Political cartoonist Zunar was freed on police bail this evening after being detained overnight and taken on a run-around to seven police stations. He intends to sue the police over his treatment and for the return of 66 copies of his latest cartoon collection Cartoon-o-phobia.
The books were seized in a raid on his office yesterday just hours before the book was to be officially launched at the KL Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall. The launch proceeded, at a packed and overflowing function room, during which those present were kept up to date with Zunars progress in his enforced tour of Selangor police stations.
Zunar at Sepang police station having lunch brought by his wife Fazlina. Photo posted by Elizabeth Wong
At a news conference this evening after being freed, Zunar vowed to carry on cartooning, as he has despite police seizures and the banning of his three other cartoon books. His hard-hitting cartoons have focused on current affairs such as the murder of Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu involved in the negotiations for the purchase of two submarines from France and the alleged involvement of Rosmah Mansor, wife of the prime minister.
Images of Altantuya, Rosmah and Najib figure prominently on the covers of Zunars books, and Steven Gan, editor of Malaysiakini, said at the book launch that events have proved that it was possible to poke fun of Umno or even Najib but dire punishment awaited anyone making fun of Rosmah.
Zunar has also focused on the constitutionally-controversial toppling of the Perak state government headed by Nizar Jamaluddin in 2008, dedicating a whole cartoon book to the subject.
Nizar was the guest-of-honour at last nights book launch and said current events had shown the truth behind Zunars choice of book titles Perak Darul Kartun and Cartoon-o-pho! bia. The governments heavy-handed response and retaliatory measures had shown that they were, indeed, cartoon characters, Nizar said.
Nizar officially launched Zunars new book, in the absence of both the author and stocks of the title, with a verse from the Quran:
The Truth Has Arrived, and Falsehood Shall Perish and verily, Falsehood Shall Perish
A new public book-launching event is being planned, Zunar said