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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 November 2006, 06:23 GMT
Malaysia editor in plagiarism row
By Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

The editor of Malaysia's newspaper, the New Straits Times, is to step down amidst allegations that he plagiarised the work of an American journalist.

Brendan Pereira's recent column has quickly become the target of internet commentators who urged him to quit.

Local websites have placed his column alongside another by the award-winning Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press.

The similarities were striking. Whole paragraphs in Mr Pereira's work mirrored Mr Albom's earlier piece.

'Major scalp'

It has been a clash between the old and new media about the basic standards of the profession.

On Monday, Mr Pereira published the column under the title "How Dearly We Miss June the Sixth" - a comment on the on-going row between Malaysia's prime minister and his predecessor that began in earnest on 7 June.

On Tuesday, local websites placed the column alongside another by Mr Albom.

His column, "Remembering the Day before the Day, was published on 10 September and mourned the changes wrought by the 11 September attacks.

On Wednesday night, the New Straits Times announced that Mr Pereira was to step down as editor.

However, he will officially remain in his post until the end of the year. No reason was given.

Mr Pereira told the BBC that his departure had been agreed with the paper two weeks before the publication of the controversial article.

The New Straits Times is owned by the political party of the prime minister.

Malaysia's broadcasters and newspapers are closely controlled by the government and no mention of the scandal has appeared in print.

However, the government has promised not to censor the internet and it appears that Malaysia's online watchdogs have claimed their first major scalp.

Note: We regret any misunderstanding in relation to this article and confirm it was not intended to convey the meaning Mr Brenden Pereira was leaving the New Straits Times Group because he was guilty of plagiarism. Soon after the publication of the article, we were made aware that Mr. Brenden Pereira's intended departure from the New Straits Times Group has been agreed upon by the Group at an earlier date.

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