Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar, who in September was named a winner of the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, reports that government agents are moving to effectively ban his latest book.
Zunar writes: “A sales assistant who operates online sales of my latest book ‘Sapuman – Man of Steal‘ on the website zunar.my has been called for a police investigation in Dang Wangi, next Monday 5th October 2015 at 12 noon under the Sedition Act. Sapuman is my 18th cartoon book. Previously, seven of my books were banned by the government and confiscated by the police. . .
“This is the second online sales operator of my books being investigated by the police. In November 2014, a webmaster was investigated under the Sedition Act and the Penal Code. The police also harrassed the ‘Payment Gateway’ MOLPay to disclose the names of my online customers, but the company claimed they refused to disclose the required information. My books cannot be sold in stores throughout the country due to pressures by the authorities.
“I strongly condemn this latest police tactics to frighten people from getting access to read and buy my books. My sales assistant did nothing illegal as the ‘Sapuman – Man of Steal‘ is not officially banned by the government.”
Zunar (Zulkiflee Sm Anwar Ulhaque) is the first cartoonist ever awarded the CPJ International Press Freedom Award. Zunar was also asked in October to join Amnesty International’s 2015 Write For Rights (#W4R) campaign.
“Through the #W4R campaign, members and supporters of Amnesty International will show solidarity and give support to those whose rights are being suppressed by governments,” AI Malaysia executive director Darshni Shahmini said. “We are very proud to be able to work with Zunar in this global campaign where we have some seven million Amnesty activists and a wide community of supporters who will draw international attention to the state of freedom of expression in Malaysia.”
Zunar was awarded CRNI’s Courage in Editorial Cartooning award in 2011. He was recipient of the Human Rights Watch Hellman-Hammett Award for his courage in promoting and defending free speech in 2011 and 2015.
Zunar is currently charged with 9 counts of sedition for tweets made following a controversial court decision earlier this year. If convicted, the charges could result in a 43 year prison sentence.