Jom’s first print issue is now on sale for S$36, which includes domestic shipping. I’m really excited about the breadth of content. There’s our usual Jom fare, including “Singapore This Year”, with contributions from our entire team, and a profile of Prashant Somosundram, general manager of The Projector. I’m looking forward to seeing my co-founder Charmaine Poh’s photographs of Prashant in print.
There’s also more novel stuff, including a crossword puzzle on notable Singaporean Leftists, and two depictions of “The Singapore Dream”: one a fold-out insert from Kontinentalist, that has a mix of a choropleth map, infographics and charts, all done with the firm’s usual rigour; and the other a playful satirical photography series by Jaya Khidir that shows couples in four different homes, from a public housing apartment to a colonial black-and-white.
We’ve got a limited run, so get your copy now. We’ll start shipping them at the end of November. Jom’s Supporters and Patrons are entitled to a copy with your subscription—we’ll reach out soon for your address—but do get more for your friends. I hope they make for good Christmas gifts.
Speaking of what’s tucked below trees, where are the hidden jungles in Singapore where off-road motorbikers go to play? Well, we can’t reveal their exact locations, but Toh Ee Ming, in her second essay for Jom, “A morning with The Mosquito Coil Gang: off-road motorbiking in Singapore”, tells us what the experience of leaving the grind is like.
Singapore, as we all know, is a tiny, dense city where strict laws, monitoring and enforcement—next time count CCTVs passed, not just steps—are supplemented by (sometimes annoying) citizen vigilantes. One often feels the need for release, for escape, for the rush that comes from tiny acts of rebellion: a dropped wrapper here, a sneaky jaywalk there. Surrounded by what can feel like robotic conformity, it is in these expressions that we demonstrate our agency, and find our inner selves again.
Breathe. You’re alive.
“It [off-roading] makes me think of other fringe activities that have sprouted up organically across Singapore: including parkour-loving youths scaling roofs; drone and model aircraft hobbyists operating their machines without permits; secret gardens and a ‘Lost Ark’ in the forests; and urban explorers who trespass in abandoned buildings.
At some level, they seek the same thing—liminal spaces that offer a chance to relish a sense of freedom that can feel incongruent with a traditionally risk-averse and rule-obsessed society.”
Ee Ming is also a photographer, whose shots of her biker buddies in this secret jungle accompany her essay. I hope it inspires you both to find community in fringe activities, and to explore what we have before it’s gone. As Jom discussed in our essay on Dover Forest, according to the 2014 Master Plan of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Singapore will lose 4,700 hectares of secondary forests by 2030, equivalent to over a thousand Padangs, and more than twice the total area of all parks to be built by then.
Finally, in “Singapore This Week”, we write about a new opposition coalition, Lawrence Wong’s Forward Singapore initiative, actor Peter Yu, SPH Media’s acquisition of Tech in Asia, and also the new exhibition by Salty Xi Jie Ng.
Salty is a practitioner of what’s often called socially engaged art, or, in her preferred description, “social forms of art”. Her new exhibition, “across the way”, prods us to think about our ancestors, and connections that exist across time and realms. We’re big fans of Salty’s work, so much so that we chose her as Jom’s very first profile, in August 2022. For those of you who joined our Jommunity after, now might be a good time to revisit that piece.
You’ll be taking a little step back in time to early Jom.
p.s. For the next week, we’ve taken two essays out of the paywall: Salty’s profile, and “Singapore is not an island”, a recent piece by SG Climate Rally, to coincide with the Earthshot Prize Awards this week in Singapore. (Thanks, Sarah, for the idea!) So, for your friends who’ve asked for teasers of Jom’s content before they commit to a paid subscription, do forward this page to them.
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