Ok to criticise, not ok to ‘insult’ leaders, DPM says

Deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, August 16, 2015. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, August 16, 2015. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

CHERAS, May 14 — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today he is not averse to constructive criticism, but warned critics against resorting to “insults” to make their point.

He warned that those who did so were not only being morally and ethically offensive, but opened themselves to legal action too.

“Insult, wherever it is, is something that should not just be seen from a legal aspect but from a moral and ethical aspect too.

“I accept criticism, especially those that are constructive as it is something healthy. But to insult is very different,” he said during a press conference at the Home Ministry’s Family Day here.

Ahmad Zahid who is also home minister was commenting on political comic artist Zulkiflee Anwar Ul-Haque, popularly known as Zunar, who recently won a cartooning peace award for his satirical lampoons of the country’s leaders.

He urged people to realise there were repercussions to their insults.

“It's not legal aspect, but also integrity, morals of the person who's doing the insulting.

“If we don't like people insulting us, then don't insult other people,” he said.

Asked if legal action will be taken against Zuliflee, the home minister said that he would leave that decision to the police.

On May 4, the artist accepted the “Cartooning for Peace Award” from former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, who is the honorary president of the Cartooning for Peace Foundation, in Geneva.

The award is the latest honour accorded Zulkiflee.

Last year, he was awarded the “International Press Freedom Award” while in 2011 he was awarded the “Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award” and two “Hellman/Hammett” awards from the Human Rights Watch.

The Cartooning for Peace award was first given out in 2012. It recognises press cartoonists’ contributions to human rights, freedom of expression and their work in favour of tolerance and peace.