For the past couple of years, Zunar has been popping up in my newsfeed and for all the wrong reasons. Instead of his cartoons, I seem to be fed with news of his arrests and court hearings. So when I heard about a tea party with the infamous cartoonist, I decided it was about time I met him personally.
Arriving at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) before the scheduled party at 3pm, I decided to check out Zunar’s books and T-shirts. I have to say his interpretation of Donald Dedak and Mickey Mah made me chuckle. Clearly, Zunar’s wit and sarcasm are outstanding.
Politics no doubt revolves around serious matters that require a certain level of intelligence in order to be fully appreciated. But to transform such serious matters into amusing comics is truly a God-given talent.
“Would you like to have Teh Tarik? We also have some karipaps, meehoon and other snacks,” said a friendly gentleman as I flipped the pages of Zunar’s book.
Having skipped lunch so I would not miss the event, my tummy was indeed growling – almost begging to be fed, but I was too excited to meet Zunar, so I politely refused.
“In that case, you’d probably want to go into the function room – Zunar is in there,” he said.
As I stepped into the room, I searched anxiously for Mr Witty and finally spotted him with a group of fans. So I looked for an empty seat and waited quietly for the tea party to begin.
Approximately fifteen minutes after 3pm, Zunar stepped out of the function room assisted by some folks. From the glass door, I could see him taking off his jacket and walking away accompanied by some of them. Intrigued, I stepped out to see what was going on.
“Zunar is arrested. A few plain clothed police officers are confiscating all his books and T-shirts,” I heard people saying to one another.
In a total state of confusion, I saw a policeman in plain clothes, shouting at another – “Send him to Dang Wangi for obstructing our duties!”
The other officer nodded, escorting a man down the stairs. Following them was Zunar. However, halfway down the stairs, he stopped and looked up at all his guests who came for his little tea party. Our eyes met. Zunar smiled and I smiled back, feeling very confused.
Why arrest someone for hosting a tea party? And why the need to confiscate his creative work?
Ignoring my grumbling tummy, I followed Zunar and waited at the ground floor while a number of plain clothed police officers brought down boxes of his work. I saw many of his fans asking the cartoonist why he was being detained – to which Zunar simply shrugged his shoulders and smiled.
Soon, another man was dragged down the stairs and into a waiting police car.
“Apa salah saya (What did I do wrong)?” he asked repetitively even as no one bothered to answer him.
I later learnt he was detained for asking why the policemen were demanding people stop recording the incident. While the man was pushed into a police vehicle, a policeman in full uniform stepped into the KLSCAH building and requested a woman delete all her recordings. As her young son held her leg tightly, she obliged.
I took a deep breath and sighed heavily.
“Where are you from?” I heard someone ask.
It was Zunar.
“Penang. I just arrived yesterday. I came to your tea party to see you,” I said, trying my best not to say anything dumb.
“I’m sorry,” he said regretfully.
“What will happen to you now?” I asked, genuinely worried for him.
“The usual,” he chuckled. “The lock-up seems to be my second home now.”
I forced a smile. And he forced one in return.
As Zunar was taken away to the Dang Wangi Police Station, I remained confused as to what had gone wrong.
Before leaving the KLSCAH building, I stopped by the function room to finally have that cup of Teh Tarik – sadly, in the absence of Zunar, it did not taste good.
Anyway, I learned a very good lesson that day – never hold a Donald and Mickey themed tea party.
Glad to learn that Zunar has been released. Perhaps I shall wait for his next tea party – maybe this time Zunar can come up with a different theme. Clearly someone is not too fond of Donald Dedak and Mickey Mah. -FMT