Friday, 17 February 2012

Malaysia: Zunar’s London exhibition,“To Fight through Cartoon” opens to a sold-out crowd



16 Feb 2012

Acclaimed Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar (néeZulkiflee Anwar Haque) premiered his latest exhibition, ‘To Fight Through Cartoon’, to a full house yesterday evening at the Free Word Centre in London, UK. Hosted by ARTICLE 19, the event showcased Zunar’s banned cartoons and highlighted the deteriorating state of freedom of expression in Malaysia.

Zunar’s drawings are powerful in their handling of controversial themes of public corruption, political dissent and the excessive power of the police and judiciary in his home country. As a result, his cartoons are prohibited from being published in state-controlled newspapers and all seven of his books are banned in Malaysia. The launch of his most recent publication ‘Cartoon-O-Phobia’ in September 2010 was hindered when the police stormed the event, seizing all copies of the book and unlawfully detaining him overnight. During the London exhibition launch, Zunar reassured the audience and pledged to continue drawing cartoons “until the very last drop of ink”.

The packed venue of over 100 people, including many Britain-based Malaysians, also enjoyed a lively panel discussion chaired by ARTICLE 19 Executive Director Agnès Callamard. The much-admired human rights lawyer and Malaysian civil rights activist Malik Imtiaz Sarwar offered his views on government control of opinion in Malaysia via video presentation. Clare Rewcastle Brown, a British investigative journalist and founder of Sarawak Report, also spoke passionately about the need to expose and question government wrongdoings. Zunar himself entertained the audience with anecdotes gathered throughout his 20-year-long career, including time spent in prison lock-up and the inspiration behind certain drawings. Of his personal struggle against the Malaysian government, Zunar said, “If drawing cartoons is a crime, then the fall of the regime is just a matter of time.”

This is Zunar’s first solo exhibition and is scheduled to run until Thursday, 15 March 2012 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm).

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