Welcome to New Naratif! This page explains who we are, what we do, and why you should join us.

Who we are

New Naratif is a movement for democracy, freedom of expression, and freedom of information in Southeast Asia. We are based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Our goal is to empower Southeast Asians by giving them the information and tools to be fully engaged and participatory citizens.

Credit: Art by Maya Schmidt, from 'What is Politics?'

What we do

A common refrain heard across Southeast Asia is the idea that ordinary citizens cannot make a difference: “What can I do?”. New Naratif was founded in 2017 as a response. We build a better Southeast Asia by empowering Southeast Asians with the knowledge and skills they need to address our shared challenges and take collective action.

In a short period of time, New Naratif has produced a wide range of important articles about Southeast Asia in a variety of languages and formats, organised events across four different countries, swayed elections, partnered with a range of local civil society organisations, and grown into a 1,300 strong movement. We’ve made major contributions to the political discourse in Singapore and Malaysia, and brought to light new perspectives in Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, among others. For this, we’ve been attacked, threatened, and even had writers and contributors arrested and sent to jail.

How We Create Change

Permanent positive change needs to be driven by the people of Southeast Asia working together. We build capacity for this by:

  • providing Southeast Asians with information, in accessible formats and languages, about important issues that we collectively face; 
  • empowering people to create change by bringing them together, creating space and building capacity for positive change; and
  • Building a community of like-minded Southeast Asians who act collectively for positive change.

In this way, we help Southeast Asians collectively build a better Southeast Asia.

For more information on our goals and beliefs, about read our Manifesto.

“In being highly transparent, regularly gathering and learning from its community members in person, and being a trusted watchdog in its coverage, New Naratif is an organization to watch.” – Emily Goligoski, The Membership Puzzle Project  

Credit: Art by Dianna Sa'ad; Nadhir Nor; Charis Loke


We seek to understand Southeast Asia by

  • conducting research such as The Citizens’ Agenda, which seeks to understand what the people of Southeast Asia consider the most important issues facing our region;
  • publishing original research on our region; and
  • making academic research about Southeast Asia accessible, by rewriting it for the lay reader and in Southeast Asian languages (see below for examples).
Managing Director P.J. Thum, at the launch of the Citizens’ Agenda, 6 August 2019.


Here are some of our articles which demonstrate what we do:

Publishing original academic research which sheds light on issues, especially issues which governments don’t want reported

Credit: Art by Amin Landak; Gica Tam; Hannah Hoang

Translating academic research into accessible formats and languages

Reporting on an issue from different perspectives across the region, that allow us to tell a more complete story

Stories which explore perspectives which no one else will explore and publish

Credit: Art by Ina Putri Bestari, from 'One Day Out/ Satu Hari Tanpa Sembunyi'

Stories which highlight the diversity of Southeast Asia, in the voices of Southeast Asians

Credit: Art by Maya Schmidt, from 'What is Politics?'

Explainers which illuminate complicated, contested issues to our audience

  1. What is Politics? (and why we can’t get away from it)
  2. Political Power, Authority, and Force
  3. Why Is the Protection of Minorities Important?
  4. Toleration, or Living with Disagreement & Difference
  5. What is Democracy?
  6. Partisanship

“Yet rather than be cowed by the scale of what they face, New Naratif seems energised… It has a relationship with its readers like no one else in the media… It’s an example of the extraordinary level of innovation going on in the [Southeast Asian] region. ” – Duncan Greive, The Spinoff

Credit: Art by Kathrinna Rakhmavika, from the Indonesian Elections Explainer


We hold events to try and empower the people of Southeast Asia to equip them to make positive change in their communities and become fully engaged, participatory citizens.

Be a part of our community! Please see our list of upcoming events.

Credit: Art by Tuan Nini

Advocacy and Best Practice

We publish transparency reports, including full financial reports, every six months, at newnaratif.com/transparency. We do our best  to account for every cent that we take in and spend.

We also hold open online meetings every month, hosted by Managing Director PJ Thum, to allow all members and anyone interested in New Naratif to ask questions of us. The meetings are usually held online twice in a single day at 10am SGT (9pm EST) and 7pm SGT (11am GMT) to allow people all around the world to call in.

We strongly believe in privacy—see our privacy policy. We really only need three pieces of information: your name (which can be a fake name), your email (which can be a throwaway email), and your country (for tax purposes). We explain clearly in our policy the principles on which the policy is governed, what data we collect, why we collect it, and how we we use it. We endeavour to keep as little data as possible and only the data that is absolutely necessary for our movement to function properly. If we don’t have your information, it can’t be stolen, misused, or monetised.

We do these because if a tiny organisation with no full time staff and next to no resources can be transparent and accountable, why not governments, multinational corporations, and sovereign wealth funds?

“Let’s try and coin a new label here. Let’s call [these publications] ‘interest transparent’. New Naratif is at the forefront of this thinking.” – Alan Soon, Founder of Splice Media

Credit: Art by Maya Schmidt, from 'What is Politics'?

Membership and our Financial Model

Our movement is supported primarily by our members, who pay a membership fee of between US$52/year and US$552/year (or US$5/month to US$49/month). All members are treated equally regardless of level of subscription. We also accept donations and grants on condition of full management and editorial independence. Please see our transparency reports for a full accounting of our finances.

All of our content is behind a paywall, but we understand that not everyone can afford the membership fee. That’s why we offer free sponsored memberships to anyone who wants one. All you have to do is write into sponsorship@newnaratif.com and we’ll give you one. These memberships are supported by members who take up an annual membership and choose to pay at a rate higher than the basic rate (i.e. from US$102/year and up). In this way, we balance sustainability with access.

Members join because they share our values, and want to support our movement. Members help us with our research, via focus groups to shape the surveys and volunteer to publicise content; they help shape our content, by deciding upon our themes, reviewing and commenting on our drafts, and acting as resources for our reporting; and they take part in our events and participate in our citizenship empowerment events.

For more information, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Join our mailing list to receive updates—newsletters go out every Thursday. If you’d like to write, draw, or record a video or podcast for us, please pitch us your idea.

If you’d like to be a part of our movement for democracy, freedom of information, and freedom of expression in Southeast Asia, please join New Naratif today or make a donation!