Top Features 2021: Coconuts’ juiciest and most compelling original reporting

That’s just about a wrap on the insanity that was 2021, but before we move full force ahead to 2022, we wanted to highlight some of the awesome original reporting we did over the past year across our eight newsrooms in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Our top features of the year really speak to the core values that we here at Coconuts stand for (and have stood strong for during the past decade): telling true stories to inform and entertain. Our journalists tackled the tough issues from racial injustice to inequality for members of the LGBTQ+ community and not to mention the pandemic and its impact on everyday citizens’ lives.

Thanks for continuing to read Coconuts and support local, independent journalism. Have a fun (and safe) new year, Coconauts!


Loss and Forgiveness: Bali bombing victim remembered

A photo of the late Ed Waller taken in Dublin, Ireland. Photo courtesy of Tom Waller.

On foreigner privilege, gentrification, and racism: How one American digital nomad’s Twitter thread about Bali sparked backlash

Photos: Twitter and Unsplash

Local NGO out to save neglected thresher sharks from extinction


Things don’t work for confused travelers one day before Phuket ‘reopening’

Photo: InterContinental Phuket Resort / Facebook

Failed by gov’t that scorns sex workers, Patpong looks after its own

Bangkok’s about to open the first piece of a billion-baht ‘canal park.’ Is it worth it?

Workers rush to complete the Chong Nonsi Canal Park in time for Saturday's opening. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee

Thais give up on their government and go abroad for vaccines – if they can

Bangkok Pride: Meet LGBTQ+ who lead the way for equality in Thailand

Hong Kong

Racial privilege is well and alive in Hong Kong’s English teaching industry. Where’s the reckoning?

Meet the ethnic minority language interpreters behind Hong Kong’s first COVID lockdown


My mother and I escaped my abusive father, but COVID-19 took her away too

Mirna on oxygen support days before she passed away due to COVID-19. Photo: Rumah Bulan

Unpaid and overworked: Inside the exploitative world of student internships

Photo courtesy of Agus.

The demons of conversion therapy in Indonesia

Searching for The Sin Nio, the forgotten Chinese-Indonesian hero

Indonesian actress Laura Basuki (Right) portraying The Sin Nio in the stage play ‘Sepinya Sepi.’ Photo: Heliana Sinaga and historical archive


Cannabis can mean death in Malaysia. For one dad, it also meant life for his daughter.

The father Pokleh watches as his daughter lies in bed, at left. File photo of cannabis oil, at right. Photos: Pokleh and Wikimedia Commons

Total lockdown in Malaysia: Third time’s the charm (or not)?

File photo of Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Artmopro

Diving into Malaysia’s turtle crisis and why locals can’t stop eating their eggs

File photo of a turtle hatchling on a beach. Photo: Alfonso Navarro

I gave birth to my first child just before COVID-19 worsened in Malaysia

Writer Yeu-Gynn Yeung with her baby


Dark Corners of the Web: How foreign pedophiles are preying on Filipino children

Photo: Luis Liwanag

Taal Volcano’s catastrophic 1911 eruption reminds us of its fearsome power (PHOTOS)

Taal, 1911 (US Library of Congress, courtesy of John Tewell)


Curry conundrum: For Indian renters, Singapore’s racism starts in the kitchen

Photo: Vishnu_EU

Gay ‘conversion’ is being debated in Singapore. So it’s too bad few will see ‘Aqua Man.’

At left, writer and director of ‘Aqua Man’ Jet Ho and a promotional still from his short film, at right. Photo: Jet Ho

Singapore stockbroker finds ‘pandemic-proof’ second life as fishmonger

Sio live streams from the wet market. Photo: Xavier Poh


To turn soldiers to their side, Myanmar’s digital activists turn to low-tech alternative: pirate radio (Audioscapes)

File photo of police in Yangon. Photo: Timothy Neesam