I am looking for a seasoned journalist who can find their way around the country's political scene; who had dealt with politicians and knows who's who, and how to reach them for radio broadcast interviews.
I am currently the Manila Bureau Chief for National Public Radio (NPR), the largest public service broadcaster in the U-S, based in Washington. I was the Delhi Bureau Chief for six years until switching to SE Asia this month. My patch is now Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, VN and Singapore. As I'm based in Manila, our usual approach is to parachute into the other countries of the region, scope out interesting stories -- 2 or 3 -- swoop them up with interesting interviews, sounds [it's radio!], great photos -- put them together BOTH for radio and our Digital platform [login to view URL], and get back to Manila or on to the next destination. That's the procedure drill.
What I need on the ground is a savvy, smart, cultural informant who is clued into the country, its culture, its cross currents and its big names -- and has an interesting eye for off beat stories ... and can get the straight forward pieces done as well. Malaysia's politics is interesting as Mahatir comes off as a "democrat" in ways he would not 20 years ago. He certainly comes off as more of a democrat than Dutarte, who is autocratic, if popular.
The rise of populism/nationalism in Asia from Modi to Dutarte to obviously, Xi, is a an important topic. Malaysia has had its corrupt leaders, but this time they reached for a man who seems to represent something softer, and more democratic, in his old age. But how susceptible is Malaysia to this trend?
And what are Malaysia's relations/attitudes toward China? How worried is KL about Chinese aggression in the region? The South China Sea? Dutarte refers to the Phil, jokingly, as a potential province of China. It's the sort of remark that does not go down well with his countrymen. But he's willing to have the Chinese do infrastructure deals, build casinos outside Manila that the Chinese pour into, and generally accommodate China in ways that other SE Asian leaders are not. What currents are different outside the Phil? What impulses and instincts are at play that aren't here in Manila?