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It's political to be apolitical

Issue 68

Hello from Sydney! I was at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s ASEAN Forum today, talking about—what else—POFMA and civil liberties in Singapore. (I’ll be sending out a written version of my presentation to Milo Peng Funders a little later this week as a “thank you” for your Milo Peng Funding!)

What is politics?

I’m starting off this issue with a link to a New Naratif comic that isn’t specific to Singapore, but very relevant and important for Singaporeans to read in any case. We’ve published the first of a series of comic political explainers: this one explains what politics is, and why being “apolitical” is also a very political choice. Please share this comic widely—it’s political education we all need.

(Pssst… if you use the coupon code “NNRocks10” you can get US$10 off a New Naratif membership!)

Election rumours

By this point you may have received WhatsApp messages claiming that the elections are going to be in September. I’ve certainly heard them from a few quarters, all of whom insist their sources are legit. Of course none of us have been able to verify this, and The Online Citizen says the Elections Department has said that the elections are not on 21 September as some rumours have claimed.

This is an infuriating time, because it gives me anxiety over whether or not to cancel any special travel/work plans. I find it unlikely that there will be any elections this year, but who knows? AAAAAARRRRRGHHHHH.

Talking about racism in Singapore

Preetipls and Subhas Nair have been given 24-month conditional warnings over their parody rap video. This means that they aren’t to “reoffend” in the next 24 months, or they’ll get charged. No such conditional warning for the team behind the brownface E-Pay ad, though, since the authorities say there’s no criminal offence there.

Speaking of Preetipls, take a look at this analysis of her work and her smart deployment of Chinese language skills.

HOME has come out with a statement on racism and how it affects migrant workers: “Often, we find that South Asian migrant workers are devalued because of their skin colour. Racial stereotypes, which are perpetuated by some employment agencies are also used to promote domestic workers to their prospective employers.”

Balli Kaur Jaswal also takes a look at how race riots are used as a bogeyman in Singapore, even though it’s high time we talked about prejudice. This makes it a brilliant time to listen to this old episode of PJ Thum’s History of Singapore podcast, where he argues that the roots of the riots in 1964 were political, not racial.

Time to do something about climate change

Some young activists are putting together a Singapore Climate Rally on 21 September, inspired by the work of Greta Thunberg. We don’t have big, visible, nation-wide discussions of climate change enough, so I look forward to seeing this come together!

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