GEORGE TOWN: It was a bittersweet moment for political cartoonist Zunar as he stepped out of his plane into London’s Heathrow Airport yesterday in his first trip out of Malaysia following the lifting of a travel ban imposed on him two years ago.
Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, said while he relished being able to travel overseas again, he hoped no other law-abiding Malaysian would have to go through the same ordeal.
Still bristling with indignation, he said he intended to seek the help of the courts to get to the bottom of why he had been barred from leaving the country by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government and who had ordered it.
“It is karma. Now I am free to travel, but there are some people who caused me hardship with the travel ban. Things have been reversed now. It is a good feeling and I feel free.
“But I will not stop fighting for Malaysians’ civil liberties and freedom to go wherever they wish,” he told FMT in a phone interview from London.
“If I had committed a crime and was banned from leaving the country, then it is okay. But I was put on the travel ban for ‘sebab sebab khas’ (special reasons). It is unacceptable.
“My rights were taken away, I want the court to decide whether the current ruling government can do this again in the future,” Zunar said.
Zunar had sought to challenge his travel ban last year but failed. He had since escalated his case to the Federal Court.
He is currently in the UK till early July, making appearances and speaking at five functions with the Malaysian diaspora there.
He is slated to meet officials from Amnesty International tomorrow, and London mayor Sadiq Khan at London City Hall’s arts and culture department the following day.
Zunar will also be feted at a special event organised by fellow Malaysians in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Supporters UK network at the Millenium Gloucester Hotel on June 30.
The ban was lifted on May 14, five days after the PH ousted BN from Putrajaya in the 14th general election.
He had then described the new government’s decision as a twist of fate for former prime minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor as they had been slapped with a travel ban at about the same time.
Zunar had found out that he was prohibited by Najib’s administration from going overseas when he was prevented from flying to Singapore to attend a forum in October 2016.