GEORGE TOWN: Cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwarul Haque, also known as Zunar, has initiated legal action against the police for failing to return his paintings that were seized during an exhibition held to mark the George Town Literary Festival on Nov 26, 2016.
In his suit filed by his lawyer Cecil Rajendra, Zunar is now seeking the return of the 10 panels of artwork, RM380,000 in compensation for damages for the stress, humiliation, embarrassment and pain he has suffered as well as substantial loss of income and devaluation of his artwork.
Zunar is also seeking a public apology from the police for their unjustified actions against him.
He named the northeast district senior criminal investigating officer Asp Supt Rusli Tipu, the Inspector-General of Police and the Malaysian government, as the first, second and third defendants respectively.
In his statement of claim, Zunar said the defendants raided his exhibition ICT mall in Komtar George Town, without just cause.
Zunar claimed the defendants and their agents seized 10 panels containing 20 artworks and forcibly detained him.
The seizure of his artwork and his detention resulted in the exhibition shutting down.
The disruption of his exhibition and detention caused Zunar personal pain, suffering and embarrassment as well as loss of income.
The target and subject matter of the exhibition has since been justified and on March 26 this year (2018) Zunar's lawyer Cecil sent a notice to the first defendant demanding the return of his artwork and a public apology.
Cecil said the defendant responded by saying the matter was still under investigation.
"We sent another letter demanding a public apology, compensation and damages on July 6 (2018) but they did not comply.
When speaking to reporters Zunar said he suffered loss of income after the incident as many were hesitant to work with him.
"My work focused more on corruption, which was at that time huge in Malaysia.
"My income comes from selling books and holding exhibition. After the incident, I had less income as book stores were afraid to sell my work and invitations to do exhibition in Penang, and Kuala Lumpur declined as people were afraid to work with me," he said.
Zunar also said that he would not hold back on criticism of the current administration because Pakatan Harapan was in charge.
"Every government in the world cannot be given a free hand. I will definitely criticise them, I do not want them to repeat what was done by the previous government," he said.