KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — The Home Ministry has demanded that Nanyang Siang Pau take internal action like suspending the staff responsible for a monkey caricature of the PAS president and Dewan Rakyat speaker.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the Home Ministry has already issued a warning to Nanyang and will be monitoring the Chinese-language paper to ensure its management takes action against those involved.
“Investigations have been conducted based on the reports received. The newspaper has been issued a letter of stern warning and urgent action to be taken against the editor, sub editor, and cartoonist such as suspension from work or other internal retribution,” he was quoted saying yesterday by national news agency Bernama.
Nur Jazlan was commenting on the controversial caricature in his winding-up speech at the Dewan Negara.
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 PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s tabling of his private member’s Bill in Parliament two days prior that aimed to strengthen the Shariah courts’ punitive powers.
Hadi proposed to amend Act 355, the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, to increase the Islamic 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.
Following 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.
The Home Ministry, which had issued a show-cause letter to Nanyang and summoned its editor-in-chief on April 11, has accepted the paper’s apology and let it off with a stern warning.
On Monday, Hadi posted a Facebook post saying that he had received a formal apology from Nanyang on April 12 and urged fellow Muslims to forgive the media outlet over what he deemed to be an ignorant mistake.