Cheeky Harry cartoon from Malaysia, 1983

Dear friends, given the recent hullabaloo over the arrest of a Singaporean cartoonist, and the fact that it’s Labour Day, I thought I might share a somewhat naughty cartoon that pokes fun of Lee Kuan Yew’s handling of workers (Pekerja), the opposition (Pembangkang), minority cultures (Kaum minoriti) and Chinese education (Pendidikan Cina).

This is the front cover of the Feb 1983 issue of a now defunct Malaysian bilingual monthly publication, Nadi Insan. This hangs on the “Press Freedom Wall” in Malaysiakini‘s KL office.

No disrespect to the old man; but I always find it interesting to see depictions of Malaysia and Singapore (and our leaders) by the other side.

Nadi Insan

I have so many questions about this cartoon: Did LKY do something particularly nasty in late 1982 to provoke this cover? What exactly does the caricature represent? It seems like he’s wearing a sumo outfit, but with the face and fangs of one of those scary Indonesian monsters. Comments, thoughts much appreciated. Continue reading “Cheeky Harry cartoon from Malaysia, 1983”

Goodbye full time, Hello freelance

Though I am not given to soppy, soul-searching posts, I suppose there are times when life cries out for them. Up till a year ago, I was fairly certain I was going to spend the majority of my working life at The Economist Group, and now I find myself on the verge of leaving my job for the unpredictable world of freelancing. Easter Sunday is my last day.

P1080673

Everybody has quibbles about their job; and life is no different here. Yet I think we have it better than most. Laissez faire culture; good work-life balance; stimulating environment for a writer; flat corporate structure; and lots of interesting work. (See my other post, “Our work at The Economist Group”.) Continue reading “Goodbye full time, Hello freelance”

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

A few months ago I finished thisSteve-Jobs-by-Walter-Isaacson-1 wonderful biography of Steve Jobs, who–along with Muhammad Ali–is, I reckon, the most inspirational figure in recent times. These are some of my favourite quotes from the book:

“The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it.  I think different religions are different doors to the same house.  Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don’t.  It’s the great mystery.” Continue reading “Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson”

Amanat: The right lessons from her legacy

As 2012 draws to a close, most Singaporeans’ heartsdelhi_protests_petals_295 are filled with sadness, not joy. All the triumphs and moments of elation this year—from our country’s first individual Olympic medal in more than 50 years to the broader Asian pride we feel every time somebody horses around to the Gangnam Style—have been rightly overshadowed by the shocking, abhorrent gang-rape of Amanat, the Indian lady who passed away in Singapore after having been flown here for medical treatment from Delhi, the scene of the crime. Continue reading “Amanat: The right lessons from her legacy”

The problem with the national conversation: information asymmetries

Dear friends, as long as there are significant information asymmetries in the government-citizen relationship, Singapore will never be able to have a completely fair and open national conversation. What information asymmetries exist? Simply, the government has all the data and information, and we, the people, are given only selective access to it. Whenever people talk about the “lack of information” or the need for a … Continue reading The problem with the national conversation: information asymmetries

The End of Identity?

Dear friends, what does it mean to be Singaporean? Can we even build a national identity when less than half of our total population was born here? I published an essay on IPS Commons today examining these issues. Please click here to read it. A shorter version is available on Yahoo! Please click here if you have less time 🙂 Would love to hear your … Continue reading The End of Identity?

Why I like Sticker Lady

By covering up banal pedestrian fixtures, Sticker Lady has exposed a divide. As soon as she was caught, some labelled her a vandal, lumping her with brats who seriously damage public property for no apparent reason. But that ignores both the impermanence of her work and the laughter her cheekiness provokes. Others try to vilify her by taking her art to its logical extreme, creating, … Continue reading Why I like Sticker Lady