Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gedung Kartun Seized

Received this press statement today and very much share the concerns :
Problematic licensing laws hampers distribution of new cartoon

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) are concerned about the confiscation of hundreds of copies of a cartoon magazines on current issues edited by prominent cartoonist, Zunar. The confiscation smacks of harassment and censorship of discussion of current issues.

On 25 August, officials from the Control of Publication Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs seized copies of the inaugural issues of Gedung Kartun (Cartoon Store) from the publisher's office in Kuala Lumpur. According to the magazine Chief Editor Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, better known as Zunar, more than 400 copies were seized. When contacted by CIJ, the Department's Assistant Secretary Abdul Razak Abdul Latif said the magazine was confiscated "primarily" due to the lack of a publication permit as well as for content "checking". He was unable to confirm the amount seized.

However, Zunar disputed the lack of permit as the reason and claimed that he had obtained the permit's serial number verbally. He said the officers insisted on confiscating the magazines despite informing them of the verbal permission. Zunar said he was then told to ask for an official letter regarding the status of the permit.

The permit requirement for publications is legislated under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, and failing to meet the requirement can result in imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of up to RM20 000 (USD5700).

The confiscation is a form of harassment against those who publish alternative interpretations of current events. Zunar is a long time contributor to online news site Malaysiakini and is well-known for his political cartoons. Gedung Kartun, a bi-weekly slated for the market in September, features drawings that discuss the controversial death of the political assistant from opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) at the Selangor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office as well as one involving the Prime Minister Najib Razak. Zunar said the magazine is about alternative humour.

The action once again shows how the licensing regime is used arbitrarily to control expression. The employment of such law does not inspire confidence with the Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussien's announcement that the law will be reviewed to keep up with the demands of the people. To show that the Minister appreciates the people's criticism of the law, he should stop any further practices of harsh measures such as the arbitrary confiscation of publications.

CIJ and WAMI urge the Ministry to return copies of Gedung Kartun to its publisher so that it can be made available to the public. We also urge the Ministry to reveal what it's plan is for the supposed review of the PPPA and to include civil society in its consultations.

Issued by

Gayathry Venkiteswaran
Executive Director, CIJ

and Wong Chin Huat
Chairman, WAMI

For more information please contact Wai Fong at 03 4023 0772
More here and here. And you can see some of the cartoons here.


Amir Muhammad said...

I am bringing a few copies to No Black Tie this Sunday to give away :-)

bibliobibuli said...

oh one for me pleeeease.

ironic innit. you seize something and it is round on the internet 5 minutes later with a big burst of publicity.

Amir Muhammad said...

sure, you'll get one!

Anonymous said...

CIJ and WA are concerned about nothing. It's not like you can't get copies (as you already noticed.)

bibliobibuli said...

wow you so miss the point, anon!

heavy-handed tactics must be publicly criticised!! it makes no difference if we can already get this or not. it's the way it's done and the message it sends.

Anonymous said...


Do I miss the point? there needs to be a place that government employees who are no longer productive (but can't be fired for one reason or another) to be sent.

As for the censorship, the people get the government they deserve. I don't vote much because the government we already have.. is this one, and you know how they are. The socialist DAP is allied with the islamist PAS. It's not like I wouldn't want to vote for them, I don't think, economically speaking, that they are the right people for the job.

Also, how is this censorship different from your censorship of the comments in your blog?

bibliobibuli said...

yaddda yadda. editorial policy. the only person whose comments i delete very occasionally are YOURS, because when you are in an odd mood you can be very personal and very objectionable. most of the time you behave yourself and we put up with you. i would never interfere with your right to put your own words out in public, but before you enter MY space, you need to wipe your feet.

Anonymous said...

So there you go right? you're basically saying "I reserve the right to censor something I consider very personal and very objectionable" but you are saying that they are wrong to do the same.

bibliobibuli said...

several people have tried to explain to you in the past why this isn't the case. you didn't listen or didn't want to listen, so if you are snone the wiser tisn't my fault. ain't wasting my breath. as i sad several years back, go get yourself a blog.