January 31, 2020

Peranakan Chinese: The hidden diversity in Southeast Asia

Netflix is celebrating Chinese New Year 2020 by releasing, “The Ghost Bride”, which is set in 1890s Malacca, Malaysia’s historic entrepôt. It’s basically a schlocky ghost story: about a young woman who marries into a wealthy family to escape debt. Here’s the catch: the groom is deceased. But what is also surprising—and anachronistic—is that, despite seeking to highlight the Chinese Peranakan culture, the series’ dialogue is in Mandarin.
January 31, 2020

History repeats itself with Taal Volcano

The eruption of Taal Volcano—70 kilometres to the south of Manila in Batangas province – was its first seismic activity in well over forty years. The Philippine island of Luzon (where both Manila and Taal are located) ground to a halt almost immediately as flights in and out of the island were diverted or cancelled, the stock exchange closed and businesses shuttered.
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.