Sorry folks. There’s no new Fahmi Reza art to see here today. We had intended to talk about PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s latest approval ratings (it’s “stable” at 67% BT-Dubs, despite most respondents thinking Malaysia’s heading in the wrong direction). But that’s become a story for another day.
In case you haven’t been clued in yet, Fahmi seems to have rankled some royal nerves and, because of that, has been arrested. The charge? Why, the old favourite, of course — sedition!
He was “picked up” at his home last night before being checked in for his one night stay at the Dang Wangi r̶e̶s̶o̶r̶t̶ police station. At the time of writing this (9am), he’s yet to be released, to be taken to court for his remand hearing.
According to his lawyer, PDRM decided at least 7 officers would be necessary to apprehend R̶a̶m̶b̶o̶ the solo artist-activist (maybe that beret of his gave them the heebie-jeebies?). They allegedly even broke Fahmi’s door to get to him. We hear the pen’s mightier than the sword, but going by the MO of our abang polis, you’d think he was holding an M16, not a pen.
So what landed Fahmi in the soup? Was it his amphibian-themed mock university logo aimed at party-hopping politicos? Or was it the Kentucky Fried PAS logo? How about the missing warm water-advocating minister poster?
Nope. He’s being investigated under the Sedition Act 1948and the other fav, Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (for improper use of network facilities) in relation to the Queen, Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.
Ironically, for an artist whose graphics are so provocative, it was a Spotify playlist that was the reason for his arrest. Specifically, one which had the Queen’s image as cover and containing over one hundredsongs with, among others, ‘Jealous’, ‘Jealousy’ and/or ‘Dengki’ in the title!
In case you’re blur 🦑, Fahmi created the playlist in response to an incident that led to Her Highness temporarily deleting her Instagram account. You see, she’d responded (allegedly! allegedly!) with “Dengki ke? (Are you jealous?)” to a comment alluding to contentious claims the royal family was vaccinated and had received thousands of doses of unapproved Sinopharm vaccine from the UAE for their friends and relatives. Note: These accusations have been denied by the gomen.
If true, Fahmi’s gotta be the first person we know of to be investigated for sedition over a Spotify playlist. Before his arrest, the audio streaming giant and Fahmi had been embroiled in a bit of passive-aggressive back and forth with the former repeatedly removing the Queen’s cover image from the playlist and the latter continuously restoring it!
“In a country where artists, designers & satirists have been censored, arrested & incarcerated for their art, it is important that this vital form of artistic expression — parody & satire as a form of political protest — is continued to be practised & to be defended at all costs.”
Hear! Hear! Activists and rights groups have maintained no crime’s been committed, only satire. It didn’t take long for ‘Fahmi Reza‘, #DengkiKe#KerajaanGagal (#FailedGovernment) to start trending on Twitterjaya, with many netizens coming to his defence and joining the call for his release.
FYI, this isn’t Fahmi’s first rodeo with authorities. Among other run-ins, he was acquitted in 2018 of a charge under the CMA for his infamous Clown Face sketch of former glorious leader Najib Razak. Incidentally, if you’re ever arrested over a social media posting, here’s Fahmi’s advice on what to do.
Fahmi’s been illustrating our weekly ‘Kita Semua Pengasut’ commentary since Nov 7, 2020. His wicked sense of humour and satirical justice succeeds in calling out the BS, absurdities, inefficiencies and horrors afflicting us all and holds those in power in check.
Between The Lines is no stranger to using humour to make a point (as our readers well know!), and whether or not you agree with Fahmi’s Dengki playlist, there must be a place in our physical, online and public sphere for satire, freedom of expression – and yes, freedom to criticise if need be.
We stand with Fahmi Reza. #ReleaseFahmi