Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak
Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak Reuters

It first started as one satirical sketch of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as a clown by rights activist Fahmi Reza. But a police warning to Fahmi alerting him that his social media account was now officially under police surveillance has backfired.

Other pictures of Najib with clown features have been posted on social media, namely at the hashtag #kitasemuapenghasut or 'we are all seditious'. Members of the art collective, Grupa has posted the images of the prime minister to express their solidarity with Fahmi as well as to protest the police action.

In his Twitter post on 31 January, Fahmi revealed that his Twitter account was now under the surveillance of the Police Cyber Investigation Response Centre for sharing a poster of Najib that had been painted over to make him look like a clown.

He said that he was told by the police to use his social media account more responsibly and in compliance with Malaysian laws. "But in a country that uses laws to protect the corrupt and suppress those who are courageous enough to voice their views, then it is time to stop being polite."

Fahmi has said that his work is not anti-Najib but against corruption in the country. He highlighted the fact that his work had satirised politicians from all sides.

Grupa on the other hand is an independent group of designers and illustrators that formed before the street protests in Malaysia in August that sought the resignation of the prime minister. The group claims to have designed many of the placards used in the protest.

All the pictures of Najib that were posted under the hashtag#kitasemuapenghasut were accompanied by comments about the recent political and corruption scandal surrounding the prime minister.

“Good satire goes beyond the specific point it’s trying to make and teaches you how to think critically." - Aaron McGruder#KitaSemuaPenghasut

Posted by GRUPA on Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The caption on this post at Grupa's Facebook reads: Good satire goes beyond the specific point it's trying to make and teaches you how to think critically." - Aaron McGruder.

Jangan lah serius sangat bang!#KitaSemuaPenghasut

Posted by GRUPA on Wednesday, 3 February 2016

This post, also on the Grupa Facebook advises Najib not to take the social media posts too seriously.

Who hired this clown?#KitaSemuaPenghasut

Posted by GRUPA on Wednesday, 3 February 2016


Posted by GRUPA on Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Najib took centre stage over allegations of financial mismanagement and graft when state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad was found to be heavily in debt. Najib chairs the advisory board of 1MDB.

Things took a sudden twist when nearly $700m was traced to Najib's personal bank accounts which have been explained away as a gift from the Saudi royal family. Although the Malaysian authorities have cleared him of any wrong doing, there are still a lot of unanswered questions, say critics.

A wider investigation is currently ongoing in Switzerland, the US and Singapore into the activities of 1MDB over possible money laundering and bribery of foreign officials.