Blog Syndicate

Malaysia Harassing Cartoonist Again

My Malaysian cartoonist buddy, Zunar, is suffering again from the thin-skinned government thugs. Zunar has been butting heads with humorless, Malaysian authorities for years. Here’s an interview I did with Zunar a couple of years ago at Ohio State University.

Last week Lunar was assaulted and detained by government goons at at exhibition of his work, leading to a renewed flurry of posts among cartooning organizations in support of Zunar; here’s the update from Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) and here’s the translated post from Cartooning for Peace in Paris. Zunar sent a timeline of his experiences to his supporters in a mass email that I’ve pasted below. Good luck, Zunar!

From Zunar:
10th Sedition charge is on the way
On 26 November 2016, I was arrested, detained and investigated under two laws: the Sedition Act and the Penal Code. The arrest was made a day after an attack on me and my exhibition by the pro-government thugs. The exhibition was held at Komtar Mall in Penang, about 4 hours drive up-north from Kuala Lumpur. All 20 drawings that were exhibited have been confiscated by the police and now placed under their custody.
Even though I have been released, the harassment from the Malaysian government is far from over. I have to report back to the police in Penang on 27 December 2016 for further investigation. And yesterday (26 November), two peeple who assisted me in organizing the exhibition were also called up by the police for questioning.
I can smell that the 10th charge of the Sedition Act is on the way. I am already facing 9 charges under that draconian act and the trial is set to be on 24 January 2017.
Political cartoonist
27 Nov 2016)
Zunar (Zulkiflee Sm Anwar Ulhaque) is a political cartoonist from Malaysia. With slogan, “How Can I be Neutral, Even My Pen Has a Stand”, he exposes corruption and abuse of power committed by the government of Malaysia through his art.
Malaysian government is now imposing a travel ban on Zunar to prevent from travelling abroad.
Zunar is also now facing nine charges under the archaic Sedition Act and facing possible 43 years imprisonment and the court proceeding will start on 22nd Nov 2016. He was detained and locked behind bars twice under the Sedition Act – first time was on September 2010 for two days and on 10th of February 2015 for three days.
Five of his cartoon books have been banned by the Malaysian government on the ground that the
contents are “detrimental to public order.” His office in Kuala Lumpur has been raided a few times and
thousands cartoon books were confiscated.
The printers, vendors, and bookstores, have been harassed. Their premises have been raided and they have been warned not to print or carry any of his books or their bussiness licence will be revoked.
Three of his assistants were arrested. The webmaster, who manages his website and online bookstore, was called in by the police for questioning.
Zunar is the only Malaysian selected by Amnesty International as the first Malaysian for their biggest annual international campaign, ‘Write for Rights (#W4R) 2015′.
17 Oct 2016 – Zunar was banned from traveling abroad by the Malaysian government.
He will file a legal proceeding to challenge the ruling.
2 April 2015 – Zunar was slapped with nine charges under the archaic Sedition Act and facing possible 43 years imprisonment and the court proceeding will starts on 22nd Nov 2016.
Feb 28 2015 – More than 20 policemen raided his launching event in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur and treaten to detain him and confiscate the book, ROS in Kangkong Land if he proceed. He had to cancel the program.
Feb 14 2015 – Hundreds of the books, ROS in Kangkong Land were confiscated by the police from the printer’s lorry en-route to the launching venue.
Feb 10, 2015 – Zunar was detained and locked up for three days under the Sedition Act. He was accused to have tweeted seditious comments in relation to the Federal Court’s decision which upheld the conviction of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
The police opened up two separate investigations on him under the Sedition Act.  One is on the tweet criticising Mr Anwar’s sentence under the D5 Unit (Classified Crime). Another is on his cartoon books ‘Pirates of The Carry-BN’ and ‘Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar’.
28 Jan 2015 –  There was a raid on his office while he was on a speaking tour in London. More than 150 books were confiscated. Laws used: Printing Presses and Publications Act, Sedition Act, Penal Code.
6 Nov 2014 –  Three of his assistants were arrested and taken to the police station for selling his latest cartoon books. Law used: Sedition Act.
16 Nov 2014 –  The webmaster, who manages his website and online bookstore, was called in by the police for questioning. Law used: Sedition Act.
18 Nov 2014 –  The police have asked the online payment gateway that handles his book transactions to disclose the list of customers who have purchased his books through the official website The company was given no choice but to disclose it.
Law used: Sedition Act.
20 Nov 2014 –  Zunar was brought in for questioning to the Dang Wangi Police Station in Kuala Lumpur under the ‘Classified Crime Section’ involving three different laws.
Laws used: Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Sedition Act, Penal Code.
24 Sept 2010: Zunar was detained and locked up for two days after the publication of his book ‘Cartoon-O-Phobia’. Law used: Sedition Act.
July 2010: Five of his books – ‘Perak Darul Kartun’; ‘1 Funny Malaysia, ‘Isu Dalam Kartun’ Vol.1, 2, and 3 – were banned by the Home Minister on the grounds that the contents are “detrimental to public order.” Law used: Printing Presses and Publications Act.
Sept 2009: His office was raided by the authorities. Five hundred (500) copies of his book titled ’Gedung Kartun’ were confiscated. Law used: Printing Presses and Publications Act
Three companies which printed his books were raided. They were warned to not print his books in the future or their licence will be revoked. As a result, no printer dares to print his book. He has resorted to redacting the name of the printer to protect them. This is against the law, but he has no choice. The law in Malaysia requires both names of printing company and publisher on all publications.
Laws used: Printing Presses and Publications Act, Sedition Act.
Assault on vendors/book stores
Bookstores’ premises around the country were raided by authority and they were warned to not sell his books in the future or thier licence will be revoked.
Law used: Printing Presses and Publications Act, Sedition Act
1. How Can I be Neutral, Even My Pen Has a Stand
2. Talent is not a gift, talent is a responsibility
3. The can ban my books, they can ban my cartoon, but they cannot ban my mind, I will keep drawing until the last drop of my ink
1)  “Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award 2011” by Cartoonists Right
Network International
2) “Cartooning For Peace Award 2016” Geneva
3) Human Rights Watch Hellman/Hammett Award for 2011 & 2015
4) International Press Freedom Award, Committee to Protect Journalist, New York 2015

By Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle is the publisher of and owner of Cagle Cartoons, Inc, which which is a major distributor of editorial cartoons and columns to newspapers and digital publishers. See Daryl's blog at:, see his site at: get permission to reprint his cartoons at:

6 replies on “Malaysia Harassing Cartoonist Again”

This sort of political harassments, I reckon, are generally common to Asian countries. The Sedition Law is often used to shut opposition up. It stems from the belief that it is a "lost of face" to allow such protests to continue….

We should thank our lucky stars that we still live in a country which tolerates such action, but free speech is quite the double-edged sword. Isn't it ironic that, no matter which side they're on, people want to control the actions of the other side?

Malaysia has a problem. They once were lumped together with Singapore by the British. Singapore is wealthy with good health care and a somewhat democratic form of government. Malaysia is relatively poor. So, like Trump in the United States their successful politicians push empty nationalism and threats of repression (Trump threatens to sue everybody) to keep people in line.

Why don't Zunar move? If he was at at Ohio State, he could have applied for asylum. He would have an excellent case.

Comments are closed.