Malay language daily Sinar Harian today apologised for publishing an information text box accusing the 'Christian movement' of, among others, permitting prostitution and encouraging free mingling between the sexes.
The apology issued by the management and editorial department of Sinar Harian was published on page 8 of today's issue.
"We admit the error in the publication of 'Objectives of the Christian movement' in the Info column on page 9, edition Aug 23, 2011, yesterday.
"The information published is not accurate.
"Therefore we retract the Info and apologise to all Sinar Harian readers, especially Christians, over the error committed."
The daily this weekgave extensive coverage to a so-called "apostasy movement" in its regular Monday column Bicara Isnin .
In the second part of the column published yesterday, scathing allegations were levelled against the 'Christian movement' and these were listed in an information text box titled Matlamat gerakan Kristian (Objectives of the Christian movement).
Sinar Harian listed four items that it said are among other programmes afoot "to destroy Muslims":
1. Social movement: encouraging free mingling between the sexes;
2. Moral degradation: damaging moral values with wild activities;
3. Permitting prostitution as a service occupation; and
4. Films and music: inserting negative or extreme elements and excessive music that leads to heedlessness and negligence.
The daily did not elaborate on these allegations.
‘No remorse shown’
Despite the apology for inaccuracy in reporting, the Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) chastised the daily for not having expressed “remorse” in the matter.
“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,” said CCM general secretary Reverend Hermen Shastri.
Slamming it as “a despicable piece of journalism”, Hermen warned that such an act “should never be repeated”.
CCM demanded that Sinar Harian ’s editorial back up their apology by publicly stating measures taken to ensure that reports of such nature are never published again in the 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,” justified Hermen.
He reminded that a “respected and responsible newspaper” must keep away from “callous and insensitive reporting” which may destroy religious harmony in the country.