Dear reader,

Today, Jom has published a commentary on an issue that has gripped political observers in Singapore this past month: “Did the PAP mischaracterise the WP’s housing proposals?

Our conclusion, after having scrutinised remarks by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and a 2019 housing paper by the opposition Workers’ Party (WP), is that it certainly did. If the PAP is eager to demonstrate to the electorate its commitment to fair discourse, we believe it should offer immediate corrections and an apology.

Read the piece for more and do share it—we’ve put it outside the paywall since it’s an issue of public interest. We trust that enough Singaporeans will get paid subscriptions to enable Jom to thrive. Over the past week we’ve seen a 10 percent increase in paying subscribers—thank you, Parliament—though we are still only a quarter of the way to breaking even. Join the 770 plus paying subscribers today.

But hang on, you might say. Wasn’t the PAP’s mischaracterisation just a normal part of politics in a parliamentary democracy? Isn’t it the WP’s responsibility to rebut it? Shouldn’t Jom focus on other things?

We disagree, for a few reasons. First, it’s a mischaracterisation based on a glaring omission of a WP statement. Second, to suggest that the PAP and the WP can engage in informational contests fairly is poppycock. Our informational marketplace is so weighted in favour of the incumbent, by design, which is why you’ll now hear lots about Lee Hsien Yang’s alleged sins but very little about Keppel’s confirmed ones.

Third, public housing is shaping up to be the key issue at the next election, due by 2025. This mischaracterisation, deliberate or not, has the potential to significantly misinform voters. Of the many contradictions we as a society have yet to figure out: how can public housing be a nest egg and offer retirement adequacy if its value eventually starts declining to zero? Our public housing policies directly affect the financial futures of over 80 percent of the population (and indirectly everybody else’s).

Today’s piece, then, is illustrative of the thinking behind Jom’s selection of political stories. It must be an important issue and there must be something we feel has been unsaid in the mainstream discourse—or, as in this case, unresolved.

Personally, I’m quite glad that we’ve already put out pieces that include critiques of the WP, including one on the repeal of S377A. Otherwise it’d be easier for PAP trolls to smear Jom as partisan. On February 11th, the WP e-mailed a release to all media outlets saying that the PAP has chosen to “deliberately ignore the context of this point.” We read it, but didn’t see any urgent story potential then. Last week, following numerous events described in the piece, we felt it warranted one.

Even though Jom is completely independent of any party or organisation, the optics matter too. It’s not something we can ever deliberately control, for example, intentionally doing hit jobs on every single party. I’m just saying it’s fortuitous that it’s worked out.

Jom is a general interest magazine—arts, culture, technology, the environment and more—but we’ll never shy away from politics. Check out our selection of previous political essays.

Jom baca,
Sudhir Vadaketh
Editor-in-chief, Jom

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