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

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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.

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Analysis / Can Rainsy’s resignation break Cambodia’s political stalemate?

By: Markus Karbaum - Posted on: December 18, 2018 | Best of 2018

With Hun Sen’s government easing its ban on opposition politicians, independent consultant Markus Karbaum unpacks the bitter rivalry at the heart of Cambodia’s political gridlock

Sam Rainsy (L), who currently resides in exile in Paris, was recently appointed acting president of the CNRP party, which Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) oversaw the dissolution of in November 2017 Photos from left to right: Mick Tsikas / EPA-EFE, Rolex Dela Pena / EPA

Cambodian politics is at a stalemate. By threatening a suspension of trade preferences granted under its “Everything But Arms” (EBA) scheme, the European Union has sent a strong message opposing the authoritarian trend in Cambodia. Recent announcements by the Cambodian government to ease tensions with the dissolved main opposition party appear to be a hopeful response. In practice, though, a settlement is not on the horizon, as it would demand fundamental changes to the Kingdom’s political landscape. Instead, the shattered relationship between the political rivals Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy suggests a lasting gridlock in domestic Cambodian politics.

Even if the now-defunct Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and the vast majority of their representatives were allowed to resume political activities, the party would only legitimise the fait accompli set by the regime since the CNRP’s dissolution. Consequently, the CNRP runs the risk of joining a further episode in the cynical game of cat-and-mouse unless the party is successful in reinstating the status quo ante before it was dissolved. This includes free and fair elections of the National Assembly within six months after the CNRP resumes operations, the reinstatement of their 5,007 commune councillors and the annulment of indirect Senate elections that took place earlier this year. All charges against opposition politicians and the five-year political ban for 118 of them must be dropped immediately. Finally, the opposition needs safeguards for the upcoming election campaign and its further existence in general. As the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) appears neither able nor willing to provide any such guarantee, international mediation appears more necessary than ever. Legally, an additional protocol to the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, supposed to end Cambodia’s civil war and to introduce a liberal democracy, would constitute an appropriate and sufficient foundation.

To clarify, these are only the minimum conditions on which the CNRP must insist. If not, it seems obvious what is going to happen over the next few years: the opposition will struggle to revive itself while grappling with immense internal rifts within the party. If it can overcome the conflicts of its two competing factions represented by Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy, the CNRP could be capable of regaining its popularity – that is, until the next commune and parliamentary elections in 2020 and 2022, respectively. Then, repression will likely increase again with the sole purpose of avoiding any change in government, and the CNRP will find itself in a very similar situation as it finds itself now. In the words of Marx, history will repeat itself as farce.

Kem Sokha, former president of the opposition CNRP Photo: Mak Remissa / EPA-EFE

I am quite sure that it is still too early for Cambodia’s leading politicians to escape from this gridlock. It is the decades-long rivalry between Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy that prevents any reconciliation between their parties. As opposition leader, Rainsy even survived an attempt on his life causing more than a dozen fatalities in 1997. It is his personal tragedy that he has only ever been allowed by Hun Sen to simulate an opposition; whenever he has grown into a real challenger – as would be normal in a stable democracy – he was excluded from the political game. Currently, it is his fourth involuntary absence from Cambodia after he entered politics in the early 1990s. Nobody should expect that he will be able to return freely while Hun Sen is alive.

Apparently, Sam Rainsy still completely rules out his ultimate withdrawal from politics. Based on his enduring popularity in Cambodia he is convinced that he is the CNRP, irrespective of his main residence in the 16th Arrondissement of Paris which is in every sense far removed from Cambodia. With the EU’s effective pressure, Rainsy apparently decided that it was necessary to become acting president of his dissolved party. Judging by the strong objection of Kem Sokha’s daughters immediately after the announcement, it is obvious that this move was not arranged by the two co-leaders. Therefore, Rainsy’s appointment was little more than a one-sided dilettantish action in a power struggle over which distrust between the factions of Rainsy and Sokha looms larger than ever. Now, the CNRP is paying a high price for its leaders having failed to establish professional party structures. It is still dominated by two entourages focused solely on their headmen, who rule through a personalised leadership style instead of democratic participation opportunities within the party. With such internal chaos, I wonder how Rainsy could ever lead a stable government.

Certainly, the minimum conditions I described earlier require concessions by the opposition. Permanently abroad, Sam Rainsy’s resignation should no longer be taboo, as it could ease tensions towards Hun Sen and within the CNRP. Such an unsatisfactory end to his career would be a high price indeed, but could begin real political change within both his party and in his country. But the clock is ticking. No later than February, the European Commission will decide whether to initiate the process to suspend the EBA agreement or not. To stop the worst scenario already in its earliest stage, the Cambodian government needs to take reliable steps towards democracy. Maybe it is this very short period that increases the probability for a political settlement as it impedes tactical games. While the EU is well advised to keep all options open including, if necessary, mediating between the opposition and the government, at the end of day Hun Sen has to calculate which cost is higher: allowing the CNRP to return, or losing access to the EBA – and the potential economic disadvantages that could bring.

Dr Markus Karbaum is a political scientist and independent consultant specialising in Cambodian politics.