KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has apologised after a government ad in Chinese-language newspapers featuring a picture of a barking rooster to mark the Year of the Dog sparked a flood of mockery.
The full-page advert by the domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism ministry showed a rooster emitting the word "wang", used to represent a dog's bark in Mandarin.
The advert, printed in Chinese-language newspapers in the multi-ethnic country on Thursday (Feb 15), also carried a message welcoming a "prosperous Year of the Dog".
Chinese New Year is being celebrated across Asia, marking the start of the Year of the Dog and the end of the Year of the Rooster.
"It reflects nothing but mere stupidity," said Facebook user Tony Yeo.
Another user said the ad was a "national embarrassment" and accused authorities of seeking to avoid using a canine picture: "There is nothing wrong with using the dog image as it's a Chinese Zodiac animal."
The ministry issued an apology late Thursday and said a "technical error" was behind the mistake, without saying how they had intended the ad to appear.
"We deeply regret any inconvenience," said a statement from spokesman Luqman Hakim Abd Malik.