KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 — The Department of Information Malaysia (JaPen) has removed a comic that was meant to advise consumers on “prudent spending” from all its official social media channels just days after posting it.
The department said that the comic strip titled Utamakan keperluan, berbelanjalah mengikut kemampuan, was uploaded on October 12.
“The primary objective was to disseminate information on the importance of prudent spending during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Nevertheless, when the narrative created some misinterpretation, we removed it to avoid further confusion,” JaPen said in an emailed response to Malay Mail today.
“The Department would like to reinforce that there was no malice intended when the posting was made,” it added.
Prior to the removal, the Johor chapter of JaPen came under fire from social media users for the now-deleted cartoon uploaded to its Twitter account.
The comic consisted of two panels, the first depicting a couple complaining about life in lockdown and how their funds are running low.
The second panel shows the same couple arriving in Langkawi for a shopping trip.
Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman was among those who questioned the appropriateness of the posting at a time when many Malaysians are still struggling with the effects of the months-long Covid-19 lockdown.
Are you serious??? Kenapa nak perli-perli rakyat ni?— Syed Saddiq (@SyedSaddiq) October 14, 2021
Rakyat nak mengadu susah, tak boleh. Rakyat nak keluar ambil angin, pun tak boleh??
Apa objektif dibuat penerangan begini?? Apa yang kamu mahu kami buat dari penerangan macam ni? pic.twitter.com/FfgP1SzQU0
“Are you serious? Why are you making fun of the rakyat?
“People want to complain of hardship, they can't. People want to get out and travel, can't they?
“What was your objective behind this? What do you want us to do with information like this?” the former youth and sports minister tweeted.
As of time of writing, his tweet garnered 8,288 retweets, 572 quote tweets and 11,698 likes.
This is not the first time a government agency has come under public criticism for its public service posters since going into Covid-19 lockdown.
In April last year, the Women, Family and Community Ministry came under fire from gender equality advocates for advising wives to refrain from “nagging” their husbands; not use “sarcastic” language when asking their spouses to help with household chores; and suggested women to dress up and use make-up while working from home.