A team of editors of The Star, led by chief editor Wong Chun Wai, met the secretary-general of the home ministry this morning to personally deliver the paper’s explanation and response to the ministry’s show-cause letter over the use of an uncensored Erykah Badu photograph on Monday.
Chun Wai’s team comprised June Wong, managing editor (she oversees all features sections); T Selva, chief news editor (head of news reporting); and suspended editors Lim Cheng Hoe, senior editor of Star2, and Daryl Goh, deputy editor of Star2.
Star2, the paper’s features section, ran a pre-concert publicity profile of Erykah Badu on Monday, with an uncensored photograph obtained from her record label, Universal Music.
After the paper hit the streets, comments by Harakah Daily, the PAS online newspaper, led to a flurry of adverse remarks on Twitter and Facebook. Alerted by its own journalists, Star Online removed the photograph from the online report and apologised; Star2 also apologised on Twitter, and the paper itself recorded an apology in Tuesday’s issue.
The home ministry issued a show-case letter — a threat to suspend or revoke the newspaper’s publishing licence — late on Monday evening, giving the paper seven days to explain.
Since Monday, Harakah Daily and other rightist political and Muslim groups have kept up a steady stream of attacks on The Star, accusing it of being anti-Islam; as examples of the paper’s anti-Islamic position, Harakah pointed to another editorial foul-up during Ramadan last year, as well as an earlier commentary by a senior editor criticising the use of the whip on women sentenced for morals offences under Islamic law.
The real target of the PAS attack is the MCA, owners of The Star, as well as the non-Muslim population at large who hold concerns about the party’s ambitions in championing Islamic supremacy, implementing an Islamic state in the country, and implementing hudud criminal punishments under Islamic law.
The MCA has recently been more vocal in its stand against PAS’s long-term political aim on an Islamic state in Malaysia, and against hudud criminal punishments, which the party contends is a threat to civil rights of non-Muslims. The MCA has also criticised the DAP for aligning itself as a partner with PAS in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, despite having in the past voiced opposition towards further Islamisation of Malaysian society.
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