GEORGE TOWN, April 12 ― The federal government should charge Nanyang Siang Pau if it deems the Chinese-language daily to have committed an offence with its “monkey” caricature, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.
The DAP secretary-general called for the paper to be taken to court instead of having its publishing licence withdrawn under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, as some of its critics have urged.
“Charge them if they had done anything wrong but not to the extent of closing down the newspaper,” Lim told reporters here amid public outcry over Nanyang’s controversial caricature depicting Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang as monkeys.
He stressed that freedom of press meant newspapers should be given a chance to admit their mistakes and publish apologies instead of being shut down.
The Bagan MP held up his multiple lawsuits against newspapers like Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia as an example the federal government could emulate.
“I have sued Utusan so many times. I've won so many cases. I do not ask for Utusan to be closed down but if they must close down Nanyang, then close down Utusan too,” he said.
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 the latter’s tablinb of his private member’s Bill in Parliament two days prior that aims to strengthen the Shariah courts’ punitive powers.
This triggered an uproar by PAS with the PAS Youth leaders demanding the newspaper to be shut down while Penang Umno Youth lodged a police report alleging that the paper had insulted Islam.
Following the uproar, the newspaper had removed the cartoon from its online site and published an apology to Pandikar and Hadi.