Dear reader,

Hi there, this is Waye, Jom's co-founder and head of content. I’ve taken over newsletter duties from Sudhir, just for this week. As co-founders, we’ve agreed to take random turns at penning these weekly musings. Next year, you’ll hear from Charmaine Poh, co-founder and head of visual culture and media.

Firstly, a massive “thank you” to all who bought tickets to Jom’s Launch Party and started your weekend with us last Friday. It was such a treat to spend the evening with Jom’s supporters—to imbibe, to makan, to chat, to reconnect and to create new connections. It really felt like the stirrings of a fledgling community, and I can’t wait for us to grow bigger and more boisterous.

Of course, none of this would have been possible or gone as smoothly without Jean Hew, our head of research and the generous assistance of the Centre 42 team (Eugene, Jacyln and Yanling).

The evening’s programme turned out rather well too. Curated by Sudhir, it was bookended by poetry readings from poet-contributor Jonathan Chan and poet-writer Poorva Maithani. Poorva almost had me snivelling by the end of her raw and tender tributes to her mother and father. So much wisdom and fortitude in this 17-year-old!

Sandwiched between the poems, the co-founders had the chance to talk about Jom during a fireside chat moderated by Pamela Qiu. We’d allocated 30 minutes for it, but ended up spending close to 90 minutes answering both Pam and audience's questions. Given our notoriety as a people to be deathly silent during Q&As, it was a joy to have party guests shoot us a myriad of thought-provoking questions. Including a rather “sordid” one. IYKYK.

Now to the reason why we’re here, the news!

Barely a week after conveying his objection in Parliament about repealing S377A, lawyer Christopher de Souza, the ruling People’s Action Party MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, is in the headlines again. De Souza, who’s also deputy speaker, was found guilty of professional misconduct by a disciplinary tribunal for allegedly helping a client suppress evidence. He’s denied the charge. It might be interesting to recall his reasons in 2007 against decriminalising gay sex. He had refuted the argument that there was “no point” criminalising what happens behind closed doors. De Souza also said that it was “a misconception” that “what is private, will stay private”. We dive into the details in Singapore This Week.

Still on what transpired during the Parliamentary debate on the petition to repeal S377A—Jom has published an incisive piece scrutinising three issues: the separation of powers in a democracy; the role of religion in politics; and the bounds of free speech. How do we reconcile the need for our politicians to speak freely, representing their constituents on topics that impact Singaporeans’ rights and equality before the law; while also being mindful of the danger of allowing religious beliefs to affect decisions that have far-reaching consequences, especially negative, for minority groups, in a secular state?

Next: Roadkill! Whose heart breaks a little each time you hear that an endangered animal, like the Sunda pangolin, was crushed by the weight of a vehicle? Mine does, especially since having spent time at a sanctuary in Vietnam that rescues and rehabilitates these enigmatic, prehistoric-looking creatures. Sadly, in less than 24 hours, RIP two male Raffles’ banded langurs. These elusive primates, also known as the banded leaf monkey, are endemic to Singapore (and southern Peninsular Malaysia) and critically endangered at the national level. While the march of progress seems unstoppable, what more can be done to ensure their long-term conservation? Besides our blurb, you can read more about what we can do in a blog post by NParks.

And lastly, before you head into your weekend, and possibly into “goblin mode”, it might tickle you to read that this wicked-sounding phrase is officially the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of the Year. If you don’t already know what it means, this might be a good time to find out. It sure beats the bane of being ghosted.

Until next year, I leave you with the words of our wise leader: jom baca!

Best wishes,
Tsen-Waye Tay
Head of content, Jom

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