APK: In my country we have two names: real name and pen name. Because in Myanmar, the names are very similar to each other, because most of the names are two or three words.
Whenever I arrive in Singapore, one of my fake names is in the blacklist. So whenever I come to Singapore I need to answer so many questions. I am disappointed in the airport, because I have to wait two or three hours. They never record my passport number, only my name. And they say wait, go to the sofa, and ask me so many questions. Yesterday I also had that experience.
APK: After the 1988 uprising, I was one of the leaders and I was forced to retire. Also some of my engineering friends were also forced to retire. They moved to Singapore, Australia and other countries and they work as engineers. But I decided to be a full-time cartoonist. Because I believe in cartoons when I was young. Cartoons are very powerful and very effective.
Of course, now it's about his passion for the craft. He spoke of all the metaphors of cartooning: how he's a loudspeaker to amplify voices. Others say cartoons are a mirror; the first Burmese cartoonist, working in the 1950s, called it an X-ray - examining issues with some penetration. And of course, the good old football metaphors - he wants to be the referee, showing the government red and yellow cards, but it's the government that issues him warnings instead. Even banned him for a year from cartooning, just because he gave a bag of rice to the protesters of 2007.
Now, he's bent on public education - one of his handbooks is about disaster readiness, explaining what to do if another Cyclone Nargis hits. He never does what the NGOs want him to do exactly: he tweaks it to touch the public heart, to stay in the public brain, and above all, to be comprehensible.
APK: In 2000 I visited Singapore, I went to Popular Bookshop, and I picked up a textbook. And the textbook was history. But the printed name wasn’t history. It was “Understanding Our Past”. That is very good. If you ask children what is history, they will say, it is not geography. But this is history. Understanding our past. This is easy to understand.