Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian police have released a controversial political cartoonist after arresting him under a harsh sedition law, his lawyer said on Sunday.
Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque — better known as Zunar — works for the news Web site Malaysiakini and uses cartoons to illustrate sensitive issues such as police shooting and the sodomy trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
“Zunar was released late Saturday on bail,” his lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri said. “He has to report back to the police on Oct. 7.
He was arrested by police on Friday just hours before he was due to launch his new book, “Cartoon-O-Phobia.” Police also seized 70 copies of the book.
Despite being held by police for about 24 hours and facing a possible jail sentence if convicted, Zunar said his brief incarceration has energized him to draw more cartoons about Prime Minister Najib Razak and his government.
“I see my arrest as an attempt to stop me from drawing. But I will continue to draw. The arrest has made me more determined than ever to draw cartoons on Najib and his cabinet,” he told Agence France Presse.
S. Arulchelvan, a member of the rights group Voice of the Malaysian People, had criticized the arrest as an abuse of power and said it was an attempt to sabotage Zunar’s book launch.
The 80-page “Cartoon-O-Phobia” has a caricature of Najib’s wife on its front cover and contains cartoons that touch on numerous controversial issues.
Najib, who took office in April last year, had promised to promote openness and transparency but has since faced accusations that his administration is trying to silence critics.
Major newspapers and broadcasters are closely linked with the ruling coalition, but the web and online media in Malaysia have remained relatively free.