Mr. Lat (Real name: Dato' Mohamad Nor Khalid) is a well-known cartoonist in Asia. He has had a major impact on Asian society by developing a sympathetic readership with cartoons based on the everyday life of the people of Malaysia that cleverly lampoon the contradictions of society.
"Lat" is a pen name derived from his childhood nickname of "Bulat," which means "round" in Malay. Mr. Lat has drawn cartoons since his childhood, and his first cartoon was published at the age of 13. After starting work for the New Straits Times, Malaysia's largest English-language daily, he displayed his talent for comics, and in 1974 became the first full-time newspaper cartoonist in Malaysia. His satirical, single-panel cartoon has been running in the newspaper for 28 years. Mr. Lat's cartoons have focused on many topics, including the destruction of the natural environment, which represent the negative aspects of economic development and urbanization, the destruction of traditional villages, politics overrun by vested interests, and the rapid changes in society caused by the presence of foreign-capitalized corporations. In Asia where comics are an exceptionally potent means of communication, Mr. Lat's cartoons have won him great popularity at all social levels, and he has served a leadership role by exerting a profound influence on the cartoonists of Southeast Asia.
Typical of his work is "The Kampung Boy", a long autobiographical comic work. It is the story of a boy born in a village (kampung) who grows up supported by the love of his family and the people of the kampung. Interwoven throughout the work are aspects of traditional Malaysian culture. This story was made into a feature cartoon for television, and was even shown in Western countries. Other works of his, including "Town Boy", another story depicting a boy during his developmental years, convey the spiritual aspects of Malaysia--and hence Asia--to the world, by humorously depicting the realistic social situations confronted by urbanization and the complications of living in a multi-ethnic society.
The penetrating yet warm perspective of his works, which focus on the community, highlights many spiritual and traditional themes and provides many insights into the development of Asia. Mr. Lat is indeed worthy of the Arts and Culture Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes.