By Rev. Hermen Shastri, General Secretary, Council of Churches Malaysia
The Council of Churches of Malaysia welcomes the apology tendered by the Malay language daily, “Sinar Harapan”, over its article “Matlamat Gerakan Kristian” (Objectives of the Christian Movement) published on 23rd August.
They have admitted that the information published in the article is inaccurate and in error. However we note that there has been no expression of remorse.
The suggestions that Christian groups would encourage immoral activities as part of an attempt to propagate their faith is clearly preposterous, erroneous, inflammatory, and a flagrant attack on another religion.
It is our view that any reasonable person would have found the article totally offensive, not just to the Christians in our country but to all decent-minded and peace-loving people.
This despicable piece of journalism, and other stories like it, should never be repeated. The management and the editorial department of “Sinar Harian” must now prove the sincerity of their apology by publicly stating what measures they are taking to ensure that stories of this nature are never published again in their newspaper.
Unless there are systemic changes in their editorial processes, and proper procedures and guidelines are put in place, there is no guarantee that the newspaper, or others like it, will not repeat the harm done on another occasion.
A respected and responsible newspaper must ensure at all times that it is never a party to callous and insensitive reporting bent on destroying the good relationship among the religious communities in our country.