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A pulse-check for the newsletter!

This week: it's time for a check on how readers are finding this newsletter!

This is going to be a bit of a quick one this weekend. Firstly because there hasn’t been anything very big going on, but also because I’m in Glasgow this weekend and trying to have a bit of downtime because work has been more busy recently than I expected!

A long-time-coming survey!

When I left New Naratif in 2020 and decided to devote more time to running this newsletter, I ran a survey to find out more about what people like/don’t like about We, The Citizens, and what they would like to see. The answers gave me a lot to think about as I moved forward, but I haven’t run a survey again since. The number of subscribers and Milo Peng Funders have really grown too (yay!) so it’s way past time for a pulse check. If you have a little bit of time, I’d really appreciate it if you could fill this in:

Disciplinary action might be on the horizon for Chris de Souza

People’s Action Party MP and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Christopher de Souza might end up facing disciplinary action, after a tribunal found that he had helped his client to suppress evidence by prepping an affidavit that left out stuff that would have shown that the client had breached their undertaking not to use information obtained through search orders for anything other than the High Court case they were involved in. It was the one charge out of five levied against him by the Law Society that the tribunal found him guilty of. The matter will now go before the Court of Three Judges. De Souza’s lawyers say that he acted with the “utmost integrity in the conduct of this matter at all times.” The PAP says that they’ll wait to see what happens with that before deciding what to do.

There will be no end — and no victory — in the War on Drugs

Singapore’s drug war continues with its policing and surveillance. They might be rolling out automated drug tests in 2024 for people who have previously been caught for drug consumption. The idea is to try to make drug-testing easier, because they do a ton of them: about 5,000 a month. A huge amount of resources is expended on catching, punishing, and monitoring people who have used drugs, even if they haven’t committed any other offence that caused harm to anyone else. For those who engage in the drug trade, there are long jail terms and the death penalty. And still the drugs come in, with people finding all sorts of ways to evade capture or discovery. Take note: what we’re reading about only relates to the drugs that law enforcement did find, and it’s not clear what proportion of all the illicit drugs out there the stuff the cops have seized really are.

No one is contesting that harmful drug use exists. But drug use also exists on a spectrum, and we're putting in a lot of resources to catch and punish people even if they are on the not-harmful end of the spectrum, instead of investing more in public health resources to provide healthcare and support to those who need and want them. Surely there must be a better way? (There is.)

I recently picked up this book, Undoing Drugs: How Harm Reduction Is Changing the Future of Drugs and Addiction, written by Maia Szalavitz, a neuroscience journalist with her own experience of heroin addiction. I’m looking forward to diving into it — I just need to get through the many books that I already have on the go! #TsundokuHabit

Farming in Singapore

This is something I hadn't really known anything about: SG Climate Rally has this great piece looking at land-based farmers in Singapore, and how they've been affected by agritech. Land-based farms can produce a variety of crops that can't be produced via hydroponics or vertical farming, but some of these farms are struggling to survive as land is expected to make way for redevelopment.

Ethos Books has launched a membership programme! Ethos Books has been around for 25 years, and have published fiction, non-fiction and poetry from Singapore and beyond. They’ll also be publishing my book — I finally sent off a revised manuscript this past week — and I can say firsthand that they are a wonderful publisher with a very supportive, nourishing team. I hope that Singaporeans can all step up to support one of our precious few publishers who create space for a diversity of perspectives and stories.(And no, they didn't ask me to publish this here this week either!)

Checking in on the neighbours

🇮🇩 Indonesia has passed a new criminal code that has activists, NGOs, journalists, etc. up in arms. The headline grabber is how it bans sex outside marriage, but there are lots of other troubling bits, such as outlawing insult to the president and expanding the blasphemy chapter.

🇲🇲 Seven students in Myanmar have been sentenced to death in a closed military tribunal. They are accused of involvement in killing a former military officer, and are among over 130 people who have been sentenced to death in the country since the military coup. The death penalty is just one more way for the military junta to spread fear and punish resistance in its ongoing war against the people of Myanmar.

Two scoops of ice cream, one Christmas pudding flavour and another spiced apple, in a tub with a wafer that says "Jannettas Gelateria", a famous place for gelato in St Andrews, Scotland.
It was cold but I still ate famous ice cream when I was in St Andrews a week ago. (If you're wondering, the flavours were spiced apple crumble and Christmas pudding.) Won't be doing that now because it's freezing and I can't feel my feet anymore.

Thank you for reading this week! As always, please help me spread the word about this newsletter by sharing it widely.