Would Jesus want the Makkal Osai suspended?


This evening, I received an SMS with the intriguing question: “So u think Makal Osai shld b suspended?”

Makai Osai of course refers to the Tamil daily that published an image of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette and a beer can four days ago. It was slapped with a suspension from today to 24 September.

It was interesting to see the Islamic Party, Pas, coming out to express displeasure against the depiction of Jesus in the paper. Archbishop Murphy has found himself an unlikely ally, I thought!

Since then, the paper has apologised and Archbishop Murphy has accepted the apology.

Quite appropriately, the quote next to the picture that was deemed offensive read: “If someone repents for his mistakes, then heaven awaits them.”

End of matter? No, the paper was nonetheless hit with a suspension order.

Apparently, there is more to it than meets the eye – a factional dispute within the MIC could be a factor. Makkal Osai is said to be aligned to former MIC deputy president S Subramaniam while its rival Tamil Nesan is linked to MIC president Samy Vellu.

All this hoo-ha over what seems like a genuine and innocent oversight by the Makkal Osai editor.

Even if the “offence” was intentional, I would like to think that nothing we do can take take away from the glory and honour that rightfully belongs to God. Our insensitive actions merely reflect on us.

Many of us think that we too should rally to the defence of Jesus as if he needs us to save his good name. Lest we forget, when the Roman soldiers came to arrest Jesus and take him away to face the ultimate humiliation and degradation, Peter drew his sword in an attempt to come to Jesus’ rescue. Jesus ordered him to put it away.

The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus, stripped him bare and cruelly whipped him. But try as they might, they were unable to take away his dignity.

On the contrary, it was Jesus’ tormentors who revealed to the world for all time the depth of their barbarity and depravity.

So much fuss about an image of Christ when we don’t even know what Jesus actually looks like for certain. Nowhere is his appearance described in the New Testament apart from a couple of inconclusive hints in the book of Revelation.

If you ask me, I would say Jesus would be far more offended at the way we oppress our fellow sisters and brothers in this world through war, exploitative economic systems, torture, detention without trial, oppressive laws and poverty, much of it entirely avoidable. In fact, I think he would be positively outraged.

When Peter eventually denied (not once but three times) that he knew Jesus during his hour of trial, Jesus looked at him. I don’t think Jesus was expecting him to take on the Roman soldiers and stop his suffering.

Rather, Jesus was probably deeply disappointed that the leader of his apostles had effectively repudiated everything that Jesus had stood for. Peter had refused to publicly identify himself with the cause (though he subsequently apologised and that too was graciously accepted and Peter went on to become the head of the early church.)

And what was a core component of the Cause? Apart from bringing New Life to all, Jesus chose especially to identify himself with the least of our sisters and brothers.

“…you are the God of the lowly, the helper of the oppressed, the supporter of the weak, the protector of the forsaken, the saviour of those without hope” (Judith 9:11).

“..whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

So why aren’t we as outraged when the rights of the weak and marginalised are violated and trampled upon on a daily basis? For it is the wretched of the earth with whom Jesus identified most through his life-giving sacrifice on the Cross.

Lift the suspension of the Makkal Osai!

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linda olivia

surely Jesus will not want the daily banned esp when they regretted their actions. We are here to build God’s kingdom and His kingdom is based on peace,mercy, justice and love. That is why i agree with you anil that the daily should not be suspended because we should imitate Christ.


Totally agree. Like Christ, it is to forgive than wage war. Those who wage war in the name of Chirst ( or God ) believe that they are God or God sent.

Bob K

Hi YW, Thanks for your clarification.


Anil, you’re pretty much a RockStar in my book for writing this.
Amen, brother!



Bob K, I did post the comments on 25 Aug 2007, and I am the same Y.W. Loke you referred to. The same comments were posted on Berita Malaysia before I posted them here. I have seen no reason to change my point of view about the suspension of Makkal Osai over their improper use of Jesus’ image. While there is some likelihood that the suspension may be partially or even wholly for motives which are not that evident, and which I may not agree with, I stand by my opinion that the paper should be punished despite their apology.… Read more »


Hi Anil,

I am being impersonated by a particularly notorious internet fraudster. Several people, including Bob, have been victimised by him in the past: http://thecicak.com/?p=288

I hope you can help clarify that I did not make that comment. I would never condone the closure of a publication which insulted anything or anyone, unless it incited people to violence. People have a right to peaceful expression of their opinions.

Okay John, I will delete his comment. Thanks for dropping by.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Jesus’ positive message in a negative image The publishing of a picture of Jesus holding a beer can and a cigarette by the Tamil daily,Makkal Osai recently was a despicable act on the part of the editor.The Christian community including including its leaders, have rightly reacted with restraint and sensibly to that irresponsible action. The various Christian leaders and we in general have accepted the apology from the editor in the true Christian spirit of forgiveness. This goes to show that as followers of Jesus, we are a peace loving people whose faith in Him cannot be shaken by such… Read more »

Gerard George

It was indeed improper to depict Christ the way Makkal Osai did. Mdfore importantly, it is proper for Christians to immitate Christ and forgive the wilfull error entirely. We crucify Christ continuously with much more greater sinful actions and inactions. It is more important to focus on our own sins and failures to walk the path of righteousness than it is to point out the speck in another’s eye. Our restless world today has too much hatred and misunderstanding. Christ taught us to “love” one another unconditionally and he showed us clearly that “love” also encompasses forgiveness. Let us then… Read more »


P.S. I linked Nat Tan’s post on this matter because it illustrates my feelings about the whole fiasco, not because I’m trying to impersonate Nat Tan πŸ™‚


It looks like the BN cyber-warriors are coming around, now impersonating Christians…

Sivin Kit

Thanks for dropping by and offering your encouraging words. I agree with you we can start beginning from our own communities with like-minded brothers and sisters to nudge forward.

For the record, I quoted your words in my sermon yesterday to illustrate that Christ is more interested in “broken people” than “broken rules”! πŸ™‚

I think we will bump into each other some day.


The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism, however, expressed regret over the one-month suspension. It is misleading to claim that the MCCBCH says so as it is merely a consultative council. Its leaders are divided and while its Hindu head is sad a Hindu-owned newspaper was suspended. However, overhelming majority of Christian leaders in the MCCBCH do not regret the suspension and in fact defend it. Bishop Julius Paul (ELCM) has called for Makkal Osai to be banned, and I laud him as a true Christian! Also, with regards to your title “Would Jesus want the Makkal… Read more »


…Anil Netto expressed similar sentiments too, as did “In Christ” [pseudonym] in a letter to M’kini. I do not, however, agree with them. In my book, there are things which are sacred; you DO NOT make fun of them, not even in the form of a “pushing-the-limits” ad. Forgiveness yes, especially after the apology [which I assume is whole-hearted]. But that does not mean no punishment. Otherwise, do convicted murders get let off just becuase they tendered [whole-hearted?] apologies to the families of their victims? What about “contrite” child rapists then? I think the suspension of Makal Osai is just… Read more »

Bob K

How very true. The so-called offense by the Christian community is very ill placed considering the amount of nonsense that the people of this nation has to go through.

Where’s the outrage when the powerful find more ways and means to further marginalise the weak and the needy?

This might be the BN’s worse PR disaster yet .. I can always hope, right? πŸ™‚

william s thomas

I agree that Jesus is a forgiving God and what we want to pray now that let not the press be used to callege man’s egos and it is the rightful time that all indians ubite without any prejudice to ask for the roghts of indiands in this nation Stop pointing fingers with each other but come up with a plan and the should be responsible to bring this ubity and give indians the chances they lost due to racial polarisation.

Bob K

Anil, In view of the additional comments posted here, I would like to reiterate my support for your position and point of view again. I have also made my arguments here. I can’t say much about Y.W. Loke’s opinions except that it doesn’t sound like the Y.W. Loke (of Berita Malaysia and Sangkancil) that I know. Perhaps his positions on such issues have shifted somewhat. That’s purely speculative on my part, of course, and he is entitled to his opinion. Maybe that’s why Jesus was unique in that he has no need for advocates and defenders, just witnesses. The glory,… Read more »