KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The Home Ministry said it will not be taking action against Nanyang Siang Pau over a monkey caricature after the Chinese-language daily apologised.
Noting that the caricature had caused discontent among the public and PAS, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed reportedly said there should not be repeats of such mistakes.
“In future, the Home Ministry will take sterner action against such matters because we cannot cause hurt to others and then apologise,” he was quoted saying last night by Nanyang.
On April 8, Nanyang published a cartoon with the title “Monkey Act” that featured two monkeys sitting on a tree titled “Act 355”, one wearing a songkok marked as “Speaker” and the other in a turban named “Hadi Awang”, referencing the latter’s tabling of his private member’s Bill in Parliament two days prior that aimed to strengthen the Shariah courts’ punitive powers.
Hadi had sought to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, or Act 355 as the existing law is known, pushing to increase the Shariah courts’ sentencing limits to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine, and 100 lashes from the current maximum sentencing of three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes.
This triggered an uproar by PAS with PAS Youth leaders demanding the newspaper be shut down, while Penang Umno Youth lodged a police report alleging that the paper had insulted Islam.
Following the uproar, the newspaper had removed the cartoon from its online site and published an apology to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and Hadi.
On April 11, the Home Ministry called up Nanyang’s editor-in-chief over the publication of the monkey caricature and said the local newspaper had three days to respond to a show-cause letter issued the same day under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.