“If a cartoonist can topple the PM, that is not illegal, but hilarious” — Zunar
A highly placed Malaysian government official has lashed out at the cartoonist Zunar for exhibiting his political cartoons in Geneva. Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruac suggested that criticizing Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in a foreign country could be seen as an act of “economic sabotage,” and is part of a plan to “topple the prime minister.” Zunar responded to the notion of a cartoon coup d’etat: “If a cartoonist can topple the PM, that is not illegal, but hilarious.“
In response to Salleh’s statement that “It is not wrong to have differences in opinion, or to disagree with the government, but why involve other countries,” Zunar reminded the minister that his books of cartoons disagreeing with the government have been banned and confiscated in Malaysia since 2010, and he and his employees jailed and harassed. Zunar is currently facing sedition charges for a series of tweets. If found guilty, the cartoonist faces up to 43 years in prison.
Along with Zunar’s work, the Geneva exhibition includes cartoons by Kenya-based cartoonist Gado and members of Cartooning For Peace. The exhibition was opened after Zunar and Gado were awarded the 2016 Cartooning For Peace Prize for showing courage in their fight for freedom of expression. The exhibition will run through June 4.
In an open post, Zunar suggested that Minister Salleh might better understand his cartoons by buying the cartoonist’s latest book. “If you are still not clear about my cartoons, you can come to my new book launch [for] WASABI (Wa Sapu Billion) on this Saturday (14th May) and buy one. No, you cannot buy it at bookstores, because your ‘democratic’ government has banned it. “