Along the way, things happened and we discovered that there was plenty to say about local news and socio-cultural issues. We broke some viral stories, made some people really angry, and talked about things no one even wanted to go near.
In the process, we did a bunch of reckless and sometimes questionable things:
It made sense at the time. We were looking for a way to add to the debate around whether parents should cane their children, and one of our colleagues mentioned he had never been caned in his life.
So we thought: why not cane him and let him decide?
This yielded little in the way of insightful commentary, and wasn’t our proudest moment as a publication. But we had fun, and sometimes, that’s all that matters.
2. We pranked the Straits Times Forum.
What is the ST Forum? Basically, the very definition of moral panic.
To prove that anyone could get anything published there, we wrote a couple of our own, not thinking it would actually work. But it did. And I think we made our point.
3. We spent a night in the crappiest hotel room in Singapore.
It would be sensational. It would be dank. We would showcase the grittiest bits of Singapore that many might live their entire lives having never encountered.
Was it worth it? I’m not sure—just ask the writer who covered the story. He still has nightmares about bed bugs.
4. We talked about sexual harassment and assault.
To some Singaporeans, sexual assault is apparently still confusing. And trying to understand the female perspective is still a surefire way to attract victim-blaming backlash from ignorant, privileged, and insecure folks.
Have we moved the needle on #metoo? Let us know.
5. We poured cold water on popular assumptions about inequality.
When the condensed, 6 minute clip of Channel NewsAsia’s Regardless of Class went viral, no one questioned its authenticity. After all, most were more than happy to go along with the veiled accusations of elitism and snobbery.
How dare we do something so misguided, like question mainstream narratives!
6. We criticised those who criticise mainstream narratives.
And then as though this wasn’t enough, we talked about Minister Chan Chun Sing. More specifically, we attempted to deconstruct the reasons behind why people seem to dislike him so much.
It’s still baffling.
I know, I know. Some people see us as a serious publication, so why would we write about some Lang Leav wannabe?
Because there are always two sides to everything, and you can’t have the good without accepting the bad. By embracing social media and all its apparent benefits, we have to also accept this thing we call ‘influencer marketing’, along with all its superficial aspects.
To date, we haven’t yet found a way to address this in a way that’s both critical and productive. But we’re going to keep trying.
8. We sent our most awkward colleague clubbing.
Did we do this for the lols? Yes, of course we did. And it was amazing.
9. We compelled a Christian pastor to lodge a police report against us.
Whether or not you’ve actually done anything wrong, a police report is a police report. Especially in Singapore, it can be pretty terrifying; enough to make us question if what we do as a publication is even worth it.
10. We wrote an entire story about supermarkets.
Yes, supermarkets. As it turns out, what felt silly to be talking about at the time turned out to be an actual, universal phenomenon.
What a time to be alive.
11. We wrote this dumb list about how to know your SES.
I’m not sure what to say about this, but you can check it out here.
Is it still funny? Relatable? Too real? Let us know.
12. Not actually a story but … we started a humour site.
And finally, because understanding our culture often involves learning how to laugh at ourselves, we created a completely new home for the satire we sometimes publish.
It’s called RoJaK, and you can look forward to more great shit from it in 2019.
Now, more than ever, we are aware that it’s not enough to be ‘alternative’. Instead, it’s about being able to deliver the smartest, most critical insights. Even if this means questioning our beliefs, and doing things we aren’t always comfortable with.
And to everyone who’s read us passionately, diligently, and resentfully over the past year, thank you for making it possible for us to do what we do.
We are truly nothing without our readers, who are why we get to grow, evolve, and keep doing work that matters. Here’s to an even better 2019.