Zunar’s arrest - a tragic (for M’sians) comedy (for rest of the world)

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

They also pulled my collar, I was physically assaulted, but I kept calm, I did not want to retaliate.”

- Zunar

Umno loves Zunar very much; first, they stop him from the leaving the country, then they arrest him for the umpteenth time to ensure that he stays put. But seriously folks, we have truly entered Wonderland, where the queen of the people’s heart goes, “Off with their heads”, and the thugs who run amok lodge police reports after the fact, and the victim is arrested for provoking the attackers.

When I first heard of Zunar’s arrest yesterday, I was worried that he had run afoul of Jakim’s guidelines about excessive laughter - “Among the rules included in the guidelines was the gender segregation for performers and audience, and that jokes made during performances must be appropriate and cannot lead to ‘excessive laughter’.”

I was wondering how exactly he would have stepped over Jakim’s line. I imagined people casually strolling past the artworks and spontaneously bursting into “excessive laughter”. I wondered if Zunar’s exhibit was gender segregated, meaning the artwork depicting males where separated from the ones depicting females.

Then I was informed that Umno had attacked him - in a literary festival - and was dumbstruck because I never thought I would write the words ‘Umno’ and ‘literary’ in the same article, much less the same sentence.

Of course, the news settled in and I realised that Zunar had already been arrested about 10 times and I wondered how many times Umno must arrest someone before they get it right. I mean, the rate they arrest people, soon they will have nobody to blame for everything wrong with this country, even though Umno controls everything, except apparently rampaging Umno members and people who suddenly decide to invade Sabah.

But wait a minute. Wasn’t Ibrahim Ali nearly booked for the same offence when he threatened to burn bibles and the then attorney-general claimed that - “The Attorney-General’s Chambers confirmed today it has closed its books on Ibrahim Ali, saying it cannot prosecute the Perkasa president for threatening to torch bibles as he was only defending the sanctity of Islam and had not meant to incite anyone to religious frenzy”, but more importantly for the purposes of this article, “Elements under Section 504 of the Penal Code cannot be fulfilled because Ibrahim Ali had no intention to insult or cause provocation, which could disturb the peace.”

You do realise what this means of course. A person who threatens to burn bibles in Malaysia can escape criminal liability but a person who draws funny cartoons about the prime minister of Malaysia is arrested, has his work confiscated and faces possible jail time.

You do realise that the only people incited to violence were Umno members that the Umno high command disavows any knowledge of. You do realise that this is clear evidence that the only sensitivities that matter are the sensitivities of thugs and kleptocrats...

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