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Home minister gets leave to appeal over Zunar’s book ban

The home minister has been given permission to challenge the Court of Appeal’s decision to lift the ban on two cartoon books by cartoonist Zunar, and to allow 33 copies of his book seized by the ministry to be returned to him.

Court of Appeal president Md Raus Sharif, chairing a five-member panel of Federal Court judges, allowed the home minister’s leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision.

The panel made the ruling after hearing submissions from senior federal counsel Suzana Atan and counsel Fahri Azzat.

On Oct 9, 2014, Court of Appeal judge Mohd Ariff Mohd Yusof, in a unanimous decision, ruled that there was no plausible evidence of the books titled ‘1 Funny Malaysia’ and ‘Perak Darul Kartun’ being a threat to public order.

He said press cuttings tendered in the affidavits to support the ministry’s action fell far short of the requisite proof.

The judge also said political cartoonist, unlike serious political writers, sought to ridicule persons and institutions with humour to deliver a message.

In 2010, Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd, which operates the Malaysiakini news portal, and publisher Sepakat Efektif Sdn Bhd, on behalf of Zulkiflee SM Anwarul Haque, a political cartoonist operating under the pen name ‘Zunar’, had filed two separate judicial review applications to challenge the banning of the two books and the seizure of 33 books.

The High Court had on July 14, 2011, dismissed their judicial review applications.

However, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s ruling and lifted the ban on the two books and ordered 33 copies of another book seized by the home minister to be returned to him.

- Bernama