Three of Zunar’s part-time assistants were arrested for selling his cartoon books at the Palace of Justice a couple of days ago during the Anwar trial. (The information released at the time and reported was that his wife was among those arrested – but then his wife was in Port Dickson at the time, so how?! Oops.) The three – Rizaldy, Raja Norita and Norliza Mohd Kassim – were released at midnight.
Ten copies of Pirates of the Carry-BN and 33 copies of Buku Komplot Penjarakan Anwar were seized. (Check out the books.) The books are apparently being investigated under three laws: the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Penal Code and the Sedition Act.
A few colleagues and I caught up with Zunar over a banana leaf lunch when he was in Penang recently. Check out the T-shirt he was wearing.
Recently, the Court of Appeal lifted the banning of two of his comic books, 1 Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun – a decision that Zunar welcomed, as published in Aliran.
Zunar told me the court went through those comic books page by page to determine if there were really any grounds for their banning. They found that it was just political satire, even though the prosecutor tried to show otherwise.
Four of Zunar’s other cartoon books remain banned: Gedung Kartun, Isu Dalam Kartun vol 1, Isu Dalam Kartun vol 2 and isu Dalam Kartun Vol 3. Another book, Cartoon-O-Phobia, is being investigated under the Sedition Act.
Zunar is just back from his trip to the United States, where his cartoon books were accepted and catalogued by the US Library of Congress.
He said he had received a string of invitations to speak at universities abroad, but unfortunately local universities are reluctant to invite him. I wonder why.
That’s the life of a critical political cartoonist in Malaysia. Obviously some people don’t see the funny side of his cartoons, much less when they are … err, the butt of his jokes.
Zunar is clear: he is trying to raise awareness of the need for change – an end to corruption, injustice and oppressive rule – through his cartoons.
No one can accuse Malaysia’s leading political cartoonist of not taking a stand. What’s your stand?