Speech By Mr Yatiman Yusof on The Official Launch of Kartuniqu at the Malay Heritage Centre, Istana Kampong Gelam


Mr Sarkasi Said,

Mr Marah Hoessein Salim, General Manager of the Malay Heritage Foundation,

Members of Kartunis,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Cartoons and caricatures have existed since pre-historic days. Early cave drawings depicting every day life have since evolved into complex comic strip drawings. These days, these comic strips have become computer-generated images that are Hollywood box-office hits. Cartoons, like all art forms, provide an endless opportunity to express individual creativity and thoughts. They are also an effective vehicle for social commentary. One of our earliest cartoonist is a man known as Wak Ketuk. Wak Ketuk was a resident of Bussorah Street. His drawings almost never fail to elicit a laugh. They feature pot-bellied men, frivolous-looking women in skin-tight kebayas, etc. Yet, beneath this humour lies important social messages. Wak Ketuk's cartoons drew our attention to the subtle changes which took place within the Malay society as Western influence became stronger. His cartoons also poked fun at the Malay's lack of commercial drive and aversion to hard work.

Lat is another Malay cartoonist who has made a strong impact. His caricatures paint such a vivid picture of kampong life and its people, that they immediately struck a chord with many, many people.

The success of cartoonists like Lat and Wak Ketuk shows us that there is more to cartoon art than just a talent for drawing caricatures. The cartoonist is an astute observer of life and people, of social situations and trends. He has the ability to combine all these in a cartoon form that is both entertaining but carrying with it a strong social message. Needless to say, this takes considerable talent and understanding of the human mind. Whether used in advertisements, education, public campaigns or comic strips, cartoon art has the ability to influence the masses and send out strong social messages.

Both these Malay cartoonists have left big impressions in our hearts and minds. It is high time that we produce more cartoonists of their calibre. I am sure that we are not short of talent in this field.

Few people may be willing to pay a high price for a piece of cartoon art here in Singapore. But I believe that with the combined efforts of the organizations and passion of the cartoonists, we can educate people in the true value of cartoons as an art form. With awareness and appreciation, the value of this art form will be realized naturally.

I congratulate the artists from the group Kartunis and the Malay Heritage Centre for this effort. I hope you will be able to attract many visitors into contributing their cartoons on your long cartoon strip. I also hope that this event will spark a greater interest in cartoon art in Singapore.

I wish you success.

Thank you.

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