Abby Seiff is an award-winning freelance journalist with a decade of experience reporting and editing in Asia for publications like Time, Columbia Journalism Review, Pacific Standard and many more. Read more >>
At a Cambodian Lake, a Climate Crisis Unfolds
When I first met Ly Heng in May 2016, the forest behind his house was still smoldering — the remnants of the worst drought to hit Southeast Asia in decades. Heng lived along a small river at the top of Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake, in a protected area known for its rich biodiversity. At 45, he had never seen wildfires, and never seen the water level of the lake dip so low.Charred sticks and leaves crunched underfoot while Heng led me through the woodland, recounting his neighbors’ efforts to keep the fire from incinerating their houses.
Hong Kong’s fight for independence
The bill that spurred one of the largest protest movements in modern history is just a handful of pages. Some ten proposed amendments in all. Thousands, then tens of thousands, then millions of Hong Kongers have taken to the streets in recent months – first, in protest at the bill, later, in rage against mounting police brutality and the government’s response. The movement has been unprecedented in its reach. A normally silent business community has grown outspoken, duty-bound civil servants have defied government orders and marched, youth that many feared had grown apathetic have put themselves on the frontlines while ‘silver-haired’ protesters marched to support them.
I used to think of Phnom Penh as a city of protests. When I first moved here, in 2009, you could barely go a week without seeing a demonstration of some sort. People protested over land grabs and evictions and environmental degradation; over shuttered factories and wrongful arrests and layoffs. There was a demonstration where sacked employees of a radio broadcaster burned tyres on a quiet street near the Royal Palace, and another where those protesting the destruction of a forest marched through Phnom Penh with faces painted like the characters from the movie Avatar. It was woven into the very fabric of city life. After all, capitals have long served this purpose: the chance to petition directly those in power.
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Abby Seiff is an award-winning freelance journalist with a decade of experience reporting and editing in Asia. Her writing and photography have appeared in Newsweek, Time, Associated Press, Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera, and more. She also regularly edits and writes reports for think-tanks, security firms, and nongovernmental organizations. Prior to becoming a freelancer, she served as an editor for several years at The Cambodia Daily and The Phnom Penh Post. Her work focuses on human rights, politics, and the law. Most recently, she has reported on Thailand's southern insurgency, food security along the Mekong, and migration in Nepal.
To view a CV, click here.