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By Zunar

The fight through cartoons is an endless marathon

On Nov 1, 2013, the Appeals Court dismissed my appeal against the High Court decision last year which ruled that the police have the right to arrest and detain me under the Sedition Act for
cartooning.

The arrest took place on the Sept 24, 2010, hours before the launching of my comic book, ‘Cartoon-O-Phobia’. They also confiscated 66 copies of the book. I then filed a suit to challenge that the arrest was made in bad faith and mala fide.

The Appeals Court judges had somehow confirmed the government’s stand that drawing political cartoons in Malaysia is a crime! I am planning to give three copies of my latest comic book to the three judges as a present for them to understand what political cartoons are all about. I will definitely appeal to the Federal Court.

I have lost two cases in the High Court and have another case pending in the Appeals Court and I do not expect to win against this government in the Malaysian courts.

My objective is to create awareness on how funny this government is - a government of cartoons, by cartoons and for cartoons.

For me, all these episodes are just part of the government’s mechanism to stop me from drawing cartoons exposing their corruption and wrongdoings.

The script started in September 2009, when officials from Home Ministry raided my office and confiscated 400 copies of my then new comic, ‘Gedung Kartun’. The next day, they raided the printer and gave them a stern warning not to print my books in the future or their printing licence would be revoked.

At this point, when the government saw that I still produced cartoons, they moved to the next step by banning another five of my cartoon books on the grounds that “the contents are detrimental to public order”.

The agreement with one of the major distribution agency which I had signed a week before had to be cancelled.

The government has succeeded in putting fear to both ends of the support chain of my product - the printers and the vendors. The inability to sell the books has cost me to be tens of thousands of ringgit in debt. I had to lay off all my staff.

In a simpler word, the government may say this: “You can continue to draw cartoons, but if nobody dares to print and to sell, what are you going to do?”

After that, I could not find any printer who was willing to print my books and were prepared to face the consequences from the Home Ministry. In my latest book, ‘The Pirates of the Carry-BN’ I have to blacken-out the printer’s name to protect the printer. I know it is against the law, but that is the only solution.

‘I do not want to draw just another cartoon’

Distribution wise, I can only depend on online sale as no book stores are ready to take the risk of selling my book. The only occasion is through my book launch on Nov 16.

One senior cartoonist did advise me to soften my stand so that my books can be sold on the open market and I can earn a generous income. But I said, no. I would like to stress that I do not want to draw just another cartoon.

Through my work, my aim is to expose the issue that failed to be touched by other cartoonists - such as the Altantuya & Scorpene issues, the spending of the PM’s wife, and so on. I even did animations on the Altantuya issue.

I will not sacrifice this duty of mine for monetary gain. This is part of my CSR (Cartoonist Social Responsibility)!

The fight through cartoons is an endless marathon. We rally to achieve a country that is ruled by the people, where the Gross Domestic Product is the freedom and the values of humanity transcend race and religion.

We cannot watch in silence and condone all corruptions, injustice and oppression. How can I be neutral, Even My Pen Has A Stand!

Zunar's latest animation marks Altantuya's death


ZUNAR, or ZULKIFLEE SM ANWAR ULHAQUE, is the recipient of the ‘Courage In Editorial Cartooning’ award from the Cartoonist Rights Network International, Washington.