Let artistes express dissent, Zunar tells Putrajaya

By Opalyn Mok
Political cartoonist Zunar has sent a legal notice to the police demanding the return of his artworks seized two years ago. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

GEORGE TOWN, Dec 6 — Putrajaya should not penalise artistes who publicly express criticism about the state of the country, said cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque or better known as Zunar.

Claiming that the federal government would punish those who criticised it, the controversial cartoonist said performers were also Malaysians who are entitled to their thoughts about affairs in Malaysia.

“Please respect their right to voice their views and don’t blacklist them for voicing out their views on current issues,” he said in a press conference at the Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s office today.

He was referring to recent comments made by Sheila Majid, Nur Fathia Latiff and Datuk Aznil Nawawi on their respective social media accounts, which some interpreted as critical of the government.

Zulkiflee claimed the government would punish the artistes for doing so, such as by terminating any contracts they may have with the government or its related media outlets.

Sheila’s tweet about rising costs in the country, among others, drew a response from an official linked to the Prime Minister’s Office who rebutted her claims and asked her not to criticise blindly.

“Usually, when this comes from the PM’s Office, it will follow that the artiste in question could be blacklisted,” Zulkiflee claimed.

Aside from Sheila’s tweet on December 4, Nur Fathia had questioned on December 1 the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Bank Negara Malaysia’s trading losses from the Mahathir administration.

TV host Aznil posted on his Instagram account, also on December 4, to ask about the ringgit’s softness and the need for the goods and services tax (GST).