The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, cannot pretend continued ignorance about the police and government harassment and persecution of cartoonist Fahmi Reza over his clown-faced Najib drawings.
Fahmi was released this morning after being detained yesterday at Publika in Kuala Lumpur for selling T-shirts featuring a clown-faced Prime Minister Najib Razak.
What should concern Najib and his coterie of advisers is why there is a market for Fahmi’s clown-faced Najib drawings, whether T-shirts or other products, instead of harassing and persecuting Fahmi – which is no different from shooting the messenger instead of addressing the message.
Would there be a market for clown-faced Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, clown-faced Tun Razak, clown-faced Tun Hussein Onn, clown-faced Tun Mahathir or clown-faced Tun Abdullah.
It would be more beneficial for Najib and his coterie of political advisers to ponder these questions than be so trigger-happy as to invoke the law to abuse and misuse powers to harass and persecute Fahmi.
If after due deliberation, they still object to Fahmi’s clown-faced Najib drawings, then Najib should institute civil suit against the cartoonist for defamation proceedings, instead of abusing the processes of the law and his office as Prime Minister to harass and persecute Fahmi.
It is a sad commentary of the state of human rights in Malaysia and the freedom of expression available in our times that cartoonists have found that they have become a very dangerous occupation.
Cartoonist Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque, who draws under the name Zunar, is facing nine charges under the Sedition Act with a possible 43 years in prison, while there is a whole battery of charges under the Sedition Act against Opposition leaders, activists and critics of government.
Will the UMNO/BN candidates in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections champion the rights of Fahmi, Zunar and Malaysians to the right of freedom of expression in Malaysia if they are elected to Parliament on June 18, or they will condone, aid and abet the suppression of human rights in Malaysia – including the harassment and persecution of Fahmi?