With more than 500 million people inhabiting tens of thousands of islands and speaking hundreds of native languages, ethnic and religious diversity have always been sources of strength and cultural wealth in the 11 countries that comprise Southeast Asia (including East Timor).
As with any other corner of the world, however, intolerance, misunderstanding, and even pressures of rapid development and globalization can also harm and upset the very diversity that makes Southeast Asia a rich region. Ethnic and religious diversity can be a source of stability as well as instability, a teacher of tolerance or intolerance, a provider of security or insecurity. As with any other region, after all, in Southeast Asia there are majorities and there are minorities. There are stereotypes and there are realities.
In this year’s Journalism Fellowship, the topic of religion is not all about strife or violence or sadness and hurt. Religion, and religious diversity, still and also primarily bring up stories of inspiration, tolerance, and the best attributes of humanity. Religion continues to be one of the most powerful forces for positive change in Southeast Asia.
The 2006 Fellows
Allen V. Estabillo writes for Mindanews, an online news agency run as a cooperative by journalists in the Philippines southern provinces.
Germelina A. Lacorte is a reporter of Davaotoday.com, an online newspaper in the Southern Philippine city of Davao, and a correspondent of the Manila-based Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Article: Are the Spirits Angry?
Iwan Setiawan is a TV new producer of SCTV in Jakarta.
Article: Among the Believers
Khan Sophirom is a reporter from Rasmei Kampuchea, the biggest newspaper in Cambodia.
Liezel Longboan is a freelance writer from the Philippines. She contributes to the Women’s Features Service.
Montri U-Domphong is a reporter from iTV, a private television station in Bangkok.
Article: Who’s Afraid of Pesantrens?
Mutjaba Hamdi is a writer from Syir’ah, a monthly Muslim magazine in Jakarta that promotes religious openness and diversity.
Myo Zaw is an editor of Beauty Magazine in Rangoon.
Philip S. Golingai is a staffmember of The Star in Kuala Lumpur.
Wahyuana is a freelance journalist based in Jakarta. He contributes to the Jakarta Post.