Fahmi Reza questioned by police for two hours, vows to continue expressing himself through his artwork

Activist Fahmi Reza arrives at the Putrajaya district police headquarters March 10, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Activist Fahmi Reza arrives at the Putrajaya district police headquarters March 10, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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PUTRAJAYA, March 10 — Even as a fresh round of investigations initiated against him, local graphic designer Fahmi Reza Mohd Zarin has vowed to continue to express himself through his satirical and parodic artworks.

The designer explained that despite being convicted in the past for his caricatures, to him, having the rights to express oneself freely and being able to exercise his civic responsibility to speak up on current affairs remains of utmost importance.

“Before this, I have been caught, investigated, charged, tried in court, found guilty, was punished, and even fined RM30,000 all because of my graphics. That was four years ago, and I have never stopped since.

“This latest round of investigations won’t stop me from designing and producing my artwork, because it is part of my responsibility both as a graphic designer and a Malaysian.

“Whatever I post is part of me expressing my freedom, as a Malaysian, to comment on the current events and as a graphic designer, I make these remarks through my satirical and parodic artworks and designs,” he said.

Fahmi Reza stressed that all his designs are works of his own and that he takes full responsibility for them however the effects may turn out to be, and how all of the pieces, controversial or not, have never been deleted or removed from his social media platforms.

“I have never felt the need to hide; I used my own name on my own (social media) accounts and I take responsibility for everything that I have posted, including the two being investigated today,” he exclaimed.

Fahmi Reza made these remarks when met outside the Putrajaya police district headquarters here in Presint 7 earlier this afternoon after he had spent two hours having his statements taken by the police.

The statements are related to two of Fahmi Reza’s artworks which were posted on his Twitter account, one in Oct 2020 and another last month, both satirical designs aimed at Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

Also present during the interview today were Fahmi Reza lawyers, Yohendra Nadarajan and Rajsurian Pillai.

When contacted, Putrajaya district police chief Assistant Commissioner Mohd Fadzil Ali confirmed Fahmi Reza’s interview with investigators today.

“Yes, he was there from 11am to 1pm and was accompanied by two lawyers. The case is being investigated under Section 500 of the Penal Code, and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.

“Investigations are still ongoing,” Mohd Fadzil said briefly.

Section 500 of the Penal Code relates to defamation made against another person which is punishable with up to two years imprisonment or a fine, or both, while Section 233 of the CMA relates to improper use of network facilities or their services.

Adding on, Fahmi Reza explained that questions posed to him investigators today were centred around the creators of the pieces of digital artwork and owners of the social media accounts used to upload them.

“That they never explained,” he said when asked to point out what the alleged defamatory remarks were.

“I am here to just explain to the cops who wanted to know the meaning behind my artworks, its intention, who was it aimed at, and several other related questions,” he added.

It is understood the two tweets in question feature caricatures of a person closely resembling Dr Adham Baba, with the first from October 2020 headlined with the word hilang, or missing, in Malay.

The second tweet accused of being defamatory refers to a February15 post that features a caricature mugshot of someone resembling Dr Adham and in it a supposed coupon to shorten one’s quarantine period upon returning from overseas travels.

This was in reference to a decision by the government to compel federal ministers to undergo only three days of quarantine upon arrival from overseas trips, as opposed to the 10-day isolation ordinary citizens are subjected to.

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