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, and we have offices in Medan and Jakarta, Indonesia.
What we do
Our goal is to empower Southeast Asians by giving them the information and tools to be fully engaged and participatory citizens. We seek to achieve this by:
identifying, and conducting research on, important issues facing the people of Southeast Asia;
publishing in-depth evidence-based information about these issues, in a variety of accessible formats (research articles, journalism features, comics, podcasts, and videos) and languages (the languages of the people of Southeast Asia, including Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Melayu/Malaysia, Vietnamese, and Chinese);
empowering people to become fully engaged citizens of their communities via events such as our democracy classrooms, civic participation workshops, and journalism training; and
advocating for and modelling ethical, moral, and progressive values rooted in the Southeast Asian context.
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
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).
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
The Duterte Playbook, which demonstrated how Philippines President Duterte’s rhetoric of “drugs and crime” was a smokescreen for using violence for political control. This strategy dated back to his Mayoralty of Davao City.
Reporting on an issue from different perspectives across the region, that allow us to tell a more complete story
How do you interview God? (and Part 2) / Gimana cara mewawancarai Tuhan? (dan Bagian Dua), about an Indonesian who was convicted of blasphemy for asking her neighbourhood mosque to slightly turn down its speakers. Our correspondents in Medan and Jakarta collaborated to produce these articles and incorporate both the local and national perspective to explain the deeper context of the blasphemy charge and conviction.
“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
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.
Democracy classrooms, where we discuss complicated issues in safe, constructive, environments. Here’s one early example. We no longer record these as authoritarian governments frown on citizenship empowerment, so we keep a low profile when we organise these. Join as a member to find out more!
We also take part in workshops, festivals, and other events promoting human rights, freedom of information, and freedom of speech in Southeast Asia, such as Freedom Film Fest, Cooler Lumpur, and Splice Beta; and academic events such as the ASEAN Forum in Sydney and the European Association of Southeast Asian Studies’ biennial conference.
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 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
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.
As such, members do not join to gain access—all of our content is easily available for free. 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.