PETALING JAYA – PAS and several Muslim non-governmental organisations have demanded a direct apology from Nanyang Siang Pau over a caricature deemed to be insulting to Islam.
Although the Chinese daily had issued an apology, PAS information Youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari said it now has to direct its apology to PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Dewan Rakyat speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia who were depicted as “monkeys” in the caricature.
“We also would like to warn them not to touch on our sensitivities.They are also reminded not to repeat this mistake in the future.
“We can forgive but we can never forget,” he told a crowd who were protesting in front of Nanyang headquarters here, Tuesday.
The protest, which was led by PAS Youth, was joined by several other Muslim non-governmental organisations which called for more stern action against the daily.
Meanwhile, PAS Youth assistant secretary Nurul Islam Mohamed Yusoff has called for the daily to “close down”.
“Not only do we call for the authorities to suspend their licence, they should also close down over their rudeness,” he said.
Protesters earlier gathered in front of the building at around 10.15am under the watchful eyes of the police.
They then submitted a memorandum to Nanyang at 11.15am and requested the paper publish the full memorandum in the daily as a form of acknowledgement.
Titled “Monkey Act”, the cartoon featured two monkeys sitting on a tree named “Act 355” while a group of other monkeys fight under it.
On the tree, one monkey dons a songkok labelled “Speaker” while the other has a turban and is labelled “Hadi Awang”.
The cartoon was published in the newspaper two days after Hadi tabled the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act or RUU355 in Parliament on April 6.
Nanyang Siang Pau on Monday had issued an apology to Abdul Hadi and Pandikar for their portrayal in the cartoon.
“Nanyang Siang Pau wishes to apologise to Pandikar Amin Mulia and Abdul Hadi Awang for all the troubles that arose from the inappropriate cartoon,” the Chinese newspaper said in an apology notice.
It also removed the cartoon from its online portal, eNanyang.
PAS youth vice chief Khairil Nizam Khirudin said the ministry should revoke the permit to print from the vernacular paper because it was insensitive, unethical, rude and insensitive towards other people’s religion.
“Maybe the Home Ministry should revoke the permits for the newspaper to serve as a lesson to others and ensure such an episode does not recur as it could lead to sectarian and religious violence.
“The cartoon caricature would incite prejudice against the Syariah legal system and Islamic laws, but what PAS did in Parliament was in accordance with the Federal Constitution.
“And we want to reiterate that the tabling of the Private Member’s Bill by Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang only concerns Muslims and had nothing to do with non-Muslims,” he said in a press statement on Tuesday.
PAS members also held a small protest outside Nanyang Siang Pau’s Johor Baru office.
They arrived at the office along Jalan Maju in Taman Maju Jaya here at around 10.30am on Tuesday morning and lingered for about 30 minutes while holding printouts with the words “RUU355 Hormati Hak Muslim” (RUU355 Respect Muslim Rights) and “Jangan Fitnah” (Don’t Lie).
Johor PAS Youth deputy chief Ahmad Nawfal Mahfodz said the protest was held to voice their dissatisfaction with the newpaper for publishing a caricature that insulted Abdul Hadi.
“We initially planned the protest to demand an apology from the newspaper but the daily had since apologised so we just want to remind them to be fair and neutral as a newspaper,” he said.
In Kota Baru, Kelantan PAS Youth torched a pile of newspapers to protest against the daily.
“We can forgive, but we won’t forget.
“The authorities should take stern action against the media organisation to serve as a deterrent, as fanning racial and religious tension poses a national security threat,” said information chief Nazman Che Iberahim.