Playful art: Student Sun Yik En, 18, posing with a large drawing of a boy doing a handstand, also drawn by Zacharevic in Taman Molek. — Lim Cheng Kiat /The Star
JOHOR BARU: The local council has been criticised as being high-handed for removing the graffiti in Taman Molek. Even the owner of the premises is annoyed.
The owner, who declined to be named, felt the painting had livened up the area and attracted more people there.
“It was packed the past few days as people took photos in various creative poses. This also happened at night,” she said yesterday.
She added that although the painting was done without her permission, she did not mind and felt that it was very creative.
“It was such a waste of good talent,” she said of the council decision.
She said she had not received any notice from the Johor Baru City Council regarding the removal of the art at the building that had been abandoned after a fire last year.
Malaysia Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong described the move by the local authorities as too drastic, saying the graffiti could have been good for the state’s tourism.
“In Penang, there is a painting of a boy looking through a small window into a bathroom. Do we brand it as promoting peeping toms?” he questioned.
Leong said it was good to have the city area painted with graffiti, especially on abandoned buildings, instead of covering them up with canvas.
Johor Jaya assemblywoman Liow Cai Tung said the painting created awareness among the community as it reflected the real situation of the state.
“We should face the fact and understand that our state has been recording a high crime rate,” she said.
Meanwhile, Zacharevic’s Facebook page has been abuzz with many Johoreans expressing their heartfelt regret, and Netizens have also slammed the council.
Facebook user Charlotte Chen apologised to Zacharevic for the council’s action and expressed her disappointment, as she was unable to travel back to Johor Baru in time to take pictures with the art.
“I wanted to go home to view the art for myself, but it has now been removed,” she said.
“Please come and contribute your artwork in Klang, Selangor. We welcome you here,” said another user Kenny Teoh.
Zacharevic himself has criticised the drawing of the policeman and the whitewashing.
“This is real vandalism. Malaysia never fails to amuse me,” he said of the addition to his graffiti. Later, he told his fans to stay calm after the council whitewashed his work along with the policeman who had been drawn in.
The Star Online’s Facebook page also saw many protesting the council decision.
Hussein Zain said that the white paint represented the council’s inefficiency.
“Why not do the same on the irritating Ah Long stickers and the embarrassing ‘massage’ ads?” said Hussein.
Phuah SK believes the mural would actually boost tourism in Johor as it did in Penang.
Leong Hoe Lam, or also known as Leo LHL, said the graffiti at Sg Klang near Pasar Seni looked very nice from the LRT trains.
“Who says graffiti is vandalism? Vandalism is when someone scribbles aimlessly on a property or pastes loan shark and viagra stickers,” said Leong.
Napsiah Wan Salleh, however, had a different views. She said it was the MBJB’s right to remove the mural.
“It was vandalism and it was also akin to a socio-political statement by the Lithuanian which seems out of place,” she said.