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Jul

Banning of Zunar’s 1Funny Malaysia & Perak Darul Kartun. The appeal is on 15th July 2013

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LATEST! THE COURT HAS SET 30 SEPT 2013 TO HEAR THE CASE

The Court of Appeal has fixed Monday, 15th July 2013 to hear the appeal by Zunar and Malaysiakini against the banning of Zunar’s comic books 1Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun by the Home Ministry.

THE STATUS

Cover Final - Create outlineOn May 25, 2010 the Home Ministry banned Zunar’s, 1Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun, published respectively by Malaysiakini and Zunar’s own company Sepakat Efektif Sdn Bhd.

The ministry prohibited the printing, production, sale, distribution or possession of the two books because they were prejudicial to public order under Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act.

Zunar and Malaysiakini had on Jul 27, 2010 filed a suit to challenged the banning.

On July 2011 The Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge, Justice Datuk Rohana Yusuf upheld the Home Ministry’s ban on 1Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun.

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THE BACKGROUND

The ban was effected by the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) (No.5) Order 2010 [P.U.(A) 208 / 2010] which was published on 17th June 2010 in the Government Gazette. The ban was made by the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Datuk Wira Abu Seman bin Yusop, “on behalf and in the name” of the Minister of Home Affairs.

The only ground for banning the book is stated in the Order itself. Both books are said to be “prejudicial to public order”. The Order is said to be made pursuant to Section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

1Funny Malaysia was published by Malaysiakini in November 2009. Almost all the cartoons in this book were featured in the Malaysiakini website from October 2006 to November 2009. Perak Darul Kartun was published by Zunar himself through his publishing company Sepakat Efektif Sdn. Bhd. in November 2009. This book features political cartoons of many different artists led by Zunar.

Since the books are different, and are published by two different companies, we have been advised that we should file separate applications for judicial review.

REASONS FOR CHALLENGE

Both Malaysiakini and Zunar contend that the banning of these books by the Government is an attempt to suppress political expression and to curtail the free exchange of opinions and ideas between the citizens of Malaysia, a right enshrined by Article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution. It is our view that such a ban is unnecessary in a democratic society like Malaysia.

We have alleged in our Court proceedings that the ban is an abuse of power by the Government to stifle legitimate criticism of the ruling Government’s policies and the current Prime Minister. We are at a loss to understand how these political cartoons giving fair comment and satire of Malaysian politics and politicians can pose a threat to public order. No evidence of any disturbance or alleged disturbance has been shown to either of us. Neither of us were given an opportunity to be heard before the decision to ban the books were made.

Neither of us were never given any reasons for the banning of the book aside from the statement that the book is prejudicial to public order.

The Government’s action in banning these cartoons is inconsistent with the representations it makes to the world about promoting human rights.

This is particularly disappointing considering that Malaysia is a member of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council for the term of 2010 to 2013.

COURT CHALLENGE

We are challenging the ban on the following grounds:-

  1. The ban is illegal, as it is an infringement of our rights of free speech guaranteed by the Federal Constitution and is ultra vires (outside the scope) of the Printing Presses and PublicationsAct 1984 since the books are not prejudicial to public order
  2. The ban was made in breach of the rules of natural justice and not done fairly as we were not heard before the ban was made and we were not given the reasons for the ban
  3. The ban is a wholly disproportionate response to our books.

We are therefore asking the Court to make the following orders:

  1. An order of certiorari to quash the ban on the 2 books.
  2. A declaration that the ban is null and void and of no effect as it is ultra vires section 7 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and against our constitutional right under Article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution.
  3. Damages for the losses we are incurring because we cannot sell these books.

En Fahri Azzat from the firm of Azzat & Izzat is acting as our solicitor, and we have a team of lawyers who have agreed to act as counsel for us in this public interest litigation, namely: Edmund Bon Tai Soon, Amer Hamzah Arshad, Edward Saw, K Shanmuga and Aston Paiva.

The Court is expected to fix a hearing date for the application we are filing today for leave to apply for judicial review. The application is heard “ex parte” (one side only) but must be served on the Attorney Generals Chambers 3 days before the hearing date. If leave is given, the main substantive application for judicial review will then be heard.

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LATAR BELAKANG

PERAK DARUL KARTUN coverPengharaman tersebut adalah di bawah Akta Mesin Cetak dan Penerbitan (Kawalan penerbitan tidak sesuai) (No.5) Order 2010 [P.U.(A) 208 / 2010] yang digazetkan pada 17 Jun 2010. Pengharaman ini dilakukan oleh Timbalan Menteri Dalam Negeri Datuk Wira Abu Seman bin Yusop “bagi pihak dan atas nama Kementerian Dalam Negeri.”

Satu-satunya alasan pengharam tersebut dinyatakan dalam arahan itu sendiri, iaitu kedua-dua buku dikatakan “boleh mengencam ketenteraman awam”. Arahan tersebut dikatakan dibuat mengikut Seksyen 7 Akta Mesin Cetak dan Penerbitan 1984.

1Funny Malaysia adalah koleksi karya-karya pilihan kartun Zunar yang tersiar dalam ruangan Cartoonkini dalam portal web Malaysiakini dari tahun 2005 hingga 2009. Perak Darul Kartun buku terbitan syarikat yang dimiliki Zunar sendiri, Sepakat Efektif Sdn Bhd menampilkan karya-karya Zunar bersama beberapa kartunis dan penulis tempatan.

Oleh kerana kedua-dua buku tersebut adalah berbeza dan diterbitkan oleh dua syarikat yang berbeza, kami dinasihatkan untuk memfail dua semakan kehakiman yang berasingan.

ALASAN PENCABARAN

Kedua-dua Malaysiakini dan Zunar berpendapat pengharaman tersebut adalah percubaan kerajaan untuk mengekang hak kebebasan bersuara dan menghalang hak kebebasan untuk bertukar-tukar pendapat serta idea diantara rakyat Malaysia.

Kerana kedua-dua hak ini dijamin dalam Artikel 10 (1) (a) Perlembagaan Persekutuan, kami berpendapat pengharaman ini adalah tidak wajar dalam sebuah negara demokrasi seperti Malaysia.

Kami juga berpendapat pengharaman ini adalah satu bentuk penyalahgunaan kuasa oleh kerajaan untuk membisukan kritikan terhadap polisi kerajaan dan Perdana Menteri sekarang.

Kami tidak dapat memahami bagaimana kartun-kartun politik yang secara satira memberi komen mengenai politik serta ahli-ahli politik Malaysia boleh mengancam ketenteraman awam. Tidak ada bukti bahawa mengenai ternacamannya ketenteraman awam yang ditunjukkan kepada kami (oleh pihak kerajaan). Begitu juga kami tidak diberi peluang untuk memberi penjelasan sebelum pengharaman tersebut dibuat.

Kami juga tidak diberitahu sebarang alasan mengenai pengharaman tersebut melainkan melalui kenyataan media bahawa buku-buku itu mengancam ketenteraman awam.

Tindakan kerajaan mengharamkan buku-buku ini tidak konsisten dengan representasi yang dibuat kepada dunia mengenai hak asasi. Tambah mengecewakan Malaysia adalah ahli The United Nation’s Human Rights Council bagi penggal 2010 hingga 2013.

TUNTUTAN

Kami mencabar pengharaman ini atas alasan berikut:

  1. Pengharaman ini tidak sah, kerana ia bertentangan dengan hak kebebasan bersuara yang dijamin oleh Perlembagaan Persekutuan.
  2. Pengharaman ini tidak sah kerana ia bersifat ultra vires (tidak terdapat dalam skop) Akta Mesin Cetak dan Penerbitan 1984 memandang buku-buku tersebut tidak mengancam ketenteraman awam.
  3. Pengharaman ini melanggar undang-undang sejagat dan tidak dilakukan dengan adil kerana kami tidak diberi peluang memberi penjelasan sebelum pengharaman ini dibuat dan tidak diberitahu mengenai alasan pengharaman.
  4. Pengharaman ini adalah satu bentuk tindak balas yang tidak wajar terhadap buku-buku kami.

Kerana itu kami memohon arahan mahkamah seperti berikut:

  1. Arahan untuk membatalkan pengharaman ke atas kedua-dua buku tersebut.
  2. Pengistiharan bahawa pengharaman tersebut adalah tidak boleh diterima pakai dan tidak sah serta tidak boleh dikuatkuasa kerana ia bersifat ultra vires bagi Akta Mesin Cetak dan Penerbitan 1984 dan bertentangan dengan hak kami yang dijamin dalam Artikel 10 (1)(a) Perlembagaan Persekutuan.
  3. Kos Kerugian dan kerosakan kerana tidak dapat menjual buku-buku tersebut.

Kami diwakili oleh Edmund Bon Tai Soon, Amer Hamzah Arshad, Edward Saw, K Shanmuga, Aston Paiva dan Fahri Azzat.

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