Tuesday, April 27, 2010

'Indonesian Holiday'

26 August 1946, Monday.


Anonymous said...

Miles Lampton, Lord Killearn, was a British diplomat sent to Singapore in early 1946 as Special Commissioner to deal with regional problems, not the least the rice shortage and rationing which was deeply unpopular. Kwan satirises him fleeing protests at the cut in the ration in Singapore play a different role as mediator in the struggle between the new Indonesian republic and the Dutch.

At a time when many people were visibly undernourished, Lampton cut an incongruous figure, being 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighing in at 18 stone.

cheng tju said...

To me, this is a collaborative project and it's heartening to have responses so fast. Knowledge building indeed.

Kevin Blackburn wrote:

"Interesting how Kwan draws Lord Killearn, the Special Commissioner for South East Asia. Killearn was solid and well built but not fat. He is depicted here like the bloated capitalists of the left wing cartoonists. Killearn is so unrecognisable that Kwan has to put ‘special commissioner’ on his brief case so the audience know who he is. This is the time in August-September 1946 when Killearn went off to Java, Thailand, and Indochina to try and secure more rice supplies for Malaya, which had just cut the rice ration.

From having to read the early postwar press a lot for working on the Japanese Occupation, cartoons even in the English press are very scathing of the British colonial administration at this time. It must be the impatience with the postwar shortages and problems.

There were cartoons from the Malaya Tribune’s editions that marked the first anniversary of the Japanese surrender in September 1946. They compare the British colonial administration to the Japanese in terms of the lack of food, corruption and suppression of dissent, and ask, what has changed? They ran these cartoons with similar stories for the whole month. The Malaya Tribune was an anti-colonialist newspaper owned by the Malayan nationalist Tan Cheng Lock. Those cartoons are not a surprise in that context. Kwan is cartooning for a different paper, and he is not as scathing."

Loh Kah Seng sent me a cartoon by the famed Malayan Tribune cartoonist, Yan Kee Leong from 1945 about the rampant black market in Singapore then. This problem would persist till 1946 and Kwan drew a cartoon about this as well. Akan datang.

Lai Chee Kien said that there's painting of or by Kwan in the NUS Museum art collection. Will try to suss that out.


Sherry Wong said...

Dear Mr Lim,

My name is Sherry Wong, and I am a researcher for a local production house.
I have dropped you an email at: lim_cheng_tju@schools.gov.sg, I hope I got it right!

I hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you,
Sherry Wong
Contact: +6596320105