Can a political cartoonist threaten Malaysia’s government?

In this video recorded at the Food Co-Op, Malaysia’s best known political cartoonist, Zunar discusses his work and pending sedition charges with Southeast Asian society scholar Dr Ross Tapsell from the School of Culture, History & Language in the College of Asia & the Pacific at ANU.

Zunar is currently facing nine charges under the Sedition Act, with a potential jail time of 43 years. Zunar is one of the most persecuted political cartoonists in the world. He was arrested in February 2015 for his Twitter post of being critical of the court decision to find opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim guilty of sodomy. He has already been detained twice under this law. In June 2010 five of his cartoon books were banned in the country with the Malaysian government under Barisan Nasional (BN) claiming that the cartoons "can influence the people to revolt against the leaders and government policies and are detrimental to public order". Printers and suppliers of his works have been harrassed, and his office raided several times. Zunar is one of the few Malaysian cartoonists to target public figures, including Prime Minister Najib, and address issues such as corruption and abuse of power. But can he really threaten national security or even the stability of the Malaysian government?

About the Speaker

Zunar, pen name for Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, has been a political cartoonist for two decades. He has received several international awards, including the Cartoonist Rights Network International’s Courage in Editorial Cartooning award in 2011, the Human Rights Watch Hellman-Hammett Award for his courage in promoting and defending free speech in 2011 and 2015, the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists in September 2015 (the first cartoonist to receive the award), and the 2016 Cartooning For Peace award on World Press Freedom Day (3 May).

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