Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October 2014, 16:06 GMT

Cartoonist Zunar goes to court to challenge ban on his books

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 2 November 2010
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Cartoonist Zunar goes to court to challenge ban on his books, 2 November 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4cd3ca81c.html [accessed 22 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anawar Ulhaque, better known by the pen-name of Zunar, has brought a legal action challenging a government ban on two of his cartoon books, "Funny Malaysia" and "Perak Darul Kartun." A Kuala Lumpur court is due to hear the case on 8 November.

Reporters Without Borders hopes the Malaysian judicial system is able to act independently and that it will order the government to lift the ban. A ruling in Zunar's favour would send a strong signal that there is an urgent need to overhaul the Printing and Publication Act, under which the authorities can ban a book and arrest the author or publisher.

Zunar answered questions from Reporters Without Borders in this exclusive interview:



In a separate case, Zunar is facing a possible three-year jail sentence in a prosecution brought against him by the government for publishing another collection of cartoons called "Cartoon-o-phobia."

Reporters Without Borders urges the government to drop the prosecution and restore all the copies of "Cartoon-o-phobia" that were seized when Zunar was arrested and held overnight in September.

Zunar described his career as a cartoonist to Reporters Without Borders: "I did not do any art or drawing course. I studied science and worked as a technician in a public hospital from 1983 to 1986. At the same time, I began sending my cartoons to the magazine Gila-Gila and then, in 1993 to New Straits Times. But this newspaper often censored my cartoons.

"What started me off doing political cartoons was the Anwar Ibrahim case. I told myself I had to take a stand. In 1999, I joined the Islamic opposition newspaper Harakah, where my work was appreciated. That is how I began making a name for myself. Subsequently, in 2002, I joined Malaysiakini and I am still there.

"I have always liked political books, which is very different from practising politics. I don't belong to any party. In my view, a political cartoonist must be well informed, he must know about legal matters, human rights and so on. I hope that, through my cartoons, people understand what is going on. I would like to be a pioneer and for other young cartoonists to take this road. I have already worked with several of them."

More information: http://en.rsf.org/malaisie-cartooni...

Malaysia was ranked 141th out of 178 countries in the 2010 world press freedom index which Reporters Without Borders released on 20 October.

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