JOHOR BARU - The Johor Baru City Council's action in whitewashing the graffiti of Lithuanian-born artist Ernest Zacharevic has been described by Johor Baru MP Tan Sri Shahrir Samad as "an over-reaction and misinterpretation".
The veteran MP felt that the artist could just be commenting on topical social issues and not "painting" Johor Baru as a crime haven.
"I was actually looking forward to see if other artists would add more on the wall to tell a story.
"This would encourage more local artists to express their imagination," he said here yesterday, pointing out that graffiti was a popular form of art in big cities around the world.
Defending Zacharevic, Shahrir said police had managed to bring down the crime rate here and he believed the artist only intended to remind the public to be vigilant at all times.
He also applauded the artwork of another on the same wall, depicting a policeman with handcuffs approaching a robber.
The Star had earlier reported that the graffiti row had escalated with many backing Zacharevic's work in defiance of the local authority.
His painting in Taman Molek, which depicted a knife-wielding man waiting for a victim around a corner, irked the authorities because the area was known as the state's financial area.
On Wednesday, council workers painted over Zacharevic's work, but within hours, it was back on the wall in the form of paper cut-outs of the man and woman pasted at the original spots. MBJB tore these down later.