Malaysian artist/activist Fahmi Reza has been charged under his country’s Communications and Multimedia Act for caricaturing President Najib Razak as a clown. Reza first posted the caricature of the scandal-plagued politician on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in January, 2016. Reza’s lawyer reports the cartoonist is also being investigated for sedition. The artist/activist says if found guilty of all potential charges, he could be jailed for five years.
“The original clown-faced Najib Razak artwork,” Fahmi told Vice magazine, “was my reaction to two issues. First, to the news that the Malaysian Attorney-General cleared Najib of any corruption relating to the long-running financial scandal, absolving Najib from all wrongdoing. The level of absurdity that the government used to cover-up the scandal and corruption is astounding. Second, it was a reaction to an Amnesty International report, which states that in 2015 alone there were 91 instances of the Sedition Act being used by the government to arrest, investigate, or charge individuals. In Malaysia, the government is very intolerant of dissent.”