This week marks the start of Jom’s first ad campaign. It features four notable public figures endorsing Jom—our newest Jomrades, in other words. The first is Teo You Yenn, associate professor at NTU and author of This is what inequality looks like.
But why even have this campaign? Visible allies are important for independent media outfits, particularly in an operating environment where the commercial odds are stacked against us. We were partly inspired by a campaign from Caravan, an Indian long-form magazine.
We spent a lot of time deciding on the four “promoters” we’d like our brand to be associated with. We’re big fans of all four, and are grateful that they said “yes”. The process was a lot of fun. With You Yenn, part of that was a long, late afternoon teh session at Adam Road Food Centre, laptop open, explaining to her the motivations behind, and workings of, our indie media outfit. We don’t know each other super well, but I guess we share some ideological leanings and socio-political sensibilities.
I love You Yenn’s writing. Many people focus on her chart-topping book, for good reason, but other pieces since, such as “Inequality and social good: A new culture of shared wellbeing requires reforming a system that promotes individualism”, a speech she delivered last year, are sources of intellectual refuge and inspiration for me. Over the next month, leading up to National Day, we’ll be sharing the endorsements of our other three new Jomrades.
I’m also thrilled that today we’re publishing Damien Thow’s second piece for Jom, “Following the sound”. Readers may remember Damien’s first piece, “On her scent”, about his pandemic search for the foods and smells that remind him of home, and specifically of his grandmother. Today, he again draws us into a soulful, multi-layered narrative that uses his journey with Javanese gamelan music as a device to explore notions of identity and belonging.
“I want to paint a different picture closer to my own experience: not so much rooted in place but floating on a sea that connects ensembles and practitioners scattered across the globe. I want to follow the currents beneath me, tracing their fluid paths, their chance connections, everything at once so international, yet drawing back to Central Java: its culture, its landscape, its musicians.”
Two senses down, Damien, four to go.
Finally, a few last words about two Singaporeans who’ve just passed. Adrian Tan, litigator and president of the Law Society of Singapore, passed away at 57 after battling cancer for over a year: not your usual “regular NTUC Fairprice type cancer” he once joked, but “a very exclusive” kind. The author of The Teenage Textbook in recent years repositioned his wit for LinkedIn, where he contemplated socio-political issues by imagining what he might do if he were “King of Singapore”. One of my favourites is his proposed citizenship test for migrants, in response to a suggestion by Pritam Singh of the Workers’ Party that migrants should take an English test. (Tan’s prolific LinkedIn account, accessible until yesterday, appears to have been deactivated. We hope it returns.) We’ve also dedicated a blurb to him in “Singapore This Week”.
The other person is Lim Chong Yah, economist, founding chairman of the National Wages Council, and a strong proponent of a minimum wage. His death has offered society a chance to observe the nonsensical censorship that persists. The Straits Times initial headline read, “Prominent economist and father of Lee Suet Fern, Lim Chong Yah, dies aged 91”. It was later changed to remove reference to his daughter, who along with her husband, Lee Hsien Yang, and son, Li Shengwu, are persona non-grata, amid the ongoing feud over Lee Kuan Yew’s will and property.
We’re glad that Lim always championed the rights of the poor and underprivileged—particularly within an establishment that considers such rhetoric to be the work of “fucking populists”. More on that, and the Rajah of F1, in “Singapore This Week”.
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