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.

Southeast Asian Snapshots

November 24, 2015

Southeast Asian Snapshots

Half-marathons running off into the distance, a missing opposition leader in Cambodia, more presidential drama in the Philippines, and Malaysian charity cases that aren’t.

In her weekly column New Mandala Associate Editor Mish Khan brings you the best and worst from the region.

Malaysia’s zakat squandered on splendour

Malaysia’s religious affairs minister, Jamil Khir Baharaom, has come under fire for allegedly paying for a luxurious eight-day trip to the US, totaling RM 410,000 with charity funds designated for orphans and the poor.

The money was drawn from the Islamic Economic Development Foundation (YaPEIM), originally formed to perform charity work in Malaysia or zakat. Akmal Nasir, the Director of National Oversight and Whistleblowers (NOW), claimed that during the lavish trip Jamil Khir and his wife played golf and spent time shopping at luxurious, upscale stores.

Jamil Khir. Photo: YouTube

Jamil Khir. Photo: YouTube

In response to public disgust, YaPEIM insisted that the amount was partially paid back by the Minister. However, no breakdown of the costs were disclosed.

Last week, NOW also exposed that YaPEIM had spent RM 290,000 to fund a 14-day marriage course in Paris, attended by Malaysian students studying abroad. The necessity of organising such a course for wealthy Malay students was widely questioned.

Jamil Khir has since filed a defamation lawsuit against Nasir, claiming RM 10 million in compensation.

Duterte snatches the reins

Jubilation spread quickly in the Philippines on Saturday night after Rodrigo Duterte, the highly popular mayor of Davao, officially announced he will run for president in 2016.

Duterte has for months denied any intention to run, but claims the sudden change of heart was inspired by the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) ruling allowing rival candidate Senator Grace Poe to proceed. Duterte states he will “never accept an American as president”.

The Philippine Constitution requires presidential candidates to be natural-born citizens. Senator Grace Poe is an adopted foundling, as well as a former US citizen.

Rodrigo Duterte - fending off foreigners since forever.

Rodrigo Duterte – fending off foreigners since forever.

A disqualification case was filed with the SET insisting that Poe fails to meet the Philippine citizenship requirements. Last Tuesday, the SET dismissed the case in a narrow 5-4 vote. This ruling is in disagreement with the Supreme Court, which found that under customary international law, Poe may be considered a naturalised citizen but not a natural-born citizen.

Duterte’s late-minute entry into the political race has uprooted the entire game thus far, with analysts certain he will win over votes from the other candidates.

Rain-sy, rain-sy, go away

Disappointed supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Resuce Party are hoping their party president Sam Rainsy will come again another day, following his decision to not return to Cambodia.

This follows the recent decision by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to enforce a long-dormant 2011 defamation conviction against him.

In 2008, Rainsy jabbed that Foreign Minister Hor Namhong had run a Khmer Rouge prison. Last Monday, the ruling Cambodia People’s Party voted to remove him from the National Assembly stripping him of his parliamentary privilege.

Sam Rainsy (left) and Hun Sen in happier times. Photo: Wikimedia commons

Sam Rainsy (left) and Hun Sen in happier times. Photo: Wikimedia commons

Rainsy faces a two-year prison term if he returns to Cambodia. Although a CNRP spokesman originally announced Rainsy would return on Monday and face his arrest, Rainsy seemed to change his mind and is heading to France to seek political support in hopes of striking a deal.

The CPP are sceptical that Rainsy’s case will garner any interest in the West, stating “World leaders don’t have time for them due to the threat of ISIS… No one cares about the CNRP.”

They also berated him for comparing himself to Myanmar democracy figure Aung Sun Suu Kyi, who chose to face years in detention for her cause.

Opinions amongst CNRP supporters are mixed. Although many sympathise with Rainsy, others are disappointed in what they perceive as a demonstrated lack of bravery and a failure in his responsibility towards the Cambodian people.

Thailand’s mangled marathon

What do Thailand’s democratic transition and its annual half-marathon have in common? Answer: they are both poorly run and unnecessarily extended.

There was outrage in Thailand last week as it unintentionally became home to the world’s longest half-marathon.

The Standard Chartered Bangkok marathon, held on November 15, accidentally increased its 21 kilometre route to 27 kilometres. The Athletic Association of Thailand, which oversees athletic events in the country, said that race officials directed runners to turn in the wrong place and thus lengthened each lap.

Photo: Newsweek

Photo: Newsweek

A tirade of complaints were unleashed on social media, with comments criticising the race as “ridiculous,” a “massive miscalculation,” and “incredibly dangerous.”

Many have dubbed the event the “super half-marathon”, with one commenter noting that “they increased the price this year, so at least you get more kilometres for your money.”

Mish Khan is Associate Editor of New Mandala, and an Asian studies scholar at The Australian National University.  

ASEAN Civil Society welcomes the Launch of ASEAN Community with reservations

November 23, 2015

ASEAN Civil Society welcomes the Launch of ASEAN Community with reservations

For the peoples of ASEAN, this long-awaited moment is met with some disappointment.While the documents signed are replete with language premised on a people-centred community that belongs to all, there remains serious scepticism on the part of civil society as to what the agreements reached and commitments made by ASEAN governments will actually mean for human rights, democracy, development and environment  for the ASEAN peoples.


The ASEAN Civil  Society congratulates the ASEAN leaders for the launching of the new ASEAN Community. This community, our community, is what we have been looking forward to for a long time.

The 27th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits 2015 has officially signed the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the establishment of the ASEAN Community and the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

Further, we have also witnessed the signing of the ASEAN Convention against Human Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Actip).

For the peoples of ASEAN, this long-awaited moment is met with some disappointment. While the documents signed are replete with language premised on a people-centred community that belongs to all, there remains serious scepticism on the part of civil society as to what the agreements reached and commitments made by ASEAN governments will actually mean for human rights, democracy, development and environment for the ASEAN peoples.

Asean Economic Community 2016

In his opening address on November 21, 2015, Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, as 2015 chair of ASEAN, declared that Asean had stressed “community and consensus building, over the excesses of individualism and the seeking of selfish objectives”.

He added in his statement that the adoption of the ASEAN Community marked the culmination of decades of effort to integrate, cohere and to forge ahead together.

However, a dichotomy exists between the integration touted by ASEAN officials and the socially minded integration sought by civil society.

“What does this really mean for the peoples of ASEAN?” asked Jerald Joseph of Pusat Komas, chair of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF) 2015.

“Regional integration might be the goal but could it be instead selective integration, which has the potential of widening the development gaps? We recognise that this region has huge disparities in political, economic and social development and bargaining powers in the region.”

“Thus ensuring measures are in place to ensure fair representation of diverse interests of the peoples in ASEAN rather than certain dominant nations and interests of certain groups, especially the businesses and the multi-national corporations must be made a priority,” he said.

The ASEAN Community 2015 cannot focus only on integration policies which clearly provide economic and development gains without also removing its reluctance to commit to addressing issues which are deemed to infringe on national sovereignty such as internal conflict, territorial disputes, environmental degradation, treatment of minorities and human rights violations which have negative trans-boundary impacts and consequences.

Today we also witnessed the signing of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on ASEAN 2025, Forging Ahead Together, which incorporates the ASEAN Community Vision. The rhetoric around the vision claims that it will be a “bold, visionary, progressive and forward-looking document to reflect the aspirations of the next generation of ASEAN nationals”.

“A review of the document adopted falls short of the above aspirations,” said Joseph. “Despite the ambitious claim, it continues to retain mediocre ASEAN commitment.An example is the commitment to eradicating corruption which seem to focus more on ‘establishing support’, ‘developing programmes’ and ‘strengthening cooperation’, rather than actual commitment on policy and institutional changes. This is typical of ASEAN adopting the lowest common denominator as the threshold for action.”

This new vision gave the possibility of a new approach. Unfortunately it is again a missed opportunity.

The human rights agenda of ASEAN in its Vision 2025 yet again focuses too much on the promotional aspect without a solid protection framework inserted.

Civil society’s call for the mainstreaming human rights in the ASEAN Community 2015 process and in the ASEAN Vision 2015 has again been ignored or given peripheral attention.

“Commitment to human rights is again rather fragmented and established in silos in the 3 pillars’ blueprints,” said Wathshlah Naidu of Women’s Aid Organisation Malaysia, who led the drafting of the ACSC/APF 2015 statement and outcome document.

“It has not holistically addressed how Asean plans to respond to and share resources in addressing emerging issues and issues exacerbated by regional integration such as migration, asylum seekers and refugees and heightened extremism and terrorism.

“Purely addressing these regional concerns as security issues without a grounding in human rights principles and standards creates the path for continued human rights violations.”

Naidu added that “gender equality and the diversity of peoples of ASEAN are also not reflected comprehensively in the Vision.

“Eliminating all forms of discrimination and human rights violations is fundamental towards achieving regional integration that is rooted in achieving equality of all ASEAN countries and its peoples.”

Another key concern raised by civil society is the lack of meaningful and substantive participation, inclusion and representation of all peoples of ASEAN in the drafting process of the ASEAN Vision 2025.

“As civil society, we demand that ASEAN stop co-opting its peoples through its rhetoric on ‘people-centred’ or ‘people-oriented’ mantras without genuinely making the commitment and institutionalising a process where all interests of its diverse peoples are included in its policy documents and agreements through meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders,” said Soe Min Than of Think Center Singapore, who is also a member of the ACSC/APF 2015 Regional Steering Committee.

“ASEAN can only demonstrate its commitment to community building and implementation of the ASEAN Community agenda and the ASEAN Vision 2025 by ensuring engagement of all stakeholders through multifaceted dialogue, feedback and effective participation in determining and shaping the aspiration and future of the region and its peoples.”

As ASEAN moves on with its summit with various dialogue partners, ASEAN civil society again reiterates its concerns and recommendations made over the last 10 years of engagement and calls on ASEAN to escalate its responses to the interventions by the civil society.

“We look forward to strengthened solidarity, understanding and coordinated actions among ASEAN and civil society as key stakeholder for a truly ‘people-oriented, people-centred and rules-based ASEAN Community’,” said Pen Somony of the Cambodian Volunteers for Society, who is also a member of the ACSC/APF 2015 Regional Steering Committee.


Obama to Najib: Release Malaysia’s Prisoner of Conscience

November 23, 2015

Obama to Najib: Release Malaysia’s Prisoner of Conscience

by John R. Malott


One person told me that Najib’s response was that he had to follow Malaysia’s legal system. To me, it is ironic that Najib wants to hide behind Malaysia’s legal system, because he certainly has had no hesitation to use and abuse it for his own political ends.–John R.Malott

I have heard from five people, both Malaysians and Americans and all in a position to know, that during his meeting with Najib Razak on November 20, US President Barack Obama called on the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib to release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim from prison.

The request reportedly was made on humanitarian grounds, because of Anwar’s deteriorating health. But the US government position that Anwar’s trial was flawed and politically-motivated, and that Anwar is a political prisoner, is a matter of record.

One person told me that Najib’s response was that he had to follow Malaysia’s legal system. To me, it is ironic that Najib wants to hide behind Malaysia’s legal system, because he certainly has had no hesitation to use and abuse it for his own political ends.

And it’s not just against the opposition anymore. Now he’s going after critics in his own party, as well as investigators who have gotten too close to the truth.

A lot has happened since the famous golf game last December. Starting with Anwar’s conviction in February, there was that major front page expose in the New York Times, detailing all the allegations of corruption surrounding Najib and his family.

Sarawak Report started exposing more and more documents about 1MDB and the missing billions. The 1MDB reporting was all very complicated and convoluted, because the paper trails were hard to follow. But then The Wall Street Journal published an article that everyone could understand. US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) had allegedly ended up in Najib’s personal bank account, and for weeks he could not explain how it got there.

And then, just like magic, most of that money allegedly went overseas again – but no one knows where, and Najib isn’t talking. Everyone could understand that story – you don’t need an MBA in international finance. Then New York Times reported that Najib and his family were under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. What a name!

As for human rights and democracy, Najib’s crackdown on the opposition has been reported widely in the Western press. Human Rights Watch recently put out a 151-page report on the “climate of fear” that Najib has created. Unprecedented – 151 pages! Then there was that United Nations group that recently called for Anwar’s release.

Obama is a lawyer. He now understands that the evidence is overwhelming and that Najib is not the man he thought he was. As I have said before, Obama is not the only world leader who believed Najib’s rhetoric of reform. But put it all together, and with all the news this year, it reached the point where Obama finally recognised the reality about both Malaysia and Najib.

Change in stand

Last February we launched the White House petition on ‘We, the People’, which called for making Anwar’s release from prison a priority for US foreign policy. That has now happened.

But that is not thanks to me or the petition, it is thanks to the great investigative reporting in the world press, on Malaysian websites, and on Sarawak Report. Especially, it is thanks to the courage of so many Malaysians who refuse to be intimidated by the heavy hand and threats of Malaysia’s Home Minister and Inspector-General of Police (IGP).

ambassador-john-malottI agree totally with what Obama told the civil society leaders whom he just met in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. America has many interests in Malaysia – and not just the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). It includes our longstanding trade and investment ties, military and foreign policy cooperation, and working together on so many issues like refugees, counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, and the environment. But I am glad that human rights and democracy are once again on the list of our priorities in Malaysia.

I have been critical of Obama’s hands-off stance on human rights in Malaysia over the past few years. But now I have to say thank you. Not only did he discuss these matters with Najib, he is the first President to actually call for Anwar’s release from prison since Anwar was first jailed in 1998. Neither Bill Clinton nor George W Bush ever went that far.

I hope that this more visible and active US effort will continue, but not just to secure Anwar’s freedom. We need to be even more vocal in Malaysia and around the world in addressing human rights, political freedom, and religious and racial discrimination. Free and fair elections are essential to change. Corruption, the abuse of the legal system, and special treatment for government-linked companies (GLCs) hurts American companies trying to do business in Malaysia as much as it hurts Malaysian companies.

America needs to stand clearly on the side of those Malaysians who are seeking the changes that will lead to a brighter future for Malaysia. The current trajectory – with more and more Malaysians themselves starting to refer to their own country as a “failed” or “failing” state – should be of concern to everyone, and not just Malaysians.

This needs to be a coordinated international effort, working with the UN, human rights NGOs, and like-minded governments from around the world. It should not be just America alone, for the reasons that Obama described in his talk at Taylor’s University to the young Southeast Asian leaders. America should not be seen as the “nanny state,” lecturing others and ignoring its own shortcomings.

Malaysia, Najib, and the ruling party need the international equivalent of a “family intervention,” sort of a “Friends of Malaysia” grouping, where out of concern and love you try to break through the pattern of denial and help the person – or in this case, the country – get the “treatment” it needs before it destroys itself.

Finally, I am confident that there will always be courageous Malaysians who will continue to struggle for true democracy and political freedom, against the growing authoritarianism in their country. I hope their numbers will grow. For in the end, while the outside world can be supportive, only the Malaysian people can bring change.

As Obama said many times, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

JOHN R.MALOTT is former US Ambassador to Malaysia and a true friend of Malaysian Civil Society. We are grateful that Ambssador Malott continues to play an important role for us in Washington DC. American legislators in Congress need to know about developments in Malaysia. We cannot rely on our Ambassador in Washington, Dr Awang Adek, who is a UMNO politician and Najib’s personal emissary to the Obama administration, to speak up for us since he is a stooge. I also wish to acknowledge the contributions of Malaysians who are living in the Washington Area for their support.–Din Merican

We are at war, says French Intellectual, Dominique Moisi

November 22, 2015

We are at war, says French Intellectual, Dominique Moisi

by Dominique Moisi, a professor at L’Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), is Senior Adviser at the French Institute for International Affairs (IFRI) and a visiting professor at King’s College London. He is the author of The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation, and Hope are Reshaping the World.

PARIS – Ever since the terrorist attacks in January on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, Parisians knew that barbarism lurked around the corner, and that it would strike again. But it is one thing to know something, to anticipate it, and another to be confronted with the grim reality. On Friday night, reality struck us with a vengeance. We are at war. It would be wrong – even dangerous – not to admit it. And to win will require clarity, unity, and firmness.

Clarity of analysis is what we now need the most. We barely know our enemy, except for the intensity of his hatred and the depth of his cruelty. To understand his strategy, we must recognize him for what he is: an intelligent – and, in his own way, rational – adversary. For too long, we have despised and underestimated him. It is urgent that we now change course.

In the last few weeks, the Islamic State’s strategy of terror has brought death to the streets of Ankara, Beirut, and Paris, and to the skies over Sinai. The identity of the victims leaves no doubt about the message. “Kurds, Russians, Lebanese Shia, French: You attack us, so we will kill you.”


The timing of the attacks is as revealing as the targets’ nationality. The more the Islamic State is defeated on the ground and loses control of territory in Syria and Iraq, the more it is tempted to externalize the war to deter further intervention. The synchronized attacks in Paris, for example, coincided with the Islamic State’s loss of the Iraqi city of Sinjar.

Of course, the terrorist cell that struck Paris was not created in the wake of the Islamic State’s recent battlefield losses. It was already in place, waiting to be activated (as others may be). That demonstrates the Islamic State’s tactical flexibility, not to mention the availability of people willing to commit suicide.

If the Islamic State chose this time, in Paris, to target people who are not satirists, policemen, or Jews, it is precisely because their “ordinariness” left them unprotected. This time, the attackers chose “quantity” over “quality” (if one may be pardoned for such a crude formulation). The goal was to kill as many people as possible.

This strategy is possible because the territory controlled by the Islamic State provides a sanctuary and training ground. The self-proclaimed caliphate’s territories represent for the group what Taliban-controlled Afghanistan meant for Al Qaeda in the 1990s.

It is imperative to regain control of this territory. And destroying the Islamic State’s “provinces” in Libya, Sinai, and elsewhere must become the number one priority of the international community.

Beyond analytical clarity, there is a need for unity, beginning in France, where citizens would reject their political class were its members to continue to behave divisively at such an obvious historical turning point.

Unity must also be achieved within Europe. We are repeatedly told that Europe is in the midst of an identity crisis, in need of some new project. Well, now Europe has found one. To be European means to confront together the scourge of barbarism, to defend our values, our way of life, and our way of living together, despite our differences.

Unity is also required of the Western world as a whole. President Barack Obama’s statement after the Paris attacks demonstrates that what unites Europe and the United States is much more significant than what divides us. We are in the same boat, faced with the same enemy. And this sense of unity must go beyond the European and Western world, because the Islamic State threatens countries such as Iran and Russia, not to mention Turkey, as much – if not more – than it does the West.


Of course, we must be realists. Our alliance of circumstance with these countries will not overcome all problems between them and us. So, beyond clarity and unity, we need firmness, both in confronting the threat of ISIS and in defending our values, especially adherence to the Rule of Law.

The Islamic State expects from us a combination of cowardice and overreaction. Its ultimate ambition is to provoke a clash of civilizations between the West and the Muslim world. We must not fall prey to that strategy.

But clarity comes first. When Paris is attacked as it was last Friday, one must speak of war. No one wants to repeat the errors of the US under President George W. Bush; but to use those errors as an alibi to avoid confronting the world as it is would merely be an error of a different sort. Europe’s response must be tough, but it must not deviate from the Rule of Law. We are, after all, engaged in a political battle with the Islamic State, one in which our love of life must prevail over their love of death.


Heroic Zunar lampoons the Goons, Buffoons and Loony-Tun

November 22, 2015

Cartoonist Zunar lampoons the Goons, Buffoons and Loony-Tun

by Dean Johns

As I wrote in a column in May last year entitled ‘Zunar zaps the zombies’, there are few if any people I admire more than Zulkifly Anwar Haque aka Zunar, who for years has used his cartoons to lampoon the platoons of goons, buffoons and loony-tunes, not to mention the loony-Tuns, who have long been running – and ruining – Malaysia.

He’s one of the pitifully few heroes in the struggle against the zanies, zealots, xenophobes and moral and ethical zombies of the zalim Barisan Nasional regime, and a shining, shaming example to the millions of Malaysians who remain too lazy, dozy, cosy or just plain gutless to take a stand against the ruin of the country they claim to love by a gang of lying, criminal zeroes.

But, as Zunar reminded us in his appearances in person and interviews on radio and TV during his flying visit to Sydney, UMNO-BN appears to be increasingly becoming one of its own worst enemies by racking-up such an astonishing string of zeroes as to amaze and appall not just formerly dozy Malaysians, but also to attract the opprobrium of the whole wide world.

Khairy Jamaluddin’s Malaysia Boleh National Soccer Team

Everywhere you look these days, from the RM2,600,000,000 that passed through Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s personal bank account and the ongoing fiasco of the RM42 billion 1MDB fraud to the Malaysian football team’s 6-0, 10-0 and now 6-0 again thrashings by such low-level opponents as Palestine and the UAE in World Cup qualifying matches, UMNO-BN is scoring zeroes.

But the human zeroes responsible for such catastrophes are responding to them by doing…nothing. Nada, zip, or to once again repeat our theme here, zero. There is zero sign that Najib intends to ever come clean about either his personal banking transactions or the billions missing from 1MDB.

And similarly zero sign that Youth and Sports Minister in Najib’s alleged ‘government’, Khairy Jamaluddin, intends to take the slightest responsibility for the disgraceful state of affairs in his department.

It is also clear that there is zero chance that any of the other zeroes infesting and supporting the zombie UMNO-BN regime will do anything but absolute zero about getting rid of Najib, Khairy or any of their other partners in crime and incompetence, as they are all without exception either willing accomplices in or accessories to whatever dirty deeds one or more of them commit.

All of which explains why, of course, they have zero tolerance for not only Zunar’s books of cartoons, but also for leaving him at liberty to produce them. As countless formerly UMNO BN-unaware Australians have been outraged to learn this past week, this most talented and persistent of patriots is facing a raft of charges that could earn him about 45 years in jail!

But Zunar himself is undaunted, declaring to the many audiences he addressed this past week that he has no plans to seek refuge from regime repression and retribution in some cartoon-friendly foreign country, but to stay in Malaysia and keep demonstrating his philosophy that ‘even my pen has a stand’.

Ridiculing them right out of power

But, far from seeing himself as a hero against the zeroes, this most modest, unassuming and softly-spoken of men simply considers it his duty as a Malaysian citizen to use his cartooning talents to combat the criminal regime by what he considers the most effective possible means, which is to ridicule them right out of power.

He also hopes to inspire other Malaysians to do whatever they can think of to join him and his fellow opponents of the lying, thieving regime to do however much or little they can to zap the UMNO-BN zeroes. And in this regard he says he is tremendously heartened by the fact that the younger generation of Malaysians of all races and creeds seem to be increasingly demonstrating zero-tolerance of the regime.

Najib Tipu Melayu

King of the Goons

Certainly more and more Malaysians are joining him in seeing Najib and the gang as a laughing-stock, as evidenced by over a million ‘likes’ on social media for one of his most recent cartoons.

And his latest banned book is bound to win him floods more fans. Of course there’s no space here to take you through the entire 128 pages of this hilarious collection, but the cover itself says volumes.

In illustration of the book’s title, ‘Sapuman, Man of Steal’, the cover shows Najib flying along with a bundle labelled ‘RM2.6 billion’ in one hand, and the bat-infested ‘Putar Jaya’ building down below. And of course the drawing also features Zunar’s trademark sketches of a diamond ring, a crone-like creature with a big hairdo with a RM1,200 price-tag and an idiot in police uniform going ‘twit, twit’ on his smartphone.

And in added emphasis of the core message of the cover, the book is priced at RM26 to further symbolise the RM2.6 billion that Sapuman, the super-zero, has been revealed as having received in his personal bank account.

But as fiendishly funny as ‘Sapuman, Man of Steal’ most certainly is, it is far from Zunar’s intention to simply sell lots of copies, get lots of laughs and make himself a hero.

What keeps him drawing cartoons making fun of UMNO-BN hoons, goons and buffoons is the thought that by his efforts he’s helping inspire as many other Malaysians as possible to realise that, if only they can be awakened from their snooze, they can all be heroes in the fight against the zeroes.

DEAN JOHNS, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he coaches and mentors writers and authors and practises as a writing therapist. Published books of his columns for Malaysiakini include ‘Mad about Malaysia’, ‘Even Madder about Malaysia’, ‘Missing Malaysia’, ‘1Malaysia.con’ and ‘Malaysia Mania’.