The Straits Times yesterday launched its first interactive e-book, Myanmar Sunrise, which tells the extraordinary story of the world's newest democracy and South-east Asia's last big economic frontier.
The book offers a compelling look at today's Myanmar, with lively narratives and new insights from veteran journalists including The Straits Times' foreign editor Ravi Velloor, Indochina Bureau chief Nirmal Ghosh and ST Life! correspondent John Lui.
It is sponsored by Myanmar property group Shwe Taung and its Singapore partners, OrangeTee.com and Asian Acre Advisors.
Apart from features and analytical pieces on the politics, economy, business and travel, the book brings Myanmar to life with videos and photo essays by prize-winning photojournalists Sim Chi Yin and Neo Xiaobin.
The 150-page interactive e-book, believed to be the first of its kind in Apple's App Store, is available for free download here until Sunday. Thereafter, it can be purchased for US$9.99 (S$12.98).
Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez said the interactive book, the first such project by ST, was part of the newsroom's push to go multimedia.
"We at The Straits Times have been watching developments in Myanmar for decades, sometimes with sadness, even bewilderment. So we are thrilled to see it re-emerge and take its place in a modern, forward-looking Asia."
He noted: "It is a story we take delight both in witnessing and in telling, and we want to do it in the most engaging fashion possible. Hence, this new e-book, which we think many will enjoy."
Said ST foreign editor Ravi Velloor: "What is happening there is nothing short of a national renaissance. With this collection of essays, The Straits Times takes you up close to an enigmatic land."
Calling the e-book a ground- breaking project, Shwe Taung chief executive Aung Zaw Naing said: "We hope it will help the world better understand Myanmar and help us build a better socioeconomic environment for the whole nation."
Mr Steven Tan, managing director of OrangeTee.com, a leading Singapore real estate agency, said: "We would like to congratulate Singapore Press Holdings on the successful launch of this product. This contribution continues OrangeTee's proud tradition as a socially responsible company."
Noted Mr Yip Kam Thai, managing director of Asian Acre Advisors, a regional real estate and business advisory firm based in Yangon: "We hope this will bridge gaps in perception, and facilitate more fruitful engagement between locals and foreigners as the country opens up."
Indeed, the book captures some seldom-heard voices. In excerpts being published in tomorrow's edition of The Straits Times, read about the buzz in Yangon's tea shops as locals marvel at the remarkable changes sweeping across the land.
The paper has monitored Myanmar closely in recent months. Last December, it picked reformist President Thein Sein for its inaugural Asian Of The Year award.
Indochina Bureau chief Nirmal Ghosh, who bagged one of the first interviews granted to foreign media by Mr Thein Sein, said: "The opening up of Myanmar is unique as it is driven from within, by the ruling establishment.
"The challenges of staying the course are enormous. Sectarian tensions, kept from boiling over largely by four decades of military rule, have emerged. Much still depends on key individuals, including Thein Sein and iconic opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi."