Berita Harian issues public apology over insensitive tsunami cartoon

PETALING JAYA: Berita Harian has issued a public apology over its publication of a cartoon depicting the devastating tsunami and earthquake that swept Japan and killed thousands.

The Malay daily published the apology on its website, Twitter and Facebook accounts yesterday after several quarters demanded that the newspaper apologise for the publication.

"We apologise for the publication of the cartoon in Berita Minggu. We had no intention of poking fun at the disaster that has befallen the nation of Japan and its people.

"In fact, we greatly sympathise with their plight and share the sorrow of the Japanese people," the daily's editor wrote.

The cartoon, drawn by Mohd Zohri Sukimi or more popularly known as Zoy, showed the popular Japanese icon Ultraman running away from an oncoming tsunami.

The publication created a buzz on social networking sites with politicians and the public criticising the daily's poor judgment, describing the cartoon as "distasteful" and "insensitive".

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted that the paper must apologise for publishing the cartoon which was "totally insensitive towards the Japanese".

"It is unfortunate that it was published below Berita Harian Sdn Bhd group editor (Datuk Mior Kamarul Shahid's column)," he tweeted.

Bukit Lanjan assemblyman cum Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong tweeted that "the matter was not funny".

Seri Setia assemblyman Nik Nazmi Nik Azmi encouraged the public to sign an online petition to protest against the "inappropriate cartoon".

Many Facebook users placed the link http://www.petitiononline.com/bharian/petition.html on their pages.

-The Star/Asia News Network