Only Competent Ministers can save Malaysia from Muddles

November 28, 2015

Only Competent Ministers can save Malaysia from Muddles

by Syerleena Abdul Rashid
Najib-It takes a worried man

A Muddled and Dishonest Prime Minister

William Shakespeare once said, “Confusion hath now made his masterpiece and in our country it has reached stellar heights”. For Malaysians, it seems as though confusion has found a permanent friend in our local political scene and never has such words seem so true.  A majority of us, regrettably, think politics has become nothing more than a constant battle in confusion – the ministers appointed and elected by the voters are the ones confusing a large number of us to no end.

Recently, a minister was caught eating a bunch of turtle eggs – consuming anything endangered is illegal and this is just common sense. Unfortunately, the minister in particular claimed he had no idea and tried to reason with the public that no one in their right mind would ever eat eggs with a fork. Well, no one in their right mind would be caught in that position in the first place and no one in their right mind would dare to come up with that sort of excuse.


Turtle Egg Eating Minister Ismail Sabri

Our ministers get caught up in this wasteful game we call politicking while brazenly claiming that they have our best interests in heart.

Some ministers try their very hardest to justify certain policies no matter how draconian or how antediluvian or how bigoted they may seem. They validate the massive restrictions imposed upon us by reminding the importance of security – Malaysia is under constant threat of rising religious fundamentalism, liberalism, LGBT , electronic cigarettes, yoga, K-pop, Jews, pluralism and Valentines Day.

It seems as though several of our esteemed ministers tend to pacify debates with this mind-fumblingly abstruse template of confusion, which became apparent during the whole “Allah” conundrum. In a just and sound society such an issue would not have seen the light of day, but it did, and this is nothing more than an obvious game created by the powers that be to ensure that they hold the key to Putrajaya (and the whole system) for a very long time.

They use fear mongering tactics and instill hate mongering methods in our society and into our psyche because, after 58 years of rule, this is the one art they have perfected to a tee. The control they have on some of those in our society is astounding but nonetheless, not impossible to undo.

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle

Think Critically–Socrates

Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates believed that one of the best forms of teaching is to question everything. The core concept was to develop a level of critical thinking that can help distinguish what humans believe we know and what we don’t know.

This type of questioning highlights the importance of discourse and discussions – how we perceive an issue, how others may have differing ideas and our reasons for thinking the way we do.

Questions force our thoughts and make us deal with many of life’s complexities. It also enables us to digest information and the quality of important facets. The relevance to evaluate truth and to test accuracy forces us to judge how we are forming our thoughts and our little worlds together.

Malaysians must be reminded that thinking commences with respect and the understanding that while differing views are unavoidable, logic and sound judgement must always prevail in any discourse that may ensue.

When an individual has to make educated choices on complex matters, can they truly be considered truly competent. If we want to stimulate change, rational dialogue and an all out socio-political reform, we must not allow ourselves to become bewildered by the barrage of confusing statements often made by some of our ministers.



Bicameral Parliament–The Future of Dewan Negara (The Senate)

November 26, 2015

COMMENT: I am not a legal person, neither is Ramadin-merican in sing Ramanathan. He is an engineer and I am an economist by academic orientation. But I can understand his views on our parliamentary system. In fact, I compliment him for raising the issue of the future role of the Malaysian Senate (Dewan Negara) in our constitutional democracy.

I will, however, take issue with his view that the difference between our Parliament (bicameral) and that of Singapore (unicameral) is because Singapore is a city whereas ours is a Federation of 13 states. That distinction is strictly not a valid one. Both Malaysia and Singapore are independent sovereign nations. Singapore chose to have a Parliament without a Senate for reasons of their own. But that is not an issue. I differ with him since I  do not see any value in a piecemeal approach to democratic reform. Our whole system is problematic.

Of what  use  are a Senate and our Lower House which are mere rubber stamps.  We cannot even have a healthy debate on bills and policies proposed and dictated by the Executive Branch. All our Parliamentarians and Senators cannot influence policy making since they are required to act along party lines,  and  are unable to perform their proper roles in our system of checks and balances as provided for in our constitution and they cannot decide in the interest of their respective constituents.

Tun Dr MahathirOur constitution mandates clear separation of powers between Parliament, the Judiciary and the Executive Branch. But over time, our former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad made sure that the legislative and judicial branches answer to an all-powerful Executive Branch. We the voters were equally culpable when we gave UMNO-BN under his leadership two-thirds majority to govern after every election throughout his 22-year rule. That enabled Tun Dr. Mahathir to amend the constitution as he saw fit to become a powerful Prime Minister.

Today both Dewan Negara and Dewan Rakyat are dysfunctional. Our Dewan Rakyat in particular has become a monkey house (with due respects to our distant cousin).

We do not need a rubber stamp legislature because we already have a powerful Executive Branch. Why do we have a Parliament that is just a symbol of democratic governance and elections that are not free and fair. Imagine the millions upon millions of ringgits we can put to better use for nation building.

In reality, we need government, not anarchy. It is an indispensable institution but we have to make it function better. To do so, let us start by undertaking a complete  review of our constitution so that the three branches of government operate as our original constitutional experts designed it at the time of our independence 58 years ago, but one that is adapted to meet our present circumstances and stage of political development.

Let us undertake electoral reform to ensure free and fair elections, revise rules with strict criteria for choosing candidates (including background checks) for elections, establish rules with regard to campaign funding, and undertake systematic delineation of electoral constituencies to prevent gerrymandering.

After all that, we can decide whether we should retain our present bicameral Parliament (which is like in the UK), adopt the Singapore unicameral model, or use the American model where Senators and Representatives are elected by the American people. In the United States, the Congress, the Judiciary and the Executive Branch perform their  respective roles in accordance with the Constitution. Otherwise, we will be putting the cart before the horse, so to speak.

Finally, we as Malaysians have to decide what democratic governance we want  which will be based on a new constitution. We cannot leave this important matter in the hands of politicians, be they from UMNO-BN or the so-called Pakatan Harapan. A national referendum on the new constitution should be conducted for this purpose.–Din Merican

Bicameral Parliament–The Future of Dewan Negara (The Senate)

by Rama Ramanathan

Malaysian Parliament 2

The job of Parliament is to ensure that the Cabinet, composed of the Prime Minister and ministers, carries out the will of the people. The Cabinet is supposed to carry out the will of the people by crafting policies and laws for approval by Parliament and by executing them under the supervision of Parliament.

The Parliament of Singapore is unicameral, whereas the Parliament of Malaysia is bicameral. That means Malaysia has a lower house (House of Representatives or Dewan Rakyat) and an upper house (Senate or Dewan Negara) to represent the people, make laws and monitor the Cabinet, whereas Singapore only has one house.

Why is there a difference between Malaysia and Singapore?It’s different because Malaysia is a Federation, while Singapore is a city-state.

In a bicameral system, all policies and laws, except “money bills,” must be approved by both houses. Typically, the lower house – the Dewan Rakyat – is composed of members (MPs) elected by citizens in largely self-governed, distinct geographical areas.

In Malaysia, states and Federal Territories are largely self-governed; so, they elect MPs to the lower house. Because the number of persons living in these areas varies, so does the number of MPs from each area.

For instance, the population of Johor is over 10 times as large as that of Perlis. Should Johor and Perlis have the same number of representatives in the Dewan Rakyat?

The Federal Constitution answered the question in 1957. The answer hinged on the principle of proportional representation.

Under that principle, areas with larger populations get more voices in Parliament, and thus more opportunity to influence national decisions.

That principle still applies. Presently, amongst the Peninsular states, Johor has the largest number of representatives (26) and Perlis has the smallest number (3).

One of the dangers of states with larger populations having greater influence over national decisions is that factors other than size of the population may be ignored in decision-making.

For instance, a policy to accept refugees crossing the Thailand-Malaysia border may put a greater burden on citizens in Perlis than on citizens in Johor. Residents of Perlis may suffer more.

Similarly, if we made an international commitment to stop cutting down our forests, state revenues will go down more in Pahang and less in Johor. Pahang may have to cut spending or raise land taxes; residents of Pahang will suffer more.

In a Federation, the Senate is designed to ensure that the interest of each area is carefully considered before national decisions are made.

In Malaysia, as in most other nations, the upper house (Senate) cannot reject decisions of the lower house; it can only delay them. But this still works as a strong incentive for the Cabinet to craft policies and laws which will not be delayed by the Senate.

The characteristics of a well-functioning Senate which I’ve alluded to above are not today’s reality. The reality is different for many reasons. I’ll list just five.

First, in 1963, when the Federation of Malaysia was created, Sabah and Sarawak were over-represented and Singapore was under-represented in the Dewan Rakyat – instead of in the Dewan Negara (Senate).

This was a tacit acknowledgement of the lack of electoral legitimacy on the part of Senators, whether they are “elected” (with no competition) by state governments or by the Federal government.

Second, Senators appointed by the Yang diPertuan Agong (actually proposed by the Prime Minister) vastly outnumber Senators from the states.

Decades ago, when there were only 11 states, there were to be 22 senators from the states and 16 appointed senators. Today, with 13 states and 4 Federal territories, there are 30 senators sent by the areas and 40 senators appointed by the Federal Government.

Third, the government uses Senatorial appointments to put unelected persons – who cannot be punished by voters at elections – in Ministerial offices.

Fourth, the Cabinet bypasses Parliament and works through ministerial dictates.

Fifth, though the constitution provides (Article 66), for the Senate to initiate Bills which may eventually become law, I’m not aware of the Senate ever having done so. Neither am I aware of any Bills defeated in the Senate.

The Senate was designed to be a tiger. It has neither roared nor taken prey because the ruling coalition practices “winner takes everything” politics, not politics which acknowledges the Cabinet is subject to Parliament; not the kind that works for compromise and the best satisfaction of the people’s will.

What are Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan’s plans for the Senate? Will they misuse, terminate, revive or re-invent the Senate?

Congratulations Zunar

November 25, 2015

Congratulations Zunar

by Kean Wong

Sapuman -Zunar


For a well-travelled Malaysian zipping between London, Cambridge, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Washington DC and New York, cartoonist Zunar belies his reputation as a hell-raiser activist, always sketching our homeland in black and white, the splashes of colour only to accentuate the differences he has with the ruling Barisan Nasional.

Instead of his apparently fearsome reputation which has earned him a record nine charges for sedition and a possible 43 years in prison, Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque is mild-mannered, a little droll, and funny in the way Malaysian ministers are not.

Like his satirical cartoons that often harshly portray a nation on the skids, the symmetry of culprits making off with glittering loot as the rakyat go under, the past week had a similar balance of scenes as US President Barack Obama thrilled his Malaysian hosts in Kuala Lumpur while Zunar made his case for urgent Malaysian reforms to the US Senate’s Human Rights Caucus in Washington DC and the US Mission to the United Nations in New York.

As Zunar claimed again last night in his speech in New York when receiving this year’s top media freedom prize from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), “the government of Malaysia is a cartoon government – a government of the cartoon, by the cartoon, for the cartoon.”

“For asking people to laugh at the government, I was handcuffed, detained, thrown into the lock up,” he told a slice of Manhattan’s moneyed elite at the glittering black-tie gala in the storied Waldorf Astoria, which raised US$2 million (RM8.43 million) for the CPJ’s work.

Congrats Zunar

“But I kept laughing and encouraging people to laugh with me. Why? Because laughter is the best form of protest. My mission is to fight through cartoon.”

“Why pinch when you can punch? People need to know the truth and I will continue to fight through my cartoons. I want to give a clear message to the aggressors – they can ban my cartoons, they can ban my books, but they cannot ban my mind,” the political cartoonist said, echoing the points he’s been making in the past few weeks in London, Sydney and Washington DC.

In Sydney the previous week, Zunar had regaled the big crowd of Malaysians and Australians at the state Parliament how the corruption scandals that have rocked Malaysia inform his arresting caricatures, his trials of satire, and his outrageously popular female protagonist’s helmet-haired symmetry, consumed in flights of fantasy money and jewels.

Obama at Taylors University

Although he insists that Malaysia has become a “kartunation”, “run by kartuns for kartuns,” many Malaysians demurred with that last part, preferring they were left out of an increasingly melancholy joke’s punchline.

For his hosts the Sydney MPs Jamie Parker and Jenny Leong, they were bemused and perhaps a little incredulous that a colonial-era law like the Sedition Act was still widely used to silence critics of a government in a proudly independent Southeast Asian nation.

Leong, who explained her father was originally from Sibu but never returned after his studies in Adelaide, welcomed Zunar to “a nation, a Parliament that celebrates the freedom of expression”.

The Australia Director of New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), Elaine Pearson, also took the lectern to congratulate Zunar for his “courage in cartooning” and for being awarded HRW’s Hellman/Hammett grant this year, which helps him work and publish at a time when his books are banned and whole print runs are confiscated in the thousands of copies in Malaysia.

In Washington DC in the past several days, Zunar caught up with his growing legion of friends and fans in the epicentre of America’s political cartooning community like Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Wuerker of Politico.

For a town obsessed with China and its impact on the Asian neighbourhood now unsettled by apparently waning American power, Zunar’s interventions were effectively rendered in forums on Capitol Hill and media like The Washington Post.

While President Obama made plain the key role Malaysia (and Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak) plays in America’s plans coping with a rising China asserting itself across the region – in what some in Washington agreed was a “blingtastic success” among young people in Manila and Kuala Lumpur, thanks partly to Obama’s fable-like story of an Indonesian childhood – Zunar on the other side of the world stubbornly kept the stage curtains a little askew, to highlight what the cartoonist alleges was the misleading golf game indulged in at top levels.

Like many Americans following the clampdown on human rights in Malaysia, detailed in last month’s HRW report ‘Creating a Culture of Fear: the Criminalisation of Peaceful Expression in Malaysia’, Matt Wuerker is not amused.

“Sadly, Zunar’s case doesn’t surprise me,” said the softly spoken Wuerker, ahead of Zunar’s arrival in Washington.“It’s entirely too common the response to cartoons and satire in so many parts of the world today. In some sense, it’s a compliment to irascible cartoonists like Zunar. It just demonstrates the power and effectiveness their work.

“At the same time the response by a government that uses threats, lawsuits and other forms of intimidation to try silence dissent just demonstrates a weakness and fragility of their hold on power. Governments that are strong, popular and enjoy the support of their people have nothing to fear from a little ridicule and a few cartoons. Yes, I’m blessed to live in a part of the world where people can take a joke.”

For a Malaysian like Zunar facing jail time – and who has arguably cut through the fog of indifference about Malaysia in noisy power centres like Washington with little more than his starkly drawn portraits of a troubled nation and a rude sense of humour – it’s no joke.

Obama’s Visit–The Sheer Hypocrisy of it all

November 25, 2015

Obama’s Visit–The Sheer Hypocrisy of it all

by Azmi Sharom

Agong and Obama

Issues of good governance, democracy and human rights will always be low on the agenda of any country when dealing in foreign affairs.

THE first American president to visit us was Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) in the 1960s. His reasons for visiting were probably the same as President Barack Obama’s: security (although in those days it was about the “threat” of Vietnam and the feared domino effect of nations falling under the thrall of Communism, whereas now it’s Islamic State) and economy (although then it was probably more about ensuring we keep on supplying tin and rubber whereas now it’s about keeping us from being too influenced by China).

Whenever the President of the United States visits another country, he is bound to make waves of some sort. According to oral history (i.e. my mum and dad), when LBJ came here all sorts of craziness ensued, like the inexplicable chopping-down of strategic trees; as though some renegade monkey was going to throw himself at the presidential convoy.

Our Prime Minister at the time, Tunku Abdul Rahman, wasn’t too fussed about the visit, saying that Johnson needn’t have come at all.

 Obama’s visit wasn’t quite as colourful, with security measures being limited to thousands of guns and the closing of the Federal Highway (no more monkeys in KL) and all our leaders expectedly excited and giddy.

What I found interesting about Mr Obama’s trip is his consistent request to meet with “the youth” and civil society. He did it the last time he was here and he did it again this time.

This is all well and good; he’s quite a charming, intelligent fellow and he says soothing things. So what if he gave us a couple of hours of traffic hell (in this sense, the American Presidency is fair for he treats his citizens and foreigners alike: I have been reliably informed that whenever Obama visits his favourite restaurant in Malibu, the whole town is gridlocked by security measures. What, you can’t do take away, Barack?).

Anyway, I see no harm in all these meetings. But then neither do I see any good. At least not any real and lasting good, apart from perhaps the thrill of meeting one of the most powerful people on earth and having him say things that match your own world view.

The world of social media went a bit loopy when a young man at the “town hall meeting” with youths asked the President to raise issues of good governance with our Prime Minister, to which he replied that he would. And maybe he did, but at the end of the day, so what?

Frankly that’s all he will do, a bit of lip service, because issues of good governance, democracy and human rights will always be low on the agenda of any country when dealing in international affairs. They may make a big song and dance about it, but they don’t really care.

And before you accuse me of anti-Americanism, I believe this applies to most, if not all, countries. The Americans like us because we appear to be hard in the so-called “war on terror”.

They need us, not because we are such a huge trading partner, but because they want us on their side (by way of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) in the economic battles that they have been, and will be, continuing to fight against China.

We see this behaviour of putting self-interest over any sort of serious stand on principle happening again and again. Why is it that the United Nations Security Council did nothing when Saddam Hussein massacred thousands of Kurds using chemical weapons, but took hurried military action when he invaded Kuwait?

Perhaps it is because at the time of the Kurdish genocide, Saddam was fighting Iran which was deemed by some, at least, as the great enemy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, even if he is a genocidal butcher.

It is trite to mention the hypocrisies abound in international relations. Anyone with the vaguest interest in world affairs can see it. To expect any less is naïve.

Besides, there is another danger of having a big power like the US mess around with our national problems. If they do so, it will be all too easy for the rabid so-called nationalists amongst us to scream that foreign intervention is leading to loss of sovereignty and national pride. Their “patriotism” will muddy the waters, adding issues to confuse people when there need not be any added issues at all.

azmi sharom

The point of this article is this – for those of us who want to create a nation with true democracy and respect for human rights, we’re on our own folks.



Anti-Najib UMNO Tsunami gathers momentum

November 24, 2015

Anti-Najib UMNO Tsunami gathers momentum

by Malaysia-Chronicle


Sale of 1MDB Power Assets to China

It looks like the much-anticipated UMNO uprising against corruption-tainted Prime Minister Najib Razak is gathering steam and may be unstoppable.

Hardly had the dust settled on shocking news that over 5,000 UMNO branches were planning to hold a mammoth rally to call for Najib’s resignation, not just an eruption of a rash of similar anti-Najib announcements.

Selangor UMNO members in particular are impatient to wait until next month to take part in the mega rally – ahead of the party’s annual assembly – and want to hold a ‘special meeting’ this Friday itself.


“In Selangor alone there are 22 divisions, at least 10 branches per division will be with us in this protest. Many heads of state branch of the collective agreement in the council,” Kampung Railway UMNO branch chairman Mohd Said Amidon was reported as telling Sinar Harian.

Over 200 UMNO branches are scheduled to attend and this will act as a ‘springboard’ for the December rally, added Mohd Said. He had held a press conference on Sunday along with 22 other UMNO branch leaders in Puchong to criticize the party’s top leadership.

“Do not misunderstand our actions as the party will worsen if we do not speak up. We do this because we love the party. We are not just members of UMNO, but UMNO people who are ready to face any action, we are not afraid,” said Mohd Said.

Paying the price of Muhyiddin’s sacking

Indeed, it requires substantial courage to go against the ‘all-powerful’ Najib, who took over the UMNO presidency and premiership of Malaysia in 2009.

Those who criticized his handling of the RM50 billion 1MDB corruption debacle have been sacked, including his Deputy Muhyiddin Yassin, Vice President Shafie Apdal and Attorney- General Gani Patail.


Apart from Johor, which is Muhyiddin’s home state, Najib’s critics in Selangor UMNO have so far been the most outspoken and this is surprising given that Najib had tasked himself with the special mission of regaining control of the state government from the Opposition.

“It suggests Najib’s political play and strategies including all the romancing with Hadi Awang and the PAS unity government are not what the Selangor people want.” a political source told Malaysia Chronicle.

“Selangor UMNO members are also among the most educated and advanced in the party and they are not satisfied with Najib’s explanations on 1MDB. Sacking Muhyiddin and Gani were bad moves that effectively confirms Najib’s guilt in the 1MDB scandal and it looks like he is now paying the price for that rash move.”

UMNO branches from 5 states – Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Johor, Perak and Sabah – had gathered on Saturday to openly state their stand against Najib and to announce the December rally to get Najib to step down as UMNO President and Malaysia’s Prime Minister.

According to Mohd Isa, who was spokesman for the Saturday meeting of 34 branch chairmen, the anti-Najib movement growing and they already had the support of almost 5,000 branch leaders, which is about a quarter of UMNO’s 22,000-odd branches throughout the country.

If the revolt does indeed continue, such a number is sufficient  to rock UMNO and ensure that Najib is booted out.


“We think the leadership today does not bring profit to the people, but even make things worse. Therefore, we urge the Prime Minister to step down from his current position and provide an opportunity for other leaders to lead the country better,” said Mohd Said.

Other UMNO branch chiefs who attended the press conference with Mohd Said included Zahrul Hambali (Sri Tanjung), Hamidan Othman (Bandar Bukit Puchong), Mat Yusof Abd Latif (Puchong Indah I), Mohd Shukor Mustafa (Bandar Puteri) and Kamarudin Salim (Kg Tengah Baru).

They urged Najib to put the party’s interest and future ahead of his own, pointing to the general election which must be held by 2018.

“Do not forget it is us, the UMNO members, who put you at the top. Your position is not your option but in the hands of UMNO members. It is better for one person to sacrifice than for 30 million Malaysians to suffer,” warned Mohd Said. – Malaysia Chronicle

Defying the Islamic State–Congratulations to Malaysia’s Zunar

November 24, 2015

Defying the Islamic State--Congratulations to Malaysia’s Zunar and other Journalists in the front lines

November 23 at 2:59 PM

RECENTLY THE Islamic State in Raqqa sent an ominous message to an exiled Syrian journalist. Tell us who is filing covertly from the occupied city, the terrorists warned, or we will execute your father. The editor refused to name names. His father was shot to death.

We heard this story last week from AbdAlaziz Alhamza, who works for the same journalism collective as the grieving editor: Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. With a dozen reporters still filing from Raqqa, risking their lives every day, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently is one of the few sources of independent news from inside its terrorized land of lashings, slavery, beheadings and crucifixions.

The collective is one of four 2015 International Press Freedom awardees who will be honored by the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York City Tuesday. They reflect both the lengths dictators will go to silence free speech — and the creativity and almost unimaginable courage that journalists summon in response.


In addition to the online collective of mostly anonymous Syrian reporters, the honorees include a Malaysian cartoonist, Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, known by his pen name, Zunar, whose work appears only online because the government allows no newspaper to carry his work; the Zone 9 bloggers, an Ethio­pian collective that came together as their government decimated the independent press; and Cándido Figueredo Ruíz , a Paraguayan journalist who shines a light on drug cartels and the corruption they engender. A reporter for ABC Color, one of his country’s largest newspapers, Mr. Figueredo holds perhaps the most traditional job among the winners. But there is nothing conventional about his bravery: He has been shot at numerous times, and now lives under constant police guard, as does his wife.


Zunar with Nathaniel Tan and Steven Gan (Malaysiakini)

Mr. Zunar, 53, will return to Malaysia to face a December court date on charges of sedition that could lead to a prison sentence of 43 years. The Ethio­pian bloggers too have been imprisoned and still have judicial proceedings hanging over them. Why go back, we asked Mr. Zunar?

“We do it for reform,” he told us during a visit to The Post. “We have been governed by the same ruling party for 60 years. Corruption is huge. There are so many injustices. . . . I know it is an uphill battle. I’m not sure when it will end, or will I see the change in my lifetime. It’s like an endless marathon, but as long as I’m on the track I’m the winner.”

Anwar Ibrahim

Mr. Zunar shared with us the cartoon he planned to post later that day: a drawing of President Obama, who traveled to Malaysia on Friday, stretching his arm around a prison full of political dissidents to shake hands with the Malaysian leader he has praised and golfed with, Najib Razak. For those of us who can take our freedoms for granted, the cartoon held a useful message: We should never forget the political prisoners, like Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, nor the journalists like Mr. Zunar and his co-winners who bravely take up the cause of freedom. “One of the great supports is to know I’m not alone,” Mr. Figueredo said.