Photo of Sonny Liew from Today

Eisner award winner Sonny Liew has returned S$19,000 in funding from the National Art Council (NAC) and boycotted the Singapore Writers’ Festival where he was invited as special guest speaker. Sonny Liew told media reporters that he is voicing out against the government’s attempt to censor Singapore artists:

“Bureacuracy can be a good thing in trying to ensure there are regulations and institutions in place to try to ensure transparency, accountability and fairness. But my sense is that it is also often a shield for the opposite – to obscure motives, to rationalise weak positions.”

Sonny Liew also spoke up for his fellow artist Jeremy Tiang who had his funds withdrawn by the Singapore dictatorship for a story that illustrated about Singapore’s post-Independence history:

“It is partly all the recent events… and Jeremy Tiang’s experience, that compromising can be too easy an option. I’ll admit all this might not be the wisest move, but sometimes you follow your instincts and hope your compasses aren’t too awry. I am just trying to simplify things on my end as best I can… and not get too tangled up in the compromises involved in a relationship where genuine dialogue is so limited.”

Earlier last month in August, Minister for Culture Grace Fu said she withdrew funding for Jeremy Tiang because the artist refused to censor himself:

“NAC withdrew funding for Tiang’s book because the content in the book deviated from the original proposal that had been mutually agreed upon.”