KUALA LUMPUR, Thurs:
The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad has written to the British Broadcasting Corporation seeking an immediate retraction over a story sent by its Malaysian correspondent Jonathan Kent on Group Editor Brendan Pereira ending his terms of service with the group.
The NSTP will sue the BBC if the story, which portrays Pereira's resignation over an alleged row over plagiarism, is not retracted.
Kent had projected that Pereira was stepping down amid allegations that he plagiarised the work of an American journalist.
Kent, who made no attempt to contact the NSTP before writing his story, in a phone call later admitted that he had not bothered to check with Pereira or the NSTP management on the veracity of his story.
Kent also claimed that another foreign correspondent, Reuters bureau chief Mark Bendeich had spoken to him (Kent) and had concurred with his views on plagiarism.
Kent, however, later admitted this evening that he had lied about having a conversation with Bendeich and said he would "update" his story, a journalistic term often used to correct mistakes made by journalists.
NSTP Chief Executive Officer Datuk Syed Faisal Albar said today that Pereira had first informed the company of his intention to resign at the end of last year.
"Although we asked him to stay on as he had done a very good job in turning the newspaper's editorial operations around, he was adamant on leaving. With this, the Board of NSTP deliberated as early as in March this year to address this situation.
"The Board agreed that timing is key and that Brendan's departure should happen after a proper succession plan has been put in place. The management executive committee met the same month and agreed that Syed Nadzri Syed Harun would succeed Brendan who would be asked to stay on until Dec 31. Syed Nadzri was also informed of the decision.
"On Aug 18, at a meeting of all NSTP correspondents, it was announced that Brendan would leave at the end of the year and that Syed Nadzri would succeed him. Brendan will relinquish his position as Group Editor on Dec 31."
Syed Faisal said Brendan had served the NSTP Group well and displayed the highest degree of professionalism throughout his tenure with the group. "He is one of the best group editors we have had in a long time," Syed Faisal said, adding that as far as the NSTP was concerned, on the allegations of plagiarism "our position is very clear; it is not. The other piece did not revolve around the Prime Minister of Malaysia or former Prime Minister. Our content was original."
The following is the BBC article in question: