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Malay editor loses job over Saudi article

Kuala Lumpur, Nov. 21 (Reuters): The editor-in-chief of Malaysia’s New Straits Times group said today he has lost his job after publishing comments that upset the Saudi royal family.

The New Straits Times, the country’s oldest newspaper group and one of the biggest, is linked to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). “It’s confirmed,” the editor, Abdullah Ahmad, said on arrival from Hong Kong, where he attended a conference.

Abdullah, 66, said the company was issuing a statement later today to say that “his term has ended.” He said the move was linked to his November 12 article about the Saudis.

Media executives said the story, which criticised the kingdom’s royal family, had sparked a strong but previously unpublicised protest from the Saudi government. NST executives said the decision came after the Prime Minister, who is currently acting party president, met senior UMNO leaders yesterday.

They said there were several grounds for the sacking, the main one being the Saudi protest, which has soured otherwise warm ties and embarrassed Malaysia’s new administration.

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