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Permit was approved by Home Ministry: Gedung Kartun editor

PETALING JAYA, 1 Sept 2009: Gedung Kartun‘s publishing permit was approved by the Home Ministry, said the political satire magazine’s editor Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, today.

Zunar was responding to the ministry’s corporate communication unit chief Jamilah Taib’s accusation that his company violated the Printing Presses and Publications Act by publishing the inaugural issue of Gedung Kartun without permit.

He said that on 3 Aug 2009, the ministry informed him that the permit had been approved and would be ready for collection on 14 Aug.

“On the said date we went to collect the publication permit at the Home Ministry but were informed that the permit was not ready. I then requested for the permit number so that we could begin production work,” Zunar said in a statement.

He added that that the permit number given was PP8541/08/2010(0282145) ISSN 1688-5398.

“I am bemused as to why the publication permit for Gedung Kartun is yet to be issued and [yet] a raid was conducted, and they now want to charge me in court. Isn’t it better for them to issue the approved permit as [what] they [had] informed me and solve all matters?” said Zunar.

On 25 Aug, the Home Ministry’s Publication Control and Al Quran Text division confiscated 408 copies of the magazine from the Brickfields office of the cartoon magazine’s publisher, Sepakat Efektif Sdn Bhd.

The ministry also raided the printing plant and confiscated another 500 copies of Gedung Kartun in Malacca, and 100 copies in Perak the next day.

Zunar said he would request in writing to meet with Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to seek clarification on the issue.

The Centre for Independent Journalism and Writers Alliance for Media Independence have condemned the confiscation, describing it as “a form of harassment against those who publish alternative interpretations of current events”.

Additionally, they have urged the ministry to return the confiscated copies to its publisher.

However, Publication Control and Al Quran Text division acting director Zainal Abidin Osman told Malaysiakini on 25 Aug 2009 that publishers are not allowed to publish their material until they have obtained a written permit.

“The written permit is like taking a driving test. Once you pass the exam, you still can’t drive until you obtain a license,” he was quoted as saying in Malaysiakini.

Gedung Kartun‘s inaugural issue touched on many current affairs including, among others, the Internal Security Act, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the death of Teoh Beng Hock, and the Port Klang Free Zone scandal.

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