Dear reader,

Letters. It’s great to see this page gaining traction, a sign that more of you are engaging with our pieces—and also with each other. This week, Eliza Thomas has written the latest response to “I object: mental illness is not a crime” by Chan Li Shan. Eliza describes her experience with electroconvulsive therapy, “wrestled down to my hospital bed by eight nurses”. Unlike Li Shan, however, Eliza actually agrees with the mental health amendments passed last week in Parliament. Find out why

And do send in your own response, to anything at all at Jom, by e-mailing me ( Your voice matters.

In Singapore This Week, we analyse the conversation between Inderjit Singh, a former politician with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), and Viswa Sadasivan, a former nominated member of Parliament. (It’s a 25-min episode of Viswa’s “Inconvenient Questions”, produced with Rice Media.) Known for his plain-speaking ways, Inderjit this time tells us that the PAP controls the powerful People’s Association partly for perceived electoral gain (something many have long suspected). Read “Singapore This Week” for his exact words, and what else he said about the nature of power in an illiberal democracy.

Elsewhere in the issue, we examine SPH Media’s appointment of Chan Yeng Kit as its new CEO; Singapore’s food waste problem; a Roald Dahl-like tale of a quack dentist from Johor Bahru; “Tomorrow and tomorrow”, a showcase of works-in-progress by theatre groups at this year’s Singapore International Festival of Arts; T:>Works’ upcoming Per°Form Open Academy of Arts and Activations (POA); a Singaporean skincare brand spreading rapidly across the US; and much more.

Merdeka, Palestine by Faris Joraimi, our history editor, is Jom’s essay of the week, and the second in a three-part series about Israel’s war on Gaza. Looking back at the last century, Faris shows broadly how Malaya and Palestine were connected by the same global structures of domination, which survive to the present. Also check out the beautiful, and powerful, watercolour illustrations by Kimberly Wee (a sample above).

But the piece is so much more. Faris, among other things, is remarkably candid in describing his own early echo chamber. “Like many Malays of my generation, I grew up with antisemitic ideas long before I met any Jewish people. They flowed through popular religious media and family talk.”

Through his own journey, and those of Harun Aminurrashid, a Singaporean Malay public intellectual in the 1960s, and Ang Swee Chai, medical doctor and activist, Faris develops a powerful argument about the need for all peace-loving people to resist the oppressive structures of the territorial nation-state system.

“Instead of thinking in terms of ‘us’ Singaporeans as separate from national identities elsewhere, we are once again seeing the return of internationalist thinking amongst our ordinary citizens in solidarity with peoples abroad…The nation-state is the most dominant structure of power today, and we are responsible for its reform. Both Singapore and Israel share an ideology that glorifies the nation-state as the supreme form of human organisation, converting wilderness into civilisation, replacing lazy natives with industrious citizens.”

This essay has really been a six-month intellectual and emotional labour of love from Faris. With his permission, I’m sharing here a message he sent on our team’s Slack channel on October 17th 2023.

“An in-depth, longer reflection on the occupation of Palestine can and should be pursued in Jom, but imo, not anytime soon. There are major paradigm shifts happening in this current eruption and it’s better to wait until the dust settles, when people are less bombarded by unfolding headlines, and can take a longer-term view.”

Thanks, Jomrade, for helping us do just that.

Jom fikir,
Sudhir Vadaketh

p.s. “Ang Swee Chai’s urgent message”, our third and final piece in this series, is scheduled for next Friday. For those who missed it, “Genocide in Gaza? Our moral responsibility”, was published last Friday.

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