Friday, June 25, 2010

Malaysian Cartoons Banned

In Malaysia, the mainstream press is on a tight leash. Books are also regularly banned. And now cartoons too. Today, Singapore’s The Straits Times reported that Malaysia had banned three works of political cartoons that criticized the government, but one of the artists said on Friday he was obligated to highlight issues other cartoonists would not. The government said the cartoons in two books and a magazine posed a security threat.

“All three publications have been banned for their contents that can influence the people to revolt against the leaders and government policies,” said a really lame statement by Home Ministry Secretary General Mahmood Adam on the official news agency Bernama. “The contents are not suitable and detrimental to public order,” he said and as is expected, he did not elaborate (Webpage, posted June 25, 2010). Printing, distributing or possessing prohibited material is punishable by up to three years in jail. Believe it or not, but all Malaysian publications require government-approved licenses that must be renewed annually.

The said works are mainly collections of comics by Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, and other local cartoonists, questioning current events, such as police shootings and the sodomy trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. “In Malaysia, the government is like this. They won’t allow alternative views. You can do cartoons, you can do whatever art work you want, but it must be in line with the government (view),” explained Zunar who has been a cartoonist for more than 20 years.

This latest ban is certain to spark complaints that the government is disallowing critical views. What’s new?

In South Africa, Ivory Coast dominated the WC match against a defensive North Korea and did manage to extract a 3-0 win but this effort just wasn’t good enough. Instead the other Group G match between Portugal and Brazil ended in a goalless draw in “the most unthrilling fashion imaginable” – as described by one sports commentator – and yet, these two teams have earned qualification in the round of 16. Now you know why I refused to watch this lifeless game?! The entertainment value would be zilch.

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