2018 came in, and is going out, with a bang.

Taiwan lost diplomatic allies, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lost seats around the country, and the LGBT+ community lost a referendum – but did not lose hope. Donald Trump cozied up to, and shied away from, Asian autocrats. Malaysia ushered in a new, old leader, while China ensured it would not see a change in leadership anytime soon.

Plenty of stories happened beneath the surface. As we stand on the brink of 2019, let’s take a look back at some of the stories shaping the region.


The Last Semi-Nomadic Yak Herders of the Himalayas

Bikash Kumar Bhattacharya, Ankita Bora & Sumit Das introduce us to the Brokpa, who maintain a centuries-old yak herding tradition despite the threats of climate, China, and modernity.

“No one knows what the future holds for the Brokpa semi-nomadic culture and the yaks. But let’s be hopeful. Let’s cherish our life as long as it’s there to cherish.”


Video of Human Rights Lawyer Yu Wensheng Highlights China's Abuse of Detainees

David Green uncovers evidence of human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng’s forced confession and China’s broader pattern of obtaining confessions via abuse and lies.

“Of the moment he walked into the room where his confession was filmed, British former journalist Peter Humphrey said: ‘I was ambushed – flashes and cameras and a large number of officers, as well as people in civs who were supposedly journalists but were people working for publications owned and operated by the police.’”


Cambridge Analytica – The Singapore Connections

Justin Hugo unveils links between the protagonists of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and prominent Singapore political figures.

“There are questions to answer over the relationships between SCL Group, the Behavioral Dynamics Institute and the Singapore government, and whether those relationships have informed a so-called ‘information dominance’ strategy in the city state.”


The Worrying Cross-Strait and Linguistic Messages of 'Crazy Rich Asians'

Catherine Chou unpacks the linguistic and political messaging of this year’s breakout box office hit.

“Mandarin functions in the movie just as it does in government policies: as an artificial marker of class and sophistication. Cantonese, and especially Hokkien, are used as signifiers of marginality and lower status.”


PHILIPPINES: A 5 Step Guide to Becoming a Communist Guerrilla

An anonymous millennial shares tips for those interested in joining Asia’s longest-running communist revolution, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018.

“When walking or indoors, never point the shooting end of your rifle frontwards, backwards or sideways – you never know when something can go wrong. Always have it aimed towards the sky or the ground.”


Contraband for Sale: How Poachers Supply Sanyi's Thriving Wood Art Market

Nick Aspinwall exposes the dark secret behind Sanyi’s infamous wood art market: Many of the sculptures for sale are crafted from illegally poached timber.

“The owner of a Guangsheng Street shop told The News Lens that she had obtained her wood from poachers. She gestured to a yellow cypress wooden apple, an aromatic decoration said to bring good luck. ‘I bought that wood from mountain rats,’ she said.”

Part 2 comes tomorrow!

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