Malaysian Insensitive Ultraman Cartoon ~ Japan Earthquake 2011
Tags: Berita Harian, Bukit Lanjan, Controversial Cartoon, Cultural Guerilla, Datuk Mior Kamarul Shahid, Earth, Elizabeth Wong, Khairy Jamaluddin, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Mohd Zohri Sukimi, Rais Yatim, Reverse soft power, Soft Power, Tokusatsu, Tsunami, Twitter, Ultraman, UMNO, United Malays National Organisation, Zoy
Malaysian newspaper Berita Harian (“Daily News” in Malay) triggered uproar with a cartoon – drawn by Mohd Zohri Sukimi (aka Zoy) – depicting the popular Japanese icon Ultraman running away from an oncoming tsunami.
Berita Harian drew heavy criticism, especially on social networking websites, after it published the cartoon on Sunday on its comment page, page 24. Malaysians had launched online petitions to pressure the paper to apologise, while many politicians also criticised the publication.
Khairy Jamaluddin, leader of the youth wing of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), wrote on his Twitter feed that the cartoon was “totally insensitive towards the Japanese people” and asked the paper to say sorry. “It was unfortunate that the tsunami cartoon was published under the Group Editor’s column himself (Datuk Mior Kamarul Shahid’s column),” he said. Bukit Lanjan assemblyman cum Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong tweeted that “the matter was not funny”.
Zoy, head of Berita Harian’s Graphic unit
The Kuala Lumpur paper has apologized and insisted it “did not mean to be insensitive.” Goodwill between the two countries is essential for Malaysia’s economy, which trades more than $31 billion with Japan each year. The risk of diplomatic fallout is increased by perceptions that the paper is a government-aligned mouthpiece.
Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said Berita Harian had been given a stern warning for publishing its caricature.
“We have told Berita Harian that there should be no humour in its publication with regard to any disaster as this could hurt people’s feelings. It (disaster) is something that we should all face together”. “So, whether it is Ultraman or any other comic figure, we should not use it as a source of humour. Our views on this have been conveyed to the editors of the newspaper and they have apologised, particularly to the Japanese people,” he said.
- Paper sorry for tsunami cartoon, IOL News, March 14 2011
- Malaysian “Ultraman” cartoon mocks Japan’s tsunami, GlobalPost, March 14 2011
- Berita Harian Given Stern Warning, Bernama, March 14 2011