Why fear cartoonists if you have done no wrong, asks Zunar

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Source: The Malaysian Insight

Cartoonist Zunar was forced to cancel his first street exhibition entitled ‘Ketawa Pink Pink’ in Penang after threats from a group of troublemakers. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, July 31, 2017.

IF as Putrajaya claims that the US Department of Justice suits related to 1MDB are politically motivated, then it should not be so zealous in its pursuit of critics here, said cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque.

On Saturday, the cartoonist better known as Zunar was forced to cancel his first street exhibition entitled “Ketawa Pink Pink” that was to open at Lebuh Pantai, Penang, the next day because of “threats from a group of troublemakers”.

The exhibition was to feature his drawings of a well-known woman with pink diamond jewellery.

In the latest DoJ suit filed last month, it noted that nearly US$30 million (RM129 million) were allegedly stolen from 1Malaysia Development Bhd to buy jewellery, including a 22-carat rare pink diamond set in a necklace worth a US$27.3 million for the wife of “Malaysian Official No. 1” (MO1) in 2013.

Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan had previously confirmed MO1 as Prime Minister Najib Razak. The DoJ suit, however, did not list the pink diamond necklace as an item to be seized.

Speaking to The Malaysian Insight last night, Zunar said he is getting tired dealing with the troublemakers sent to “disturb” his exhibition, which was deemed “dangerous” and anti-government.

Zunar said he is considered a threat because his material is easily accessible and understood.

“So, the fact that DoJ is investigating is not important to the government. Now they focus more on this (my drawings). They should not do this. They should just change.  Reform. But they do not want to tackle the main issue and continue harassing their critics. I will not stop,” he said.

He said there was no such thing as political conspiracy, only tactics used to divert public attention from a financial scandal of the magnitude of 1MDB.

“It’s (the DoJ suit) about a crime. If you do money-laundering, it is still a crime.

“(It) doesn’t matter if you say it is a political conspiracy, but did you commit the crime or not? If you committed the crime, then you have to face it,” said Zunar.

He said Putrajaya keeps insisting that the DoJ reports are not true.

“That’s why I expose this through my cartoon about DoJ… (but) they are worried because the medium is accessible to the people.

“But don’t blame me for drawing cartoons about DoJ, 1MDB. If you are not involved in the 1MDB scandal or DoJ is not investigating it, I cannot draw any cartoon about it.”

He said it was silly of Putrajaya to be afraid of cartoons.

“But that’s not my problem. That’s their problem. My job is to draw cartoons and to tell people what is happening in our country.”

Earlier, Zunar took part in the “Defend our freedom of expression” forum in Penang. The other three panellists were Malaysiakini co-founder Steven Gan, lawyer Simon Murali and former USM associate professor Dr Mustafa Kamal Anuar. – July 31, 2017.