The Star gets 'show cause' letter over front page

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Home Ministry yesterday gave The Star newspaper seven days to respond to a "show cause" letter issued over what it deemed an inappropriate front page published on Saturday, although the paper had apologised over the issue on Sunday.

The page featured a story headlined "Malaysian terrorist leader", while below it there was a picture of Muslims praying during the first evening of the fasting month.

"It has been the practice of The Star to respect the first day of Ramadan every year and to place the picture of Muslims at the first terawih (special) prayers on the front page of the paper. This has been done over the last decade or so," Malaysia's biggest-selling English newspaper said in its apology on Sunday.

"This year, there was an unfortunate coincidence of the lead story being of a terrorist leader, that led to many linking the headline and the picture, which was never the intention of the newspaper."

It added: "In hindsight, The Star should have been more discerning and sensitive to the feelings of our Muslim readers. We sincerely apologise for the error of judgment on our part."

The Home Ministry's secretary-general, Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim, said the publication must explain why action should not be taken against it, according to The Malay Mail Online (MMO) news site.

He said the page was done in poor taste and had portrayed Islam in a bad light, the MMO report said.

The action that the government could take includes suspending the printing licence of the newspaper under the Printing and Publications Act.

Four representatives of the newspaper met officials at the ministry yesterday, local media reported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2017, with the headline 'The Star gets 'show cause' letter over front page'. Print Edition | Subscribe