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Subra saddened by daily's suspension

Contributed by Anonymous on Monday, August 27 @ 08:18:48 CDT

Tamil Dailies
RK Anand and Bede Hong
Aug 27, 07 Malaysiakini
Former MIC deputy president S Subramaniam today expressed sadness over the one-month suspension of Tamil daily, Makkal Osai.

Speaking at a press conference at his residence in Petaling Jaya, he said the daily was suspended despite issuing an apology and the affected parties accepting it.


The two-year-old newspaper, which is closely linked to Subramaniam, was suspended on Aug 24 after publishing an image of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette and a beer can under its 'Thought for the day' section.

Below the image was a quote attributed to Jesus calling on sinners to repent.

"They (Makkal Osai) made a mistake and their apology was accepted," said Subramaniam, stopping short of describing the suspension as 'unfair' when asked.

"Let the government review (the directive). If you want to use the law, you can use that. It's a mistake. It's a question of whether anything would be achieved in banning a further one week or one month, I don't know, because who is the affected party?

"The affected party are the Christians. They have accepted the apology and regarded the matter settled," he added.

He also revealed that the newspaper has filed an appeal and are keeping their fingers crossed that the government will reconsider its decision.

External forces?

Prior to its suspension, the daily has been providing extensive coverage on the death of local actress K Sujatha and the problems in the debt-ridden investment arm of MIC, Maika Holdings.

MIC president S Samy Vellu's son Vell Paari was implicated in the death of the actress, but the latter has denied the allegations. Vell Parri also helms Maika Holdings, which is scheduled to hold its annual general meeting on Thursday.

Samy Vellu and Subramaniam have been at loggerheads for more than two decades. The feud culminated in Subramaniam's defeat in last year's party elections to the president's choice for the number two post, G Palanivel.

The run-up to the elections witnessed the president launching scathing attacks against his former estranged deputy, calling him, among others, a "back stabber."

Asked to respond to allegations that the Samy Vellu-linked Tamil Nesan daily and other external forces had pushed for Makkal Osai’s suspension, Subramaniam said:

"Makkal Osai has been one of the best Tamil newspapers in the country giving all sides of the story, be it Maika or the death of Sujatha. There has been a lot of disgruntlement over this. I'm sure they would be happy that the paper has been suspended."

When pressed further, he added: "MIC Youth are the ones who asked for the paper to be closed. The MIC Youth made the police report and asked for the paper to be closed. I've never heard of this before, a political party asking for (its own) mother tongue paper to be closed. I've never in my life. This is the first time.

"I only say what I know. What went on behind the scene, whether anything went on, I wouldn't know. It's very obvious, they made a lot of police reports."

Act of sabotage?

However, Subramaniam did not state that the government had erred in its judgement to suspend the daily.

"I am not saying the government made a mistake. Under the law, they have the power to do so," he said.

On the rumours that the daily was sabotaged, Subramaniam, who described himself as a well-wisher of Makkal Osai, said the management was not ruling out any possibilities.

"Anything is possible. The person (staff) who made the mistake has been suspended pending an internal inquiry. But the question is, will he own up?" he added.

Subramaniam also stressed that he has always defended the Tamil media when it ran into trouble, citing several newspapers, including Malaysia Nanban, as examples.

During the press conference, Subramaniam brought the spotlight down on a journalist from Tamil Nesan when he realised the presence of a photographer from that daily.

He asked around for the whereabouts of the journalist who was standing in the back. "Come and sit in the front, it is a big thing that you have come to cover this (press conference)," he quipped.
****************
Hindraf: Grant Makkal Osai a ‘Merdeka pardon’

Aug 27, 07 Malaysiakini   
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been asked to be magnanimous and grant a ‘Merdeka pardon’ to Makkal Osai.


The daily was slapped with a one-month suspension from Aug 24 for publishing an image of Jesus Christ with a cigarette and a drink can on his hands.

Hindu Rights Action Force legal advisor P Uthayakumar said the pardon and revocation of suspension would go a long way towards ensuring press freedom in Malaysia.

“This is especially so when publication (of the image) was not intentional and that a sincere and unreserved apology had been tendered at the very first instance,” he said in a statement today.

Uthayakumar argued that, if the suspension stands, the ministry should also take action against Tamil Nesan for reproducing the image.

He also charged that many local councils should be similarly sanctioned, if not closed, for their role in demolishing hundreds of Hindu temples in the country.

“Most of the temples are 100 years old or built even before Malaysia was born. They are torn down at the average rate of one temple every three weeks,” he claimed.

“The Hindus in Malaysia have been repeatedly humiliated because they lack political mileage or economical clout.”

He said the demolition of the temples was “at least a thousand times more serious than the mere publication of a photo”.

Yet, coverage of these incidents have been given the least attention in the media, and among political parties and civil society groups.

Makkal Osai, the second best selling Tamil newspaper, published the offending image on Aug 21. Accompanying the picture was a caption: “If someone repents for his mistakes, then heaven awaits him”.

The image and the message was part of the daily’s regular ‘Thought for the Day’ feature which highlights famous quotations of world leaders and philosophers.

The daily immediately offered its apologies, but the internal security ministry
issued the suspension order on the grounds that the image was inappropriate and could harm public order.

Makkal Osai has since accused its rival Tamil Nesan of aggravating the situation by highlighting the publication and by pressuring the government to take stern action.

On Saturday, a Makkal Osai reader lodged a police report against Tamil Nesan for reproducing the image.


 
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