KDN ‘rejects’ Star explanation – suspension feared

The two-paragraph statement by KDN last night:
[The ministry] has demanded the newspaper to present a more affirmative proposal to the ministry to ensure this mistake does not recur and will serve as a lesson.

Following this, the Home Ministry stresses that The Star and all media organisations take more preventive, corrective and informative actions to avoid publishing material which are sensitive to the nation’s multiracial and multi-religious society.


The home ministry has rejected the explanation by the Star last week about its publication of a controversial Erykah Badu photograph, which caused the singer’s scheduled concert to be banned.

Amidst fears that the government intends to suspend the paper, the ministry asked the Star to provide “a more affirmative proposal” to the ministry of measures to ensure that further instances do not recur.

This is being interpreted to mean indirect pressure by the government to promote more Malay or Muslim journalists into editorial executive positions; the KDN has hauled up the Star on several occasions before about its coverage on Islamic matters.

Two editors of the Star’s features section Star2 were suspended by the paper last week, and two senior editors who are Muslim have been assigned to oversee the section’s content.

Unconfirmed information is that ministry officials were seeking to meet with Star management.

If the paper is suspended — which would be unlikely in current circumstances with the government having to face elections within a year — it would only be for the second time since 1987 when its publishing licence was revoked. Sin Chew Jit Poh, Watan and the Star were suspended in September 1987, in the midst of an intense internal power struggle within Umno, leading to the government launching a large security operation in which more than 100 politicians, academicians and activists, and some priests were detained under the Internal Security Act.

Any KDN action against the Star will please Islamic conservatives and some sections of PAS, who mounted a steady barrage of criticism in the PAS online newspaper Harakah Daily after the Star published the Erykah Badu photograph, an official publicity photo obtained from her record label to illustrate a pre-concert publicity interview. The photograph had also been displayed on Erykah Badu’s web site for weeks (but the site has since been blanked out after the concert ban).

erykahbadu.com screenshot

Suspension of the Star would also be of immediate benefit to its Umno-owned competitor the New Straits Times, whose average daily circulation has now fallen to below 70,000 fully paid copies, and to the recently-relaunched Malay Mail, owned by Redberry Group, whose owners are believed to be allies of Umno president Najib Razak. The Mail, now a national morning paper, is believed to have a circulation of below 30,000 a day.

During the Star’s six-month suspension in 1987-88, the NST doubled its circulation to 300,000 copies a day; sales dropped sharply after the Star was allowed to resume publication and have been on the decline for the past decade.

Erykah Badu sparks amazing coincidence

Star editors meet KDN with explanation


17 thoughts on “KDN ‘rejects’ Star explanation – suspension feared

  1. Are you sure NST double its circulation during Star’s suspension in 1987? I remember many Star subscribers in Penang refused to accept the NST which vendors substituted for The Star. Many loyal Star readers waited for its resumption of publication and continued to support the paper even now and eventhough it insults them by using long, cool trains as the front page story.

  2. Suspend la, we don care. After all it only serves to jack up Mr Porno Chua. If the rumour is true that KDN wants to promote Malays within Star’s senior rank, I’ll like to see how ‘brave’ Mr Porno handle the matter.

  3. This is Umno’s way of telling CSL to shut up and toe the BN line. Possibly a warning to Chinese newspapers to pipe down now that the elections are around the corner. Won’t do any good to NST circulation. Even if given free no one will take it. Perhaps the KDN guys must learn that the 1987 bully tactics won’t work anymore. KDN should also consider that Star is a public listed company and a ban on it will have its ramifications in the corporate sector.

  4. Just one example: My wife used to buy Star and Sun, the former for columnists like Mary
    Schneider, Marina Mahathir, etc. and the latter for its more objective reporting and columnists like Nades and Terence. On Sundays, we buy both New Sunday Times and Sunday Star. Recently, she boycotted Star except for one or two days (for Karim Raslan and Amy Beh recipes), because of its false reporting on LGE-CSL debate, and tried Malay Mail because of Terence! When she used to buy Star, I would first look for Sudoku! So as far as we are concerned, no Star means Sun will do. There is always online news.

  5. I don’t understand the system. Why should Star explain? If the Star has violated any laws, then it should be brought to court. There is something wrong with our system, where any newspaper, individual or organization is answerable to a ministry and not the law.

  6. If Umno think they can cow the Star, they must be nuts. Banning or suspending the paper will unleash a backlash against these crooks that could possibly cost them Putrajaya. As it is, Umno is losing a lot of goodwill even among Malays over the issue. As for NST, forget about boosting their circulation. Right now NST circulation is in free fall, not even Star’s suspension can help them.

  7. What lah everyone thinks that Star will suffer if the paper is suspended. The suspension will only be a token gesture by KDN. In realpolitik, it will be a win-win for BN by making The Star more attractive than the NST or The Sun.
    I’m sure u will all recall how The Star’s circulation climbed after it was suspended in the 1980s, and finally overtook NST. The perception is that The Star is less pro-BN and that is what makes it more attractive to the better educated and critical people. It will be able to arrest the decline in readership.
    What this means is that BN can continue to rely on The Star to carry its message (propaganda) to this group of audience that it needs to recapture lost grounds. So whipping The Star whenever the opportunity arises is not such a bad idea after all for BN and The Star
    So watch the circulation figures as the Star is depicted as “controversial”, at least in the eyes of the public. The fact is that you can fool many people many, many times, and Malaysians hve been fooled many, many, many times.
    I have stopped buying newspapers. Rakyat memang degil & bodoh!!!

    • But how many of you are there? 270,000 copies are still sold every day, and roughly one million people in a day have a look at the star if not read it.

  8. Let us hope they make the stupid move of suspending The Star. But that does not mean I will buy the NST or even the Malay Mail which is basically crap. Why? I look up my news on the Internet!!. C’mon, do it Mr Newspaper Watchdog Minister.

  9. I pity The Star. They have already apologised. Enough already and let’s move on. Badu juga yg untung. No show and still got paid.
    I still like and buy The Star.

  10. My simple mind does not understand.

    Star was being insensitive for publishing the photograph of Erykah Badu’s tattoo. The Home Ministry hauled it up and Star then made amends by offering its two ‘errant’ editors as sacrifice.

    Then weren’t other newspapers being insensitive when they published news with photographs of Perkasa chief giving up white ‘angpows’ during a Chinese New Year do? The Home Ministry was not concerned at all. No demands were made for action against the newspapers and editors.

    Why the inconsistency? Or the two differ in the degree of insensitivity? One act did not incite and cause as much hurt as the other? My simple mind cannot fathom.

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