Zulkiflee Anwar Haque

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Photo of Zulkiflee Anwar Haque
Zulkiflee Anwar Haque speaking at a public forum, May 2017
Born Zulkiflee SM Anwar Haque
(1962-05-15) May 15, 1962 (age 56)
Gurun, Kedah, Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia)
Nationality Malaysia
Other names Obanana
Occupation Cartoonist
Known for pictures

Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque (born 15 May 1962), better known as Zunar to Malaysians, is a political cartoonist. He currently faces up to 43 years in prison for criticising the Malaysian government.[1]


Zunar was born on 15 May 1962, at Bukit Junun, Gurun, Kedah. He previously worked as a laboratory technician and during his pastime delved in drawing cartoons. He was also a secretary to the Association of Selangor and Federal Territory cartoonists. Quite often he held workshops for individuals wanting to venture into cartoon business.

Zunar often likes to bring along a pen and notebook inside his travel bag during his drawing excursions, from which he will record ideas from all walks of life and would translate them into caricatures or cartoons.

Career as a cartoonist[edit]

Zunar produced his first works as early as 1973 which were published in the magazine Bambino. Upon the encouragement of family and friends, his drawings were also published weekly in newspapers and magazines such as the Kisah Cinta magazine and issues of Gila-Gila, a publication by Creative Enterprise Sdn Bhd.

In Gila-Gila, from time to time his cartoons began attracting the attention of readers and publishers as well as due to their cynical and political nature. This gave him an advantage for his work to be published in issues of the Chili Padi magazine (part of the Gila-Gila magazine) under the title Gebang-Gebang.

Zunar then began producing work in a daily-news comic strip called Papa. Zunar's name became well-known when he got himself involved in the Reformasi movement following the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the then-deputy prime minister in 1998. His involvement in the movement led to his detention along with several other activists.

After his release, he concentrated on political cartoons. He produced several books of cartoons touching on many reform movements that he had previously participated.

To date he continues to draw political cartoons, namely for politically owned newspapers, including Harakah.

Arrest in 2016[edit]

At 9pm on 10 February 2016, he was arrested at his home in Kuala Lumpur, and detained for three days without charge. He was later charged in relation to nine political images he had posted online, with a potential penalty of up to 43 years in prison. Five of his books have also been banned on the grounds that their contents are “detrimental to public order”. He is currently out on bail, awaiting his court date of 6 November.[1]

Technical work[edit]

Zunar uses a lot of pen and brush work with adventurous line techniques. He uses simple strokes with economical lines. His initial strokes in his works then differ from the latest works ~ the lines mature hand in hand with the maturity of his drawings.

His lines and hatching techniques in cartoons is seen more towards the style of editorial cartooning, similar to the works of Mike Peters and Frank Cammuso. In fact, his drawing style combines a bit of both of these two cartoonists' techniques as seen in their drawings.

Description of his work[edit]

Zunar is a cartoonist who always employs sharp satirical humor in his drawings.

  • One of his work entitled Ofis Korner is a biting satire on office staffs slacking at work.
  • Liza deals with a character called Kadok, a dumb person who tries to win over a girl by the name of Liza.
  • Papa, which appeared in the newspaper Berita Harian, featured the life and fate of two siblings in the middle of the rat race and fast-paced city. It represents groups from all walks of life, including the squatters.

Issues and controversies[edit]

Banning of books[edit]

On 24 June 2010 "1 Funny Malaysia", a book of his published works from the Malaysiakini website (published by Malaysiakini), and "Gedung Kartun", "Perak Dalam Kartun" and "Isu Dalam Kartun" which were a series of magazines about political and recent issues in Malaysia and Perak (published by his company Sepakat Efektif Sdn. Bhd.) were banned and prohibited by the Malaysian Home Ministry to be sold in public.

He stated that the bans were illegal and contrary to the rights of free speech guaranteed by the Constitution of Malaysia. On 27 July 2010, he and his employer Malaysiakini filed two separate suits in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to challenge the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs in banning his books.[2]

Arrest for sedition[edit]

On 24 September 2010, Zunar was arrested by the police and charged for sedition, 3 hours prior to the launching of his just-published book "Cartoon-O-Phobia"[3] and jailed for one day.[4] He faced possible charge under the Sedition Act which carry a maximum three years imprisonment.[5] During the arrest the police seized 66 copies of the book. The clamp-down may have been due to reasons that the book contains 'sensitive' issues such as the Altantuya murder, the conspiracy against Anwar, the prime minister's wife Rosmah, the loss of fighter jet engines, the Scorpene submarine that cannot dive, issues in Sarawak, racism, corruption, waste of public funds, among others. [6][7]

People's Uprising Rally, 2013 @ #HKR112[edit]

On 12 January 2013, Zunar together with other opposition leaders and supporters organized a demonstration against the government.[8] The rally was organized by Mohamad Sabu to show support for the Opposition change agenda.[9]

Zunar was also referred to as the Commander during the HKR rally with a group of cartoonist Iss who claim that they are from the independent cartoonist group. Zunar was the leader for the Brickfields and KL Central group.[10]

Tea with Zunar[edit]

In December 2016 Zunar held a public fan event called Tea with Zunar. In Fall of 2017 he filed a lawsuit against the police to recoup the $5,200 for the merchandise (books, T-shirts, etc.) seized in the raid.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Thrown in prison for drawing cartoons". 26 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "Malaysiakini, Zunar saman KDN". 26 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "Officially Launched On 24 September 2010". 
  4. ^ "No funny business for Malaysian bloggers". 
  5. ^ "The Comics Reporter". 
  6. ^ "www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/SEAsia/Story/STIStory_582651.html". 
  7. ^ "www.freemalaysiatoday.com/fmt-english/politics/pakatan-rakyat/10634-police-raid-zunars-office-upcoming-book-seized". 
  8. ^ Shauki Abd. Majid. "Himpunan hanya platform peralatkan rakyat", Utusan Online Kuala Lumpur, 15 January 2013. Retrieved on 28 February 2013.
  9. ^ Harakah Daily. "Kejayaan himpunan lambang kebangkitan rakyat" Archived 23 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 14 May 2013
  10. ^ Harakah Daily. "HKR berjaya, ratusan ribu banjiri Stadium Merdeka" Archived 16 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Harakah Daily, Kuala Lumpur, 12 Januari 2013. Retrieved on 28 February 2013.
  11. ^ Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Defender "Zunar Sues Police Over Books Lost in Raid" Vol. 2, Issue 2, Fall 2017. P.5