REPORT ON LAUNCHING OF ZUNAR’S EXHIBITION IN LONDON
1. EVENT: The launching of Zunar's cartoon exhibition, "To Fight Through Cartoon"
2. DATE: 15 February 2012, 6.45pm (London time)
3. VENUE: Free Word Centre, 60, Farringdon Road, London.
4. ORGANISER: Article 19, an international NGO that fights for the freedom of expression and information.
5. THE EXHIBITON: It is Zunar’s first solo exhibition. He has previously held two exhibitions with other artists in Bilbao, Spain. The 80-piece displays in the exhibition were divided into 4 categories – Najib, Rosmah, Conspiracies Against Anwar and General Issues. "To Fight Through Cartoon" will be held until 13th of March 2012. The gallery is open for free viewing from Monday – Friday, 9am – 9pm.
6. GUEST SPEAKERS: The founder of Radio Free Sarawak and Sarawak Report, Clare Rewcastle Brown and the Executive Director of Article 19, Dr Agnes Callamard.
7. AUDIENCE: full house of about 100; professional Malaysians, Malaysian students, locals.
i. Started with introduction and welcoming speech by the Executive Director of Article 19, Dr Agnes Callamard, followed by a speech from Zunar and video-conferencing by the Malaysian Human Rights activist, Malik Imtiaz.
ii. In his speech, Zunar said among others:
“Malaysia is facing a moral crisis and beset by corruption, abuse of power and violations of human rights. It is a duty for us to take a firm stand against the repressive regime that has ruled the country for the past 54 years.
It is morally wrong for us to keep quiet. The 13th Century poet Dante Alighieri said, the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality. All Malaysians should play their part. Let us stand together and fight. As a cartoonist this is my little contribution in this struggle. How can I be neutral, even my pen has a stand?
My detention under the Sedition Act shows that drawing cartoon in Malaysia is a crime. When drawing cartoon becomes a crime, a downfall of a regime is a matter of time.”
iii. In Clare’s speech, she said: “I love Zunar’s target on Rosmah and Taib (Mahmud). I commend Zunar for the courage, and for being brave and a wonderful champion. It takes brave people to bring change to weak regimes.”
Answering a question from the audience, regarding how he gets ideas to draw political cartoons, Zunar said: “It is a bit easy because I live in Malaysia. Malaysian politicians provide me ideas every day. The Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers look very smart and intelligent, until they open their mouth. The moment they start to open their mouths, I can start open my sketch book.”
To another question, Zunar said: “It not necessary for everyone to join political parties as the political parties are only one part of the whole struggle. Creating more dimensions in very creative ways is very effective to fight a regime. If we are in war, it is better to have 1000 battalions consisting one soldier each compared to one battalion consisting 1000 soldiers.”
10. AUDIENCE FEEDBACKS.
i. Amir (not real name), Malaysian Government officer
“To me, Zunar is one of the two great legends in Malaysia apart for Dato’ Lat. When I got to know about the launching of the exhibition coinciding with my trip to London, I registered for the entrance. In fact, I was the first to register. I feel like I must be here and be part of the event.”
ii. Robin (with photo), Belgium computer engineer who has worked for 15 years in London
“I feel that Zunar’s cartoons are powerful because they are very effective in making the public understand more on the political issues, hence the cartoons are a threat to the government. I am also a huge cartoon fan; Zunar’s cartoons reminds me of Belgian cartoonist Joost Swarte and American Robert Crumb.”
iii. Andrenw Tyna (with photo), IT Manager in London
“I have visited Malaysia a few times and my activist friend in Malaysia has been telling me about the political situation in the country. Zunar’s cartoons are great in the sense that I could now relate the stories and understand the Malaysian politics better.”
iv. Adil Johan (with photo), doctorate student at the King’s College, London
“I am not afraid to come – I have been Zunar’s fan for years. When I first saw his drawings at the exhibition, I thought he has a very strong form of artistic expression that are open to interpretation. When I looked back carefully, the under-lying messages and the detailing revealed further. That’s what I love about his cartoons.”