Ipoh city council wants street painter to change ‘Chin Peng’ lookalike mural

Famed street artist Ernest Zacharevic may have to modify his painting of an old man sipping from a traditional coffee cup, after it was alleged the mural resembles former Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng. — Picture by Joan Lau
Famed street artist Ernest Zacharevic may have to modify his painting of an old man sipping from a traditional coffee cup, after it was alleged the mural resembles former Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng. — Picture by Joan Lau

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 — The Ipoh City Council wants famed street artist Ernest Zacharevic to modify his painting of an old man sipping from a traditional coffee cup, after it was alleged the mural resembles former Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng.

According to Sinar Harian, the council has clarified that the painting does not depict Chin Peng but was mindful of the possibility that there are some who may find it offensive.

Quoting a source within the council, the Malay daily reported that the local authority will request the Lithuanian-born artist to alter the mural found at the side of an OLDTOWN White Coffee branch, facing the Ipoh Padang.

Chin Peng, who was born in Sitiawan, Perak, had led the outlawed Communist Party of Malaya. He died in exile on September 16 last year.

“We understand the sensitivity of the community even though we had clarified that the mural was not of Chin Peng,” said the source.

Zacharevic grew famous here several years ago with a series of wall art in George Town, Penang. The project was part of the George Town Festival 2012.

His wall art including the whimsical “Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur”, poignant “Boy on a Bike” and joyful “Little Children on a Bicycle” continue to draw crowds of people every day.

Zacharevic’s other famous wall art featured in the former mining city includes a hummingbird, two children sitting on a paper plane, three packets of “kopi-o” and one of how Ipoh has evolved from its tin mining days.

In November last year, Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) painted over a wall mural by Zacharevic in the Johor capital that had featured a knife-wielding LEGO figure resembling a mugger lurking around the corner in wait for a LEGO woman carrying a “Chanel” handbag.

* An earlier version of this story erroneously referred to Ipoh as the birthplace of Chin Peng. The error is regretted and has since been rectified.

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