Makkal Osai, a newspaper that caters for the Tamil-speaking Indian community in Malaysia, has issued a front-page apology for running an alcohol ad next to pictures of school students.
The masthead, which has a daily circulation of around 50,000, published an ad for a liquor brand next to a picture of Tamil students who had scored scored straight As in their exams.
The juxtaposition of the ad and image was overlooked by the newspaper’s editors, managing director Sunthar Subramaniam told The Star. The paper was “besieged” by complaints from the Indian community as a result as the placement, he said.
Subramaniam took to Makkal Osai’s Facebook page to apologise over the weekend. He wrote:
I refer to the comments going viral online about the advertising of liquor in Makkal Osai alongside the story on UPSR achievers. As the MD of Makkal Osai, I would like to sincerely apologize for this mistake and the carelessness of our editorial team.
I have instructed the editorial team to republish the story of our students tomorrow as these kids have made us proud with their achievements. They deserve better coverage than to share their glory and hard work with the wrong advertisements, and I admit it does send out the wrong message to students, and parents, and all our readers.
Makkal Osai has always been a huge supporter of children and education. The company is very often on the ground encouraging students and rewarding those who have done well. We are a firm believer that education is always a key.
In no way had our editorial team at Makkal Osai intended to insult or had any malicious intentions when publishing the story next to the advert.
It was a mistake. A mistake I ensure our readers will not happen again.
Makkal Osai is indeed Makkal-in Osai… (People’s Voice) We heard you loud and clear. Thank you for highlighting the issue to us and once again, we regret the mistake and are deeply sorry.
Beneath the apology, posters appreciated the gesture but reiterated their displeasure at the error. One wrote: “Yes, we have enough drunkards in our community. At least let the next generations rise and shine.” Another commented: “Take this as a lesson and stop advertising alcohol!”
The newspaper has courted controversy before. In 2007, it printed a cartoon of Jesus holding a can of beer and a cigarette in the ‘Thought of the day’ section on the cover.
The caricature was supposedly intended to encourage sinners to repent. The paper had its licence to publish suspended for a month as punishment.