KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Home Minister yesterday criticised Chinese daily Nanyang Siang Pau over a controversial caricature it published recently, calling it an act of intellectual egoism.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, said knowledge should not be used to mock but to educate others.
"I don't want this attitude of sadism, where intellectuals are amused when people are divided or troubled," he told reporters after a public policy forum.
He advised the media not to use satire to insult and offend other people. He said that although this might be allowed in some other cultures, it was not acceptable in Malaysia. He added that Malaysians needed to respect each other's religions and cultures.
The Home Ministry on Tuesday issued a show cause letter to Nanyang Siang Pau after it published a drawing depicting Islamic opposition party leader Abdul Hadi Awang and Parliamentary Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia as monkeys sitting in a tree labelled Act 355, a law governing the country's syariah court powers.
Nanyang's editor was required to respond to the letter by yesterday.
The drawing was published after Mr Hadi had tabled amendments to the Act in Parliament, seeking to extend the syariah court's powers to impose more severe punishments.
The controversial amendment has been criticised by minority ethnic parties and non-Muslim groups, which fear it could lead to the introduction of hudud, the Islamic penal code, in the country.
The newspaper has apologised for and removed the offending cartoon, but the opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia and several Muslim non-governmental organisations have protested outside Nanyang's offices, and called for its printing licence to be revoked.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, BERNAMA