Bernama says Internal Security Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Thursday ordered Sarawak Tribune's publication permit would be suspend indefinitely with immediate effect for reproducing controversial caricatures of Prophet Muhammad on Feb 4.
The Cabinet could not accept the explanation by the management of the Sarawak Tribune for reprinting the caricature that belittled Prophet Muhammad, Information Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said Thursday.
He said the whole Cabinet felt extremely ashamed to the world on the matter and they decided that the heaviest penalty would be impose not only on the newspaper but also on the staff involved who were being investigated by the police.
"No matter what reasons were given by the newspaper's leadership, the Cabinet could not at all accept them," he told reporters after attending a special meeting with officers and staff of departments and agencies under the Information Ministry in Sabah and Labuan, on Thursday.
"We cannot understand how educated people could make a mistake like that, especially in Malaysia where the Father of Independence [former Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman] had stressed from the beginning the importance of respecting the sensitivities of the different races, religions and cultures," he said.
He also said the absence of Sarawak Tribune in Sarawak did not mean there would be less news in the state because the public could obtain news from the other newspapers, radio and television.
Abdul Kadir said the Cabinet was concerned with a trend by certain media and political parties, which sought popularity through sensitive issues. "We hope those concerned will stop this practice because the public do not like it. So don't think that by raising sensitive issues they can gain popularity," he said. Although they might be popular among a small section of the people, the vast majority of the public were used to living in peace and respecting each other and they hated sensitive issues to be raised, he said.