Heng Kim Song
Heng was born in 1963. He studied business at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (graduating in 1983) and then became an editorial cartoonist. He won first place in Singapore's National Drawing Competition.
Since 1984, Heng has drawn editorial cartoons for Lianhe Zaobao, the largest Chinese-language newspaper in Singapore. His work was first syndicated internationally in 1991; since that time, his work has been published in The Straits Times, The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, and Newsweek. In 2000, Heng became the first Asian to win the award for best world news cartoon at the International Political Satire Festival, held in Italy.
Singapore's major national media outlets are deferential to the national government, and "as a result, national newspapers do not carry political cartoons that caricature the country's politicians." Heng's work focuses on international, rather than domestic, politics.
In September 2014, around the time when India's Mars Orbiter Mission probe was to go into Mars orbit, the International New York Times published an cartoon by Heng Kim Song depicting a turban-wearing man with a bull knocking at the door of the "Elite Space Club" with members inside reading a newspaper with a headline about India's Mars mission. Heng received both support and criticism of the cartoon. Critics asserted that the cartoon was racist. Heng stated that the work was not intended to be racist, as critics charged, saying: "I was trying to say that India has come a long way from its humble beginnings. It used to rely on cows for transport but is now part of an elite club because it made it to Mars." Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal, apologized, writing in a Facebook post:
A large number of readers have complained about a recent editorial cartoon in The International New York Times, about India's foray into space exploration. The intent of the cartoonist ... was to highlight how space exploration is no longer the exclusive domain of rich, Western countries. Mr. Heng ... uses images and text – often in a provocative way – to make observations about international affairs. We apologize to readers who were offended by the choice of images in this cartoon. Mr. Heng was in no way trying to impugn India, its government or its citizens.
According to the Straits Times, Heng's cartoons, executed in black-and-white, have a distinctive "droll" and "light-hearted" style. In addition to his editorial cartooning work, Heng is also an illustrator and greeting card designer.
Heng is married and has three sons.
- Cartoonist Heng Kim Song, World Economic Forum 2004.
- Heng Kim Song (Diploma in Business Studies), Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
- Corrie Tan, From The Straits Times archives: Political cartoonist Heng Kim Song's harshest critics are school kids, Straits Times (October 7, 2014, republishing March 24, 2011 article).
- Aw Cheng Wei, Award-winning cartoonist receives flak and support over NYT cartoon, Straits Times (October 7, 2014).
- Cherian George, Freedom from the Press: Journalism and State Power in Singapore (NUS Press, 2012), p. 66.
- "India's Budget Mission to Mars". The New York Times. September 28, 2014. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
- Lakshmi Gandhi, Controversial India Cartoon Forces New York Times to Apologize, NBC News (October 7, 2014).
- "India Mars Mission: New York Times apologises for cartoon". BBC News. October 6, 2014. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
- "New York Times Cartoonist Takes Prejudiced Potshot At India's Mars Mission". The India Times. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
- "NYT's Mangalyaan cartoon: Yes it's racism, no it's not about Modi's US visit". Firstpost. October 1, 2014. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
- Josh Feldman, NY Times Apologizes for India Cartoon After Reader Complaints of Racism, Mediaite (October 7, 2014).