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November 1, 2013

Malaysian Court Dimisses Zunar's Appeal Against 2010 Arrest

The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar reports the Appeals Court has dismissed his appeal seeking a reversal of a High Court decision made in 2012 upholding the police's right to arrest and detain him in 2010 under the Sedition Act, something they did right before a book launch -- a book that contained political material. They also upheld the lower court's ruling that the confiscation that accompanied that arrest was illegal; the books' return and compensation was ordered at that time.

"To me, today's judgement, as the one before, is unacceptable and comical," wrote Zunar in an e-mail he disseminated on the matter. "How could the judges rule that my detention was legal but the confiscation of my book was illegal?"

The lengthier post at Zunar's site gets into his exact objection a bit more. As he puts it, "I am the author of the book. If the book is okay and not banned, why was I, the author, arrested and detained? What offence did I commit?" Under his interpretation of events -- an interpretation that sounds perfectly reasonable to me -- the fact that he was seized before inspection and this backhanded way of endorsing arrest and detention despite no cause for suspicion facilitates a construction whereby abuses of power by the police will be supported.

"I view the latest judgment as part of the government’s machinations to stop me from drawing cartoons to expose their corruption and wrong-doing," Zunar wrote. "Seven of my cartoon books have been banned, my office in Kuala Lumpur was constantly raided, and the printers and vendors for my books were threatened not to print my book or they may lose their licences."

"Why? Because a corrupt government fears cartoons."

The cartoonist has offered to send the book in question to the presiding judge and vows to continue his fight for unfettered expression through cartooning.

posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink

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