PETALING JAYA: The home ministry today issued a show-cause letter and summoned the chief editor of Nanyang Siang Pau over the newspaper’s publication of a cartoon lampooning PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia.
In a statement, it said the caricatures, which were deemed to be insulting towards the two figures, could affect public order by promoting “feelings of ill-will, hostility, enmity, hatred and prejudice towards other people or races”.
“It has also in an indirect way seemingly mocked Parliament and the Muslim religion because the Act 355 depicted in the caricature is related to Muslim affairs,” it said.
The daily was slapped with the show-cause letter under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. Its publisher has been given three days to respond.
“Further action will be taken based on regulations and procedures that have been established,” the statement added.
On April 8, Nanyang published the cartoon with the title “Monkey Show Act”, which satirised Hadi and Pandikar by depicting them as monkeys on a tree.
The cartoon was referring to Hadi’s move last week to table a private member’s bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355), which seeks to increase shariah penalties.
The illustration showed one monkey with a songkok labelled as “speaker” and another wearing what seemed like a turban labelled “Hadi Awang” on a tree named Act 355.
The Chinese daily however issued an open apology to Hadi and Pandikar yesterday on its news portal and removed the cartoon from its website.
Meanwhile it was reported that Penang Umno Youth called on the government to revoke Nanyang’s publishing permit.
The state wing’s deputy chief Jasmin Noordin today said although the daily had apologised, the offence was aggravated by the fact that the cartoon mocked the tabling of Hadi’s bill.
He said the illustration of two monkeys as the main subject with the words “Act 355” was insulting and lowered the dignity of Islam.
“Penang Umno Youth regrets that such a cartoon was run and asks the home ministry to review the newspaper’s print permit,” he said after lodging a police report at the Patani Road police station here.
“The daily seems to have been using the permit without much regard,” he added.
Asked about Nanyang’s apology on the matter yesterday, Jasmin said saying sorry was not enough and deterrent action would prevent such an incident from recurring.
“After you publish the controversial drawing, the next day you say sorry. By saying sorry, does that absolve them of their rudeness?”
Jasmin also said all newspapers must be careful before publishing cartoons that may affect religious sensitivities in the country.