Malaysia: Graphic artist charged over caricature of PM Najib Razak

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6 June – Malaysian graphic designer Fahmi Reza, known for his anti-establishment artwork, was charged in Sessions Court today for posting a caricature of Prime Minister Najib Razak depicted as a clown online.

The image, which has been widely shared not only across the internet, but has also made its way onto stickers, t-shirts, and graffiti on walls, was posted in January this year to Fahmi’s social media accounts, along with the words: “Dalam negara yang penuh dengan korupsi, kita semua penghasut (In a country full of corruption, we are all seditious).”

I’m in court this morning to face a criminal charge against me for posting a satirical clown-faced poster of the Prime…

Posted by Fahmi Reza on Sunday, June 5, 2016

Fahmi, 39, was accused of making and disseminating the “offensive” image with intent to annoy another person.

He was charged under Section 233(1) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. If convicted, Fahmi may be sentenced to a year in prison, subjected to a maximum fine of RM50,000 (US$12,174), or both.

The judge granted RM5,000 (US$1,217) bail with one surety and set June 17 for mention.

Over the past weekend, Fahmi was already in trouble with the authorities – he and three others were detained by police on Saturday night, following their participation in the KL Alternative Bookfest (KLAB) at Publika Shopping Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

The police questioned him for selling merchandise deemed “seditious”.

Fahmi – along with KLAB organiser Pang Khee Teik, activist Lew Pik-Svonn, and comic artist Arif Rafhan – was released on police bail on Sunday.

According to the International Business Times, he is being investigated under Section 41(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 and Section 11 of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984.

After his release, Fahmi posted to his Facebook account:

“You can arrest me, arrest my friends, confiscate my stuff, detain me, interrogate me, charge me, put me on trial, take away my rights and try to shut me up, but you can’t keep me down. No matter how hard you try to push me down, I will always rise back up.”

SEE ALSO: ‘We are all instigators’: Malaysian graphic artists protest against corruption

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Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian punk artist clowns with scandal-hit leader

28 March – A Malaysian designer’s caricatures of the scandal-plagued prime minister as a sinister clown have become a viral phenomenon, spurring a wider protest-through-images movement and making the artist a target of authorities.

The parodies of Prime Minister Najib Razak have rapidly become Malaysia’s most controversial images, earning designer and activist Fahmi Reza comparisons to street-art provocateurs like Banksy.

Shared widely on social media, they have sparked copycat variations and struck a chord with Malaysians outraged by corruption allegations levelled at Najib and his moves to thwart investigations.

“Our country is being governed by fools and crooks,” Fahmi, a punk-rock aficionado, said in an e-mail interview while on an extended trip overseas. He seeks to “point out the hypocrisies [of Malaysian politics], to draw attention to these absurdities, and get people to laugh at it.”

The street artist threatened with arrest in #Malaysia for his poster of PM Najib as a clown, #4Corners @johnnyturk pic.twitter.com/G8b7iD8w9o

But Malaysian authorities are not amused. Fahmi, 38, who has been arrested previously for his activism, was questioned by police and told to stop posting the images, which show Najib in powder-white clown make-up, with evilly arched eyebrows and a garish blood-red mouth.

He said police were investigating possible violations of multimedia laws that could bring five years in prison.

Continue reading “Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian punk artist clowns with scandal-hit leader”

Malaysia: Meet the skinheads fighting racism

Borrowing from the skinhead subculture that emerged in Britain in the 1960s, Malaysian skins dissociate themselves from the neo-Nazi fringes and strive to promote progressive, Muslim, anti-racist ideals.

The group of skinheads surges forwards. On the stage in front of them the band is dressed in boots, collared shirts and red braces. As the opening chords of another street-punk anthem screech from the soundsystem, the Malay singer clasps the mike and offers a rugged preface to the song. “This one is against all racism and discrimination in our country… Do you have a problem with race? If you do, we’ll crush you to pieces.”

The crowd is a melee of young Malay men mostly clad in Lonsdale shirts and Doc Martens boots – the unofficial uniform of skinheads the world over. Deep cheers and pumped fists fill the air, then comes pogoing, sweat and sing-along hymns of grassroots revolution.

Skinhead culture emerged in the 1960s in Britain, largely arranged around fashion and music. The shaven heads and shirts were aggressive by design and also reflected the scene’s working class roots. Music was equally crucial, and the skinheads’ love of reggae meant that their identity was intrinsically linked to black immigrants and culture. The scene died out by the early 1970s, only to be reborn again later in the same decade. However, according to Timothy S. Brown, writing in the Journal of Social History, the second wave of skinheads was more susceptible to corruption by the right-wing rhetoric of the time.

“Economic decline, scarcity of jobs and increased immigration intensified latent racist and right-wing attitudes in British society during the 1970s and 1980s, and the skinheads reflected these prejudices in exaggerated form,” wrote Brown in his article titled “Subcultures, Pop Music and Politics: Skinheads and ‘Nazi Rock’ in England and Germany”. “With their reputation for violence and patriotic-nationalist views, skinheads were seen as a particularly attractive target for recruitment by the radical right.”

Even though right-wing skinheads probably never made up a majority, according to Brown, the links between skinheads and fascism had been established. They have been resolute ever since.

With names such as Street Rebel, Chaos Bomb and Oi! Koholik, the majority of Malaysia’s skinhead bands espouses the proletarian masculinity of the original skinheads while staunchly rejecting the racist overtones that emerged later. Such voices are becoming increasingly poignant in Malaysia, a pluralistic society operating under a government that has been criticised for its increasingly Islamist tendencies and that introduced its New Economic Policy in 1971 that has privileged ethnic Malays over Chinese and Indians ever since.

“Being a skinhead in Malaysia means embracing positive, anti-racist ideas of sociopolitical change to challenge our racist government,” says Rozaimin Elias, 34, one of Penang’s leading anti-fascist skinheads and bassist in Kuala Lumpur-based band Street Boundaries. Given his involvement with the opposition DAP party in Penang, Elias doesn’t limit his views to idle music-scene chatter either.

Skinhead boys in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Continue reading “Malaysia: Meet the skinheads fighting racism”

Malaysia: Solidarity with Khalid Ismath, imprisoned for criticizing the government on Facebook

18 Oct – Solidarity with Khalid Ismath from Indonesian comrades

Statement of PEMBEBASAN (Pusat Perjuangan Mahasiswa untuk Pembebasan Nasional—Center of Student Struggle for National Liberation).

Free Khalid Ismath!  Destroy Militarism!  Eliminate the Sedition Act!

For Liberation and Solidarity!

Democracy and capitalism will not be able to walk along because capitalism does not need democracy. For capitalism, democracy will only disrupt the process of capital accumulation, so, even if democracy must exist, then it must be limited, controlled, dwarfed—so it can do no harm to the capital accumulation process. That kind of democracy is always inherent in any capitalist power, anti-criticism and repressive.

It is also endemic in the constitutional monarchy in Malaysia. Efforts to shut the criticism down is done by using the legislation instruments. We know Khalid Ismeth, that since October 7, 2015 has been imprisoned by the police in Ayer Molek, Johor, Malaysia.

The arrest of Khalid Ismath is just because he wrote his criticism against the government and the Sultan in Malaysia on his facebook status. Khalid criticized over the arrest of Kamal Hisham Jaafar through social media. Kamal Hisham try to uncover the truth behind the Sultanate evil empire, and he had been in Singapore since hunted by the government (Sultanate of Johor).

That is where Khalid Ismath expressed his support for Kamal Hisham, while criticizing the Sultanate of Johor. Soon, Khalid was arrested by the police with two charges; violating the section 233 of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia (Section 233 Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Act 1998) and Sedition Act 1948 as he encourage others to join in solidarity. Although two days after the arrest Khalid were released, he has been arrested again with sedition act.

Next, Khalid was brought to the court on October 13, 2015 for trial. Johor Baru Sessions Court charged him with 11 counts under the section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and 3 counts under the Sedition Act 1948.

Repression and anti-democratic act as practiced by the Sultanate of Johor provide a conclusion that there is no democracy for the majority of the people. For Sultanate of Johor, the meaning of democracy is exactly the same as the capitalistic democracy, it never give space for the people.

Capitalism does not object to dictators and dictatorships while they are in conformity with the interests of the accumulated profits. In his book, State and Revolution, Lenin, one of the leaders of the Russian Revolution in 1917, said that democracy in capitalism is democratic to investors that its economic position is free from the control of the people. It is enough to give them a councils, without the right to fire the representatives of their own choosing; enough to give them the ‘democratic’ institutions as a representative functions for their aspirations, without the urge to directly engage and understand it. That artificial democracy was built to keep people from politics, because the politics that is desirable by the capitalist is politics that serve the interests of the investment and the capital accumulation. It consequences on the need of political stability that leave the process of capital accumulation undisrupted. The political stability that is desired by capitalism and capitalist government agencies is enforced through the instrument of legislation and mobilization (military repression). These character appears in capitalist government around the world. Also practiced by the Sultanate of Johor when responding to the criticism issued by Khalid Ismath, and probably also will befall to anyone who dares to criticize the Sultanate of Johor in Malaysia.

Continue reading “Malaysia: Solidarity with Khalid Ismath, imprisoned for criticizing the government on Facebook”

Kuala Lumpur: Rumah Api, ‘It’s not just punk rock, it’s punk ideology’

Picture

14 Sept – Amid the dilapidated shophouses of former tin-mining town of Ampang, one building stands out – its walls painted deep black and bold red, filled with graffiti, while the signboard hanging above is covered in black paint.

On the red and black wall is a drawing of two boys shaking hands. One sports a spiky hairdo, spikes on a black jacket and gloves; the other more conventionally dressed in a hoody.

Pulling open the shophouse’s metal shutters reveals a black brick wall with six “no’s” painted on it in bold white letters – No racism, no sexism, no homophobia, no drugs, no alcohol, and no violence.

Walk through the wooden door to the left, and one would find a small stage and space for an audience of 300. Since all of the musical instruments have been confiscated by the police last month, the stage lies empty.

To the left and to the right of this room are walls filled with graffiti – an explosion of colours that is muted by the counterculture atmosphere of this dimly lit room.

This is the place run by a group of punks as a performance space. Welcome to ‘Rumah Api’.

On Aug 28, the eve of the Bersih 4 rally, police surrounded this shophouse, and arrested and detained more than a hundred revellers for more than 60 hours. It was only then that this place known only to those in the scene, was thrown into the limelight.

A community space

Since 2006, Rumah Api has been an important venue for the local punk and underground rock scene. But to the co-operators of Rumah Api, Man Beranak and Ashed, it is more like a community space for the punks.

“Rumah Api is not just a place for music, it is a place to promote punk ideology and attitude.

“Here, our interests go beyond music,” Man said softly, as he spoke to Malaysiakini during an interview in a smoke-filled living room upstairs.

The idea behind Rumah Api is to promote punk culture to mainstream society in hopes of changing society’s negative views towards the subculture.

The 35-year old Man (photo) is a veteran in the community, and looks after the place on a full-time basis. He lives upstairs from Rumah Api together with his wife.

“We want to show to society that although we may look like rebels, we are not the bad guys.”

The area where Rumah Api is located is predominantly ethnic Chinese while the adjacent area is predominantly Malay. In between, the youths with their tall spiky hair and leather jackets stand out as their patronise the local eateries.

“At first they would feel uncomfortable or even frightened by these ‘aliens’. But we approach them and sometimes they have a problem, so we would offer to help them.

“Over time, they realise that although we may look like bad people, especially with that dreadful-looking green or yellow hair, but they know we are actually a bunch of good boys.”

The punk movement started out as a subculture in the 1970’s music scene, using their flamboyant and eccentric styles as a way to oppose the values of mainstream society.

For Ashed, 26, it was less the fashion but the attitude which led him to Rumah Api’s doors. He wishes, above all, that people would understand punks better.

He said punks are not a group living in its own world, but instead are concerned about the downtrodden and hopes that through community service, it can help these oppressed people.

Soup kitchen, free market and more

‘Food Not Bombs’ is one of Rumah Api’s community service initiative.

Every weekend, Ashed and other punk youths would bring a shopping cart to the Ampang market to collect food items that the traders were unable to sell or are about to throw away, to be cooked and distributed to the homeless and the poor.

But even this straightforward noble cause was wrongly portrayed with a local TV channel broadcasting a reporting claiming “skinheads eat garbage”, he said.

“At first when we sifted through the garbage bins at the Ampang market, the locals asked us what we were doing and whether we’re looking for food because we couldn’t afford to pay for it.

“We told them that we want to cook the food for the poor and the homeless. So the traders said, ‘This is excellent. Next time don’t look through the garbage anymore. Come to our stalls and we will give you the ingredients’,” Man said.

Since then, this group of youths would show up at the market and go stall-to-stall just before they close to collect the unwanted food, and never fail to return with a full load in their trolley.

Continue reading “Kuala Lumpur: Rumah Api, ‘It’s not just punk rock, it’s punk ideology’”

London: Soli-banner at Tourism Malaysia Office against the repression targeted at Rumah Api (UK)

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20 Sept – A small act of solidarity from London for Rumah Api (KL): Banner drop outside the Malaysian Embassy on the same day as a massive ‘Malaysia Night’ event takes place in nearby  Trafalgar Square. Rumah Api is a Kuala Lumpur based anarcho-punk social centre and gig space, and was raided by armed police on August 28th. This resulted in 160 people being arrested.

SOLIDARITY IS OUR WEAPON

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Police raid anarchist space Ruma Api

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On 28th August (Friday), over dozen police with automatic weapons and K-9 unit attack Rumah Api (social center/house project in Kuala Lumpur) during concert on that night. The police raid the house project and raid everybody during the concert and also trash into living room of people who live there without any warrant and solid reason of the raid.

We all believe the raid were conducted due to the connection of Bersih 4 Rally which happen on the next days (29 and 30th) in which totally insane since the organizer of the concert, participants, and Rumah Api have little interest to join or even support the rally, due to our political stance on the issue of election and voting system.

The state use Rumah Api as the scapegoat of recent event of attack on banks and multinational corporations in KL for the past 2 years. So far, they found nothing to link us with that events. The police seize all the musical equipments at the concert hall, seize 2 computers of people who live there, one smart phone, artwork, and books belongs to people who live there. The police said they search the building for any weapons or explosives that can link us to terrorism.

All 160 people who got arrested were remand for 3 days. Among of the arrestee, there are friends from United States, Germany, Spain, Phillipines and Indonesia who attend the concert. According to the detainees, during the interrogation, the police ask about their participation with Rumah Api and how far the knowledge they had about Rumah Api and terrorism. They all been given little food and source of water and there are issue of mistreating the detainees, especially womyn detainees.

The police released all of the detainess on 31st August except two friends, one for Manila and one from Bandung. The police mention that they still under detention due to the process of checking their status in Malaysia and both of friends have records that they are entering this country with legal permit.

At the moment, they still held the computers and a smartphone until further notice to help their investigation. 2 friends were now facing court charges of Section 143 of the Penal Code, Section (4)(1)(b) of the Sedition Act and Section 6 of the Selangor Entertainment and Places of Entertainment Enactment which facing fine and prison sentence of 20 years.

We asking for solidarity from all over the world to spread the news. This is a brutal tactic use by the state to clamp down the movement. With current political and economic unstable in this country, and also the uprising of the anti-government sentiments, they trying to put down any action or any lifestyle that doesnt go along with what they want.

On Rumah Api side, the gig that night titled is Party Tonight, Revolution Tomorrow is nothing more than just a normal friday night gig with no intention to relate it with Bersih 4 rally. We at Rumah Api are hypocritical with the popular struggle in Malaysia. Bersih 4 which is a demonstration for free and clean election is a so called first world problem and it is a middle upper class agenda. Bersih 4 is being supported and joined by liberals and Islamist with their partisan politics that we are all against. We focus more on the grassroot level and more interested to put our energy on strengthening our own and surrounding community. We see, by supporting Bersih 4 and it’s agenda, we are on the wrong side of our struggle. In Malaysia, by changing the government, it will not make the problems goes away. Issues of xenophobia, homophobia, racism and religion are still the serious problems the politicians failed to address.

Now, people still gathering outside of Ampang Police Station to pressure them to released two of our friends. Please spread the words and reply if you need more infos, updates and so on.

Never Surrender

for news portal links:
http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/310541
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/police-arrest-163-youths-at-bersih-concert-countdown-in-ampang
http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/ahead-of-bersih-4-dozens-nabbed-in-raid-against-independent-punk-venue-ruma