G’day re-en­act­ment

Malaysian car­toon­ist charged with sedi­tion

The China Post - - SPORTS -

A Malaysian car­toon­ist known for lam­poon­ing the rul­ing coali­tion was charged Fri­day with nine counts of sedi­tion over a se­ries of tweets crit­i­ciz­ing the coun­try’s ju­di­ciary.

The charges against Zulk­i­flee An­war Al­haque, bet­ter known as Zu­nar, came amid a widen­ing gov­ern­ment crack­down on op­po­si­tion politi­cians and the me­dia us­ing the colo­nial-era law, slammed by crit­ics as a move to sti­fle free­dom of ex­pres­sion.

“This is a record, be­ing charged nine times and us­ing the sedi­tion law. It is ex­ces­sive and tar­geted at si­lenc­ing vo­cal crit­ics,” said Zu­nar’s lawyer, Latheefa Koya.

Zu­nar faces up to 43 years in jail if found guilty on all nine charges, she said.

The nine tweets crit­i­ciz­ing the ju­di­ciary were posted Feb. 10 when op­po­si­tion leader An­war Ibrahim be­gan serv­ing a five-year pri­son sen­tence af­ter los­ing his fi­nal ap­peal on a sodomy charge.

“The lack­eys in black robes are proud of their sen­tence. The re­wards from the po­lit­i­cal masters must be plenty,” said one of the tweets. “To­day Malaysia is seen as a coun­try with­out law,” said an­other.

An­war’s ar­rest was widely seen at home and abroad as po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated to elim­i­nate any threat to the rul­ing coali­tion, whose pop­u­lar­ity has slowly been erod­ing since 2008 af­ter more than five decades of un­ques­tioned dom­i­nance. An­war and his three­mem­ber op­po­si­tion al­liance were seen as the most po­tent po­lit­i­cal threat to Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak’s coali­tion.

An­war led his al­liance to un­prece­dented gains in 2008 elec­tions and made fur­ther in­roads in polls in 2013 when Na­jib’s Na­tional Front coali­tion won with a slim­mer ma­jor­ity and lost the popular vote to the op­po­si­tion.

A de­fi­ant Zu­nar posted a new car­toon on Twit­ter af­ter his re­lease on bail, vow­ing to “draw un­til the last drop of ink.” The car­toon showed Zu­nar be­ing cuffed and with a metal chain on his neck, but still drawing with a brush in his mouth.

Sedi­tion as de­fined by Malaysian law in­cludes pro­mot­ing ha­tred against the gov­ern­ment.

Scores of peo­ple in­clud­ing op­po­si­tion politi­cians, ac­tivists, aca­demi­cians and jour­nal­ists are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated or have been charged un­der the Sedi­tion Act since last year, mostly for crit­i­ciz­ing the gov­ern­ment or rul­ing of­fi­cials.

Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak has said the gov­ern­ment planned to even­tu­ally abol­ish the Sedi­tion Act, which was in­tro­duced in 1949 dur­ing Bri­tish colo­nial rule. But he back­tracked af­ter the 2013 elec­tions.

AP

Bren­dan Paul plays the part of Je­sus dur­ing a re-en­act­ment of the cru­ci­fix­ion of Christ in Syd­ney, Fri­day, April 3. Mem­bers of the Wes­ley Mission use a mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the recre­ation of Je­sus’ jour­ney to the cross be­fore a Good Fri­day ser­vice is held.

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