Zunar sues police over unlawful arrest, property seizure

Melati A. Jalil

Zunar has asked the police return his books, in the cartoon and in court. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, August 16, 2017.

CARTOONIST Zunar today filed a suit against the police for wrongful arrest and seizure of his books during a fundraiser in Kuala Lumpur last year. 

His lawyer N. Surendran said the action was to send a message to the authorities that his client would no longer tolerate the constant arrests and raids. 

Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, named 20 defendants, namely Dang Wangi Criminal Investigation Department chief Gunalan Muniandy, police officer Mohamad Ridzuan Samsudin, 16 officers involved in the raid, the inspector-general of police, as well as the government.

“If again, in future Zunar does another exhibition, whoever tries to do this again, be it the police or anybody else, we will take you to court and you will have to answer to the court.

“There will be no more tolerance for this kind of unlawful behaviour against a person whose only crime is to criticise the authorities. That is the democratic right of every Malaysian,” Surendran told reporters at Kuala Lumpur High Court. 

On December 17 last year, police raided the event, Tea with Zunar at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

Police seized 1,187 books and 103 T-shirts that were to be auctioned for charity, and arrested Zunar. The raid occurred barely a month after he was detained in Penang for breach of peace under the Penal Code and Sedition Act. 

“The basis of the suit is illegal arrest and false imprisonment of Zunar by the police, and unlawful seizure of the books and T-shirts that are the property of Zunar.

“Zunar is also asking for a declaration that his rights under the Federal Constitution – to freedom of speech and expression – were infringed upon by the police and the government of Malaysia,” Surendran said.

Zunar was investigated under the Section 124c of the Penal Code for activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy.

In his suit, the artist demanded that police return the seized books and T-shirts, and sought special damages amounting to RM22,388, which is the total cost of the books and T-shirts.

Zunar said the arrest and raid had no basis as the function was held on private premises.

I didn’t need a permit or permission because the programme was not illegal. All the seized books are not banned by the government. So, what was the basis for police to arrest me?” – August 16, 2017.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.