Don’t like? Don’t read, Zunar says on comic book ban

Political cartoonist Zulkiflee SM Anwarul Haque, popularly known as Zunar.

PETALING JAYA: Political cartoonist Zunar today hit out at the government’s ban on a controversial comic book on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), agreeing however that it should not have been distributed in schools.

“Until today, I haven’t read the whole content of the comic. Personally, I may or may not agree with the content, but I am strongly against the banning of the comic,” he said in a statement.

He cited a Court of Appeal judgment lifting the ban on one of his own comic books in 2014, where the judge and current Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said those who found the content contemptuous or defamatory could have sued him instead.

Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee SM Anwarul Haque, said the same principle should be applied to the BRI comic book, where those who feel the content is defamatory or seditious can file a civil suit in court, thus allowing the artist to defend himself.

“The principle is simple: ‘Cartoons and comics are a matter of interpretation. If you do not agree with the content, no problem. But do not use your interpretation as a law to ban it.’

“Don’t like? Don’t read!”

He added that the total ban of books is also unacceptable from a legal standpoint.

The comic book, “Belt and Road Initiative for Win Winism”, was published by the Asia Comics and Cultural Museum, headed by former DAP member Hew Kuan Yew, in collaboration with local artist Chong Po Ling.

It drew criticism after news that 2,500 copies in Bahasa Malaysia had been distributed to school libraries as reference material.

Hew, a former DAP member, has been questioned by the police several times while the home ministry said yesterday that it had banned the comic book for promoting communism and socialism.