- 2002年9月19日 (14:00 - 16:00)
- 福冈阿库罗斯 (Symphony Hall)
由张艺谋 先生/女士 主讲的市民论坛
- 2002年9月20日 (18:00 - 20:00)
The forum, led by Mr. Sato, a long time acquaintance of Mr. Zhang was carried out in a friendly atmosphere. Mr. Zhang spoke about various episodes concerning his entry into and graduation from the Beijing Film Academy, the enthusiasm of the students toward film following the Cultural Revolution, his feelings when he was posted to a local film studio against his will, and his frame of mind during the time he was an actor.
Regarding his works, he said that his determination to "create something diffrent to others" is evident in his early works and admitted that his own message is included in Red Sorghum, the first film he directed. In respect to a valuation that he is always creating films with new styles, Mr. Zhang said that challenging new things empowered him. There was great applause of anticipation from the audience when Mr. Zhang introduced his latest film Hero, mentioning that he has great confidence in this work, his first action film.
In closing, Mr. Zhang who visited Fukuoka for the first time spoke of his good impression of the City, and sent a message to the citizens of Fukuoka to be proud of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes which is a meaningful project focusing on Asia.
由穆托姆尼•德•西尔瓦 先生/女士 主讲的市民论坛
- 斯里兰卡, 从停战到永远的和平
- 2002年9月22日 (12:30 - 15:00)
This forum coincided with the first set of preliminary peace - talks between representatives of the Government of Sri Lanka and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Professor de Silva explained, in his keynote speech, the details of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka which has been continuing for more than 20 years and the details of the past two peace consultations which ended with breakdowns. He also explained what is important in order to proceed cease - fire to stable peace. Following, Professor Imagawa gave a talk on conflict and peace in Cambodia which has much in common with Sri Lanka, explaining features of the conflict, peace - making process and reasons behind its success.
This brief talk here in Fukuoka coincides with the first set of preliminary peace-talks between representatives of the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) now being held in at the naval base of Sattahip, 260km southeast of Bangkok in Thailand. In historical perspective these are the third set of peace-talks between the two sides since 1989-90. We will deal with the two sets of previous talks later on.
In a recent book on peacemaking in various troubled parts of the world, John Darby, a scholar from Northern Ireland, described the peace process in Northern Ireland and the Arab-Israeli conflict to name just two, as exercises in mountain-climbing. It is a matter of climbing a range of mountains rather than climbing just one mountain. The peace negotiations in Sattahip, Thailand are part of what could only be a long drawn out process. The negotiations are now at the foothills and a formidable range of mountains lie ahead. When you have got over the foothills, you begin the arduous climb to the mountains. When you have begun the climb over the mountains, there is always the prospect that once you get through and over one range of mountains, yet another range will lie ahead.
Over the last two decades of the 20th century, Sri Lanka has been one of the most prominent trouble spots of South and South East Asia. Throughout this period its deep-rooted and increasingly violent ethnic conflict has eluded settlement. Earlier phases of this conflict, much less violent than its current form, also involved negotiations over a settlement. These negotiations too were generally unsuccessful.
They were of two types: first of all, locally among the principals in the dispute, between successive governments of Sri Lanka, and Tamil political parties; and secondly, and perhaps more important, mediation by a regional power, India. The first category of negotiations, i.e. locally among the disputants, has had several forms, beginning in the early stages with discussions and negotiations between the Sri Lankan government, and/or opposition parties seeking power, with the principal Tamil party whose representatives could be described as politically moderate. Such discussions were held in 1956-57, 1960 and 1964-65. While these generally failed, the next set of negotiations did achieve a measure of success. This was in 1979-80.
With the anti-Tamil riots and disturbances of 1983, there was both a qualitative change in the negotiations and the demands made by Tamil representatives, and the emergence of an external factor, Indian mediation, which dominated the processes of negotiations till 1990. The Indian mediation eventually made the search for a settlement more difficult than it had been before the mediation began in earnest.
The Indian mediation in Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict which began in the early 1980s and lasted eight years provides a classic study in the perils involved when a regional power seeks to negotiate and impose a settlement in an ethnic conflict in a neighbouring state. That intervention, essentially coercive and with ambiguous and eventually contradictory objectives, failed in almost all of its aims. Entering the dispute as a mediator with the avowed objective of protecting the interests of Sri Lanka's Tamil minority, the Indian army which eventually was about 100,000 strong, fought the principal representatives of Tamil separatism-the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam-on Sri Lankan soil, a unique example of an external mediator's transformation into a combatant. The failure of this enterprise aggravated the island's ethnic conflict, far from resolving it. For one thing, it left successive Sri Lankan governments from 1990 to 2001 first negotiating with the most violent and intransigent of the Tamil separatist groups, and then continuing a military struggle once the negotiations failed. Similarly, the traditionally powerful Tamil political parties had been pushed out by militant separatist groups who had entered the bargaining process on their own after 1984 or were accommodated under Indian auspices. The Sri Lankan situation provides insights into the difficulties faced by democratically elected governments in dealing with a separatist movement captured by the most violent group within it, a group which has systematically marginalised its rivals and driven the traditional democratic forces among the Tamils to the periphery of the political system. In the process it has killed the most prominent leaders of the principal group of moderate politicians, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) between 1990 and 1999.
By 1986 the LTTE had secured the position of primacy among the Tamil separatist groups. Through a ruthless resort to force, the LTTE had eliminated virtually all their rivals among such groups, and had sent its mentor, the TULF, to the periphery of Tamil politics. From 1986 onwards the LTTE was a powerful influence in the negotiating processes whether in India, or in Sri Lanka (1986-87) and after the failure of the Indian intervention it became the principal if not sole representative of the Tamils in direct negotiations with the Sri Lanka government in 1989-90, and again in 1995. Between 1991 and 1993 there was a third set of discussions between the government, the principal opposition party, and Tamil parties represented in parliament. These took the form of a parliamentary select committee. The LTTE, not represented in parliament, was not party to the discussions, but its views could not be ignored either by the government and principal opposition party or the Tamil groups in parliament.
We need to return, at this point, to the Indian intervention in Sri Lanka which occurred in the early 1980s and continued till 1990 when the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was withdrawn. The Indo-Sri Lankan Accord signed in July 1987 between the government of India-by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi-and the government of Sri Lanka-by President J R Jayewardene, the centrepiece of India's mediatory role proved to be a self-defeating exercise; indeed one could call it a pronounced failure if not an unmitigated disaster. Even as a failure it has unfortunately set part of the agenda for negotiations between Sri Lanka government, and the LTTE in a future, whether it was in 1989-90 or 1994-95, or currently. By a process of diplomatic arm twisting the Indian government compelled the Sri Lanka government to create a Tamil-dominated North-Eastern Province, by the amalgamation of the Northern and Eastern provinces, two of the nine administrative units created by the British between 1833 and 1889. The creation of the North-Eastern Province did not solve any problem; it only created new problems for which the negotiators now at work in Thailand will have to find a solution or solutions.
There have been two previous sets of negotiations between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. The first was in 1989-90 under President Premadasa when there was a common commitment between the two parties, the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE, to expedite the departure of the Indian Peace-Keeping force. The President himself was involved in the negotiations, along with some cabinet ministers and senior officials. The talks lasted for 14 months before they collapsed in June 1990 and there was a renewal of the conflict between the two parties. Throughout these 14 months there was no discussion on the main issues, merely a concentration on peripheral matters. The LTTE was the principal beneficiary, because it gained time to rebuild its forces, and actually persuaded the Premadasa government to provide funds and military equipment for its struggle with the IPKF.
The second set of negotiations took place between October 1994 and April 1995. These were even less professional than the negotiations under President Premadasa. It is the general practice that negotiations with separatist groups take place either in the capital city of the country, or outside the country, never in the administrative headquarters of the separatists and in the region they controlled. The talks took place in Jaffna then under the control of the LTTE. The Sri Lanka delegations to the talks did not have a single senior politician; apart from one senior official with considerable administrative experience, the rest were a motley collection of close associates of President Kumaratunga including the newly appointed secretary to the president-a man with no previous experience of administration-and individuals like her accountant, an architect, a university academic and the Anglican Bishop of Colombo.
It is perhaps too early to draw a comparison between the organisation of the talks on this present occasion, and that of the two previous sets of talks in 1989-90, and 1994-95. The organisation on this occasion seems to be more professional, beginning with facilitation by the Norwegian government; and the creation of a peace secretariat manned by three officials, two of whom are senior Sri Lankan diplomats, and the third a diplomat recently retired. The delegation to the first of the preliminary talks is led by two senior cabinet ministers. Whether this greater professionalism will yield more positive results than the efforts of the two previous occasions is still to be seen, but it is important to emphasise this present commitment to professionalism.
The talks will continue against a background that is quite unlike those of 1989-90 and 1994-95 because international opinion is much more hostile to the LTTE today. The hostility to the LTTE comes first of all from India, and flows directly from anger at the LTTE's conflict with the IPKF, and from the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. There was very little international concern when the LTTE assassinated President Premadasa in May 1993. There was some concern at the attempted assassination of President Kumaratunga in 1999. Today, in the context of what happened in New York and Washington on 11 September 2001 there is less or little international sympathy for organisations like the LTTE. Thus the pressure on the LTTE from the US and from India, currently is too great for LTTE to ignore.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has systematically built up international support for the Sri Lanka peace process by diplomatic action: in the US, in India and in Europe in the construction of what may be termed a diplomatic safety-net, something that was never thought of in 1989-90, and in 1994-95.
There is a lot of confusion in the minds of people about the Interim Council that forms a core principle of the current peace process. Few people remember that it is a revival of a mechanism thought of by the Indians under Rajiv Gandhi in 1987 at the time when the Provincial Council system was introduced to Sri Lanka or, to put it differently, it is a by-product of the hard bargaining between the Indian and Sri Lankan governments in 1987. The Provincial Councils introduced in 1987-88 were controversial enough on their own, but the creation of a single council for the Northern and Eastern provinces made them all the more controversial. The Northern Province has an overwhelming majority of Tamils, but in the Eastern Province the Tamils are a minority of about 35%. Neither the Muslims who are 40% nor the Sinhalese who are around 25% want a linkage between the two provinces. The concept of a North-East or North Eastern Council was an Indian imposition on behalf of the Tamils of Sri Lanka. The then Sri Lanka government accepted it in 1987 on condition that there would be a referendum in the Eastern Province on whether the citizens of that province would have a linkage with the Northern Province. Such a referendum has never been held. In any event relations between the Tamils and Muslims in the North-East have been severely strained since the early 1980s; in August 1990 came the butchery of nearly 300 Muslims in the Eastern Province by the LTTE in two murderous episodes, and in the latter part of October 1990, came the mass expulsion of the Muslims in the Northern Province by the LTTE, the only incident of ethnic cleansing in Sri Lanka during its two decades of trouble.
The attempt to establish such an Interim Council failed in 1987-88 not because of any concerted opposition from the Sinhalese and Muslims but because of the outbreak of war between the Indian Peace Keeping Force and the LTTE. Thereafter there was no talk of such a council subsequently till President Chandrika Kumaratunga stated in an interview with Time magazine in 1998 that she had offered the LTTE an Interim Council for the North-East, a council which the LTTE could run for 10 years. There was to be no election for such a council. This offer was part of a process of secret diplomacy, and all we could say with certainly is that the LTTE refused the offer.
The present Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe took up the idea of an Interim Council, and used the 1987-88 set up-which had failed at that time-as a model. What he has had in mind is a North-East council as a means of getting the LTTE into mainstream politics. If the 1987-88 system were to operate it would mean that the LTTE would have a majority of 7 out of 12 members the others being representatives of Muslims and Sinhalese, and non-LTTE Tamils. The Chief Minister would be a LTTE man, and the LTTE would also have a say in the appointment of the secretary of the council. Such a council would last for two years at most, during which the LTTE would have to cope with the problems of running a part of the country seriously affected by a prolonged conflict. The LTTE have been very successful as guerrilla fighters, but they have never had any experience as administrators.
While the concept of an interim administration has been spoken of, the outlines of such a council have yet to be settled. The structures and powers of such a council would come up for discussion with the LTTE in the present and forthcoming peace negotiations and any decision reached would have to be laid before parliament for debate and approval.
Fifteen years ago the Indians pressed for the establishment of such an Interim Council, a move that was meant to benefit the LTTE. Now the Indians are out of the picture, and the controversial decisions on the structure and powers of such a council have to be settled through negotiation between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. It will be one of the key issues that will come up at the talks at Sattahip in Thailand.
In their attempts to understand what the LTTE leadership wants, politicians and political analysts have been coming to terms with Prabhakaran's three-hour interview of 10 April. This was his first press interview for over 10 years, and the first time most people have seen him on TV. Local and foreign journalists who flocked to the LTTE's headquarters for the interview were agreed that he and the LTTE ideologue Balasingham had fared badly in the interview; indeed, the much touted press interview was something close to a disaster for Prabhakaran. Dressed in a safari suit rather than his usual fatigues, he did not look like the feared political and military leader he is. Apart from being plump and looking middle aged there was no eloquence in him.
The LTTE's objectives as spelled out by him through his mouthpiece Balasingham, were a re-iteration of demands made since the mid-1980s. Nothing very much had changed since then-a separate state or, in the alternative, a very high degree of autonomy for a Tamil controlled region in the north and east of the island. It is too much to expect changed perspectives in the very initial stages of what looks like being a long set of negotiations. Changes are likely to come later on through negotiations and in response to the new international situation. The US embassy has already made it clear that a separate state for the Tamils is not on the cards, and that the LTTE would have to accept that fact. The Indian government is even more unsympathetic to the LTTE than the US.
Some of the key western journalists present at this interview came out strongly against the LTTE, and the LTTE leader. Thus the Time magazine in its issue of 22 April described the LTTE as a neo-fascist organisation and the LTTE leader as nothing more than a military leader unused to any form of democratic rule. The Times in London was just as critical, as was the Economist which described him as a Nazi-type leader.
The Indian press was even more vehement in their criticisms whether one looks at the Indian Express, or the Hindu. At the Prabhakaran interview, Indian journalists raised the question of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination expecting some sort of carefully worded apology. That apology did not come. As a result the Indian journalists were as hostile to Prabhakaran and the LTTE as their western counterparts.
Indian anger at Prabhakaran's failure to make any sort of apology does not bode well for the LTTE leader. Demands were made for the extradition of Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman, the two co-accused in the Rajiv Gandhi murder trial who continued to elude Indian detectives; indeed some political groups urged that if the Sri Lanka government was unable to help in the extradition, the Indian army should be sent to capture them. This is not likely to happen, but the threat itself limits Prabhakaran's and the LTTE's room for movement. Neither of these two co-accused will ever dare leave Sri Lankan soil. Even more ominous for him was the fact that the Tamil Nadu chief minister, Jayalalitha, moved a resolution in the Tamil Nadu assembly calling for the extradition of Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman to India to stand trial for the murder of Rajiv Gandhi, and the resolution was carried by a large majority in that assembly. The Tamil Nadu initiative is almost as important as Sonia Gandhi's call for Prabhakaran's extradition to India. Sonia Gandhi, the widow of Rajiv Gandhi is currently the leader of the Indian National Congress, and potentially a future Prime Minister of India.
The fact of the matter is that in what was Prabhakaran's first public appearance before foreign journalists since the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, he had failed to understand the depth of hostility to him in India on this. Naturally, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe was the principal beneficiary of these developments, and they are likely to strengthen his hand in the negotiations ahead-negotiations that have begun in Thailand.
The first phase in the peace process was of course the ceasefire that was in effect since the current Sri Lanka government came to power after the parliamentary election of 5 December 2001. The ceasefire was consolidated through the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the government of Sri Lanka with LTTE in February 2002. The assumption was that the two parties would adhere to the agreement, and that talks would commence on or before 2 August 2002. It became clear for some weeks before August that the talks would not commence on or before 2 August. Both sides were still committed to the MOU and treated the "deadline" of 2 August as flexible. Once the date of the commencement of the talks was announced-i.e., 16-18 September-the government declared that it would lift the official ban on the LTTE which has prevailed since January 1998, a condition the LTTE insists upon as a prelude to the talks. The ban is scheduled for removal by 6 September.
There are at least three views on why the LTTE delayed fixing a mutually acceptable date or dates for the commencement of talks. Some analysts believe that they were not ready for talks because they were unable to secure a team of experts on legal structures and constitutions and on the economics of reconstruction, considered essential for the negotiations. Second, they were still hoping that either the Sri Lanka government or the international aid agencies could be persuaded to provide financial assistance for the LTTE to meet some of the costs of running the area they now control. The Sri Lanka government would not be tempted to issue a statement on this issue; this responsibility would only be accepted after a settlement on all substantial issues is reached, not before that happens. The international and other agencies are wary about stepping in themselves.
The third factor is that there are divisions within the LTTE. Among these divisions are rivalries and suspicions between Tamils in the north of the country and the Tamils in the east. The general assumption was that the LTTE was a tightly knit, cohesive organization under the complete control of the leader. There is increasing evidence that the LTTE is not as cohesive as it was, and that leader's views and policies are not adhered to in all parts of the territory controlled by the LTTE as they were in the past.
To these reasons a fourth, and fifth must be added: the Sri Lanka government's insistence on democratisation of the area to come under the LTTE dominated interim administration, and that Minister Rauff Hakeem, the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, with its political base in the Eastern Province, be involved in the negotiating process, either as part of the government team or as an independent figure.
The LTTE is wary of the democratisation issue. A democratic structure is something new for a separatist/terrorist organisation, and it would mean that the LTTE would not be able to dominate the North-East as they had expected to. Apart from the Muslims, in the north and east of the island, there is the issue of the anti-LTTE dissident groups among the Tamils. Whatever difficulties the LTTE makes on the democracy issue, international opinion would make it necessary for them to accept its validity. Besides they cannot avoid dealing with Rauff Hakeem's Sri Lanka Muslim Congress in a situation where there are already serious difficulties between the Muslims and the Tamils in the Eastern Province after the signing of the MOU. Thus the Interim Administration issue is not a mere foothill in the peace process; it is a mountain to be climbed; it could even be part of a range of mountains. In that range of mountains is the most formidable one, the devolutionary process. This is not merely the extent of power to be devolved, but whole issue of the North-Eastern Province as it now stands, and the fate of its multi-ethnic, multi-religious eastern segments. Will it continue to be linked to the Northern Province, or will there be a referendum in the Eastern Province, to give the people there a choice in the matter.
The first set of peace-talks between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE would have been completed by now. It is expected that over the next six months the two sides would meet once every three weeks or so. The two parties appear to have agreed that reconstruction and rehabilitation should proceed parallel to the negotiations. Western and Japanese funding agencies have accepted this, but all of them have expressed the view that their commitment to the reconstruction and rehabilitation process would nevertheless be dependent on the progress made at the peace-talks.
War damage in those parts of the Jaffna peninsula now under the control of the Sri Lanka government, and in the areas held by the LTTE has been severe. It would take many years before that damage is repaired. But is important to remember that the LTTE controlled areas form part of the Vanni, historically one of the most backward parts of the country. It was so in British times; and it is so today. Reconstruction and rehabilitation are therefore formidable undertakings from which not much could be expected save in the long run-perhaps a very long run. One should not build too many hopes of quick success. Indeed the whole of the Jaffna peninsula, the heartland of Sri Lanka's Tamil population, does not have the capacity to support its population. Its economic resources are too limited for that; throughout the period of British rule it has exported its surplus population to the Sinhalese areas of the island; from about 1865 to 1920, it exported part of its surplus labour of technically qualified people to the Malay states then under British rule. While the Tamil diaspora of the present day could be treated as a product of the war and violence in the Tamil areas, the fact is that the search for security was always combined with the quest for employment.
Just as important as this issue of reconstruction, rehabilitation and employment, in this process of moving from ceasefire to sustainable peace is the question of transforming a separatist force, with a terrorist core, into a civilian force. The LTTE, lest us not forget, is one of the most feared separatist groups in South and Southeast Asia. Because of its record of violence, resort to terrorism, and its record of political assassinations of its opponents, it has been identified as a terrorist organisation in the US, in India, and in Britain. Even in Canada which has been more sympathetic to the LTTE and the Tamil diaspora than other countries, there is more prudence now in this regard, and much greater caution. The conversion of the LTTE to a civilian force will be a major undertaking and one in which the travails of the Sri Lankan political system will need careful management. It will need the sympathetic understanding of the international community.
Twice before, in 1989-90 and in 1994-95 talks with the LTTE broke down, and there was a renewal of war. Would there be a third such break down, and yet another renewal of war? Or would a combination of skilled diplomacy in the peace negotiations with the international safety net the Prime Minister has endeavoured to construct prevent a break down? There is room for cautious optimism in this regard, and for the establishment of a sustainable peace but no more than cautious optimism.
由安东尼•雷德 先生/女士 主讲的市民论坛
- 交易的时代的人们--从吃饭, 结婚, 玩耍开始--
- 2002年9月20日 (14:00 - 16:30)
In his keynote speech, Prefessor Reid discussed the cultural and religious scenes in Southeast Asia during "the Age of Commerce" and the changes that took place along with the decline of the commerce in the area following that time period. He claimed that these changes resulted from simultaneous globalization and localization. He then introduced come criticisms that he had received on his works and offered counterarguments to further clarify his own theory.
We live in an age that appears to be dominated by the conflict between global pressures and local reactions. Already six years before the World Trade Center bombing and the “war on terrorism”, Benjamin Barber had popularised this dichotomy as Jihad versus McWorld, the struggle between economic globalisation and the varied reactions against it. *1 Of course the jihad or nativist sides of this equation, which must include not just Al-qaedah but the popular burning of McDonalds in France, the anti-WTO ‘battle in Seattle’, or the ‘fourth world’ movements of indigenous peoples, are themselves thoroughly globalised in the way they organise, publicise, and respond to the media. Many have seen the two rival phenomena as so thoroughly intertwined with each other that we need a word like ‘glocalisation’, combining global and local, to really express what is going on.
Our age is particularly obsessed with the conflict between global and local, cosmopolitanism and nationalism, outer and inner, because it strikes at the heart of us all. Nobody is immune from the rival pulls of being up with the international trends and of struggling to retain our own identity. The title of a recent booklet by Indian politician Jairam Ramesh, Yankee go home—but take me with you,*2 well expresses the ambivalence of attraction and outrage which many feel.
Even if it is particularly acute in our age, this tension between global and local has a long history, as Japanese are the first to understand. Probably no country has been as conscious through its history as Japan of the dangers of isolation on the one hand and of losing one’s identity on the other. Japanese history can be read, and no doubt has been, as a constant struggle between the passionate desire to borrow and innovate, and the equally passionate conviction that survival requires barriers against the foreign.
My own field of Southeast Asian history offers few examples of borrowing as systematic and effective as marked the Meiji and McArthur eras, and none of a sakoku as purposeful as that of the Tokugawa. Southeast Asia is much too diverse to have ever had a single purposeful policy, and most states within it were so exposed to global trade patterns, and even dependent on them for their strength, that they could never pursue a consistent policy of isolation. Nevertheless I believe there is a rhythm to Southeast Asian history which can also be read as interplay between globalisation and localisation. I propose to use this theme today as an introduction to some of my own work, and the reactions to it on the part of others.
*1:Benjamin Barber, Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism are reshaping the World (New York: Ballantyne, 1995), p.6.
*2:Jairam Ramesh, Yankee go home—but take me with you (New York: Asia Society).
由拉特 先生/女士 主讲的市民论坛
- 2002年9月22日 (15:30 - 17:30)
- IMS Hall
In his Lecture "Meeting with Mr. lat", Mr. Sato Sampei spoke about his surprise and impressions when invited to attend an event in Malaysia lead by Mr. Lat 1990 for which cartoonists from all over the world gathered. He aloso spoke about Mr. Lat's personality and character.
Konnichiwa, I am very happy to be here in Fukuoka. My topic today is “Sketching Asia’s Yesterday and Today”; in other words, I would like to talk about the passage of time. Bob Dylan once wrote in a song “Time is like a jet plane. It moves too fast.” I always tell children and young people that, “time passes before you know it, so if you have a dream you need to act on it.”
I have been drawing comics for a long time now. A publisher in Penang published my first comic book when I was thirteen years old. Later I will show some of my drawings to you. But first I would like to talk about Mr. Sato Sampei.
My first trip to Japan was in 1981 when I was thirty years old. It is often said that first impressions are very important and can be very strong. My case was no exception; I found this place and these people very strange. In restaurants, for example, the waiters and waitresses constantly ran around helping the customers. In Malaysia, on the other hand, service is very slow. And you are often very lucky to even see a waiter. I believe this is because the pace of life in Malaysia is measurably slower than some of the places that I have been to, for example America, Europe, India, and Japan.
I first met Mr. Sato Sampei in 1984 during my second visit to Japan. We met at a conference in Hiroshima. I was also fortunate to meet many other great cartoonists such as Osamu Tezuka, Noboru Baba, and others from the Philippines, South Korea, China, and Thailand who were attending the conference as well. We developed a relationship that would last for a long time. In 1990, invited by the Malaysian government, Mr. Sato Sampei and many other foreign cartoonists came to Malaysia to attend a gathering that I had helped to organize. It was called the “International Cartoonists Gathering 1990” in conjunction with “Visit Malaysia Year”.
I would like to show you a drawing I did of that visit. This drawing shows a group of visiting artists from various countries, and that is me out in front. I was young then and had plenty of hair. This is Mr. Sato Sampei. They had a very good time traveling around in a group and learning about Malaysia. But I must say that cartoonists, especially a group of cartoonists like that one, are not always easy to handle. They are not like a group of tourists because each person is an individual, and each person is an artist. Artists are a different kind of person; they can be very temperamental. To tell the truth, I have never actually met a cartoonist who was nice. Because I, on the other hand, am so easy going, I might be the only nice cartoonist. Almost all cartoonists are grumpy - always complaining and always asking questions. For example, when we were standing in front of a four hundred year old building, one of the cartoonists said, “I want to go back to the hotel. I don’t feel like looking at this building.” I think the reason for their grumpiness results from the fact that they always work up to the last minute.
I found out from Mr. Sato Sampei that he worked at home and drew for the Asahi Shimbun. Everyday he would work on the cartoon for the following day’s paper. The cartoon would be delivered to the company by a dispatch rider that would arrive by motorcycle at Sampei’s home in the afternoon. Typically by the time Mr. Sato Sampei heard the motorcycle coming, he would not have anything drawn. At such moments, a cartoonist’s expression is very sour because they are desperately thinking of what to draw. Whenever I have a sour facial expression in the afternoon, my family knows that I am thinking about what to draw for tomorrow. I also found out from Mr. Sato Sampei that most of the cartoonists in Japan worked freelance. That is when I decided to become a freelancer as well. In 1974, I left the newspaper that I was working at and began working on my own as a free-lance cartoonist. In a way, I copied the work style of a Japanese cartoonist.
This is the cover of a book called “Kampung Boy.” I finished this book in 1993; it tells about the kampung – village – that I came from. I had lived in Kuala Lumpur – a place totally different from the kampung – and I wanted to tell the young Malaysians and my own children about our origins – where my parents came from, what sort of background we had, who our parents and grandparents were, and what kind of houses they lived in. When I was small and living in the village, there was plenty of space. But now, living in Kuala Lumpur, it is very different. People in Kuala Lumpur all gather together in very crowded houses. The house that I grew up in was made of wood, surrounded by trees, and built on stilts. Here is a picture of the kitchen where I spent a lot of my time. The kitchen was built on the ground level and used firewood. We also used to draw water from a well. My children do not understand what using a well is like; they simply say, “It’s just like in old movies.”
I also talk about the traditions and customs of Malaysia in this book. This is the Bersunat, a Malay circumcision ceremony. When boys reach the ages of eight or nine, they have to undergo circumcision, which is a minor surgery, done in a traditional way. I myself went through this. Before the operation, I had to go to the river, remove my clothes, and take a dip. The whole village followed me while beating on drums and singing religious songs. And you know what happens when you submerge your body in cold water - parts of your body shrink.
In Subang Jaya, where I once lived, I used to take my children to the public swimming pool. Today’s children, of course, are never alone in the pool. This is a scene of today. In the book “Kampung Boy, Yesterday and Today,” there is an illustration of two parents taking their child to a public pool. At the pool there is an instructor, a lifeguard, and a helper, the housemaid, as well. Everybody is trying to teach the boy how to swim; all eyes are on him. That is how over-cautious we are.
You can see in this picture how, when I was a child, my father taught me to swim. He just threw me into the water. I had to struggle in order to learn how to swim. Of course, the water was not very deep; my father could have jumped in at any time to help me. That was the way of the village. Today, because the water is no longer clean, villagers cannot just go into the water. During the 1950’s, however, it was very clean.
We used to create things to play with. In this picture you can see a type of popgun that we would make out of bamboo. I’m sure children in Japan must have done something similar. The games that children would play depended on the season. For example, during the bamboo season, we would make bamboo popguns and use them to shoot bullets made out of wet paper.
We also played with tops that we would make ourselves out of the stems of guava trees or some other type of wood. The tops were then held together with nails. Today however, children do not make such things because parents say that playing with nails is dangerous.
I also made a book called “Town Boy”; it is a story based on my experience of moving to Ipoh from Kampung with my family in 1963. This story is about a friendship between a Malay Malaysian boy and a Chinese Malaysian boy. After moving to Ipoh, I made friends with a guy called Frankie through our mutual interest in music. He had a record player and one day invited me over to his house to listen to it. In order to get to his house, we had to ride our bikes straight through town. All of these drawings are based on my memories. At Frankie’s house, we listened to rock and roll. Here is a picture of a typical Chinese house; notice how the living room is lined with family photos – photos of fathers, grandfathers, sisters, etc. Below Frankie’s house was a privately owned coffee shop; it was quite bothersome getting up to his house because you had to cut through the shop.
When I was twelve and thirteen, I drew a lot of cartoons and sent them to entertainment and movie magazines that were published in Singapore. In those days, if your cartoons were included in the magazine, you would receive free cinema tickets. I would use these to go see films with my father.
This is my first comic book; it came out when I was thirteen. The title is “Tiga Sekawan,” which means ‘three friends.’ The story revolves around a group of friends that catch a thief. You can see on the cover that it says, “written by Lat, Ipoh.” But on the bottom right of my last page I wrote, “drawn and written by Mohamad Nor Khalid,” which is my real name, and my whole address in Ipoh. I was so proud of origins that I wanted everyone to know that I was from a small town and not from Kuala Lumpur. For my first comic I received twenty-five ringgits. I remember that my mother, my brother and I went to collect the check from the publisher’s branch office and then went to cash it at the bank. I gave my mother ten ringgits and kept fifteen for myself. I then told my mother to head home without us, and my little brother and I wandered around town spending the money. We bought Beatles records and went to the cinema to see movies.
After that particular comic book, I continued to make more. From the ages of thirteen to seventeen, I drew a lot of comics. Many of these cartoons appeared in newspapers and magazines. My first series came out when I was seventeen. That meant that as a teenager I was making about 100 to 120 ringgits per month; about the same amount that a government clerk would have earned. Every month I gave money to my parents. Which is why my parents did not complain when I performed badly in school. In school, my favorite subjects were Art, English, and Malay. I knew that one day I would find a job that involved art, but I did not even think of becoming a cartoonist. In those days, artist, illustrator, and layout artist were all recognized positions, but there was no such term in Malaysia as ‘cartoonist’. I became the first one.
In 1974, after four years as a reporter for the New Straits Times, a newspaper in Kuala Lumpur, I decided to become a full-time cartoonist.
Here is a typical example of the type of drawing that I did. This depicts the Durian Season; it appeared on the editorial page of the New Straits Times. The durian is a favorite fruit of Malaysians; because of its thorny exterior, we refer to it as, “Hell outside, Heaven inside.” Many foreigners do not like it, but to Malaysians it is pure heaven.
This is another typical drawing; in it, turtles walk into a labor room. In Malaysia, people always go to watch turtles lay their eggs. So I wondered what it would be like if turtles came to see a human giving birth.
This is one that I drew of policemen guarding the door to the Penang State Assembly. I depicted them as laughing because inside the assembly, the assemblymen behave like clowns talking like clowns, debating like clowns, and quarrelling like clowns.
Here is a picture of someone taking a driver’s test; it depicts typical behavior of Malaysian people in traffic. In Malaysia, people feel perfectly fine driving along the side of the road as long as they do not get caught.
This is a drawing I did on a subject outside of Malaysia. In Bangkok, the mayor uses curses to fight against bribery; the mayor, so tired of hearing about rampant bribery, resorts to traditional means to fight it. This cartoons shows that in our modern society, people in Asia still retain their customs and traditions. While nobody in today’s society really believes in curses anymore, many still retain aspects – such as superstition – indicative of an old Asian mentality.
This cartoon shows how hard it can be to get children back into school after vacations that they have spent watching television. You can see that the children are so glued to the television set that their mother has to drag it around in order to get them to follow her to school.
Another cartoon depicts soccer fever as well as the current mixing of tradition with modernity. Here you can see women in Kampung making mats and a girl making a ball while they all watch the World Cup on television.
This one depicts the current proliferation of security checks. As you can see, they are also doing security checks for people going into a cave. This cartoon was published in America as well.
These are drawings I did based on my first trip to Japan in 1981. I drew this comic in the style of Japanese manga. Two friends that I became acquainted with in Malaysia met me and took me to a Japanese restaurant. That was the first time that I ever ate raw fish. It was also there that I saw waiters rushing around and learned to make a lot of noise while eating soup.
Here is a picture of a commuter train. When I visited, I spent some time at my friend’s house. It turned out to be the first time that her parents had ever met a Malaysian; too bad the first one they met had to be a cartoonist. While I was there, I spent the night sleeping on tatami mats. Since then I have been to Japan twenty-five times over the past twenty-one years.
I recently did this cartoon on the theme of ‘Yesterday and Today’. People from Japan, Java, Sumatra, and the Malay Peninsula are all similar; our ancestors all came from villages. Through cartoons like this one, I want young people to know this. If we know where we come from, we will not be so arrogant. Many people think of a hospital in a big city when they think about where they were born. But that is not where we really come from. When I was young, children were born at home no matter how small the house was. Today, golf has become very popular. I myself do not play, but there is a golf course very close to my home. I can even sometimes overhear the golfers cursing themselves.
This is the kind of house that I was born in. Today these kinds of houses are disappearing because space is becoming so limited. In place of these houses we build concrete blocks - creating ugly concrete jungles. This contrast is probably why tourists seek out the traditional Malaysian homes when they visit my country.
This is a cartoon I drew two days ago in a hotel here in Fukuoka. In this cartoon, Prime Minister Koizumi has returned from a trip to North Korea. I drew U.S. President Bush observing the scene from the bushes behind the Prime Minister. Because the United States does not have a close relationship with North Korea, the President is interested in the results of the trip. I think that Prime Minister Koizumi is easy to draw because he is good looking and has a distinctive hairstyle. On the other hand, President Bush is not so easy to draw – unlike his father George Bush Sr.
was seventeen when my drawings first appeared in the newspaper. I drew the attention of my relatives and neighbors and became famous in Malaysia. I have been drawing cartoons for many years, and now I am over fifty. In my country, especially among Malays like me, when you are over fifty, you are considered old. They wonder why such an old man like me is still drawing cartoons. The Malaysian King gave me the title ‘Dato’. Today, people from my village come up to me and ask, “Dato, what business are you in now? Any big projects?” and “Where’s your Mercedes Benz?” I reply to them by saying, “I don’t own a Mercedes Benz.” and “No, no new projects. I still draw cartoons.” When they find out that I still draw cartoons, the villagers usually become troubled.
I am determined to prove that ‘cartoonist’ is a very noble profession. I believe the purpose of drawing cartoons and providing commentary is to be positive. In other words, anything you say should at its core be honest and sincere. Cartoonists should not try to bring down anybody or promote anybody – for example, politicians. We all need to laugh and have fun, and this is what I hope to provide through my cartoons. I have never had bad intentions while drawing cartoons. Maybe that’s why I’ve survived for a long time as a cartoonist.
It goes without saying that a cartoonist, like everyone else, needs to earn a living. For me, taking care of my family, my neighbors, and my neighbourhood is more important than my cartoons. But it is through my cartoons that I can reach out to the world. Everywhere I go I manage to make friends. That is what I love about being a cartoonist.
It has been a great pleasure to be here today. Thank you very much.