Malaysia’s attorney general Tommy Thomas did not resign, despite news reports to the contrary.
Malaysia’s Free Malaysia Today, an online independent news site, reported the claim based on anonymous sources. But, the site quickly retracted its story, saying its sources walked back their claims. Thomas called the story “totally untrue,” Malaysian news site Malaysiakini reported.
Free Malaysia Today editor-in-chief Abdar Rahman Koya told iMediaEthics by e-mail that the article was online for about ten minutes when it was removed.
iMediaEthics asked how many sources the article was based on. “Our information was based on multiple sources but the report quoted only the government source as it is most relevant to the news of his resignation,” he wrote. Koya said the site did try to contact Thomas before publication for verification but “our legal correspondent who wrote the report could not reach him or his special officer. As such, we decided to break the story after getting confirmation from the government source, and also to mention in the report the fact that we could not reach him for comments.” That government source was anonymous, he said.
“All normal newsroom procedures, including fact checking and verification of source, were followed by both the reporter and the editor. Unfortunately, some sources including the one cited in the report retracted what was told to our reporter just minutes after publication, and we had no choice but to immediately publish our own retraction, and an apology.“As a responsible news portal and as one of the most accessed websites in Malaysia, we strive to ensure our contents are accurate and free of mistakes. When there is a mistake or when we feel the truth of our contents may be questioned, we will make sure that we own up to it without delay. We have also since contacted Mr Thomas’ office.”
The Malaysian Star called the report “fake news.”In a Sept. 18 retraction, Free Malaysia Today wrote:
“FMT today published a report quoting a government source as saying that Attorney-General Tommy Thomas has resigned.
“The story was based on sources who have since retracted their confirmation.
“We therefore withdraw the report unconditionally and apologise to the attorney-general.”
iMediaEthics has contacted Thomas’s office to ask if he was contacted before publication and if he has any comment on the retraction.
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