The Erykah Badu photo used by the Star on Monday came from Universal Music, the record label of Erykah Badu, and not from the promoters, Pineapple Concerts, journalists at the Star confirmed yesterday afternoon.
Universal Music also supplied the same photo to Pineapple for use in their concert publicity.
Pineapple censored the photo in its publicity material by blanking out the calligraphic representation of the Arabic word Allah. A journalist said Pineapple had informed Universal about the potential problem with the official photo. This could not be confirmed with either Pineapple or Universal.
A Star journalist said neither Pineapple nor Universal had suggested using the photo with care.
The Star’s article on Erykah Badu had been prepared on Friday for the Monday issue. Section 2 had commissioned a freelance writer to interview the singer, and to illustrate the story the deputy editor obtained the official photo from Universal Music. It was approved for use by the Section 2 editor.
"The photo did not show any cleavage," said a senior Star journalist. "The decorations on her body looked to be some kind of artistic representation. It did not appear to have any obvious religious significance."
The two globules containing the calligraphic representation of the Arabic word Allah also seemed to have been designed to take the shape of pineapples.
Failing to recognise the calligraphy within the globules, and mistakenly regarding them as decorative art, the editor approved the use of the photo.
The editor might have been more concerned with complaints about the apparent nudity.
The Malaysian morality gestapo are quick to have the home ministry send out warning letters to publications for using photos and images that show revealing necklines, cleavage, and body parts such as breasts or the genital area.
Cheng Hoe and Daryl suspended
Lim Cheng Hoe, senior editor of Star2 and Daryl Goh, deputy editor, have been suspended. Associate editors Rozaid Abdul Rahman and Shah A. Dadameah will now also be the paper’s eyes and ears on Muslim sensitivities