Dear reader,

First, save the date. At 8pm on August 23rd, we’ll be having an exclusive Jom virtual chat between Soh Rui Yong, national marathoner, and Nick Fang, our sports editor. These behind-the-scenes Zoom chats are a benefit for Jom’s Supporters and Patrons: we’ll e-mail you the Zoom details the day before the show. If you’re a Member, and would like to upgrade your plan, you can do so on your Account page.

This week, we continue with Jom’s first-ever ad campaign. It features four notable public figures endorsing Jom—our newest Jomrades, in other words. We wrote about the first, Teo You Yenn, associate professor at NTU and author of This is what inequality looks like, a few weeks ago.

Today I’d like to introduce the second, Walid Abdullah, assistant professor at NTU and host of the wildly popular “Teh Tarik with Walid”. Walid is a prominent scholar of Singapore. Some of his best works include “Managing minorities in competitive authoritarian states: multiracialism and the hijab issue in Singapore” and “Chinese privilege in politics: a case study of Singapore’s ruling elites”, with Humairah Zainal.

Separately, he’s quite deftly parlayed his research knowledge into a thoroughly enjoyable chat show on Instagram, one that has wonderful audience participation from the loyal base he’s cultivated. These include a blockbuster conversation with Mahathir Mohamad, former Malaysian PM; and a (live) chat with Ng Kok Hoe, who leads the Social Inclusion Project at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, on social housing and homelessness.

Walid, as an interviewer, has some of the broadest access in Singapore, respected by politicians across the spectrum. I think it’s largely due to his instinctive ability to hold space for different personalities and perspectives. I once told him that he’s Singapore’s Oprah and he retorted that he’d rather be Singapore’s Trevor Noah. More importantly, he’s Walid Abdullah, and Jom is happy that he’s endorsed us.

Today we’re also publishing Jonathan Chan’s second essay for Jom, “The crossings of Boey Kim Cheng.” His first, on the history of Koreans in Singapore, was an exploration partly of ancestral roots (Jonathan’s half Korean). Today’s is partly an introspection of his own poetic roots, as Jonathan writes about Boey, a major influence on his own nascent literary career.

“Boey’s poems left me breathless. They spoke of movement, of restlessness, of yearning, and of unsettling. They had a peripatetic verve that saw Boey’s speakers traverse a multitude of places and memories. They held a kind of wry, observational power to them, an imagination that was constantly looking both beyond and back within Singapore. Something of Boey’s concerns held an eerie mirror to my own life, itself stitched together by the comings and goings of my ancestors, from Malaysia and South Korea to the US and Hong Kong and Singapore.”

Yet this introspective beginning is just the entry point for an in-depth profile of Boey, a person whose words have left a deep impression on generations of Singaporeans, even as he’s oscillated between our island and Australia.

“You do feel a double sense of betrayal. That you leave your adopted country to come back to your place of birth to live and work,” he described of his return to Singapore…As Boey articulated, “It’s been strange, returning as a native turned foreigner, to be an expatriate here. You feel doubly an outsider, and the ground has once again shifted under your feet.”

There’s so much in this profile—including on history, social justice, belonging, and community—that will resonate with Singaporeans. It’s a 23-min read, says Jom’s website, so bookmark it and savour it when you can.

A big shout-out as well to Kathy Anne Lim, who photographed Boey in her distinctive style. (Check out her work also in our profile of Suhaimi Zainul-Abidin.)

Finally, in “Singapore This Week”, our weekly digest, we talk about Wikimania in Singapore, teachers on TikTok, independent music mag BigO, Lucasfilm leaving Singapore after nearly 20 years, and more.

We also, of course, talk about our upcoming presidential election, scheduled for September 1st. We’ve just found out that a total of three candidates are qualified to run. (And now have to simply file their Nomination papers on Monday.) Alongside Tharman Shanmugaratnam, whose qualification was never in doubt, are Ng Kok Song and Tan Kin Lian. They are, respectively, the government-endorsed establishment candidate, the “non-government-endorsed” establishment candidate, and the self-professed independent.  

In two Fridays we’ll be voting! Look out for Jom’s pre-election piece the day before.

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

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