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Malaysia: Cartoonist Zunar Arrested Again, Books Seized

Hata Wahari
Kuala Lumpur
2016-12-17
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Cartoonist Zunar is taken to a Kuala Lumpur police station following his latest arrest, Dec. 17, 2016
Cartoonist Zunar is taken to a Kuala Lumpur police station following his latest arrest, Dec. 17, 2016
Courtesy of Zunar

Malaysian police on Saturday arrested political cartoonist Zunar for the second time in a month and seized more than 1,000 of his books worth an estimated $10,000, he said in a statement.

Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, whose pen name is Zunar, was arrested under a clause of the penal code concerning “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy” and questioned for six hours, then released on bail and told to report back to the police station in Dang Wangi, Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 30, the statement said.

The arrest took place during a fundraiser Zunar was holding in Selangor “to recover the loss that I had with my previous exhibition where twenty (20) of my paintings were confiscated by the police,” the statement said.

Zunar, a BenarNews contributor, was arrested Nov. 25 shortly after opening an exhibit of his cartoons in George Town, Penang, and released the following day after a court rejected a police application to hold him for four days for questioning under Malaysia’s Sedition Act.

The exhibit had been mounted for seven days in September in Petaling Jaya, Selangor without incident.

The winner of the 2016 Cartooning for Peace Award is also facing nine sedition charges for allegedly insulting the judiciary in tweets made regarding the conviction of former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in a sodomy case in February 2015.

He is known for biting cartoons that lampoon the Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition and Prime Minister Najib Razak, and highlight themes such as corruption.

He has been jailed twice – for two days in September 2010 and for three days in February 2015. Five of his books have been banned and his office in Kuala Lumpur has been raided. Printers have been warned to not publish any of his cartoon books.

Earlier this month Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said Zunar should refrain from drawing cartoons that “insult people.”

"He can draw McDonalds or Donald Duck, anything, no one will care, but don't insult people," he was quoted as saying in the Sun Daily, a Malaysian newspaper.

The police chief claimed that Zunar’s work inspired hatred toward the country’s leaders and said it was “not Malaysian culture to draw people in that manner,” the paper said.

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