Sunday, November 23, 2003

"I want to be open about this. It has nothing to do with the internal politics," on the sacking of NST GEIC Abdullah Ahmad

Malaysia PM defends sacking of editor

Posted Sun Nov 23, 2003 11:19am AEDT

Malaysia's Prime Minister has defended the sacking of New Straits Times group chief editor, saying his article on the Saudi monarchy had soured ties between Kuala Lumpur and Riyadh.

"The article has caused problems between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia and a number of countries in the Gulf," Prime Minster Abdullah Badawi told reporters.

The editor, Abdullah Ahmad, 66, was sacked on Friday after publishing comments about the kingdom's royal family that sparked a strong protest from the Saudi Government.

The New Straits Times (NST), the country's oldest newspaper group and one of the biggest, is linked to Abdullah Badawi's ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

The November 12 article, headlined "Freeing the Prophet's land", had also prompted Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Malaysia to boycott one of the Prime Minister's functions this week, sources said.

The Prime Minister said the sacking of the editor, who took up the job in August 2001, was not politically motivated.

"I want to be open about this. It has nothing to do with the internal politics," he said.

"If it was personal, we would have taken action long time ago."


He said the decision the sack the editor was taken by the paper's owners.

--Reuters