The Herald, a Catholic weekly published in Malaysia, is under further pressure from the Home Ministry, which will be scrutinising its forthcoming editorial on the Permatang Pauh by-election. The edition will reach the churches in the peninsula this weekend.
“The editorial is only asking people to pray for a just and fair by-election. Can’t we Christians ask fellow Christians to pray? Is that against the law?” Herald editor Fr Lawrence Andrew, SJ was quoted as saying.
The paper was given three warning letters before receiving a show-cause letter last month. Its licence could be suspended if its latest editorial displeases the Home Ministry, which feels the paper should stick to “religion” – according to the Ministry’s understanding of the term.
Jesus never followed the conventional “religious” path. In fact, his world view was much broader and he saw the kingdom of God as all around us and within us.
May I request people of all faiths pray that the Home Ministry will be guided in making the right and just decision.
This article from The Sun:
I’m puzzled by Home Ministry’s actions, says Herald editor
by Tim Leonard
PETALING JAYA (Aug 13, 2008) : The editor of Herald maintains that the articles published in its weekly are in line with basic rights guaranteed under Article 11 (3) of the Federal Constitution.
Father Lawrence Andrew said the weekly is only meant for Catholics, and not for sale to the general public.
“I am puzzled by the Home Ministry’s actions,” he said, referring to the series of warning and show-cause letters it has received since March 10.
Lawrence added that he would seek legal redress if the publication’s permit is suspended or revoked.
The senior priest was clearly upset when he spoke to theSun yesterday about the issue facing the Herald, which is read by some 12,000 Catholics nationwide.
“If our permit is suspended or revoked, I will take the matter to court,” he said.
“I was not briefed by the Ministry on articles which were deemed offensive such as ‘Comedy of Errors’ and ‘Malaysians Despair As Barang Semua Naik’.”
Lawrence said the story of an Egyptian journalist who converted to Catholicism was based on an overseas news report.
He also said the latest issue which carries an editorial on the Permatang Pauh by-election requesting Catholics to pray for the country was out yesterday and should be available in parishes from today.
Meanwhile, the Home Ministry said it will decide in a week or two whether to suspend or revoke Herald’s publication permit.
The ministry’s official told theSun the decision will be made following an assessment of the editorial on Permatang Pauh.
“We will review the article to ascertain if there was any further violation before deciding the next course of action,” he said.
The official also clarified that the ministry noted that one of the “offensive” articles was the story of an Egyptian journalist who worked in Italy and converted to Catholicism and not as reported earlier.
The official advised the publication to follow the rules stipulated in the permit and not to cross the line.
It is learnt that the monthly Catholic Asian News published by the KL Archdiocese was also issued a warning letter recently.
This from The Star:
Catholic newsletter warned to stay off politics
By SIM LEOI LEOI and LISA GOH
PUTRAJAYA: The Catholic newsletter Herald may have its permit suspended if it goes ahead and publishes an editorial on the Permatang Pauh by-election.
An official with the Home Ministry’s publication control and al-Quran text division said this was because an editorial on the by-election was a topic under current affairs and politics.
“This clearly goes against the conditions of their permit which should only centre on their religion and religious activities. It will earn the Herald another warning letter and probably, even a suspension,” he said in an interview here yesterday.
He said the ministry was not satisfied with their answers to a show-cause letter as they were “clearly going against the conditions of their permit” by continuing to publish various articles, some of which were related to Islam.
The division had recently issued a show-cause letter to the Herald, which has a circulation of 12,000 in copies of English, Bahasa Malaysia, Tamil and Chinese, for allegedly publishing articles relating to politics.
The letter also alleged that the newsletter had breached its permit conditions.
Its editor, Father Lawrence Andrew, has denied the allegations and said that its next issue would carry an editorial on the Permatang Pauh by-election.
Father Lawrence urged the ministry to not make any assumption as they had yet to see the editorial in question.
“The editorial is only asking people to pray for a just and fair by-election. Can’t we Christians ask fellow Christians to pray? Is that against the law?” he asked when contacted yesterday.
And another one from The Sun:
Herald given three warnings before show cause
by Tim Leonard
PETALING JAYA (Aug 13, 2008) : The Catholic weekly Herald was issued with three warning letters before a show cause letter was sent to its publisher on July 16.
A Home Ministry official told theSun the first warning letter was dated March 10 with the second on March 16 and the third on July 1.
The official said the Herald did not print out its printing number properly and carried articles that were contrary to its publishing permit.
“We found the publication carried articles which were politically inclined and touched on Islamic issues,” he said.
Among the articles published in Herald that the ministry found to be offensive included articles with tiltles such as ‘Islam Grows Result of Western Relativism’, Comedy of Errors (in regards to the March 8 general election) and ‘Malaysians Despair As Barang Semua Naik’ (on price hike).The articles were published between June 1 and July 16.
Another article, said the official, that was deemed offensive was a story on an Italian Catholic journalist who converted to Islam and later reverted to Catholism.
“The first two warning letters were issued for the publication’s failure to print its printing number and for carrying articles based on current affairs and politics in Malaysia,” the official informed.
“The third warning letter was based on the article that appeared on June 1 with the title ‘Comedy of Errors’,” he added.
The show cause letter was sent following an article on June 22 titled “America and Jihad – where do they stand?”.
“Some of these articles were commentary and editorial pieces that clearly went beyond the religious scope for which the permit was issued,” he added.
The newspaper had on Aug 1 replied to the show cause letter.
Meanwhile, Herald’s editor Father Lawrence Andrew told theSun he believed the weekly has not stepped out of its line with its editorial contents.
He also said the latest issue will feature an editorial piece on the Permatang Pauh by-election and it will be centred on how to face the challenges of the current times.
“The article will encourage readers to pray for the country and request for God’s help to face the challenges we are going through now in Malaysia,” he said.
He reiterated that his weekly had not breached any permit conditions.
Herald, which recently challenged the ministry in court on the use of the world ‘Allah’ has a circulation of 12,000 and is sold in churches on Sunday for RM1.