Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who is on a working visit to California has received a comic which imagined his father as a political exile – a comic for which the National Arts Council (NAC) withdrew its grants from.
Sonny Liew the author the comic said that his sister who is involved in the tech-industry in San Francisco, gifted the Prime Minister the book.
Mr Lee’s first response on receiving the gift was “Oh I recognise that person”.
He probably recognised Lee Kuan Yew and not Charlie Chan Hock Chye, the author joked.
In his comic Sonny imagined a prosperous and peaceful Singapore which is led by a charismatic working-class hero Lim Chin Siong, while his political rival, Lee Kuan Yew, is living in exile and ignominy in Cambodia.
Perhaps the comic artist’s imagination of an alternative Singapore was too offensive for a country which was celebrating 50-years of independence led by Mr Lee Kuan Yew last year.
NAC pulled a grant of $8000 from the publisher because the comic’s content “potentially undermines the authority or legitimacy” of the Singapore Government, the government agency said.
Senior Director of NAC. Mr Khor Kok Wah, said that the Council decided to withdraw funding because “the retelling of Singapore’s history in the graphic novel potentially undermines the authority of legitimacy of the Government and its public institutions and thus breaches our funding guidelines, which are published online and are well known in the arts community.”
Upon NAC’s withdrawal of the grant the publisher of the book, Epigram Books, had to return to Council the partial disbursement of $6,400 it had received.
If you want to buy the book which was gifted to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, you may do so by clicking here: ‘ART OF CHARLIE CHAN HOCK CHYE’.