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Malaysian activist uses crowdsourcing to pay fine for PM Najib caricature

Malaysian activist and graphic designer Fahmi Reza was recently fined RM30,000 and sentenced to one month’s jail for uploading caricatures of Prime Minister Najib Razak on social media. He was found to have violated Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, according to The Star.

Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 states that a person who creates, initiates the transmission of any comment, request, suggestion or other communication that is obscene, offensive or false with the intent to harass, annoy or threaten another person, will be punished.

Fahmi Reza has since raised RM35,630 at the time of writing through an online crowdfunding campaign.

The Star reported that he was “speechless” about being able to reach the target this quickly. The caricature of PM Najib emerged as early as 2016, when Fahmi Reza tweeted the image along with a statement of why he drew the caricature and the hashtag #kitasemuapenghasut (“We are all instigators“).

“Why did I paint the portrait of the Prime Minister as a clown? Because our country is being governed by fools and crooks. Malaysian politics is a circus full of clowns, with the Prime Minister, Najib Razak, being the biggest clown of all,” the statement said. He described the portrait of PM Najib with an “evil clown make-up” as an “act of protest against [the] corrupt government”.

Fahmi Reza is not the only one to have successfully crowdsourced funds to pay off a fine. Last month, Malaysiakini raised RM350,000 for its legal defense fund within 12 days through crowdsourcing.

Brands not spared

Meanwhile, brands have also not been spared by the artist who tried to weave the caricature into pop culture by drawing it in the image of Ronald McDonald. He also replaced the animals in the Visit Malaysia 2020 logo with the clown images.

 

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