Malaysia: Two artworks removed from national arts gallery

21 February 2014

“The removal of the artwork of two young artists from the National Visual Arts Gallery [in Kuala Lumpur] has raised questions over censorship and the freedom of artistic expression and, ultimately, who decides to what we should watch, read and listen,” wrote The Malaysian Insider on 21 February 2014, saying that the incident raised questions over the government’s “attempts to clamp down on freedom of expression and the challenges that pose a threat to artistic expression.”


A painting by 32-year-old Cheng Yeng Pheng was allegedly removed because it contained the words “ABU=ASHES”. Cheng protested against the removal of her artwork at the National Visual Arts Gallery by uploading a protest video on YouTube.

Also removed was an artwork entitled ‘Insert#’ by 28-year-old Izat Arif Saiful Bahrim, an installation of T-shirts printed with the Arabic letters Fa and Qof. Izat stated that he was “proud” that his installation had been removed.

The gallery eventually decided to keep both Izat’s and Cheng’s artworks as part of its collection. Though Izat accepted the offer, Cheng said she rejected it and has since taken her painting home.

The Malaysian Insider – 21 February 2014:
To stymie artistic freedom or not, that’s the question

The Malaysian Insider – 18 February 2014:
2 artworks removed because ‘they caused distress’ among visitors

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