Updated 26/07/2009: From The Malaysian Insider:

KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 —Renowned film and advertising director Yasmin Ahmad died here at about 11.25 pm last night.

Her death was confirmed by Media Prime Group Chief Operations Officer Datuk Seri Ahmad Farid Ridzuan, who was at the Damansara Specialist Hospital, when contacted by Bernama.

Yasmin, 51, collapsed while presenting a working paper at Sri Pentas, the headquarters of the private television station TV3 on Thursday and was rushed to the Damnsara Specialists Hospital.

She was reported to have suffered a stroke and brain haemorrhage – Bernama

I first heard the news through Sazzy Falak and Pete Teo on Twitter.

What a loss to Malaysia. I hope her legacy will keep on inspiring others.

Updated 24/07/2009: Added video of press conference by The Star.

It was fortunate that I was a bit cynical when I first heard the news rumours instead of going bonkers, because in the end, the fact of the matter is that acclaimed director Yasmin Ahmad did NOT pass away earlier today.

Malaysia has caught the Twitter bug and got its first taste of rumours spreading like wildfire courtesy of Twitter and Facebook:

yasmin ahmad twitter “Yasmin Ahmad” became the first exclusively-Malaysian phrase to be prominently featured on trending topics (I think):

yasmin ahmad trending topics

The same thing happened at Twitscoop. This snapshot was taken early on (around 3.50 pm), around 30 minutes later, the sizes of “yasmin” and “ahmad” in the tag cloud increased substantially:

yasmin ahmad twitscoop

You know what the funniest thing is? The initial rumour was that she passed away after collapsing, apparently from a heart attack.

It seems that after Michael Jackson, people seem to be fixated on heart attacks. Which is good I guess, considering that myocardial infarction is the leading cause of death of men and women around the world.

The real news however, is that Yasmin Ahmad collapsed during a pitch at Sri Pentas because of stroke. She was rushed to Damansara Specialist Centre after having trouble breathing. She had an emergency brain surgery later on, and is now in a stable but critical condition.

Perhaps next time we won’t be so quick to catch on hearsay, however appealing the news is. Twitter has been known to be a fast source of on-the-ground news, but it has its share of unreliability, something the US public learnt last month with the Jeff Goldblum death hoax and Rick Astley.

In any case, I pray for Yasmin Ahmad’s health and hope she gets back on her feet soon. To quote Tony Fernandes, “Malaysia needs her.”