Southeast Asia Dispatches is a fortnightly podcast bringing you reports, interviews and commentary from New Naratif’s network around Southeast Asia.
Development Through Distress
In this episode, Bonnibel Rambatan talks to to Teo S. Marasigan, Filipino activist and New Naratif's researcher, and Zelda Santos, a domestic worker and volunteer of a help desk for distressed OFWs in the United Arab Emirates, about the history of OFWs, how the government ended up aggressively exporting Filipinos, how did people decided to be one, bagong bayani narrative from the government, help desk for OFWs from OFWs, and who are the beneficiaries of this phenomenon.
On Media Freedom and Public Journalism
In this episode, Bonnibel Rambatan talks with Evi Mariani, one of the co-founders of Project Multatuli, a collective initiative dedicated to carrying out the ideals of public journalism by giving a voice to the voiceless, spotlighting the marginalised, and reporting on the underreported, whose work involves collaboration with other news organisations, research bodies, and civil society groups that strive for democracy, human rights, social justice, environmental sustainability, and equal rights for all.
Evi Mariani has won the 2020 Public Service Journalism Award from the Society of Publishers in Asia and the 2020 Tasrif Award from the AJI, the Indonesian Alliance of Independent Journalists. In this interview, Bonni and Evi talks about what media freedom means and what the ideals of public journalism are, and how we can keep up a good fight despite the increasing threats to our freedom of expression in Southeast Asia
Myths & Migration
On this episode, Bonnibel Rambatan talks about New Naratif’s Research Department and the idea of research as activism with Lengga Pradipta, Migration Researcher at New Naratif.
Migration research is an evergreen field of study that has only grown in its
breadth of topics and range of micro-disciplines. In line with our approach of research as activism, that by conducting and publishing research that draws attention to such systematic failures of countries, and the consequent price that individual communities and people have to unjustly pay for, that we will embody the metaphorical butterfly whose flapping wings causes a cascading effect, changing people's attitudes and raising their awareness until this eventually manifests as the healing winds in a reformatory hurricane of social change, whether this is done through highlighting the environmental degradation resulting from reckless policies, the heartbreaking circumstances that lead Indonesian women to seek to migrate, or the self-destructive ways through which governments can actively encourage their people to desire being exploited.
In this interview, Lengga talks about:
- The history of migration programs in Indonesia.
- How did the government persuade people to migrate? How did it play out?
- Transmigration's major effects on the environment
- The myth of national development and the new capital city of Indonesia
- The romanticism of development and national progress in the face of global competition, as if natural resources are infinite
- How people can see the relationship between migration and environmental degradation?
Advocating for Trans Liberation in Southeast Asia
On this episode, Bonnibel Rambatan talks about trans liberation in Southeast Asia with Erik Nadir and Nhuun Yodmuang from Asia Pacific Transgender Network, also known as APTN, a trans-led organisation that engages with a range of partners across Asia and the Pacific to support, organise, and advocate for fundamental human rights including gender identity, access to justice and legal protections, and comprehensive gender-affirming policies and healthcare. APTN work to improve the lives of trans and gender diverse people throughout Asia and the Pacific.
Over the course of a decade, APTN has grown to become a credible voice for transgender people in Asia and the Pacific, working to ensure that their rights and needs are represented politically, socially, culturally, and economically. The network serves as a platform for transgender people to advocate for access to health, legal gender recognition, legislative reform, social justice and human rights, and to share information and strategies with one another.
In this interview, Erik and Nhuun talk about:
Trans lives in Southeast Asia
Compared to the rest of the world, in what ways are the conditions of trans struggles in Southeast Asia unique, and in what ways are they similar
What are the most pressing issues or threats for trans liberation in Southeast Asia? How is the state of our awareness regarding those issues currently (i.e. we are aware but we don’t have enough action, etc)
The intersectionality of trans struggles with other struggles, especially class struggles, environmental struggles, and others that are unique to Southeast Asia
The best way to build resilience and move forward in the fight for trans liberation
The current state of trans healthcare and mental healthcare in Southeast Asia
Method of conducting peer support groups and building support networks?
Concrete goals with APTN as well as individually in terms of advocating for trans liberation in the next 5-10 years
What can the listener do to support these goals, and to support trans liberation in general?
Duterte’s War On Women, Workers and Farmers
Content warning: This podcast includes references to sexual assault.
On this week’s episode, Jacob Goldberg speaks to Peter Murphy, chairman of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, also known as ICHRP. ICHRP is a network of organisations in the Philippines and in diaspora communities around the world working to inform the international community about extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses in the Philippines. Philippine human rights groups estimate that up to 30,000 people have been killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, and more than 400 have been killed in what appear to be politically motivated attacks. Almost every week, reports emerge of a new massacre, and almost always, these are coordinated attacks, and the victims are workers, poor people, fisherfolk, indigenous leaders and human rights defenders.
In this interview, Jacob and Peter talk about how these killings are aimed at preventing leftist people’s movements and political parties from campaigning.
Communist Democracy in the Philippines
On this week's episode, Jacob Goldberg speaks to Professor Jose Maria Sison, who goes by the nickname Joma. Joma is the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which has been waging a revolutionary guerilla war against the Philippine government since 1968. He is a controversial figure to many and a beloved comrade to others. The United States and the Philippine governments have designated him as a terrorist, while he lives in the Netherlands as a recognised political refugee. In 1977, he was imprisoned for more than eight years for organising against the Marcos dictatorship.
Today, he continues to advise the CPP and its network of allied revolutionary organisations that make up the National Democratic Front, always pushing for the introduction of what he calls National Democracy—a democracy for the toiling masses of the Philippines, distinct from the “semi-colonial and semi-feudal society” that exists there today.
In this interview, Jacob and Joma discuss the meaning of National Democracy and how to achieve it.
In the process, there are some acronyms not every listener might be familiar with. There’s the CPP—the Communist Party of the Philippines; the NPA—the New People’s Army, which is the armed wing of the CPP, waging a guerilla war in the countryside. Joma refers to the GRP, which is the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, and to the SGRM—the Second Great Rectification Movement, which was an effort by the CPP in 1992 to correct its political course and identify counterrevolutionaries. Critics of the CPP say this process led to several assassinations, while Joma denies this.