FAHMI REZA: Graphic artist and activist Fahmi Reza has been charged in Kuala Lumpur with a second infraction of Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Act. Fahmi was charged early last week with posting a graphic of Prime Minister Najib Razak in clown makeup on his Instagram account in January, 2016. The latest charge stems from a February Facebook posting of a poster of PM Najib in clown makeup that implored Malaysians to “Stop spreading disgraceful pictures of national leaders.” Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Act makes it illegal to post material on the Internet deemed to be “obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person.” Activists claim the law is being used to censor artists and stifle critics of Najib Razak and his government. If convicted of this latest charge, Reza could be sentenced to a year in jail and a 50,000 Ringgit ($12,000 US) fine. His hearing is set for June 27.
CARLOS LATUFF: Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff has had the latest compilation of his political cartoons — Latuff: Master of Drawn Opposition — published in Turkey. Latuff’s website, which features many cartoons critical of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was banned in Turkey in January. Latuff said at the time: “This ban is a clear sign that Turkey is everything but a democracy. If you punish artists for mocking politicians, then definitely you do not have a democracy . . . Turkey is the only country where access to my cartoon blog was officially blocked. I haven’t heard of a similar ban in other countries. In the case of Turkey, I have the document from the Turkish government certifying the ban.” The new book includes an interview with the artist by editor Murat Mıhçıoğlu. Mıhçıoğlu told the Hurritet Daily News: “What is surprising is that this edition has been made in Turkey, where Latuff is known to sting and hurt those in power the most . . . Despite what’s going on actually in the country, politicians still talk about having a free press and respecting free expression.”
LESLIE CHEW: Cartoonist Leslie Chew, creator of the popular Demon-cratic Singapore online strip, has protested the police treatment of two Singapore men by describing his own arrest in 2013. “What happened to Teo Soh Lung and Roy are not isolated incidents or once in 50 years kind of things. In March 2013, someone filed a police report over one of my cartoons and just because of that, the police had me arrested under sedition, raided my parent’s home, seized all PCs including my dad’s, seized my phone and all data storage devices, thrown me into their stinky cell for 2 days, handcuffed me like a criminal, interrogated me for over 30 hours with handcuffs on, confiscated my passport and put me under island arrest for 3 months, forbidding me from returning to my home in Malaysia, made me report for police bail countless times, before they discovered that they cannot charge me with sedition and quietly drop the charge . . . But because of their 3 months long investigation over no crime at all, I was made to suffer from having no access to my data which is on my laptop and storage devices. I was forced to stay in Singapore when my home for the past 10 years has been in Malaysia. I would not have been able to work had it not been fans and friends who rallied to get me a replacement phone and PC. My father too had to suffer from not being able to access his data on his PC due to them having seized his ‘for investigation’ too . . . And after suffering all these bullshit over 3 months for committing no crime, what did I get from the Singapore Government? Nothing. No apology, no compensation, not even a single word of sorry.” Chew’s complete Facebook post can be found here.