About Me

Zunar To Fight Through Cartoon

ZULKIFLEE ANWAR HAQUE, better known as ZUNAR to Malaysians, is a cartoonist who has been drawing editorial cartoons for the past 20 years in Malaysia.

Background

zunar-Pak-Monggol-2

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.

On 25th Nov 2016, Zunar was forced to call off his exhibition in Penang, due to an attack by pro government thugs. On the following day, Zunar instead was arrested, detained and investigated under two laws: the Sedition Act and the Penal Code.

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 business 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′.

Career as a cartoonist

Zunar produced his first works as early as 1973 which were published in the magazine Bambino. Upon the encouragement of family and friends, his drawings were also published weekly in newspapers and magazines such as the Kisah Cinta magazine and issues of Gila-Gila, a publication by Creative Enterprise Sdn Bhd.

In Gila-Gila, from time to time his cartoons began attracting the attention of readers and publishers as well as due to their cynical and political nature. This gave him an advantage for his work to be published in issues of the Chili Padi magazine (part of the Gila-Gila magazine) under the title Gebang-Gebang.

Zunar then began producing work in a daily-news cartoon strip called Papa. Zunar’s name became well-known when he got himself involved in the Reformasi movement following the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the then deputy prime minister in 1998. His involvement in the movement led to his detention along with several other activists.

After his release, he concentrated on political cartoons. He produced several books of cartoons touching on many reform movements that he had previously participated.
To date he continues to draw political cartoons, namely for politically-owned newspapers, including Harakah.

Technical Work

Zunar uses a lot of pen and brush work with adventurous line techniques. He uses simple strokes with economical lines. His initial strokes in his works then differ from the latest works ~ the lines mature hand in hand with the maturity of his drawings.

His lines and hatching techniques in cartoons is seen more towards the style of editorial cartooning, similar to the works of Mike Peters and Frank Cammuso. In fact, his drawing style combines a bit of both of these two cartoonists’ techniques as seen in their drawings.

Description of his work

Zunar is a cartoonist who always employs sharp satirical humor in his drawings.

  • One of his work entitled Ofis Korner is a biting satire on office staffs slacking at work.
  • Liza deals with a character called Kadok, a dumb person who tries to win over a girl by the name of Liza.
  • Papa, which appeared in the newspaper Berita Harian, featured the life and fate of two siblings in the middle of the rat race and fast-paced city. It represents groups from all walks of life, including the squatters.

Issues & Controversies

1. Banning of books

On June 24, 2010 “1 Funny Malaysia”, a book of his published works from the Malaysiakini website (published by Malaysiakini), and “Gedung Kartun”, “Perak Dalam Kartun” and “Isu Dalam Kartun” which were a series of magazines about political and recent issues in Malaysia and Perak (published by his company Sepakat Efektif Sdn. Bhd.) were banned and prohibited by the Malaysian Home Ministry to be sold in public.
He stated that the bans were illegal and contrary to the rights of free speech guaranteed by the Constitution of Malaysia. On July 27, 2010, he and his employer Malaysiakini filed two separate suits in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to challenge the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs in banning his books.

2. Arrest for sedition

On September 24, 2010 Zunar was arrested by the police and charged for sedition, 3 hours prior to the launching of his just-published book “Cartoon-O-Phobia”. During the arrest the police seized 66 copies of the book. The clamp-down may have been due to reasons that the book contains ‘sensitive’ issues such as the Altantuya murder, the conspiracy against Anwar, the prime minister’s wife Rosmah, the loss of fighter jet engines, the Scorpene submarine that cannot dive, issues in Sarawak, racism, corruption, waste of public funds, among others.

Philosophy

  1. How Can I be Neutral, Even My Pen Has a Stand
  2. Talent is not a gift, talent is a responsibility
  3. They 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

ZUNAR holds that when one’s country is facing a moral crisis and beset by corruption, abuse of power and violations of human rights, then it is one’s duty to take a firm stand against those responsible for it.

As a cartoonist, Zunar feels compelled to show this stand in his work. There are no two ways to it: He must take the risk of fighting for change. Drawing cartoons, to him, becomes a fight for justice. As he puts it, “How can I be neutral, when even my pen has a stand?”

He aims to use cartoons as a weapon to fight corruption and abuse of power of the Malaysian government.
His philosophy is clear: In order to make an impact, we must do what must be done to the fullest. His method is to criticise the most powerful leaders in the hardest of ways.

In his words again: “Why pinch when you can punch?!

In person, he is as straight-talking as he is in his cartoons. Possessing no false modesty, he considers himself one of the best editorial cartoonists in Malaysia. Indeed, the truth of his claim can be gleaned from how the government ignores him as an artist – he is still persona non grata to the mainstream media despite the international awards he has been winning recently –but constantly harasses him for what he draws.

He has been arrested and briefly detained for drawing cartoons that challenged official views. While detained, he was treated a criminal and put in the same cell with drug abusers and robbers.

Seven of his books are banned by the Malaysian government, his office has been raided twice by enforcers, the printing factories that print his books are constantly raided and vendors throughout the country are often warned not to sell his books.

Below is a summary of the challenges he has faced throughout his career:

“GEDUNG KARTUN” Raid

  1. On September 2009, eight officers from the Home Ministry raided his office and confiscated 408 copies of his cartoon magazine, “Gedung Kartun” (Cartoon Store).
  2. He was investigated under the Printing Presses and Publications Act, 1984 (PPPA).
  3. The government also threatened to charge him under the PPPA, which carries a prison term of up to 3 years ora maximum fine of RM20,000 (approximately USD6,280).
  4. Government officials also raided the printing factory and seized the plates.
  5. The factory was warned not to print his books in future, or risk having its printing licence revoked.
  6. The Home Ministry officials also confiscated “Gedung Kartun” from vendors throughout the country and warned them not to sell his books in future.
  7. “Gedung Kartun” was banned thereafter.
  8. The loss he incurred was estimated to be around RM10,000 (USD3,000).

“1 FUNNY MALAYSIA”. “PERAK DARUL KARTUN” (PERAK, LAND OF CARTOON) and “ISU DALAM KARTUN” (ISSUES IN CARTOON) banned

  1. On June 2010, the Malaysian goverment announced the ban on five of his political cartoon publications. The ban was made under the PPPA. The books are:
    1. “1 Funny Malaysia”
    2. “Perak Darul Kartun”
    3. “Isu Dalam Kartun vol 1”
    4. “Isu Dalam Kartun vol 2”
    5. “Isu Dalam Kartun vol 3”
  2. The government claimed that his cartoons “can influence the people to revolt against the leaders and government policies and are detrimental to public order” as a ground for the ban.
  3. This resulted in vendors withdrawing all the books and returning them to ZUNAR. The loss incurred was about RM80,000 (USD25,000).

“CARTOON-O-PHOBIA” Limbo

  1. On 24 September 2010, ten policemen raided his office in Kuala Lumpur, just four hours before the launch of his new cartoon collection, “Cartoon-O-Phobia”. He was arrested, detained and locked up for two days under the draconian Sedition Act 1948, which provides fora maximum penalty of three years of imprisonment. Sixty-six copies of “Cartoon-O-Phobia” and one of the original editorial cartoons meant for the launch were confiscated. All these materials are still in police custody.
  2. At the same time, 30 other policemen raided two separate printing factories and warned them not to print his books in the future, or risk having their printing licences revoked. Police also went to the publisher, Malaysiakini, to search for the remaining stock. As a result of this intimidation, “Cartoon-O-Phobia” cannot be sold openly. Vendors fear the risk of being charged under the Sedition Act by the government. ZUNAR had to survive on online sales, which has a limited market.

Court Battle

ZUNAR has vowed to continue drawing to expose corrupt practices of the Malaysian government as well as fundamental key issues such as abuse of power, police brutality, violation of human rights and misuse of public funds.

  1. July 2010, he filed a suit against the Malaysian government to challenge the banning of his books,“1Funny Malaysia”, “Perak Darul Kartun” and three volumes of “Isu Dalam Kartun”. In the suit, he sought the court to declare that the ban was illegal and an infringement to the rights of free speech guaranteed by the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. The ban also breached the rules of natural justice and was mala fide. However, the suit was rejected by the court on 14 July 2011.
  2. June 2011, he filed another suit to challenge the Malaysian government for unlawfully detaining him on 24 September 2010. ZUNAR claims that the whole arrest and detention process reeked of bad faith and was politically motivated. This suit aims to bring into focus the constitutional and human rights arguments, the police’s excessive powers and abuse, illiberal and outdated laws like the Sedition Act and the PPPA, and the collusion between the government and the police.

Travel ban, book ban, detention, charged, office raided, printer raided, webmaster arrested

cartoontravel-ban-icon

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′.

The Harassment

26th Nov 2016 – Zunar was arrested, detained and investigated under two laws: the Sedition Act and the Penal Code.
25th Nov 2016 –  Zunar was forced to call off his exhibition in Penang (about 4 hours drive up-north from Kuala Lumpur), due to an attack by pro government thugs

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 www.zunar.my. 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

Threat Against Printers

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

Publications

  1. Cartoon on Tun
  2. 1 Funny Malaysia (banned)
  3. Cartoon-O-Phobia (banned)
  4. Even My Pen Has A Stand
  5. Gedung Kartun (Cartoon Store) (banned)
  6. Perak Darul Kartun (Perak, Land of Cartoon) (banned)
  7. Isu Dalam Kartun Vol 1 (Issues in Cartoon) (banned)
  8. Isu Dalam Kartun Vol 2 (Issues in Cartoon) (banned)
  9. Isu Dalam Kartun Vol 3 (Issues in Cartoon) (banned)

Awards

  1. “Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award 2011” by Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI).
  2. Artist-in-Residence 2011 by BilbaoArte/Fundacion and BBK, Spain.
  3. Human Rights Watch Hellman/Hammett Award for 2011 & 2015.
  4. “Cartooning For Peace Award 2016” Geneva
  5. International Press Freedom Award, Committee to Protect Journalist, New York 2015

Contact Zunar

You can reach Zunar via the contact form at the bottom of this page.

Donations welcome, please proceed to this link: http://www.zunar.my/shop/donation/contribute/

Buy Zunar’s books and products: http://www.zunar.my/shop/

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