Photo: School of The Arts, USM

Weekly Southeast Asia Radar: New Filipina superhero; capturing seniors of Saigon; refugee kids in Penang musical

ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar features articles and posts about arts and culture in Southeast Asia, drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region. In the weekly Southeast Asia Radar, we publish a round-up of content that have been scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms.

Here is this week’s Southeast Asia Radar:

SEA HUNTER. Marvel Comics’ newest Filipina superhero, Sea Hunter, makes her cover debut. Photo from Kael Ngu’s Facebook page


LOOK: Marvel Comics introduces Sea Hunter, newest Filipina superhero

MANILA, Philippines – Joining forces with Marvel Comics’ Wave is the newest bad-ass Filipina heroine to hit comic book covers – Sea Hunter.

International comic book store Big Time Collectibles posted their exclusive peek into the cover of issue Aero #3, with cover art created by artist Kael Ngu. It features the first appearance of Sea Hunter, the second Filipina Marvel superhero, alongside pioneer Wave.

[Read more…]


Young girls from the Penang Peace Learning Centre having fun during a photoshoot for the ‘Jungle Book The Musical’. – USM


Refugee kids in Penang reveal raw talent, pure joy in theatre musical

In the centre of the big hall, the monkeys congregate. They circle their latest victim – a boy – and lure him in with promises of acceptance and fun. At the front of the room, a different scene unfolds. Young elephants stand in a line, reluctantly listening to yet another lengthy recollection by one of their elders.

In a corner of the same hall, three young boys in matching green school T-shirts and black tracksuits sit in a small circle, engaged in conversation with a young university student. Here, it’s just another night of rehearsals at the School of The Arts in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang.

From something that started out as a short-term grant by USM to introduce arts and culture to refugee children, a huge, full-scale musical production of Rudyard Kipling’s beloved classic The Jungle Book has taken shape.

Myanmar human rights activist and film director Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi speaks to journalists after a court verdict in Yangon on August 29, 2019. A Myanmar filmmaker was sentenced to a year in prison on August 29 after he criticised the military, as free expression advocates warn of (AFP/Sau Aung Main)


Myanmar filmmaker jailed for one year after criticising military
Jakarta Post

A Myanmar filmmaker was sentenced to a year in prison on Thursday for criticising the military, as free expression advocates warned of “grave threats” to those who challenge the powerful armed forces.

Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, an activist and founder of human rights film festivals, was detained in April following a Facebook post in which he slammed the 2008 military-drafted constitution.

The charter is deeply unpopular in Myanmar as it gifts the armed services three-quarters of parliamentary seats and control of three ministries despite an ostensible transition to civilian rule.

He was sentenced under a law that criminalises incitement by publishing statements causing “fear or alarm” to the public.

[Read more…]


Photo: YouTube screengrab


Indonesia’s ‘Watermelons Duo’ singers rapped for suggestive video

JAKARTA – Dressed in low-cut, fitting tops and miniskirts, a pair of Indonesian folk dangdut singers calling themselves the “Watermelons Duo” gyrate suggestively in their latest hit music video.

For their raunchy moves deemed inappropriate for children, Ms Clara Gopa and Ms Vanya Kiara of “Duo Semangka”, the group’s name in Bahasa Indonesia, were summoned by the country’s Commission for the Protection of Indonesian Children (KPAI) for questioning.

[Read more…]


An illustration of Nhat Ky Dang Thuy Tram by Nguyen Hoang Tan


Vietnamese student gains public attention with illustrated edition of famous wartime diary
Tuoi Tre News

A senior architecture student in Ho Chi Minh City has chosen to illustrate a famous wartime diary of a late Vietnamese battlefield surgeon as his graduation project.

Nhat Ky Dang Thuy Tram, which chronicles the last two years of doctor Dang Thuy Tram when she worked on the battlefield in central Vietnam during the American war, was first published in Vietnam in 2005.

The wartime diary gained both domestic and international acclaim and has since been released in different languages, with the English title Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.

Seeing that the famous book has yet to have any illustrated edition, Nguyen Hoang Tan, a senior from the University of Architecture Ho Chi Minh City, decided to illustrate the best parts of the diary as the final assignment of his university life.

[Read more…]


Ko Win Min strums one of his saung gauk (bent harps). Khin Su Wai/The Myanmar Times


Myanmar harp-maker pines for glory days
Myanmar Times

Ko Win Min’s voice trailed to almost a whisper when he recalled his younger days playing with the Nan Kyar Wut Hmone band to the adulation of an enthusiastic crowd.

The band was founded by his father. Ko Win Min played the saung gauk (bent harp) to the delight of the audience in dusty open parks in Mandalay. He enjoyed playing the harp and listening to its sound, which sometimes meandered and lulled one to sleep or could send hearts fluttering.

But those were the glory days of one of Myanmar traditional instruments, which usually accompany classical local songs. Nowadays, however, his gigs are limited to his quaint house, which also serves as a workshop in making the saung gauk, which has been lost in the consciousness of the current generation.

Photos by Hoang Trung Hieu.


[Photos] Tinker Tailor Painter Bike: The Quiet Life of Saigon’s Older Residents

What do the men of Saigon do all day?

In this series of film photos taken by Saigon resident and coffee genius Hoang Trung Hieu, men of varying stripes are captured in spontaneous action. Some are working at restaurants, others are doing manual labor, and — unsurprisingly — some are simply sitting and reading the newspaper.

Hieu, who enjoys capturing simple scenes of everyday life here, says that he strives to capture slices of Saigon that are fading into the past in this fast-changing metropolis.

[Read more…]

Exclusive Collector Forum 2019 aims at providing knowledge about origins of artefacts among art traders and collectors. Unesco Bangkok


Protecting national treasures
Bangkok Post

Popular culture tends to depict art and antique collectors as evil thieves who rob priceless treasures belonging to all of humanity. Nonetheless, many collectors and private museums say they collect for the purpose of preservation, because national entities do not have the capacity to safeguard rare objects from destruction by environmental harm and war, the actual thieves in their view.

Collecting and trading undeniably involve making profits from cultural objects, but buyers and ethical traders’ goodwill is the focus of a widespread discussion in antiquity trade circles, second only to how buyers can be certain that objects are authentic. While the issue of authenticity requires major scientific expertise, goodwill and ethical trade are intertwined in the legal aspects of acquisition, ownership and proof of good intention. Most importantly, what proves collectors’ responsibility is their knowledge and records of the artefacts’ provenance.

[Read more…]


ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar is compiled every week. All sources and credit belong to the original publishers and writers. Click here for past editions of Southeast Asia Radar. 

About the author(s)

Kathy Rowland is the Managing Editor of, a registered charity that she co-founded with Jenny Daneels in 2016. The site is dedicated to supporting and promoting arts criticism with a regional perspective in Southeast Asia. Kathy has worked in the arts for over 25 years, working in the areas of critical writing and arts advocacy, with a special interest in media platforms for the arts. She is the Project Lead for ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asian Arts and Culture Censorship Documentation Project, launched in 2021. She has written extensively on censorship of arts and culture in Malaysia. She was a member of the International Programme Advisory Committee of the 8th World Summit on Arts and Culture, 2019.

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