A crusading editor whose articles frequently angered former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has resigned after being accused of plagiarising stories written by American columnist Mitch Albom. However, the New Straits Times, which is owned by the ruling Umno party, yesterday rejected charges that Brendan Pereira, 46, had resigned for this reason. It did not give reasons for his resignation but said Pereira had wanted to quit earlier but the newspaper had persuaded him to delay his departure. Pereira was previously Malaysia correspondent for Singapore's The Straits Times and joined the New Straits Times after Dr Mahathir retired in November 2003. Controversy dogged him from day one because of his popular and highly critical column, 'Brendan Pereira on Monday'. Critics claimed that he favoured Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi. He was vilified by Dr Mahathir and his cabal, and his articles were ridiculed on pro-Mahathir websites. Dr Mahathir had even questioned why an Indian was editor of a Malay-owned newspaper. It is believed that Pereira had to leave to avoid damaging Mr Abdullah's political standing ahead of the four-day Umno annual congress from November 16, where both Mr Abdullah and Pereira are likely to be criticised by supporters of the former prime minister. In this week's column, Pereira said Malaysia was a better place before Dr Mahathir started criticising Mr Abdullah. However, the column, titled 'How dearly we miss June 6', was similar to Albom's September 10 article, 'Remembering the day before the day', in the Detroit Free Press. Albom was lamenting the loss of the American good life after September 11, while Pereira was serenading, in similar tone and words, the national well-being before Dr Mahathir started attacking Mr Abdullah on June 7. By Tuesday, many internet critics pointed out that Pereira's column was nearly identical to Albom's article. Pereira declined comment yesterday but the New Straits Times ran a story denying Pereira had committed plagiarism.