Saturday, 25 September 2010

Malaysia, Budaya Populer dan Media Massa: Sysssshhhhh Jangan Ketawa, Tertawa dan Mentertawa...we are Malaysians

By Agence France-Presse, Updated: 9/24/2010

Malaysian cartoonist arrested over comic book

A Malaysian political cartoonist said Friday he had been arrested under the Sedition Act and his offices raided by police over his new book, just hours before its planned launch.

Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque -- better known as Zunar -- uses cartoons to highlight contentious issues such as the sodomy trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and police shootings.

Zunar said police seized 70 copies of his latest book, called "Cartoon-O-Phobia", at his home and held him ahead of its scheduled launch Friday evening.

"Police came and raided my office in the afternoon... now they said I am arrested under the Sedition Act," he told AFP by telephone while in custody at a police station.

"They say my new book is seditious. Certainly this is intimidation of cartoonists," he said, adding that police had not told him which cartoon in the book was considered seditious.

Police officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

In July, Zunar launched a legal battle against the government in a bid to lift a ban on two earlier comic books which authorities said threatened public order.

"The raid at his office and his arrest only go to prove that the authorities are cartoon-phobic," said Steven Gan, chief editor of online news portal Malaysiakini, the publisher of "Cartoon-O-Phobia" and some of Zunar's earlier books.

"This is an attack on freedom of expression, it again shows that the authorities have no sense of humour," he told AFP.

Gan said the 80-page book had a caricature of Prime Minister Najib Razak's wife on the front cover and contained cartoons that touched on numerous controversial issues.

Najib, who took office in the mainly Muslim country in April last year, had promised to promote openness and transparency but has since faced accusations that his administration is trying to silence critics.

Major newspapers and broadcasters are closely linked with the ruling coalition, so the Internet has become a lively forum for dissent and debate.

Unlike the mainstream press, the web and online media in Malaysia have remained relatively free, despite occasional raids, bans and government criticism.

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