“I don’t know if I will win or lose, but if I don’t fight, I’ll definitely lose.”
These are the words of Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, a cartoonist who goes by the name Zunar and who is facing charges under Malaysia’s Sedition Act and a possible 43 years in jail for speaking out against his government.
He is one of the most persecuted artists in the world.
In February 2015 he was arrested for a Twitter post criticising the court’s ruling that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was guilty of sodomy. In June 2010 five of his books were banned, with the Barisan Nasional government claiming that the cartoons in it could “influence the people to revolt against the leaders and government policies and are detrimental to public order.”
Printers and suppliers of his work have been harassed, with his office raided several times. Zunar is also one of the few Malaysian cartoonists to target public figures, including Prime Minister Najib Razak, and address issues like corruption and abuse of power. But is he a serious threat to national security or even the stability of the Malaysian government?
In this interview for New Mandala Zunar chats to Dr Ross Tapsell about freedom of expression in Malaysia, his work and pending sedition charges.
Watch the interview in the player below.
Interview filmed and produced by Jamie Kidston and Jack Fox, ANU TV.