Akan Datang: our contributors’ take on the stories to watch in Southeast Asia this week, curated by Regional Editor Aisyah Llewellyn.
Hello New Naratif readers! ’Tis the season to be jolly and all… and this week we have a mixed bag of news from the region. On the one hand we have feel good stories in the form of football madness in Vietnam, mixed with madness of a different kind from the likes of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey who had some extremely ill-advised comments on Myanmar. We just don’t know which way to look…
We also aired the latest episode of our fortnightly podcast series focused on Singapore, Political Agenda which looks at Singapore’s gloriously ageing population. You can also subscribe to the show on Spotify or on iTunes.
New on the site this week, we have a new episode of fortnightly podcast series Southeast Asia Dispatches which features a report on the anniversary of Timor-Leste’s Santa Cruz Massacre; a feature on Kuda Lumping dance seances in Indonesia; an interview with a Malaysian MP; and a piece looking at violence against women in Myanmar. Southeast Asia Dispatches is available on Spotify or you can subscribe on iTunes.
Here are the stories to watch in Southeast Asia this week…
We start this week with Myanmar—a country in Southeast Asia that is no stranger to controversy. Or at least one would think. It’s always amazing, however, when the perfect storm of politics and social media comes together, and this week we have a veritable Arctic blizzard courtesy of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who ham-fistedly decided that it would be a good idea to promote Myanmar as a tourist destination as part of his birthday celebrations, claiming that it’s “[…] an absolutely beautiful country,” and that “The people are full of joy”.
For my birthday this year, I did a 10-day silent vipassana meditation, this time in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar 🇲🇲. We went into silence on the night of my birthday, the 19th. Here’s what I know 👇🏼
We start this week with Malaysia and this dispatch from our Sabah Consulting Editor Jared Abdul Rahman:
Under the new Public Service Obligation (PSO) Agreement between MASwings and the Ministry of Transport, the regional airline has announced that it will cease its operations of eight domestic routes within and between Sabah and Sarawak. Previously determined to be the responsibility of MASwings, as the government-subsidised provider of non-economical aviation services to otherwise isolated rural communities, these routes have now been deemed commercially viable, and therefore no longer falling under the PSO Agreement.
While this means that the government and MASwings can focus its resources towards communities that actually need it, this also means that AirAsia can do what it likes for these discontinued routes. Whatever they wish to call themselves, the people haven’t forgotten about Fly Asian Xpress (FAX).
It’s unlikely that this will get much attention, but it does speak volumes about issues of tolerance across the archipelago and how these play out geographically. This year the most tolerant city in Indonesia is Singkawang in Kalimantan, while the least tolerant on the index is Tanjung Balai in North Sumatra—which comes as no surprise as we reported one of the most shocking blasphemy cases to rock Indonesia in recent years which set off riots and attacks on Buddhist temples across the city back in September.
From Singapore, our Chief Editor, Kirsten Han, has this update:
And that’s a wrap on this week in Southeast Asia! If you have a tip on a news story you would like to see featured in Akan Datang, then send it to us via firstname.lastname@example.org!
See you next week!
Aisyah Llewellyn is a British freelance writer based in Medan, Indonesia, and New Naratif's Regional Editor, Deputy Editor for Bahasa Indonesia, and Consulting Editor for North Sumatra. She is a former diplomat and writes primarily about Indonesian politics, culture, travel and food. Reach her at email@example.com.