Friday, May 22, 2015
The Federal Court later acquitted Nik Nazmi after the prosecution withdrew their case.ts under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) which drew widespread condemnation, police have now admitted that the controversial legislation needs to be reviewed.
KUANTAN: A lorry driver was stunned to learn that he had 13 arrest warrants for various traffic offences when he was stopped at a roadblock at Jalan Kuantan-Sungai Lembing here.
When detained, the 30-year-old man from Seremban, Negeri Sembilan told the police that he only had seven arrest warrants, but further checking revealed that he actually had more than that and 30 outstanding summonses.
The man was among six others detained for having two to 13 arrest warrants during Ops Warta conducted by the Pahang Police Headquarters Public Order and Traffic Department.
Its chief Supt Mohamad Noor Yusof Ali said the operation was carried out simultaneously in three locations along Jalan Kuantan-Sungai Lembing and focusing on lorry drivers.
He said 36 summonses for various offences were also issued in the operation.
By Mariam Mokhtar
Two Malays, one 87 years old, the other 53. Their birthdays are within days of one another. Both are Taureans and both live by the pen. You know Zunar, Malaysia’s satirical cartoonist, who was recently given a platform at the United Nations in Geneva to make everyone aware how the culture of fear, imposed by Umno-Baru, strikes at Malaysians.
Very few of the current generation of Malaysians would have heard of Said Zahari, a veteran journalist who was once the chief editor of Utusan Melayu, the first Malay-owned newspaper, started by Yusuf Ishak. Yusuf later became the first President of Singapore.
Singaporean-born Said wanted to be a teacher, but World War Two intervened. He was educated at the Anglo Chinese School in both English and Malay. He was also fluent in Mandarin and learnt Japanese during the war.
From an early age, Zunar was schooled in a village in Kedah and proved that he had a talent for drawing, but as was common in his time, his parents persuaded him to enter the science stream.
He became a chemist, but Kuala Lumpur, where he worked, provided the opportunity for him to observe first-hand the inequalities of life. He stopped drawing for a while, but the injustices against Anwar Ibrahim motivated him to pick up his pen again. He has not stopped drawing since.
Said was a journalist who admired Samad Ismail for his stance against British colonialism. During WWII, Said had first-hand experience of the Japanese Occupation and this strengthened his resolve against any form of imperialism. The irony is that later on, the paper he would helm fell under the dictatorship of another imperialist master – Umno.
Both Said and Zunar perform necessary roles in society. Both criticise the government of the day for its excesses. Both champion the needs and aspirations of the common man. Both are prepared to make a stand and both are prepared to accept the consequences.
Zunar is being hounded by the police and a slew of charges have been levelled at him. He faces nine charges of sedition and could be jailed for 43 years.
Five decades ago, Said incurred the wrath of Umno when the party wanted to dictate terms to Utusan Melayu. He was jailed under the ISA for 17 years in “Operation ColdStore”. Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew said it was at the request of Malaya, but there was possibly collusion between Malaya and Singapore.
Few would believe that Utusan Melayu, started in 1939, was an independent paper, which voiced the aspirations and concerns of the ordinary Malays of the newly independent Malaya and Singapore. Today, it is the mouthpiece of Umno-Baru.
By 1961, men loyal to Umno had infiltrated the paper’s board of directors. Umno subsequently demanded that the editorial of Utusan Melayu accede to their demands. Said was shocked by Umno’s arrogance and fought fiercely for the paper’s independence. He successfully launched a strike to defend press freedom.
The 100-day strike was broken only when Said went to visit the Singapore offices and was refused entry back into Malaya. Then agents provocateurs were sent to intimidate the people who were striking.
Zunar may not have led any strikes, but he has refused all awards and financial rewards offered by the Umno-Baru government. He is aware that these will be used to tarnish his reputation.
Said Zahari was against an Umno takeover of Utusan. Zunar is against the takeover of Malaysian minds.
For writing critical editorials and blasting the European countries which colonised parts of Africa and treated their citizens despicably, Said incurred the wrath of Umno. He was also in trouble with the Alliance government (precursor of BN) because his paper championed the concerns of the people. They often demanded an apology from Said, which he refused to give.
Zunar has openly admitted that he criticises the people who control the purse strings of the nation, the PM and the self-styled “First Lady of Malaysia”. Zunar has been arrested, his offices raided, his books confiscated and he has been hauled to prison.
In 1961, Said did not get any support from the international press, which was aware of what was happening but for one reason or another stayed silent. Today, with the Internet and social media, Zunar’s plight is publicised by the foreign media and spread worldwide.
The moral of the story is that Utusan Melayu was once a firm and fearless voice of the people and a champion of the oppressed. The man who fought so hard for an independent media was jailed for 17 years. He is Said Zahari, a courageous Singaporean Malay who was prepared to make many personal sacrifices to make a stand so that the ordinary man could have a voice. He was betrayed and punished by Umno.
Today, the modern-day Malaysian who is prepared to fight to the bitter end, so that we may enjoy the freedoms we are entitled to, is Zunar. He continues the good work which Said Zahari left unfinished.
Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.