Best Straits Times illustrations of 2014

1. WORK, STRESS AND BURNOUT: By Manny Francisco, The Straits Times, May 16, 2014The visual shows a depleting battery marker for a face, reflecting the story about stress in the workplace. Finding meaning in work is one of the causes of stress and is rightfully suggested in the illustration, where a human being is almost like a worn-out plug-and-play, unfeeling gadget.

2. VULNERABLE ADULTS NEED GREATER PROTECTION - EVEN FROM ‘LOVED ONES’: By Prudencio Dencoy Miel, The Straits Times, Nov 5, 2014This illustration accompanies the story on “latchkey adults” being put under the care of immediate relatives whose level of care might be disproportionate or lacking. The article suggests that access to these shackled adults at home should have a legal dimension, meaning that the court by way of the police or a govenment body could gain access to them, administer proper care and bypass well-meaning, overprotective relatives.

3. MEN AND MOUSTACHE: By Manny Francisco, The Sunday Times, Nov 9, 2014This illustration accompanying Sumiko Tan's column on men having a moustache, it’s bristly presence in history and how she has argued about its conjugal merits by marrying someone who has one. She goes on to discuss the accoutrements of such moustache-keepers, trimmers and growers in Singapore, hence the hybridised map as a moustache.

4。HK CRISIS: JOINT EFFORT NEEDED TO BREAK IMPASSE:By Manny Francisco, The Straits Times, Nov 14, 2014

This illustration shows a damaged China hand, all bandaged up but trying its best to project that all is well between Hong Kong and Beijing by flashing the “peace”  hand sign.

5。AS OLD BUILDINGS AGE, RE-THINK RULES ON EN-BLOC SALES: By Prudencio Dencoy Miel, The Straits Times,Nov 18, 2014This visual is a response to this article on old-buildings in Singapore. The usual travails of owning a property, taxes, sales and rent vis-a-vis market forces is at the core of this seeming stand-off.  Holding back selling these prime assets has contributed to these buildings being bypassed and rendered “old” amidst the construction boom. That is, until the next, more juicier en-bloc sale offer comes up.

6. TIME TO HELP SENIORS AGE SUCCESSFULLY: By Manny Francisco, The Straits Times, Nov 22, 2014The article talks about “ageing” being one of Singapore’s most pressing social problem. Ageing or growing old is about time coming to its appointed end and most senior citizens are scant of the attendant cares that would make this a less pressing concern. The article went on to discuss about how to age more gracefully, and concluded by making this a working vision by way of enterprise, or as a business venture supporting this vision.

7. HUMANS MAYBE JUST WHAT EARTH NEEDS: By Prudencio Dencoy Miel, The Straits Times, Nov 22, 2014This illustration shows how humans have become an aberration, a contaminant to this Edenic Earth. Man's craving for his creature comforts depends entirely on harvesting with abandon the plants, minerals and animals of this blue planet, decimating almost entirely the very fabric of creation that his life depends on to survive. On the flipside, the article also argues that we, too could be this Green Earth’s saviour and eco-sentinels.

8. MENTAL ILLNESS: CAREGIVERS ARE FORGOTTEN COLLATERAL DAMAGE: By Manny Francisco, The Straits Times, Nov 29, 2014This photo of a crumpled paper-cum-hand-drawn illustration shows the throw-away and forgotten nature of some “behind the  scenes” occupations. Caregivers are usually the ones burdened by the demanding nature of their work. Some  are left behind with the mentally unstable. Dealing with mental patients is fraught with risks. And being walled inside some institution somewhere would have rendered them forgotten and classified as victims too, along with their wards.

9. RUSSIA’S RENEWED CHARM OFFENSIVE IN THE EAST: By Manny Francisco, The Straits Times, April 21, 2014This illustration shows a more benign bombardment, a carpet-bombing of goodwill from the Russians. There is a discordant nature to this, as the “charm offensive” is not really meant as a salve for the victims of their atrocities in the Ukraine. The “charm offensive” is generally targeted at the “East”, meaning China, where Putin has been wanting to get support from largely because of the sanctions imposed by the US and its Nato allies.

10. THE 'SOFT CONTAINMENT' OF RUSSIA: By Prudencio Dencoy Miel, The Straits Times, Oct 13, 2014Russian President Vladimir Putin is known to have a black belt in judo. He had always projected himself as a modern Russian Czar, a protector of the country's past and present. A giant still but with feet catastrophically standing on depleting oil deposits. By invading Ukraine with the express pursuit that he could extend his oil pipelines into the Baltic Sea and beyond, he could save Russia. But that is not the case as the US-Nato tandem imposed sanctions as a response to this invasion.The rouble is in trouble. The hardened face of Putin seems poised to weather this politically, but sadly, as is shown in this illustration, it will be the death of Russia.