Yesterday, Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has advised political cartoonist Zunar to channel his creative juices towards drawing "nice cartoons" if he wanted to exhibit his work.
"He can draw McDonald's or Donald Duck, " he quipped when asked if Zunar would be allowed to showcase his cartoons in a public exhibition.
Perhaps Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has failed to read and/or understand that we have a Federal Constitution which guarantees “Fundamental Liberties” including the “Freedom of speech, assembly and association”.
While such liberties are not absolute, we are supposed to be far from a totalitarian or police state to the extent where the IGP tells an artist to draw “nice cartoons”.
Certainly, just because Zunar’s criticism of the ruling kleptocratic elite who are mired with rampant corruption, abuse of power and incitement of racial flames are portray in a manner which is unpalatable for those who are in power, that certainly do not mean that they are illegal in anyway.
In fact, Tan Sri IGP, you are not required to like Zunar’s art!
Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar tried to justify his repeated arrest of Zunar by claiming that the artist had “insulted the country’s leaders”.
He asked what if the tables were turned when someone draws cartoons which insulted opposition leaders? "If tomorrow such cartoons targeted Penang Chief Minister (Lim Guan Eng), would he like it if we just ignored them?”
Firstly, a hopefully not too profound question for our Inspector-General of Police:
If a thief were to be insulted by a caricature him or her as a “despicable thief”, would you arrest the thief or the artist? Is the alleged “insult” which has hurt the feelings of the thief wrong in the eyes of the law, or is should the thief who have stolen billions of dollars from the people of Malaysia be arrested, investigated and charged instead?
After all, as far as we are aware, no leader of this country is legislated to be above the law.
Secondly, Tan Sri Khalid raised the most ironic of examples – with regards to purported insults against opposition leaders like the Penang Chief Minister.
In fact, DAP and other opposition leaders have been regularly demonised via caricatures appearing in Utusan Malaysia for the past decades, their posters and pictures torn and burnt by UMNO demonstrators – what exactly has the Police done against these parties?
We are not asking for the Police to take action against these people. However, the fact that the IGP only takes action against those who criticise UMNO leaders and close one eye to those who viciously attacked those in the Opposition clearly demonstrates his bias and hypocrisy in the reasons provided for the persecution of Zunar.
We call upon Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to stop making Malaysia and its police force the butt of international jokes by stopping all actions against artists, civil society members and political dissidents. Instead, he should regain the respectability of the force by initiating urgent arrests and investigations against all parties cited by the United States, Switzerland and Singapore investigators who have stolen and misappropriated billions of dollars from 1MDB and SRC International, including but not limited to Jho Low and his father, Riza Aziz, Eric Tan Kim Loong, 1MDB and SRC officials as well as the shameless “Malaysian Official 1”.