southeast asia

American documentary filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer has spent more than a decade of his career attempting to lift the veil of forgetfulness hanging over one of the postwar era’s worst mass murders—the killing of as many as a 1 million Indonesians in 1965 and 1966 by military and right-wing forces, ostensibly reacting to a failed communist coup.

For years, governments and foundations have used scholarships as instruments of diplomacy. The Brits have Rhodes and Chevening, the Americans have Marshall and Fulbright, and the Australian government has created a lot of goodwill in its neighbourhood through the New Colombo Plan. 

Shila Amzah is a Malaysian pop star famed as much for her fashion sense as for her powerful voice […] These days, though, she sings primarily in Mandarin […] In a country wary of Islam — the Chinese government has a fractious relationship with its ethnic Uighur minority in the western province of Xinjiang […] her rise is attributable to […] a rapidly evolving cultural relationship between China and Malaysia.

The Let Girls Learn initiative will seek to reduce economic and cultural barriers — such as gender-based violence or living far from school — that keep millions of adolescent girls from getting an education. As part of the initiative, the State Department will work in several countries—including Malawi and Tanzania—to empower adolescent girls and ensure they’re able to attend school.

For many Muslim women, the decision to don the hijab […] is born of private self-reflection [...] But [Yusof's] choice soon became something else, as well: a lucrative source of attention for herself and her multimillion-dollar online-retail startup, FashionValet […] In Malaysia women are free—even encouraged—to inject glamor and prestige into the hijab, and to make money from it.

And the winner for most charitable nation in the world is ... Myanmar. Coming in second: the United States. […] The ranking confounds the common perception "that generosity and wealth are connected to one another," says Adam Pickering, the international policy manager of the London-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)...Only five of the G20 countries appear in the top 20, he points out. 

The Government has acknowledged the importance of “soft power” in global politics with an unprecedented £85m investment in the BBC World Service to support initiatives in Russia, North Korea, the Middle East and Africa. Lord Hall, the BBC Director-General, welcomed what he described as “the single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed by any government.”

In Southeast Asia, President Barack Obama has taken a softer tone on human rights and corruption in a part of the world that rights groups claim is rife with abuses.

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