Zunar slams latest book ban, threatens legal action


PETALING JAYA: Political cartoonist Zunar has criticised the government for banning yet another one of his animated works, saying Putrajaya has breached the Federal Constitution that guarantees freedom of expression.

He was referring to the banning of his book “Sapuman: Man of Steal” as announced by the home ministry yesterday.

“If the government does not like my cartoons, I have no problem with it. But you cannot translate your interpretation into law by banning a book of my thoughts. This is against the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression,” he said in a statement.

He added that he has consulted his lawyers and would be filing a legal challenge against the government soon.

Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, described the banning of his book as the latest in a long list of incidences of harassment and intimidation by the Barisan Nasional government.

“Since 2009, my office in Kuala Lumpur has been raided a few times and thousands of my cartoon books have been confiscated. The printers, vendors, and bookstores around the country which carry my cartoon works were also raided.

“I was arrested several times and am now facing nine charges under The Sedition Act. The government also banned me from traveling abroad since June 2016,” he said.

He added however that the ban would not stop him from doing what he has been doing all this while.

“I would like to reiterate that this ban will not stop me from drawing cartoons to expose corruption and injustice. You can ban my books, you can ban my cartoons, but you cannot ban my mind.

“When the government is faulty, drawing cartoons is a duty,” he said.

The government had previously banned Zunar’s “Gedung Kartun”, “1 Funny Malaysia”, “Isu Dalam Kartun (Vol 1, 2, 3)”, “Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar”, “Perak Darul Kartun” and “Pirates of Carry-BN”.

He is also facing a charge under the Sedition Act for a few other titles.

On Sept 22, United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune, called for the Malaysian government to drop all sedition charges against Zunar and lift the travel ban imposed on him last June.

She expressed “deep concern” about the charges against the cartoonist, and said she and other UN human rights experts would be following developments in Zunar’s trial closely.