Dear reader,

Black hair? White hair? No hair?

I saw that in a WhatsApp chat this morning, presumably a cute way to get around perceived Cooling-off Day restrictions. (Black hair = Tan Kin Lian; White hair = Ng Kok Song; No hair = Tharman Shanmugaratnam.)

Yet I’m unsure if the pseudonyms are even necessary. The truth is that private electronic communication “between two or more individuals” is allowed on Cooling-off Day. What isn’t permitted? Campaigning and fresh election advertising. See what’s prohibited and allowed, according to the Elections Department (ELD).

The rules can seem ambiguous, which is why Jom engaged ELD this past week in an open conversation. We had actually wanted to organise a Zoom call with all subscribers tonight to discuss the election. After all, we’re not affiliated to any party. Surely, like democratic citizens anywhere, we can engage in respectful dialogue before voting? After conversing with ELD—I’m really grateful to the manager there for the multiple back-and-forths—we decided that such a Zoom call may not be permitted. Shame.

I’d like to pick up on the theme of election advertising, which Jom intentionally avoided in “Nobody’s independent: Singapore’s presidential election”, our pre-election piece published yesterday. What I mean is that we did not endorse any candidate for the presidency. This had nothing to do with Cooling-off Day, but was a high-level decision we took as a team several weeks ago. We’re going to be following this approach for all elections for the foreseeable future. We’ll simply offer you our analysis of electoral dynamics and history, as well as candidacies and platforms.

Why? Most importantly, we believe that Jom’s readers can follow our coverage and make up their own minds. Black hair? White hair? No hair? It’s your right to choose, and don’t let Jom, or anybody else, tell you what to do. Read, listen, talk, choose.

I want to thank the entire Jom team for their hard work this past week. This includes our researchers for the piece: Liyana Batrisyia, Chang Zi Qian, Tim Chee and Arun Mohan. We wanted this presidential election to be a bit of a test-run for the general election, which will be much more intense, with a lot more coverage for you.

And on that note, I’d like to make another appeal to you. We’re still only about 40 percent of the way to breaking even. We need money to assemble an election coverage team because what we do—slow journalism, as demonstrated in yesterday’s piece—is editorially intensive. It requires time and talent.

So if you enjoyed our essay yesterday, and if you believe in the value of such journalism in Singapore, tolong tolong! You’re already a paying subscriber, so you may be wondering how you can help. Here are a few ways:

Thank you! This will allow us to expand our political coverage ahead of the next general election, which could be a seminal one.

Finally, in “Singapore This Week”, we talk about the Singaporeans who won’t get to vote tomorrow; preschool teachers abusing children; plastic recycling in Singapore; the iconic sculptures that make up the facade of the former Hilton Hotel; the Malay pearl-divers of north-western Australia; and much else.

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

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