Friday, 8 June 2012

Zunar: M’sian satirists play it safe

Patrick Lee | June 8, 2012
From : Free Malaysia Today 

KUALA LUMPUR: Most Malaysian political cartoonists prefer to “play it safe” when it comes to criticising those in positions of power.
In fact, according to Zulkiflee Anwar Haque (better known as Zunar), many of them preferred to attack those who were “weak” and not able to defend themselves.
“Some people like to attack the weak, so they play it safe. They go after [Opposition Leader] Anwar Ibrahim and [DAP secretary-general] Lim Guan Eng.
“[It is] safe to criticise these people, because they don’t have [the power of the] police (behind them).
“Some will attack [US President Barack] Obama, but they won’t attack (Prime Minister) Najib (Tun Razak),” he told FMT in an interview at his office.
Zunar said that political cartoonists in Europe, the United States and even in the Arabic (after the Arab Spring) regions were more brazen and critical of their governments.
But this, he said, is not the case in Malaysia.
“The role of a political cartoonist is to criticise the government of the day. This is [their] philosophy all over the world,” he said.
He added that Malaysia’s control over the media stopped him from attacking the opposition, whom he claimed, did not get the same coverage as government figures.
“I can attack Anwar if he is given fair treatment in the media. [But] if I attack Anwar, will he be given a chance to defend himself?”
“They [the government] know that Anwar does not have a chance to defend himself… They will just use my cartoon, and will not let Anwar [respond]. Definitely!” he said.
Zunar said in Malaysia it was easier and less threatening to lampoon the powerless.
“It is easy to attack those who don’t have power. That’s why in Malaysia, cartoonists and writers choose that. They [not in the government] don’t have power or the media.
“But if you’re a real political cartoonist, you go [after] the most powerful ones. You take the risk and the risk is very high,” he said
‘If elected, Pakatan will need time’
Known for his sharp attacks on the government, Zunar is no stranger to controversy.
In June 2010, three of his cartoon books, consisting of works critical of the ruling government, were banned by the Home Ministry.
Later in September that year, police raided his office and arrested him under the Sedition Act hours before he could launch “Cartoon-O-Phobia”.
Last June, the KL High Court rejected his suit to challenge the government’s ban on his three books.
“In Malaysia, some people say it is not our culture to do that… because it criticises the government. If you attack the opposition, that’s okay.”
“But if you criticise the government, they use the excuse of this is not our culture. Even for debates, the prime minister says it is not our culture. It is an excuse,” he said.
Asked if he would attack a newly-elected Pakatan Rakyat federal government with the same frequency, Zunar said no.
He claimed that a non-BN government needed to be given some leeway to “rebuild the nation”.
“If the new government takes over from one party that has ruled Malaysia for 55 years, what happens? It’s a mounting task and a challenge [to take care of].”
“When we change the government, I will be among the ones who will help the new government to rebuild the nation.”
“I will give some ample time. It’s very subjective,” he said, adding that the focus was not on BN, but rather the system.


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Court case on 6 June 2012 has been delayed again.

Keputusan kes Zunar vs Polis/Kerajaan Malaysia yang dijadualkan hari Rabu (6 Jun) ini ditangguh lagi ke satu tarikh yang belum ditentukan atas permintaan Peguam Negara!


The Court Case of Zunar vs Police Government of Malaysia which was scheduled for Wednesday (June 6) was postponed again upon the request of the Attorney General to a future date.

EC ban won’t stop me, says Zunar

Patrick Lee | June 6, 2012
From : Free Malaysia Today 

Controversial cartoonist Zunar is miffed that the Election Commission has deemed political cartoons illegal during the next general election.

KUALA LUMPUR: The drawing of political cartoons, though banned during the next general election (GE), will not stop one satirist from sketching his caricatures.
Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, popularly known as Zunar, said that nothing was going to stop him or fellow cartoonists from lampooning politicians, despite the Election Commission’s (EC) warnings against this.
“Cartoons are legal in Malaysia. Nobody said that cartoons are illegal…Who is the EC to decide whether [political cartoons] are serious or not serious, satire or not?” he told FMT in an interview.
Known for his unflattering portrayals of the ruling Barisan Nasional government, Zunar found it funny that the EC was striking-off political cartoons from its drawing board, when BN itself used them to fight past elections.
He cited the 1986 (7th) general election as an example.
Zunar said that a team led by current entrepreneur Lim Kok Wing came up with cartoons that were used by BN during those elections.
“In 1986, cartoons were widely used by BN… the government booked spaces in the newspapers, [put cartoons] on buntings… why so quiet about it back then?”

He claimed that the rising number of political cartoons criticising the ruling government may have stirred the EC into coming up with the ban.
According to a Bernama report, EC deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said that there were many inappropriate caricatures drawn during the 2011 Sarawak state elections.
Adding that the elections were a serious matter, he alleged that caricatures would “impart a sense of frivolity”.
Unfair blanket rule
The EC planned to take down posters or buntings with cartoons making fun of politicians.
Zunar, a full-time cartoonist, was irked by the decision. He said that the EC should have been going after “irresponsible” cartoonists instead of banning the whole medium.
According to him, many “irresponsible” cartoonists drew without putting their signatures on their sketches.
As such, he said that it would be difficult for the authorities to take action against them.
“You must be responsible for your cartoons and your message. You have to defend your work when people criticise them,” he said, while pointing to an anti-Bersih comic book without any artists’ signatures.

“[On my work] I have my name there, you can challenge me and bring me to court. But with this, who are the cartoonists?”
“Because of one or two irresponsible cartoonists, they want to ban cartoons. If they do that…are you going to ban videos and ceramahs (speeches) too?” he asked.
Traveling cartoonists
In a related matter, Zunar said that he was going to take a team of 10 to 15 cartoonists around KL and Selangor during the next elections.
He said that his team, almost entirely consisting of budding cartoonists, would draw sketches and distribute them to the public or put them up on the internet.
Referring to themselves as Kumpulan Kartunis Independen (Independent Cartoonist Group), they would touch on national issues such as the Scorpene submarine scandal and day-to-day election issues.
A lot of their work is already being featured in the opposition party organs such as Harakah and Suara Keadilan.


Thursday, 31 May 2012

Zunar: Why ban cartoons during elections?

June 1, 2012
Free Malaysia Today

A political cartoonist has attacked the ban on political caricatures during the next election as a case of shooting the messenger.

PETALING JAYA: A decision to ban caricatures in the next general election was nothing short of hilarious, says a political cartoonist.
Zulkiflee Anwar Haque (popularly known as Zunar) criticised Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar’s May 30 call, who claimed that political caricatures were inappropriate.
“[The drawing of cartoons] is a legally-practised medium in Malaysia and therefore the EC does not have the right to forbid its use,” he said in a press statement.
He said that instead of attacking the medium, the EC should have gone for the message itself.
Political personal attacks, he added, could have come in any shape and form.
According to a Bernama report, Wan Ahmad said that the 2011 Sarawak state election saw “too many” examples of “inappropriate” political caricatures.
“The election is a serious matter and we cannot allow political parties to display campaign materials which put down any person,” he said at the time.
The EC, he added, would remove any banners bearing political caricatures during the election campaign period, speculated to begin a few months from now.
Wan Ahmad’s call left Zulkiflee, well-known for his unflattering depiction of the Malaysian government (especially of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor), wondering.
He said that instead of banning cartoons, the EC should have spent its time fulfilling Bersih’s eight electoral reform demands (which include cleaning the voter rolls and free and fair media access).
In defiance of the EC’s call, Zulkiflee said that he would be leading a group of cartoonists known as Kumpulan Kartunis Independen (KKI) during the coming election.
“We will be opening our own cartoonist operations room and will be moving as a group in a van while campaigning for the coming election,” he said.
Focusing on government scandals, the KKI’s cartoons would be distributed to the public.