A good day for artists, commentators, thought provocateurs, and the wider public who enjoy their work: Fahmi Reza, the graphic artist responsible for the iconic clown caricature of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, saw the prosecution withdraw their charges in the case against him.
Initially charged under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for creating “false content on social media with the intention of annoying another person’s feelings,” [Ed. Note: 90% of our Insta feed, rn], Fahmi reported today that prosecutors no longer wanted to pursue the case.
Di Mahkamah KL pagi ni…Pendakwaraya: Pihak pendakwaan tidak mahu meneruskan kes ini. Pendakwaan pohon untuk…
Writing that after two years of accusations, trials, and a “baseless prosecution,” he has finally “been freed from charges under #AktaSakitHati (hurt feelings act, lol)” from his Najib as a clown sketch.
“The KL #clowntrial is finally over,” he declared.
“This is a victory for freedom of expression and freedom of the people to criticize the powers-that-be through the weapons of art and satire.”
Indeed, it is.
Di Mahkamah KL pagi ni.
Pendakwaraya: Pihak pendakwaan tidak mahu meneruskan kes ini. Pendakwaan pohon untuk pertuduhan ditarik balik.
Peguambela: Pohon OKS Fahmi Reza dilepaskan dan dibebaskan dari pertuduhan.
Hakim: OKS dibebaskan.
The KL #clowntrial is finally over!
— Fahmi Reza (@kuasasiswa) October 11, 2018
Fahmi still has a pending case of a similar offence, where an Ipoh court meted out a punishment of one month in prison, along with an RM30,000 (US$7,500) fine. He is currently appealing this conviction, with the High Court expected to weigh-in their ruling at the end of the month.
After being slapped with the hefty fine, the artist managed to raise the RM30,000 needed to pay the fine via crowdfunding.
Prior to the 14th General Election that toppled the former Barisan Nasional government, the image of Najib, drawn with stylized face paint as a clown, became a symbol of dissent among dissatisfied Malaysians.
While the new government had initially promised to repeal the law that Fahmi was charged under, they have recently said that they would only amend a section of it.