September 28, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Cartoonist arrested on suspicion of sedition

Reporters Without Borders is disturbed by the repressive nature of the “sedition” investigation that has been initiated against cartoonist Zulkiflee Anawar Ulhaque, better known by the pen-name of Zunar, and his new book, "Cartoon-o-phobia,” a collection of satirical political cartoons. Arrested on 24 September, just a few hours before the new book’s launch, Zunar was released on bail the next day but has gone into hiding for fear of being arrested again under Malaysia’s draconian Internal Security Act, a friend told Reporters Without Borders. “How can a book of cartoons be seditious?” Reporters Without Borders asked. “Zunar’s cartoons may sometimes be very cutting in their portrayal of Malaysian political life, and especially the ruling party, but they cannot in any way be regarded as seditious.” The press freedom organisation added: “We firmly condemn Zunar’s arrest and the search of the Kinibooks publishing house in Kuala Lumpur and we urge Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, the subject of some of his cartoons, to intervene to ensure that the police investigation into Zunar, this book and his publishing house is abandoned. It would be very alarming for media freedom in Malaysia if press cartoons were to be threatened in this manner.” After arriving at his office with a search warrant less than four hours before the launch of “Cartoon-o-phobia,” the police arrested Zunar and took him to seven different police stations in turn. They also seized 66 copies of the book although, as his lawyer pointed out, they only needed one copy for the purposes of their investigation. “I want my books returned to me,” Zunar told journalists as he left the Sepang police station. The police went back the next day to the premises of the news website Malaysiakini, which also houses Kinibooks, the publishing house that produced the book. They had a search warrant and wanted to confiscate more copies of the book, but did not find any. A Kinibooks representative told Reporters Without Borders that the search and “sedition” investigation were unprecedented. For more information: A magazine launched by Zunar was banned in October 2009: