Tag Archives: zulkifli anwar ulhaque

Cartoonist Fights for Free Speech in Kuala Lumpur

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Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better-known among comic fans as Zunar is pushing against the Malaysian government in a fight over free speech and censorship.  In September 2010, police arrested Zunar on a sedition charge just hours before a book release party.  He’s one of the few cartoonists willing to take on the government in the country.  The government claimed he violated the Printing Presses and Publications Act because he didn’t have a license to publish.  He was later released without charge.

The majority Muslim nation is finally easing it’s strict censorship laws, but that’s only after decades of repressive and strict control over free speech.  Last month, authorities banned a television commercial made by famous actors and musicians urging Malaysians to exercise their right to vote and featuring both government and opposition politicians lip-synching to a pro-democracy song.  The government claimed it wasn’t ok’ed to air.

While there is some easing of laws in the lead up to elections that must be called in 18 months, that doesn’t include sedition laws which are used to prosecute against speech the government doesn’t like and you’ll still need to apply to print if you don’t have one already.

As a whole the Asian region has issues with freedom of political speech and freedom of expression, especially those that falls in the category of criticizing the government.  Luckily many are turning to the internet where such laws can’t be enforced.  But, Zunar has already felt the force of the existing laws.  While there’s lots of talk, the real test will be if we see political cartoons by Zunar printed in his nation’s newspapers.

Malaysian Censorship Fight


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In June and July we told you about a fight brewing in Malaysia over the censorship of two cartoons.  From our original article:

Malaysia has banned a book and two comics by political cartoonist Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque.  The government felt the material was “undesirable” and could “incite people to revolt.”

Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque who has focused on issues such as opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial and police shootings, dismissed the allegations and vowed to continue drawing.

In July a challenge to the banning was thrown down:

Malaysiakini and political cartoonist Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque have decided to challenge Malaysia’s Home Ministry’s decision to ban two Zulkifli’s comics.  The two books, 1 Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun were published in November 2009 and banned in June under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

Malaysiakini and Ulhaque were granted leave to challenge the ruling.  High court judge Justice Mohd Zawawi Salleh has picked November 8 to next hear about the case after meeting with the two.

The applicants are seeking a lift to the ban as well as compensation for damages such as unsold books.

Malaysiakini Challenges Comic Ban


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Malaysiakini and political cartoonist Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque have decided to challenge Malaysia’s Home Ministry’s decision to ban two Zulkifli’s comics.  The two books, 1 Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun were published in November 2009 and banned in June under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

The ministry claimed the two books were “prejudicial to public order” but those arguing against the ban are claiming such an extreme act by the ministry is an abuse of power and an attempt to muzzle criticism of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his administration.

The two are represented by lawyers Fahri Azzat, Edmund Bon, K Shanmuga, Amer Hamzah Arshad, Edward Saw and Aston Paiva.

The review would also seek damages on losses incurred due to the inability to sell the books.

Malaysia Drops the Banhammer


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Another week, another controversy about censorship.  This time it’s in Malaysia.  Malaysia has banned a book and two comics by political cartoonist Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque.  The government felt the material was “undesirable” and could “incite people to revolt.”

Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque who has focused on issues such as opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial and police shootings, dismissed the allegations and vowed to continue drawing.

Secretary-General of the powerful home ministry Mahmood Adam said the three publications were “deemed unsuitable and undesirable for public reading.”

All three publications have been banned for its contents can influence the people to revolt against the leaders. The contents are not suitable and are detrimental to public order.

You can read the full statement by Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque in response to the banning here.