Malaysian police have opened an investigation on the latest book of political cartoons by Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque, or Zunar.
A sales assistant who manages online sales of the title, Sapuman – Man of Steal, on the website zunar.my has been ordered to attend a meeting with police under the sedition act. The questioning will take place in central Kuala Lumpur on Monday 5 October at noon.
“I strongly condemn these latest police tactics to frighten people from getting access to read and buy my books. My sales assistant did nothing illegal as the Sapuman – Man of Steal is not officially banned by the government. On the contrary, the police should investigate who took RM2.6 billion ($384 million) of public funds instead of clamping down on book sellers who sell books legally,” Zunar said in a statement.
This is the second online sales manager who has been investigated by the police. In November 2014, Zunar’s webmaster was investigated under the sedition act and the penal code. The police also harrassed MOLPay, a cash payment service for e-commerce merchants, to disclose the names of the cartoonist’s online customers, but the company refused to reveal the information. Zunar’s books cannot be sold in stores throughout the country due to pressure from authorities.
Sapuman is Zunar’s 18th book of political cartoons. Previously, seven of his books were banned by the government and confiscated by the police. Other books included Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar, Pirates of Carry-BN and Rose in Kangkong Land.
Zunar is currently facing nine simultaneous charges and 43 years in prison under the country’s controversial sedition act. The case, which was brought against him in April 2015, has now been postponed until 6 November while a legal challenge to the act is reviewed in Malaysia’s courts.
“Zunar and those who work with him are being harassed simply for exercising his right to express himself. We reiterate our call on Malaysia to immediately drop all charges against Zunar, stop targeting his colleagues and respect free expression,” said Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg.