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Sunday, December 18, 2016

'Cartoonists now more dangerous than robbers'

The prominent cartoonist Ujang has lamented that his profession is now being regarded as more dangerous than robbers.
His comments came after the political cartoonist Zunar was again arrested at his fundraising event yesterday, with many volumes of his works confiscated.
In a show of solidarity, Ujang uploaded a drawing that depicts Zunar in handcuffs today.
The caption reads: “Yesterday evening my friend Zunar got arrested again. In Malaysia today, the cartoonist profession has become more dangerous than robbers who plunder the country.”
Ujang, whose real name is Ibrahim Anon, is known for his work in the popular cartoon magazines Gila-Gila and Ujang.
Speaking to Malaysiakini, Ujang said treating dissident cartoonists as the enemy would only breed a voiceless and uncritical generation.
“Sooner or later, people would be afraid to even do (creative) work. Creativity and critical thinking would just die,” he said.
Zunar - whose real name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque - has faced repeated arrests throughout this career over his cartoons that are critical of the government.
He is also facing nine charges under the Sedition Act 1948 since last year.
Yesterday, he was arrested once again along with four others at the “Tea with Zunar” fundraiser held at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall. He was released later that night.

He estimated that he had lost RM30,000 after the police seized 1,000 of his comic books yesterday, and another RM21,000 for his works that were seized by the from an exhibition in Penang three weeks ago.
The fundraiser yesterday was meant to help cover the losses suffered at the raid in Penang.
'Society living in fear'
Ujang warned that treating cartoons in such a manner would cause society to live in fear.
“(If this continues) we can’t do anything. If smiling is construed as an insult, then perhaps we would be arrested for smiling at a night market. We would only live in fear,” he said.
Asked if he is worried by openly showing support for Zunar, Ujang said he is merely speaking up for freedom of expression.
“It is not like they would get anything out of arresting me,” he quipped.
He said members of the public should understand that there are several categories of cartoons.
Apart from slapstick comedy, there are also editorial, nostalgic and political cartoons, he said.
“It is even called ‘political cartoon’, so of course (Zunar’s cartoons) are about politics.

“It shouldn’t be treated like that. There is no need for raids. We should accept it openly in the name of freedom of expression, and say that this is a democratic country,” he said.
Ujang also stresses that his opionons does not mean he sides any political party.
“I support cartoonist’s rights to draw and to criticise.
“If it is wrong, slander, you can charge him. But if you are just going to raid him whenever you feel like it, that’s not democratic,” he said.- Mkini

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