April 3, 2015

MALAYSIA: Malaysian Cartoonist Zunar Charged With Nine Counts of Sedition Over A Series Of Tweets Criticizing The Country’s Judiciary System.

Malaysia: Schedule 9 of Malaysian constitution recognizes Islamic law as a state subject; in other words, the states of Malaysia have the power to enact and enforce sharia. Islamic criminal law statutes have been passed at the state level in Terengganu, Kelantan and Perlis, but as of 2014 none of these laws have been implemented, as they contravene the Federal Constitution. In 2007, Malaysia's Federal court ruled that apostasy matter lay "within the exclusive jurisdiction of Sharia Courts". Malaysian Muslims can be sentenced to caning for such offences as drinking beer,[104] and adultery. Several sharia crimes, such as khalwat (close proximity of unmarried man and woman) are punishable only in Sharia courts of Malaysia. Publishing an Islamic book that is different from official Malaysian version, without permission, is a crime in some states. Other sharia-based criminal laws were enacted with "Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territory) Act of 1997". Muslims are bound by Sharia on personal matters, while members of other faiths follow civil law. Muslims are required to follow Islamic law in family, property and religious matters. In 1988 the constitution was amended to state that civil courts cannot hear matters that fall within the jurisdiction of Sharia courts.

The Wall Street Journal
Defiant scribbler says he will ‘draw until the last drop of ink’
written by AP staff
Friday April 3, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—A cartoonist known for lampooning Malaysia’s ruling coalition has been charged with nine counts of sedition over a series of tweets criticizing the country’s judiciary system.

On Friday, lawyer Latheefa Koya said the charges against Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, are excessive and are aimed at silencing government critics. She says Mr. Zunar faces up to 43 years in jail if found guilty on all nine charges.

The nine tweets criticizing the judiciary were posted Feb. 10 when opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim began serving a five-year prison sentence after losing his final appeal on a sodomy charge.

“The lackeys in black robes are proud of their sentence. The rewards from the political masters must be plenty,” said one of the tweets. “Today Malaysia is seen as a country without law,” said another.

Mr. Anwar’s arrest was seen by many at home and abroad as politically motivated to eliminate any threat to the ruling coalition, whose popularity has been eroding slowly since 2008 after more than five decades of dominance. Mr. Anwar and his three-member opposition alliance were seen as the most potent political threat to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s coalition.

Mr. Anwar led his alliance to unprecedented gains in 2008 elections and made further inroads in polling in 2013 when Mr. Najib’s National Front coalition won with a slimmer majority and lost the popular vote.

A defiant Mr. Zunar posted a new cartoon on Twitter after his release on bail, vowing to “draw until the last drop of ink.” The cartoon showed Mr. Zunar being cuffed and with a metal chain on his neck, but still drawing with a brush in his mouth.

Sedition, as defined by Malaysian law, includes promoting hatred against the government.

Scores of people, including opposition politicians, activists, academics and journalists, are being investigated or have been charged under the Sedition Act since last year, mostly for criticizing the government or ruling officials.

Mr. Najib has said the government planned to eventually abolish the Sedition Act, which was introduced in 1949 during British colonial rule. But he backtracked after the 2013 elections.

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