Banned Malaysian Cartoonist Exhibits Work in London

by Betsy Gomez

Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque’s work is banned in his home country of Malaysia, where he is better known as political cartoonist Zunar. Because of his work, Zunar has had his office raided and his books banned, and he’s been detained by authorities on sedition charges. Zunar may ultimately have the last laugh later this month when his work goes on display in a London gallery.

From Southest Asia Realtime, a blog for The Wall Street Journal:

About 80 of his cartoons will be displayed for a month from Feb. 15 at a gallery in London’s East End under the theme “To Fight Through Cartoon.” A veteran of Malaysia’s dissident scene – and one of the few satirists willing to take open shots at the government – Mr. Zulkiflee says he hopes his visual medium will make the issues of “abuse of power, corruption and human rights violations” in Malaysia more accessible and understandable to audiences outside the country’s borders.

Zunar was arrested in 2010 on sedition charges for Even My Pen Has a Stand, a book that joins the rest of his titles in being banned throughout Malaysia. As with Vietnam’s censorship of youth comics, Malaysians have been able to access Zunar’s books online, but he has little hope of prevailing in his fight against government censorship. Zunar lost the initial hearings in his case, so he relies on the Internet to get his work out:

“In Malaysia, Facebook and Twitter is not just a social network, but the alternative network,” he said. Though Mr. Zulkiflee’s books are banned, they can be ordered online and are available through the internet and on the website of Malaysiakini, the local newspaper he draws for.

For more on the censorhsip of Zunar’s work, visit Southeast Asia Realtime here.

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Betsy Gomez is the Web Editor for CBLDF.