July 14, 2006
Where are the political cartoons today?
.... Mr Lim has met and interviewed about 10 other local political cartoonists and woodcut artists of the 1950s and 1960s, who used their pen - or chisel - to depict anti-colonial or anti-Japanese mood of their times.
Their influence on public opinion at the time can never be measured, but Mr Lim says: 'I want to give them a voice. They are important because they are also part of the Singapore story. But like many others, they are forgotten because history tends to focus on big men.'
This is his way of layering the Singapore story, says Mr Lim, who has been researching, and writing and presenting papers on post-war political cartoons and woodcut prints for the past six years.
Building on his master's thesis on political cartoons published in local Chinese-language newspapers from 1907 to 1980, he has gone on to become an authority on the cartoons and prints of the turbulent 1950s and 1960s.
And there are lessons to be drawn even from the small slice of the past he has captured through his own work, says Mr Lim.
He notes that in the 1950s and early 1960s, politicians such as Singapore's first chief minister David Marshall were caricatured in the press.
And a Straits Times cartoon dated June 6, 1959, shows the first Cabinet and People's Action Party's old guard, including Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Dr Goh Keng Swee and Mr S. Rajaratnam depicted as footballers standing in front of the goal posts, aiming for 'national language', 'equality' and 'stronger unions'.
Says Mr Lim: 'We don't really see that these days. But maybe it is okay to laugh at ourselves. We did that in the past.'
Where are all the political cartoons today? RJC history teacher Lim Cheng Tju may not know, but I do. They're in the blogosphere, of course. Examples are here, here and here.
Of course, you won't find them in the mainstream media. You've heard of the Bhavani Commandments, haven't you.
"Eh, Lim Cheng Tju. Remember - prison got no broadband."
Technorati: Singapore; Singapore history