Thursday, 2nd September 2010
The editor of Sarawak Tribune, the state's oldest newspaper which returned to the newsstand in May after a four-year hiatus, has been suspended for publishing an unfaltering report on Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.
The report, 'Is Taib Mahmud testing the waters?', which was from Bernama wire service, appeared on the front page of the newspaper on Monday.
It quoted a number of political analysts questioning the chief minister's motive in announcing his willingness to quit ahead of a state election.
According to the commentators interviewed by Bernama, Abdul Taib had no intention to step down after 29 years in power and the statement was carefully made to elicit support from local leaders.
"He will not step down. He just wants to know who is complaining. His remark is a calculated statement to find out who are against him," Bernama quoted James Chin of Monash University.
Malaysiakini has learned that Tribune executive editor Paul Si, who helmed the newspaper since it hit the streets three months ago, had been suspended for two weeks. There are unconfirmed reports that he was given the marching orders.
Taib's daughter livid
According to sources, Abdul Taib's youngest daughter Hanifah, stormed into the newspaper office on Monday night to berate the staff over the publication of the report.
Hanifah, a former managing editor of the Tribune, held a lengthy meeting with top editors until 2.30 the next morning.
Si, who has 25 years of journalism under his belt including stints with Malaysian Insider and The Star as well as Borneo Post, was at the office briefly on Tuesday morning.
He was subsequently summoned to the Chief Minister's Office and did not return to the office since.
Si did not answer telephone calls from Malaysiakini.
Since Tuesday, the newspaper has gone on a damage control exercise with reports after reports of local leaders calling on Taib to remain as chief minister.
Sarawak Tribune was suspended indefinitely on Feb 9, 2006 for reproducing the controversial caricature of Prophet Muhammad.
The management of the 61-year-old English daily resolved to close the newspaper despite that the suspension order was later rescinded and instead launched Eastern Times.
Eastern Times published its last edition on May 19, with the new Sarawak Tribune rolling off the press the next day, incidently, was launched by Taib.
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