Southeast Asian Newspapers on Microfilm @ ISEAS Library

ISEAS Library is home to over 200 Southeast Asian newspaper titles, available on microfilm reels. While Indonesian newspapers form a significant proportion, the collection also includes newspapers from other Southeast Asian countries.

Most of the newspapers in the collection are publications prior to 1990, with some published as early as 1860. The newspapers were published in various languages such as Dutch, English, French, and Portuguese in addition to Chinese and Southeast Asian languages, a reflection of the historical media landscape in Southeast Asia.

Here is a sampling of the newspaper titles in the library’s microfilm collection.


One of the oldest Indonesian newspapers held by the library, De Locomotief was aimed at the Dutch-speaking people of Semarang and was the first newspaper to be published in Semarang in 1864, during the era of the Dutch East Indies. The paper was suspended in 1940 during World War II, resuming in 1947 until it ceased publication in 1957 [1]. ISEAS library holds almost all issues published by this newspaper.

First page of the first issue of De Locomotief, published in 1864.

Selompret Malajoe (Malay Trumpet) was the first Malay language newspaper published in Central Java. It was printed in Semarang from 1860-1920 and was variously spelled Selompret Melajoe, Selompret Melaijoe, or Slompret Melayoe during its history [2]. As can be seen in the subtitle in the image below, the newspaper advertised itself as using “Low Malay”, i.e. the common and accepted form of the Malay language as it was used in the wider society. This form of the Malay language was used by many newspapers at the time as it was more likely to reach an extended pool of readers from all races as well as Indonesians of various dialect groups [3].

First page of the first issue of Selompret Malajoe, published in 1860.

Djawi-kando or Djawi Kanda was a Malay-Javanese newspaper published thrice weekly in Surakarta (Solo) between 1891 to 1919 [3]. Of the four pages in each issue, two were in Javanese and the other two pages were in Malay. The Javanese script was commonly used in Java from the 15th century until the mid-20th century, but has now largely been replaced with the Latin alphabet due to practical and economic considerations [4].

For a full list of Indonesian newspapers in microfilm at the Library, click here.


The Manila Times is one of the first and oldest surviving newspapers in the Philippines, being first published on October 11, 1898. Since its establishment, The Manila Times has covered major events over the course of Philippine history. It survived three closures, first in 1930 and subsequently in 1972 and in July 1999. The Manila Times re-opened a few months later and has been in circulation since. The paper is now available online and in print [5].

First page of the first issue of The Manila Times, published in 1946.


Published in Saigon from 1865 to 1910, Gia Định Báo (嘉定報), or Gia Dinh News was the first Vietnamese newspaper published using the Latin Script. Prior to this, government documents were written in Classical Chinese script [6]. While this was primarily a gazette that published official and legal documents, it also included articles on Vietnamese culture and agriculture. “Gia Định” is an alternative name for Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City).

First page of the first issue of Gia Định Báo, published in 1865.

Click here for the list of Gia Định Báo issues available in the library. For the full list of Vietnamese newspapers in microfilm at the Library, click here.

Other countries in Southeast Asia

Examples of newspapers from other Southeast Asian countries include the following:

The Bangkok Recorder was Thailand’s first newspaper. It was first published in 1844 as “Recorder” and ran only for one year until 1845. It was republished in 1865 as “Bangkok Recorder” until it ceased publication in 1867 [7], [8].

The Phnom Penh Post is a daily English-language newspaper published in 1992 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It is Cambodia’s oldest English-language newspaper and continues to be published in print and online up to this day [9].

Working people’s daily was established on 12th January 1964 and is Myanmar’s oldest English daily. It was later renamed The New Light of Myanmar on 17th April 1993 and is now published as an online news portal with the title “The Global New Light of Myanmar” [10].

Xieng Pasason (People’s Voice) was the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party’s newspaper. First established in 1950, the newspaper was originally known as “Lao Haksat” (Patriotic Lao) before it was renamed as Sieng Pasason (People’s Voice) in 1975, when the Lao People’s Democratic Republic was proclaimed. The newspaper was renamed again in 1985 and has been known as “Pasason” (People) until now. It is now accessible online [11].

Xat Lao – Published between 1936 and 1974 with American funding, Xat Lao had the largest circulation among newspapers in Laos. The paper covered wide aspects of Laos including politics, economy, history, culture, etc. [12], [13].

Click here for a full list of Thai newspapers in microfilm at the Library, and here for newspapers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

A list of all newspapers in microfilm held by ISEAS Library is available here. You can access these newspapers by putting in a request at the Library’s circulation counter.

Notes and references

[1] Yogi Fajri, “Where is The Exact Place of De Locomotief Office?“, Makelar Tjerita: Nandur Blog-Ing Pakarti, November 18, 2015.
[2] “Wikipedia: Selompret Melajoe,” Wikimedia Foundation, last modified February 9, 2022.
[3] Ahmat B Adam, “The Vernacular press and the emergence of modern Indonesian consciousness” (PhD diss., University of London, 1984).
[4] “Wikipedia: Javanese Script,” Wikimedia Foundation, last modified December 15, 2022.
[5] “About Us,” The Manila Times, accessed December 16, 2022.
[6] Liam Kelley, “Honoring the emperor in the (original) Gia Din Bao,” Le Minh Khai’s SEAsian History Blog, December 4, 2021.
[7] Wanpen Pajai, “The profound legacy of Thailand’s first newspaper, The Bangkok Recorder,” Southeast Asia Globe, May 26, 2021.
[8] Kittapat R., “(Review) The Bangkok Recorder and Siam Government Gazette: Case Study for Quality of Public Media and Government Media in 19th Century Siam,” Medium, September 8, 2019.
[9] “About the Phnom Penh Post,” The Phnom Penh Post, June 8, 2013.
[10] “Brief History,” The Global New Light of Myanmar, accessed December 16, 2022.
[11] “60th anniversary of Lao Pasasons newspaper marked,” Lao News Agency, accessed December 16, 2022.
[12] John A. Lent, “The Press in Laos“, Index on Censorship, volume 3, 1974 – issue 3, 31-34.
[13] Book Zone, National Library of Australia, “Xat Lao,” New Mandala, March 17, 2007.
[14] Nazarudin, “Language Policy in Indonesia and Its Influences in Malay Countries: A Historical Point of View Between Colonial and Post-colonial Era,, accessed December 16, 2022.
[15] “R Dirdjoatmojo,” CekRicek, October 10, 2022.