Controversial cartoonist Zunar is miffed that the Election Commission has deemed political cartoons illegal during the next general election.
KUALA LUMPUR: The drawing of political cartoons, though banned during the next general election (GE), will not stop one satirist from sketching his caricatures.
Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, popularly known as Zunar, said that nothing was going to stop him or fellow cartoonists from lampooning politicians, despite the Election Commission’s (EC) warnings against this.
“Cartoons are legal in Malaysia. Nobody said that cartoons are illegal…Who is the EC to decide whether [political cartoons] are serious or not serious, satire or not?” he told FMT in an interview.
Known for his unflattering portrayals of the ruling Barisan Nasional government, Zunar found it funny that the EC was striking-off political cartoons from its drawing board, when BN itself used them to fight past elections.
He cited the 1986 (7th) general election as an example.
Zunar said that a team led by current entrepreneur Lim Kok Wing came up with cartoons that were used by BN during those elections.
“In 1986, cartoons were widely used by BN… the government booked spaces in the newspapers, [put cartoons] on buntings… why so quiet about it back then?”
He claimed that the rising number of political cartoons criticising the ruling government may have stirred the EC into coming up with the ban.
According to a Bernama report, EC deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said that there were many inappropriate caricatures drawn during the 2011 Sarawak state elections.
Adding that the elections were a serious matter, he alleged that caricatures would “impart a sense of frivolity”.
Unfair blanket rule
The EC planned to take down posters or buntings with cartoons making fun of politicians.
Zunar, a full-time cartoonist, was irked by the decision. He said that the EC should have been going after “irresponsible” cartoonists instead of banning the whole medium.
According to him, many “irresponsible” cartoonists drew without putting their signatures on their sketches.
As such, he said that it would be difficult for the authorities to take action against them.
“You must be responsible for your cartoons and your message. You have to defend your work when people criticise them,” he said, while pointing to an anti-Bersih comic book without any artists’ signatures.
“[On my work] I have my name there, you can challenge me and bring me to court. But with this, who are the cartoonists?”
“Because of one or two irresponsible cartoonists, they want to ban cartoons. If they do that…are you going to ban videos and ceramahs (speeches) too?” he asked.
In a related matter, Zunar said that he was going to take a team of 10 to 15 cartoonists around KL and Selangor during the next elections.
He said that his team, almost entirely consisting of budding cartoonists, would draw sketches and distribute them to the public or put them up on the internet.
Referring to themselves as Kumpulan Kartunis Independen (Independent Cartoonist Group), they would touch on national issues such as the Scorpene submarine scandal and day-to-day election issues.
A lot of their work is already being featured in the opposition party organs such as Harakah and Suara Keadilan.