Don’t like ‘Belt and Road’ comic? Don’t ban, just don’t read, says Zunar

Cartoonist Zunar disagrees with the Home Ministry’s outright ban of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative for Win-Winism’ comic book. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
Cartoonist Zunar disagrees with the Home Ministry’s outright ban of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative for Win-Winism’ comic book. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 ― The government should not ban comic books or any book for that matter as their content is open to interpretation, a local political cartoonist said today.

Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, better known as Zunar, said he has not completed reading the pro-China Belt and Road Initiative for Win-Winism authored by former DAP member Hew Kuan Yau, but disagreed with the Home Ministry’s outright ban of the comic book yesterday.

“Cartoons and comics are a matter of interpretation. If you do not agree with the contents, no problem. But do not use your interpretation as a law to ban it. Don't like? Don't read!” he said in a statement.

However, the cartoonist said he is against the comic book’s distribution in schools.

Hew who has been nicknamed “Superman” for his penchant in wearing T-shirts featuring the comic book superhero came under scrutiny following the distribution of the 164-page illustrated book allegedly promoting communism.

Hew had also accused Malays who sympathise with the plight of the oppressed Uyghur minority in China as radicals, was branded a racist by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman.

Zunar suggested that anyone who feels Hew’s comic book to be defamatory or seditious could sue the author, which he said allowed the latter to defend himself in court.

“No to total ban!” he added.

Zunar also recalled a judgment by the Court of Appeal when instructing the government to lift the ban on his political cartoons in October 2014.

The three-judge panel at that time was chaired by Datuk Mohamad Ariff Mohd Yusof with the other two consisting of Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat who is now chief justice, and Datuk Varghese George.

In his ruling, Mohamad Ariff ― who is now Dewan Rakyat speaker ― said that if persons or institutions are affected by cartoons, which may be termed as contemptuous and defamatory, they could have resorted to suing the appellants instead.

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