Malaysia Uncut

A Repository of Malaysian Stuff and More

Mahathir denies trying to bring down govt

KUALA LUMPUR –– Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad on Monday denied allegations he was trying to topple the government which he has bitterly criticised in recent months. Influential cabinet minister Nazri Abdul Aziz over the weekend accused Mahathir of working to unseat Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was handed the top job when the veteran leader stood down in 2003.

“I have no way of toppling the prime minister of this country … No, no way,” Mahathir, 81, was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times.

“I am not forming a new party and I am not doing anything. I am not even allowed to talk to UMNO,” he said, referring to the United Malays National Organisation which has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957.

The ex-premier has insisted he will continue criticising Abdullah, whom he has accused of betrayal and broken promises by axing projects initiated under his tenure, including a new bridge to Singapore.

But he reportedly said he would stop his criticisms if Abdullah proceeded with plans for the bridge, which the government dropped in April.

“(Abdullah) has to build the bridge. If he does that, I don’t have any more comments,” he said.

Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz said Monday that the row risks splitting UMNO, which claims some three million members nationwide. “Tun would be the first person, I expect, to understand how unbridled criticism, unbridled venting of whatever feelings against the leadership can actually harm the party,” she said, using his honorific title.

“Do not bring down this party like in 1987,” she told reporters, referring to a battle which splintered the party when Mahathir was challenged for UMNO’s presidency.

“Please Tun, please remember what happened to you the last time. Don’t let this be repeated … Please, help the party, help the country,” she said.

Rafidah said it was “terrible” to witness the dispute with Mahathir, who has said he regrets choosing Abdullah as his hand-picked successor, and that Malaysia could not afford to be distracted by the row.

“If it’s any Tom, Dick or Harry in the street, it’s OK, they can blabber and people might… call them names. But with Tun, it’s … something different. A former prime minister, people might say, what is he trying to do?” she said.

“The economic environment now is changing. It’s so volatile, with the Middle East crisis, with oil prices being what they are, we have to manage the economy well,” she added.

“We cannot afford to have our attention, the attention of our leaders, the attention of the bureaucracy, the attention of the private sector, diverted to this non-issue.”

UMNO leaders, including Abdullah’s heir apparent deputy premier Najib Razak, have scrambled to pledge their loyalty and allay fears of division within the dominant party. –– AFP


Tuesday, August 15, 2006 - Posted by | News

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