Holding back tears, Anwar reminisces about shared ‘suffering’ with cartoonist

Visitors looking at cartoonist Zunar’s exhibits at the Penang State Art Gallery in Dewan Sri Pinang, George Town, today.

GEORGE TOWN: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim held back tears recalling how political cartoonist Zunar was mistreated by the previous administration over the years.

At the opening of Zunar’s exhibition of cartoons here, Anwar said he could relate to the suffering the cartoonist underwent as both of them were persecuted by the powers that be before.

“I am nearly choking (sebak) as I say this because I feel sentimental whenever I see Zunar’s artworks. It reminds me of the suffering we both went through together.

“And these artworks show the tangible suffering Zunar underwent.

“His works show how important cartoonists are to the country’s development,” Anwar said when opening Zunar’s cartoon exhibition at the state art gallery space at Dewan Sri Pinang here today.

More than 200 of his artworks will be on display there until May 28.

Zunar had been charged nine times under the Sedition Act 1948 for being critical of the past BN government and its leaders. He was also jailed five times before and has had his offices raided a few times, with thousands of books confiscated.

Anwar said Zunar’s art pieces ought to be carried by other state art galleries in the country, as his works relate to problems faced by the common folk.

He said Zunar has a pulse on what the people are thinking and conveyed their feelings through his cartoons. He said that is why Zunar is popular.

Later, Zunar was asked by reporters how he felt about PH’s administration a year later. He said while he wished the economy would improve, it was unfair to make such demands when PH had inherited massive financial problems from BN.

Hence, Zunar said PH should be given more time to work on the economy and the promised institutional reforms.

He gave the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 as an example and said it has yet to be repealed.

Zunar said in the meantime, he would continue to criticise and lampoon the government of the day, but yet “rebuild the country” through his work.

“Humour is the best way to criticise and protest against what is not right. That is my job as a cartoonist.”