That particular warning backfired, however, as word of it spread through social media, resulting in media attention—including by the BBC—and a stream of more clown-themed drawings of the prime minister. Artists rallied around the hashtag ‪#‎kitasemuapenghasut‬ (“we are all seditious”).

Grupa, an artist collective, quickly showed solidarity with Fahmi, posting and re-posting illustrations on its Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The drawings come after Najib was cleared of any wrongdoing in the matter of the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Reports last year that nearly $700 million from the fund ended up in the prime minister’s personal bank accounts led to anti-corruption demonstrations across Malaysia and abroad.

But the decision to clear Najib was met with widespread derision and cynicism, as was the reason provided for doing so: that the money had been a personal donation from Saudi royalty. Many noted the man who cleared Najib—attorney general Mohamed Apandi Ali—was picked by the prime minister himself, after the former attorney general (who had been investigating 1MDB) and other top officials were fired or nudged out of power after the scandal erupted.

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