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Journalist resigns over Najib 'manifesto' report
Published:  Oct 21, 2008 11:13 AM
Updated: Oct 26, 2008 6:38 AM

The Malaysiakini journalist who wrote the news report DPM unveils manifesto for top Umno job , in which a manifesto from a ‘support group’ was said to have been issued by Najib Abdul Razak, has resigned to take responsibility for the error.

"It is my fault and I stand ready to take full responsibility and resign," Wong Choon Mei explained.

Wong, who joined Malaysiakini three months ago, has been a journalist for 10 years with stints in local and international media organisations - The Edge , Reuters and Channel News Asia .

Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan said the news organisation was upset over the incident, adding the report should not have been published.

"It was a serious misjudgement on her part and we accept her resignation," said Gan. He said the resignation was effective immediately.

Wong conceded that she had not verified the contents of the ‘manifesto’ with Najib's office. She had received it by e-mail on Sunday.

The report was uploaded 11.30pm that night without going through the standard double-checking by a second editor. Wong was the editor on duty for that day

"We deeply regret the error," said Gan.

Najib's office yesterday denied that Najib has issued the manifesto to back his bid for the Umno presidency.

Malaysiakini has apologised’

The following is the full statement issued by Najib’s office:

‘The internet news portal Malaysiakini yesterday (Oct 19) published an e-mail purportedly from a 'Najib Support Group' containing a so-called manifesto supposedly linked to Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Razak. Without any verification, Malaysiakini has deemed it appropriate to publish the false contents of this email.

'The Deputy Prime Minister's office would like to clarify that Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Razak has never issued any manifesto to back his bid for the Umno presidency.

'The Malaysiakini report is therefore patently false and misleading. Malaysiakini 's decision to publish the story is extremely unethical as they had failed to verify the matter with the Deputy Prime Minister's Office prior to publication.

'The conduct of Malaysiakini is regrettable and unacceptable. Certainly, it is an unfortunate display of negligence and lack of professionalism in news reporting.

'It is important for Malaysiakini to investigate the origin of the malicious e-mail in order for it to clear its name and reputation. '

'Malaysiakini has apologised to the deputy prime minister on this matter. Nevertheless, it is our hope that Malaysiakini and other news portals, regardless of their editorial policy, will conduct themselves in an ethical and professional manner .

'This false story is the latest move in what is obviously a concerted effort by certain quarters to tarnish the image of the deputy prime minister. Indeed, of late, ever since the Umno transition plan was brought forward to March 2009, there has been a consistent and continuous effort by some websites to concoct and publish false and malicious reports aimed at discrediting the deputy prime minister.

'We hope the Malaysian public, in particular readers of these websites are able to distinguish truth from falsehood when reading the materials published.’

Najib: I'm shocked

Meanwhile, Najib has expressed "shock" and was "totally disappointed" with Malaysiakini's report on the purported manifesto.

In his entry on his blog yesterday, Najib said that the purported manifesto was a "complete fabrication" and that there was no such ‘Najib support group'.

"This manifesto is so clearly a fabrication, so clearly an attempt to define me, so clear in its intent to manipulate the public's emotions in a divisive and damaging way," he said.

He said that the purported manifesto does not reflect his thinking nor public service track record.

"Elsewhere I have called for an apology for and retraction of this ridiculous story. I can only hope they have resorted to this measure," he added.

"Rest assured my singular focus remains to ensure a stable economy as we weather the global uncertainties and not allow the forces of regressive, divisive and vulgar politics to take root in our beloved country," he said.