New Straits Times Group deputy chairperson and editorial adviser Kalimullah Hassan thinks the News Straits Times (NST) is Teflon-coated as it’s an UMNO-government mouthpiece. He assured editors and journalists that the Non Sequitur cartoon was not offensive to Islam. He said the board of directors was fully behind the editors who okayed the Non Sequiter cartoon.
Then when you would imagine NST being remorseful and repentant, it rushed in AGAIN where angels dare not tread in the first place, by brazenly RE-publishing the cartoon. With that, Kalimullah invited those present at his impromptu briefing to compare the NST cartoon with the original Danish caricatures.
Kalimullah brashly declared blah blah blah, and that at most, the papers would be suspended for max 2 weeks only. Maybe a man who reputedly has the ear of the PM as well as those of the latter’s son-in-law may feel privileged to second-guess the decision of the Minister of Internal Security.
But then the Old Man himself, none other than TDM, told the government not to practice double standards by allowing NST to get away with its faux pas while Sarawak Tribune and Guangming had already been made examples for their religious insensitivity. He recommended at least 3 to 4 months suspension for the NST editor.
He succinctly stated: “But to say that somebody is sitting there and for some money, I will make a caricature (of the prophet), that means you are saying that this is all right (when it is not).”
“So why do you publish it (the comic strip)? It shows that you lack understanding of the sentiments of the Muslims. And again they reproduce it yesterday as if to say that ‘what is so wrong about this?’”
Perhaps arrogance? Maybe Kalimullah was of the opinion that NST, being the mouthpiece of UMNO, would be exempt from the sort of scrutiny and standards expected of the Sarawak Tribune and Guangming? Maybe he has heard from the horse's mouth?
But Kalimullah is not a man to give up easily when he must have felt he was on form. He then decided to throw in a red herring by dobbing in RTM2 [Mandarin news], saying that National TV program had also shown footage of a person reading a newspaper containing the offensive caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Apparently the TV camera focused on the page of the newspaper showing the cartoons. To stir things up and direct everyone’s attention to RTM, he claimed that a NST reporter had approached Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin for comment on RTM’s airing.
Now what has that got to do with NST's problem! The alleged RTM airing is a separate issue for RTM to answer to. RTM’s error does not absolve NST’s. So let’s cut out the diversionary tactics. But it’s quite disgusting that Kalimullah has resorted to pointing dirty fingers at someone else, in this case RTM, without showing cause as why the NST was so insensitive in the first instance, and truly arrogant in the second.
But I hope the Minister of Internal Security Ministry is not a person partial towards Kalimullah’s offering of a red fish, and would prefer ‘spare-parts’ kambing (goat’s tripe), basically the guts of NST.