There’s smoke in the air as I’m writing this, and irregular explosions in the night sky can be seen from my window, all signals that the fasting month is drawing to a close.
Fireworks have always been a fixture of the many cultural celebrations in Malaysia, despite being banned by the government for almost a generation now. Yet getting your hands on some is a piece of cake, as any kid in school would know.
As a kid, it’s a great. Once a year (or more if you’re decidedly multicultural), you’re allowed to play with fire and make loud noises late into the night while your parents watch from behind you. Their dictates are law in all other times, but in these festive moments, the restrictions are lifted.
But eventually you grow older. The simple pleasures of seeing things scream and blow up into many colours in the air become less and less satisfying. No one tells you not to play with fire anymore. You keep a lighter in your pockets for moments that call for flames. Things have become normal.
We’re finally back after a two month hiatus and this marks the start of a new publishing regime for us.
Just to recap, we’ve moved from being a monthly magazine to one that publishes bi-monthly, or every two months.
There are a couple of reasons for this, as we’ve explained in the previous anniversary issue, but I think having more time gives us more room to dig deeper and find more new things to write about.
We had adapted too well to the previous schedule perhaps. Sure, there were new themes each month, but surely enough we had started developing our own shorthands and clichés that we leaned back to in every publication.
I won’t be as presumptuous as to say that things had become rote, but they did start to feel that little bit less exciting. We’d rather not be the case, for our sakes and yours, dear readers.
This new ISSUE is made doubly special by the participation of a group of Taylor’s University students who have written for us as part of an extra-curricular program they are undertaking as part of their studies. We’re joined by nine undergraduates from the university’s school of Communications who have contributed as part of their training program, which is jointly organised by Taylors University, University of Amsterdam and Lokaalmondiaal a non-profit media organisation from the Netherlands. We’d like to thank Dr Andrew Loo for suggesting the ISSUE-Taylors tie-up and introducing us to these young writers.
We’re not that far away from them in age, I would think, but definitely at different stages of life. It’s refreshing to observe the idealism and passion and rawness that’s still evident in their work; it’s such a throwback to days when our daily language wasn’t one of effective efficiency but just to express ourselves.
We hope that the students have found their experience collaborating with us useful and constructive. I have yet to see the final pieces from all of them as I type this, but from what is already available I’m confident that all these upstarts need to do at this point to be excellent storytellers, reporters, authors, is simply to keep at it.
As will we.
IN THIS ISSUE
Meditations and conversations on photography — from digital manipulation to a dedicated adherence to film and analog methods, from the art of self-portraits to the art of portraits and other people — and youth, in the form of photography as a way to record growth, as well as snapshots of children.
ISSUE: YOUTH boasts two featured photographers, Nina and Shaun, who aside from sharing their singular bodies of work have kindly consented to editor Syar S. Alia taking their photos and splicing them into the collages that accompany every post this edition.
- Self-Aim: On self-portraits and photography with Syahir Mohd Soffi
- Exploring the paths of growing up: an interview with photographer Nina Mouritzen
- Children on the street: photography by Shaun Tiong
Thoughtful essays and explorations by our younger collaborators from Taylor’s University — an experiment in matching two levels of youth, two levels of writing and editing experience and two levels of perspective to each piece. The essays range in topics discussed but often display the preoccupations of youth, both old and new. All essays by the Taylor’s University students are tagged as such and can be found all in one place here.
- Living art by Farahain Mutalib
- The only door I can knock on now by Hiba Mohamed
- To Understand by Jonathan Yap
- Illegal sport and roleplay gaining traction in Malaysia by Matthew Tong
- Give from your heart by Nadia Mdaw
- You are N.O.T by Pei Xuan
- Pak Ihmoh and Family by Shaun Teo
- Of Lost Boys, school rankings and education inequity by Trecia Tan
A smorgasbord of work — non-fiction, fiction and poetry — from some of ISSUE’s longest-standing voices, as well as emerging ones. A meditation on learning fear as you grow older, an exhortation of bitter, resentful, youthful pride, a tale of an identity and a friendship ravaged by the hardships of the world and a hark back to sticky sweet childhood days.
- Discovering vertigo by Syazwina Saw
- let the young (who know best) be heard by Syar S. Alia
- The magic factory where dreams are made by Haziq Hamid
- Paddle Pops and Sugus Sweets by Rowena Abdul Razak