KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — Barred from leaving Malaysia, cartoonist Zunar said today he will file a legal challenge to remove the travel ban against him by order of the Inspector-General of Police.
No stranger to being locked up, the cartoonist whose real name is Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque panned the travel ban as “yet another form of long list harassment to stop me from drawing cartoons to criticise the government of Malaysia”.
“I will file a legal challenge to remove the ban,” the artist, whose artwork frequently lampoons Malaysian politics and its personalities, said in a statement posted on the blog Cartoon Movement.
“The IGP and The Director of Immigration have no right to stop or control my movement and barring me from leaving the country. Only the court does, and even then can only be carried out under specific laws,” he added.
He pointed out that although he had been charged with nine counts of sedition, he was yet to be convicted as his case would only be heard on November 22.
He further emphasised that no court had issued any order for his restriction either and cited the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which states anyone is free to leave any country, including his own.
“They can ban my books, they can ban my cartoon, they can ban me from traveling, but they cannot ban my mind, I will keep drawing until the last drop of my ink,” Zunar said in a parting shot.
Earlier this evening, IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar told Malay Mail Online when contacted that Zunar was free to challenge his travel ban if he wanted, though he declined to disclose the reason for the travel ban.
Zunar learnt of his travel ban earlier today just before his flight to Singapore was to depart. He was heading to the island republic to deliver a talk.
The ban was apparently effective since last June 24, based on an order from the IGP.