PETALING JAYA: Prominent cartoonist Zunar has come to the defence of Nanyang Siang Pau’s “monkey” cartoon, saying it is often easier for cartoonists to depict their subject matter as animals.
“It is easier to draw the object matter as animals. Even I do that in my work.
“For example, I drew the prime minister as a fox. It does not mean that the prime minister is a fox,” Zunar said, adding that the Chinese daily had not been trying to compare PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia to monkeys.
Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, added that the cartoon was not ethically wrong as it did not aim to humiliate anyone.
“The cartoon depicted one monkey offering a plate of hot potato. The message behind it was despite PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang tabling a bill to amend Act 355, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia still refuses to address the issue,” he said.
Nanyang and its news portal have come under the spotlight for publishing the cartoon featuring two monkeys sitting on a tree named “Act 355” while a group of monkeys fight under it.
One of the monkeys on the tree dons a “songkok” and is labelled “speaker”, while the other has a “serban” (turban) and is labelled “Hadi Awang”.
The cartoon was published on April 8, two days after Hadi tabled a private member’s bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355).
Referring to the cartoon, Zunar said the best way to address such issues was by talking about it in press releases and during press conferences.
“Demonstrations are not the best way to respond to such issues, unless all means have been exhausted. After that, we can do demonstrations.”
Sukhbir Cheema, who is co-editor of art-centric content website Eksentrika, agreed that the cartoon was not ethically wrong.
“Personally, I don’t find anything wrong with it because Hadi and the speaker are not prophets. If they were, then the cartoon would be considered disrespectful,” he said.
Sukhbir said the illustration had nailed the issue of Act 355 on the head, and that each cartoonist saw issues from their own perspectives.
“When I see this cartoon, I understand what the cartoonist is trying to say, that both individuals are just monkeying around.”
He also suggested that Hadi and Pandikar respond to the cartoon through another illustration instead of burning Nanyang’s paper, which he said would only boost the daily’s sales.