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Wednesday August 13, 2008

Catholic newsletter warned to stay off politics

PUTRAJAYA: The Catholic newsletter Herald may have its permit suspended if it goes ahead and publishes an editorial on the Permatang Pauh by-election.

An official with the Home Ministry’s publication control and al-Quran text division said this was because an editorial on the by-election was a topic under current affairs and politics.

“This clearly goes against the conditions of their permit which should only centre on their religion and religious activities. It will earn the Herald another warning letter and probably, even a suspension,” he said in an interview here yesterday.

He said the ministry was not satisfied with their answers to a show-cause letter as they were “clearly going against the conditions of their permit” by continuing to publish various articles, some of which were related to Islam.

The division had recently issued a show-cause letter to the Herald, which has a circulation of 12,000 in copies of English, Bahasa Malaysia, Tamil and Chinese, for allegedly publishing articles relating to politics.

The letter also alleged that the newsletter had breached its permit conditions.

Its editor, Father Lawrence Andrew, has denied the allegations and said that its next issue would carry an editorial on the Permatang Pauh by-election.

Father Lawrence urged the ministry to not make any assumption as they had yet to see the editorial in question.

“The editorial is only asking people to pray for a just and fair by-election. Can't we Christians ask fellow Christians to pray? Is that against the law?” he asked when contacted yesterday.

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