Introducing ISSUE

I’ve just started swimming again recently, after nearly seven years of avoiding the pool. I used to swim in high school, and it became such a large part of that experience — and once I graduated from there, I wanted to shed every little piece of it. I’ve disposed of old hobbies, a bulk of my former friends and this has played a part in how I am sometimes perceived as a snob. I can honestly say, as ridiculous as it sounds, it was nothing personal — it was just that the five years I spent in boarding school were so thoroughly horrible and isolating, that I needed to commit to certain harsh decisions to properly detach myself.

To cease from swimming was one of those decisions, and it wasn’t a hard one. Despite being borderline obese and athletically challenged back then, I somehow found myself on the school swim team and the sport had developed a competitive feel I learned to despise. This has changed in recent weeks, I’ve started swimming early in the morning and it’s returned to what it used to be a long time ago for me — cleansing, therapeutic, a way for me to centre myself. It’s silly, some of the choices I’ve made to overcome some emotional boundary that has long lost its zing.

Other examples include: how I couldn’t say the word “divorce” for a long time after my parents split up years ago, and how I don’t drink nearly anything but bottled mineral water because my school years were marked by one soda or sweet drink after another. Pain manifests itself into conscious choices and these are things we lose, from decisions we claim to make but were really made for us.

At the start, this was what my friend Lutfi and I had planned to cover. A podcast of sorts, recording conversations that were open, honest but without the trite “motivational” or self-victimizing quality that is natural to occur in something like that. It was to be loosely based on a US-based podcast I love, called The Mental Illness Happy Hour. That show is hosted by a Paul Gilmartin, who brings on ordinary people who have dealt with things such as alcoholism, abuse, depression, varying forms and degrees of personal trauma. The episodes were lighthearted, a skillfully executed tragic-comedy of sorts and it was a good mix of information and entertainment.

I wanted us to try an imitate this, but our team of two (whose median age is a pathetic 25) knew we didn’t have the experience or expertise to dwell on such serious topics. So we took things down a notch, to approach it from a less frightening angle. We roped in another friend, Atiqah, and the three of us expanded it into a small arts collective. It is not run or owned by anyone of us, it’s instead a community pin board of sorts; a monthly collection of interesting perspectives, all tied to one unifying theme. A few of our friends came onboard — writers, artists, talented and passionate creatives — and they have added an immense value to what began as a little project.

However, we still kept to the idea that it was going to be a DIY zine that would inevitably fuck up a few things and we’d learn to iron them out as we churned out more issues. The first few ISSUEs could be somewhat inconsistent, as we’re all learning along the way — at its heart, the magazine will be about sharing writing, artwork and different points of view.

So what do we do?

We will try to publish a monthly ISSUE here on our blog, and the content will tie loosely to a selected issue; the next two will be #2 Self Discovery and #3 Comfort.

We really have no guidelines or limitations to what we want to include, and we’re ecstatic to welcome anyone who has ever wanted to share their stuff. You can choose to join our modest team as a regular or one-time contributor, with the medium you’re most comfortable to work with. Write, draw, sing, record. Join our Facebook community, contact us at to introduce your incredible self.

– Al-Zaquan

Contributors for #1

Logo and banner design by

Jun Kit


Kamarul Anwar

Ai Ming

Dhiyanah Hassan

Andrew Chan

Atiqah Mokthar

Lutfi Hakim




ASAM Canberra

Whatever your interest, no matter how weird or unattainable or far off it seems, it’s not. It’s completely possible and even likely if you just consistently work at it…You can make your own way. So just because you move to some city and there’s not a job, make that job or find it or get a bunch of friends together and make something and do it.

— Comedian/writer Eugene Mirman in commencement speech for Hampshire College

Feature image by Assumpta on Flickr

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