – she doesn’t have authority in parliament. Historically, however, the NLD has led change in the country. Right now, the government knows that it has to move, that it can’t remain sitting in the same chair.

Under Myanmar’s 2008 constitution, 25% of all parliamentary seats are awarded to the military. With this in mind, can the country ever truly be a democracy?
Having the military in parliament is not democratic. To remove them, we need to change the constitution. Getting rid of the military completely, however, is impossible right now – changes need to be made slowly. We will be having elections every four years. If 25% of the parliament is military right now, in the next election it should be 20%, then 15% and so on until they are out of parliament.

What are your predictions for Myanmar’s 2015 election?
In my opinion, the NLD will win a landslide victory. In the meantime, however, we need to make sure that the military is not afraid of us. We need to show them that we are willing to cooperate in parliament. Even if they lose, we’d try to form a coalition government with them.

What do you think is driving the ethnic unrest that is currently being seen in the country? How can these issues be resolved?
Myanmar is facing two main problems right now. One is an ethnic problem. We need to decentralise power and give more authority to the states. To do this, we need to consult with ethnic leaders. Another problem facing the country is democratic values. Freedom doesn’t mean anarchy. Right now, the people don’t know how to use their freedom. Regarding the country’s Muslims, they should be given a chance to live and work here. Those who are eligible for citizenship should be given proper rights. Those who are not eligible should be given a chance to apply. That being said, Muslims – especially those in Rakhine state – should understand themselves. Historically, there is no such thing as ‘Rohingya’. These people are from Bangladesh. Citizenship for them is possible, but being defined as a distinct ethnic group is not.

Are you optimistic about Myanmar’s future?
I don’t feel free – not yet. There is a lot more work to do in terms of democratic reform. Sometimes I’m afraid that there will be a U-turn: that things will turn back to the way they were before. I don’t want the younger generation to have the same experience that I did, so I am trying to make the reform process a reality. By 2020, I hope that I will finally be able to feel free. Then I’d just want to be an ordinary person, not a politician. It’s important for us to let the younger generation take control of the country.




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“Before the gold rush” – Will the Myanmar mining sector become a fountain of cash, or will it prove to be a regulatory black hole?

“The next big things” – With ANZ establishing a presence in Myanmar this month, Grant Knuckey is investing his expertise in the region’s most exciting markets

“A fertile land” – Myanmar has reached its crossroads. How can it regain its position as a regional leader?

“No place like home” – The end of a successful US resettlement programme leaves many Burmese refugees with little hope of escaping their Thai border camps

“On the record: Dr Pavin Chachavalpongpun” – Dr Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an associate professor at the centre for Southeast Asia Studies, Kyoto University, sheds light on some of the major issues currently pressing Myanmar

“On the ball?” – With athletes unsure whether they will compete, and no apparent financial strategy, Myanmar’s SEA Games preparations are running far from smoothly

“Divide and rule” – Thein Sein may be president, but General Min Aung Hlaing ultimately has all the power

“The real thing: Coca Cola returns to Myanmar” – The race to quench Southeast Asia’s thirst is on, but can Coca-Cola create enough fizz in the soft drink market?

“Gimme shelter” – As a new Myanmar emerges, the battle rages on for the inhabitants of Kachin, its northernmost state. Thousands of civilians have been displaced and ethnic troops have taken up arms once more to defend their homeland from government forces. Photographer Narciso Contreras captures their story