PETALING JAYA: PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has forgiven Nanyang Siang Pau for depicting him in a cartoon to lampoon his tabling of the controversial shariah amendment bill in Parliament.
He said the vernacular Chinese newspaper, which has since tendered an apology to him, had published the illustration because it was ignorant and lacked understanding of the limits of religious sensitivity.
“I now request Muslims who were offended with the publication of the caricature to join me in forgiving the news agency, with the hope that it will not repeat this in the future,” he said in a statement today.
“I feel that the mistake in publishing it happened due to immoderation and ignorance in understanding the fine line in religious sensitivity,” he said
The Marang MP added that the open apology tendered by the daily on April 12 can rejuvenate communal harmony and mutual understanding among society.
On April 8, Nanyang had published the cartoon with the title ‘Monkey Show Act’ which satirised Hadi and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia by depicting them as monkeys on a tree named Act 355.
The cartoon was referring to Hadi’s motion on his private member’s bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355), which seeks to increase shariah punishments, on April 6.
The illustration showed one monkey with a songkok labelled as “speaker” and another wearing a turban labelled “Hadi Awang” on a tree named Act 355, with what appeared to be a commotion among a mob of monkeys occurring below.
Pandikar had allowed Hadi to table the motion and deferred the debate and voting on the matter to the next meeting of the Dewan Rakyat which convenes on July 24, igniting boisterous objections from opposition MPs.
On April 11, PAS held demonstrations outside Nanyang’s main offices in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
Its vice-president Idris Ahmad had called on the Home Ministry to suspend the newspaper’s publishing permit for a week as a stern warning to other media, while secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan threatened a suit against the daily.
Also on April 11, the Home Ministry issued a show-cause letter and summoned the chief editor of the paper, saying the caricatures could affect public order by promoting “feelings of ill-will, hostility, enmity, hatred and prejudice towards other people or races”.
However, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Muhamed yesterday said the ministry will not take action against the paper and had suggested that its management take internal action against those responsible for the publication of the cartoon.