When Sufi Yusoff returns from London tomorrow, where his boss the former Prime Minister has been handling a schedule too busy to call a holiday, he will start composing a Letter to the Editor of the New Straits Times.
It will be a simple letter asking the newspaper to apologise for a serious factual error (or fabrication or misrepresentation of the truth, as some might have seen it) contained in an article written by the NSTP's editorial adviser and deputy chairman Kalimullah Hassan.
The article was Kalimullah's eager heroic attempt to defend the PM, Abdullah Badawi, against the sharp criticisms against the government levelled by Dr Mahathir just days earlier.
In one of the many passsages running down the former PM, Kalimullah wrote in his column about how Dr M had asked for a meeting with Abdullah when both of them were in Tokyo recently and how Abdullah had agreed.
Yesterday, Abdullah told reporters that he was the one who had asked for the meeting with Dr M, not the other way round. MageP's Lab broke the myth when he spotted the story buried in today's news reports and Screenshots put things in perspective.
For the record, Sufi did write a letter to the NST to point out that Kalimullah had got it wrong. To its credit, the newspaper published the letter but neither Kalimullah nor the Editor of the paper offered an apology to Dr M (or , for that matter, to Abdullah) .
The offending article was never retracted.
(That letter was the last by Sufi to be published by the NST; his subsequent letters to the editor pointing out other errors and misrepresentation of facts in the newspaper's reports on the Dr M-Abdullah spat did not see print).
Experienced and responsible editors readily admit an error and have no qualms about apologising if the mistake is grave. An apology may save a newspaper from being sued.
But, mostly, editors say sorry and admit mistakes to uphold their own and their newspapers' integrity and credibility, lest they are accused of spreading lies.
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