January 15, 2020

The fight for the South China Sea – and what it means to ASEAN

Nearly one-third of the world’s shipping passes through the South China Sea, worth some US$3.37 trillion each year. China lays claim to most of the sea, blatantly disregarding overlapping claims by other Southeast Asian nations and constructing artificial islands in the region. With China's growing belligerence, it risks forgetting the lessons of its own history - Southeast Asian countries care as much about territorial integrity as much the Chinese themselves. With China exercising its hegemonic authority, will ASEAN stand together in unity against Xi Jinping, the thuggish bully in the South East Asian schoolyard?
January 13, 2020

Lightning strikes multiple times for Indonesian director, Joko Anwar

Joko Anwar is a dynamic talent. Switching from genre to genre, the 44-year-old filmmaker and former enfant terrible has grown from strength to strength since his days as a film critic. However, what puts the writer/director a class above the rest is how his films subvert societal norms and expectations while producing mainstream films that transcend genres.
January 13, 2020

Amnesia triumphs: How one decade undid a century of lessons

Three countries. Two elections – in the Philippines, the United States – and one referendum, in Britain. I was to spend time following each of them, experiencing, in turn, some of democracy’s cruellest ironies. What were the odds that one writer would have witnessed such a succession of dramatic reversals? Later, I realised that history is always playing tricks on us and that the liberal democratic ideals of my youth were in danger of fading away.
January 13, 2020

A bitter Christmas for some in the Philippines

“If there was no ‘war on drugs’, I would have been able to spend Christmas with my son." 56-year old Normita Lopez’ voice crackles with fury. Her son, Djastin - just 23 years old - was shot dead two and a half years ago. He was one of the 5,526 documented victims of President Rodrigo Duterte’s wave of violence.