The Home Ministry has slapped UMNO-owned Utusan Malaysia with a warning letter for publishing an unsubstantiated front-page article alleging a Christian plot to usurp Islam as the religion of the federation, which sparked a furore among the country’s majority Muslims and minority Christians.
The ministry today issued a statement that the editor-in-chief of the Umno-owned newspaper, Datuk Aziz Ishak, was invited to the ministry to explain the daily’s violation of the Printing Presses and Publishing Act 1984 (PPPA).
It also warned media organisations against running reports that may cause public unrest or content inconsistent with PPPA guidelines.
On Saturday, Utusan Malaysia carried a front-page article headlined “Kristian agama rasmi?” (Christianity the official religion?), claiming the DAP was conspiring with Christian leaders to take over Putrajaya and abolish Islam as the religion of the federation.
The report, based entirely on unsubstantiated blog postings by two pro-Umno bloggers, charged DAP with sedition for allegedly trying to change the country’s laws to allow a Christian prime minister.
Yesterday, the Penang government filed a formal complaint with the Home Ministry demanding stern action against Utusan Malaysia over the report.
In the complaint, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng sought for Prime Minister Najib Razak to act sternly against the Malay daily to prove that the newspaper does not enjoy full legal immunity.
Today, Lim took the matter further when he called for Najib to axe the Utusan Malaysia editors and reporters responsible for the “false report”.
Najib was also forced today to meet with the church leaders over the issue, after which the prime minister said he was pleased the church leaders had pledged to respect Islam’s position as the religion of the federation.
According to Najib, the church leaders also said Christians had no desire to challenge the provision within the Federal Constitution.
Najib did NOT , however, offer an apology for the report by his party’s (UMNO) mouthpiece.