14

Oct

Najib lies about cartoonists and the freedom of expression

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Najib lies about cartoonists and the freedom of expression
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak spoke lies and avoided addressing the government’s restraints towards cartoonists in his speech at the Kampung Boy Award 2015 in Putrajaya last night. Najib was quoted by the media as saying that the government allowed cartoonists to touch on political issues. This is a lie. It is clear that under his leadership, political cartoons are banned and political cartoonists are arrested, as it was in my case.
In his speech, Najib advised cartoonists to avoid Charlie Hebdo-styled cartoons as these were not sensitive to religious issues. The PM need not go too far in worrying about Charlie Hebdo, because cartoonists in Malaysia respect religious and racial sensitivities. The bigger issue for Malaysian cartoonists is the narrowing of the space to freely express due to constraints found in our laws including the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act.
These acts are weapons of the government which cause cartoonists to fear criticising cases of corruption including the 1MDB scandal and the billions of ringgit found in Najib’s personal bank accounts. Due to this, cartoonists fail to discharge their responsibilities as critics to the government of the day. Cartoons are funny, but the government action against cartoonis is funnier.
With such legislation in place, mainstream media fear providing spaces within their media for cartoonists to be critical, and this maims the aspirations of new cartoonists. This practice greatly differs from other ASEAN countries including in Indonesia and the Philippines and even Myanmar of late.
I welcome Najib’s announcement that the government will allocate a “house” for cartoonists to display their works, apart from it being a gathering place. However, this is “BRIM-styled” approach and does not solve the problems in the cartooning industry in Malaysia.
Apart from government censorship, the national cartooning industry has been flooded with the foreign publications especially from Hong Kong and Japan which has put several local magazines out of business. I am made to understand that the Home Ministry approves hundreds of foreign magazine permits from Hong Kong and Japan every year. The government needs to introduce tough measures to control the influx of foreign cartoon magazines to protect the local industry and local cartoonists.
Najib should stop advising cartoonists. I would instead like to advice him to immediately abolish the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Sedition Act.
Create a wide space for cartoonists to express themselves. Funny cartoonists draw funny cartoons, but funnier is the government who restricts cartoonists.
Zunar
Political cartoonist
13 Oktober 2014
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Najib berbohong soal kartunis dan hak berekspresi
Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. tidak bercakap benar dan mengelak dari menyentuh masalah kekangan kerajaan terhadap kartunis dalam ucapannya dalam majlis Anugerah Kampung Boy 2015 untuk kaertunis di Putrajaya malam tadi.
Najib dipetik media sebagai berkata, bahawa kerajaan membenarkan kartunis menyentuh isu politik.
Ini adalah pembohongan nyata kerana di bawah pemerintahan beliau, karya-karya kartun politik diharamkan dan kartunis politik ditangkap, seperti dalam kes saya sendiri. Dalam ucapan itu juga, Najib menasihati kartunis supaya tidak cuba mengikut gaya lukisan oleh kartunis Charlie Hebdo yang tidak sensitif dalam isu agama. PM tak perlu merawang jauh tentang Charlie Hebdo kerana kartunis-kartunis di Malaysia menghormati sensitiviti agama dan kaum kerana itu ia bukan isu di negara ini. Isu besar yang kartunis hadapi ialah sempitnya ruang berekspesi kerana kekangan undang seperti Akta Hasutan dan juga Akta Mesin Cetak & Penerbitan. Akta-akta ini adalah senjata kerajaan yang menyebabkan kartunis-kartunis tidak berani mengkritik perlakuan rasuah seperti skandal 1MDB dan isu berbilion ringgit dalam akaun peribadi Najib sendiri. Ini menyebabkan kartunis-kaertunis gagal menjalankan tanggungjawab sebagai pengritik kerajaan. (goverment of the day). Kartun lucu, tetapi tindakan kerajaan menyekat kartunis lebih lucu.
Akta-akta ini juga menyebabkan akhbar-akhbar arus perdana tidak berani menyediakan ruang untuk kartunis-kartunis yang bersikap kritikal dalam akhbar mereka dan ini membunuh aspirasi kartunis-kartunis baru. Ia jauh berbeza dengan amalam kerajaan Asean lain seperti Indonesia dan Filipina, malah Myanmar sejak akhir-akhir ini.
Saya mengalu2kankan pengumuman Najib bahawa kerajaan akan memperuntukan sebuah ‘rumah’ bagi kartunis mempamerkan karya mereka selain dijadikan tempat berkumpul. Namun, kaedah “BR1M-styled” dan bukanlah penyelesaian kepada masalah yang melanda industri kartun di Malaysia. Selain dari penapisan dari kerajaan, industri kartun tanahair menghadapi masalah kebanjiran penerbitan kartun-kartun dari luar terutama dari Hong Kong dan Jepun yang menyebabkan beberapa majalah kartun tempatan terpaksa gulung tikar dan juga semakin tidak laku. Saya difahamkan ratusan permit dilulus oleh KDN bagi majalah kartun dari Hong Kong dan Jepun setiap tahun. Kerajaan mengambil langkah tegas mengawal kemasukkan majalah-majalah seperti ini bagi menlindungi industri dan juga kartunis tempatan.
Cukuplah Najib untuk menasihati kartunis. Saya ingin menasihati Najib supaya segera menghapuskan akta Akta Mesin Cetak & Penerbitan serta Akta Hasutan. Wujudkan ruang berekpresi yang luas kepada kartunis.
Zunar
Kartunis Politik
13 Oktober 2014
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