Zunar: Kenapa saya memilih PM, isteri sebagai watak utama

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[English version below] Zunar memberi respon kepada komen yang dibuat oleh kartunis Reggie Lee dalam sebuah forum dengan kartunis-kartunis antarabangsa di Kuala Lumpur Isnin lepas mengenai cara beliau berkartun.

Seperti yang dilapor oleh portal Malaysiakini, di dalam forum tersebut Reggie berkata saya patut memperluaskan subjek kartun, bukan hanya tertumpu kepada karektor tertentu. Beliau merujuk kepada karoktor perdana menteri dan isteri.

Saya tidak berhasrat untuk mempertikai kenyataan Reggie, tetapi saya mengambil kesempatan untuk memberi penjelasan mengenai mengapa saya memilih kedua individu tersebut sebagai subjek.

Pada saya, bakat bukan anugerah, tapi sebuah tanggungjawab. Adalah menjadi tanggungjawab bagi setiap kartunis untuk mengkritik mereka yang paling berkuasa. Di Amerika, kartunis-kartunis membantai Trump, di sini saya mensasarkan Najib dan Rosmah.

Dalam ratusan kartunis terkenal di Malaysia, tidak ada seorang pun yang melukis Najib dan Rosmah sedangkan kedua mereka dikaitkan dengan banyak skandal seperti 1MDB, Scorpene, dan cincin. Saya bukan mahukan jawapan dari kartunis-kartunis Malaysia kenapa mereka tidak berbuat demikian, tetapi saya akan terus memfokus kedua-dua watak tersebut.

Inilah yang dilakukan oleh kartunis seluruh dunia: membongkar korupsi dan ketidakadilan. Bukan saya yang mencipta masalah; saya hanya menjalankan tanggungjawab. Pihak berluasa yang mencetus masalah kerana mereka tidak tahu untuk ketawa kepada diri mereka sendiri. Dan itu adalah masalah mereka. Saya tidak akan mengubah cara bekartun untuk untuk membuat mereka gembira.

Di dalam negara di mana kebebasan berekspresi sangat terbatas dan kebebasan media dicengkam, kartun boleh menjadi alat menyampai kebenaran kerana mediumnya sangat berkuasa untuk memecah hagemony ini. Jadi kenapa tidak boleh diguna kepada perdana menteri dan isteri?

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Musuh terbesar bagi seseorang seniman bukanlah undang-undang atau rejim zalim, tetapi penapisan sendiri (self-censorship). Ketika melukis, saya melarang fikiran saya dari memikirkan soal editor, polis, mahkamah atau undang-undang.

Apa yang penting adakah mesej dalam lukisan itu cukup kuat untuk mencipta impak positif kepada masyarakat. Gelarlah kartun saya apa saja: provokatif, menghina, intimidasi, keras – selagi ia boleh membuka minda rakyat Malaysia, saya cukup gembira.

Apakah saya tidak punya rasa takut. Ya, saya takut kerana saya juga manusia. Tetapi tanggungjawab lebih besar dari ketakutan. Imbuhan kewangan bukanlah objektif, tetapi untuk menggunakan bakat ke jalan yang benar adalah tanggungjawab.

Zunar: Why I picked the PM, his spouse as my main characters

I would like to respond to the comment made by my fellow cartoonist, Reggie Lee, about my style of cartooning at a panel discussion with local and international cartoonists in Kuala Lumpur on Monday night.

As reported by Malaysiakini, in that forum Reggie commented that I am a very good cartoonist, that the only trouble is that I should not only focus on certain characters, that I should at least spread the characters out. Reggie Lee was clearly referring to the characters of Prime Minister Najib and his wife Rosmah.

I do not want to comment about Reggie’s comment here, but I would like to take this opportunity to explain my position and stand on why I choose these two characters as my subject.

For me, talent is not a gift, but a responsibility. It is the duty of a cartoonist to criticise the most powerful. In America, cartoonists lampoon Trump; here at home, I target Najib and Rosmah.

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Of all the hundreds of established cartoonists in Malaysia, no one draws the two characters whilst the same couple is being implicated in high profile scandals like 1MDB, Scorpene and cincin, I do not need Malaysian cartoonists to explain why they fail to draw them, but for me, I am sticking to those two as my characters.

This is what cartoonists around the world do: exposing corruption and injustices. I do not create trouble; I am just performing my duty. The authorities are the ones who cause trouble because they cannot laugh at themselves when they read my cartoons. That said, that is their problem, for I do not change my style in any way to accommodate them.

In a country where freedom of expression is limited and against the larger backdrop of the muzzling of the mainstream medias, cartoons can be a tool to tell the truth because they are one of the most powerful media to break the hegemony. So why are we not using then to lampoon Najib and Rosmah?

Do I have fear? Indeed I have, for I am only human. But responsibility is bigger than fear.

For me, the biggest enemy of an artist is not the law nor corrupt regimes, but self-censorship.

Whenever I draw, I forbid my mind from thinking about the editors, the police, the laws or the court. What is important is whether the messages in my drawings can create sufficient and positive impact on society. Call my cartoons whatever you want – provocative, humiliating, intimidating, blunt, hard-hitting – as long they can wake the Malaysians’ minds up, I am happy.

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Monetary gain is not my objective. To use my talent for a good cause is my duty.

How can I be neutral; even my pen has a stand.

Zunar is an international renowned award-winning Malaysian cartoonist.

22 Mac 2017

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