Dear subscriber,

Many of you want to share Jom’s paid content with friends to let them see what they’re missing. Here’s your chance.

We have just taken out of the paywall two quite different pieces from last year:

They will be free to read for the next week. Do forward this e-mail to friends who might enjoy Jom’s work.

Our essay this week is “Winds might shift, but some things don’t change”. It’s about a book that KC and other leftists wrote in the mid-1980s and have only just published. Get ready for the time warp—40 years ago, people were clamouring for similar rights, filled with similar aspirations, and all up against a hegemonic power petrified of losing control. The book review is written by Tan Tarn How, a playwright and former journalist at The Straits Times (ST). It’s great to see Tarn How’s first piece for Jom. (And I was a bit nervous/excited this past week at the role reversal: the last time we worked together, mid-2000s, he was editing a piece of mine.)

In “Singapore This Week”, our weekly digest, we look at Changi Airport robocops, a possible police investigation of SPH, students signing up for mock mid-year exams, Coldplay and Taylor Swift performing here in 2024, Grab’s U-turn on lay-offs, and much more.

Meanwhile, “Other SG stuff we like” is Jom’s attempt to curate and showcase the best current content. There’s a bit more for presidential election buffs in this edition, and I’d like to focus in particular on an AcademiaSG Zoom lecture on the presidency next Friday, June 30th, by Kevin Tan, a constitutional law scholar.

There’s a bit of a backstory here that involves Kevin and Lee Kuan Yew. In 1999, amid the public spat between Ong Teng Cheong, then president, and the government, Kevin told ST that the elected presidency had become a confused institution ever since veto powers were added to its ceremonial role. Is the president actually meant to check the government (on reserves and public service appointments) or merely cut ribbons and offer platitudes?

Kevin was then a law professor at NUS. Lee, a lawyer himself, took umbrage, saying he was “surprised to see this academic constitutional lawyer from our university—and I was alarmed when I read he is teaching our students constitutional law—that he had not read our own Constitution.”

The fallout was swift. “Kevin Tan chose to leave his NUS position around a year later,” Cherian George wrote in Singapore, Incomplete. “He then found himself blocked from rejoining full-time, despite being one of Singapore’s only internationally renowned constitutional law scholars.”

So, when you attend next Friday’s Zoom lecture with Kevin, you’ll also feel a bit of a time warp with decades-old events. (It’ll be extra special for me too: Kevin was a reader for my first book, Floating on a Malayan Breeze, and probably saved my ass in the bit where I questioned Singapore’s judiciary.)

Jom’s “Letters to the editor” page is now looking quite vibrant, with two recent letters on the concept of resilience from Sathia Varqa, and a suggestion to improve POFMA from Mouli Chandramouli. There are instructions at the top of the page for anybody who’d like to submit a letter for consideration.

Finally, if you’d like to meet the Jom team, we’ll be at the Singapore Independent Media Fair next Saturday afternoon, July 1st, at Projector X: Picturehouse. Entry is free, you can register on Eventbrite. It’ll also be one of your last chances to visit Projector X: Picturehouse, which is closing soon. (The Projector lives on, hooray, just that this fab venue is closing for renovation works.)

I’m moderating a panel from 2.30-4pm, featuring Ariffin Sha of Wake Up Singapore (WUSG), Loh Pei Ying of Kontinentalist, and Ng Kah Gay of Ethos Books. Aside from that, we’ll just be hanging around in the foyer, manning our Jom table, hawking our Jom merch (postcards, stickers, tote bags), and chatting with all of you.

Come hang.

Sudhir Vadaketh
Editor-in-chief, Jom

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