Shaun Tan, Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Staff Writer

Shaun Tan is a Malaysian writer. He studied International Relations at Yale University and Law at King’s College London. His writing has appeared in The Caravan, Quartz, the Yale Daily News, The Politic, The Diplomat, and the Malay Mail. He’s guest lectured at Yale on Asian culture and creativity, and at the Kuala Lumpur and Perak Bar Councils on political philosophy. He enjoys reading, playing tennis, and talking about himself in the third-person.

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Curious about Shaun and want to ask him something? Keep an eye out for the next “Ask Me” session he hosts, or read his previous replies below.

August 2019

Do you think there’s any value in print magazines for an Asian demographic if you think those types of publications can only exist online since the mainstream media often doesn’t appeal to us? How do you think that might impact the publishing world?
– Priyanka, London


Depends what you mean by that. I don’t think there’s an inherent difference in value between print and digital; they’re just different mediums, some people prefer one over the other, and what’s important is what’s in the magazines.


There’s probably some room for print magazines for an Asian demographic, though how much room and what their impact might be would depend on the types of magazines. Of course, if you’re running a magazine like Rabbit Hole, which can appeal to people living in many different countries, it’s much easier for it to be online because that way you don’t need to get distribution networks and printing licenses in all the different countries (and since many of the governments in East Asia are authoritarian, they often make it hard for independent publications to get and keep printing licenses).


If you could magically, immediately gain mastery in three things, what would they be?
– Anonymous, Kuala Lumpur


  • Computer hacking – In a world so dependent on computers, being a master hacker opens so many possibilities. You could play pranks on people, screw up the lives of your enemies, take over the official websites of governments you don’t like and post up pictures of their leaders with clown faces – endless fun.
  • Chinese – Because I’m embarrassed I’m not better at it and it takes a huge amount of time and effort to master
  • Investing – Probably the closest thing to an infinite money hack


What’s one way you’ve changed in the last three years?
– Anonymous, Kuala Lumpur


I guess I’ve become more arrogant. I was arrogant to begin with, but in the past few years I’ve discovered that in many industries, in this part of the world anyway, professional incompetence tends to be the rule rather than the exception. So that didn’t help.


What’s one thing about you which has always remained the same, and you believe will stay that way for as long as you live?
– Anonymous, Kuala Lumpur


I’ve always hated bullies and admired courage. That’s unlikely to change.