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'Wasabi', cartoonist Zunar's latest spicy offering

Published:  |  Modified:

Controversial political cartoonist Zunar has nine sedition charges to his name. But this has not deterred him from continuing to prod the powers-that-be.

His latest offering is titled 'Wasabi', which is not named after the Japanese horseradish but rather an acronym for 'Wa Sapu Billion'.

The award-winning cartoonist, whose real name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, will be launching his new book this Saturday at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall at 8pm.

In a media statement, he invited all his fans and supporters to attend the event, where he would also hold a cartoon drawing demonstration.

According to Zunar, who is regarded as a pro-opposition cartoonist, his latest book focuses on the 1MDB saga as well as the RM2.6 billion donation issue.

It would also feature drawings of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's wife Rosmah Mansor, whom he once described as his "muse", as well as inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar, referred to as 'Ketua Twitter Negara' in reference to his fondness for tweeting orders to his subordinates.

The content mostly comprises his political cartoons which have appeared on the internet and social media in 2015 and 2016.

Zunar said the book is priced at RM26 in reference to the RM2.6 billion donation issue.

"This is not just a number, but a reminder for the people to never sweep this aside - we are the ones who pay for their corruption," he added.

Najib has repeatedly denied abusing public funds for personal gain, whereas the RM2.6 billion is said to be a donation from a Saudi royalty.

Recently, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir confirmed that his government was aware of the donation and that it was given without expectations.

Attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali had also cleared the prime minister, while Putrajaya has blamed the allegations on those conspiring to topple Najib from power.

Printers are afraid

Meanwhile, Zunar lamented how printers are still afraid to print his books with their names on it.

"Three of the printers were raided by the authorities and were given a strong warning that their business licences would be revoked if they keep printing my books in the future.

"Therefore, I have no choice but to black out the printer's name on the second page. I have also included a note to the authorities - if they want to know who the printer is, they would need to enter the 'scratch and win' scheme," he added.

The authorities have confiscated several of his earlier books, while Zunar was detained by the police twice in 2010 and 2015 for sedition.

He is currently facing nine sedition charges and up to 43 years in jail for his critical comments over the jailing of then opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in February last year.

The cartoonist, last week, received the 2016 Cartooning for Peace Award.

He was also the recipient of the Human Rights Watch Hellman/Hammett Award for 2011 and 2015 and won last year’s International Press Freedom Award by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

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