Sunday, March 9, 2008

Election fiasco: Badawi should step down, says Mahathir

Election fiasco: Badawi should step down, says Mahathir

Malaysia's former leader calls on prime minister to step down after election fiasco; Mahathir also apologizes for hand-picking B

The Associated Press
Published: March 9, 2008

Sunday, March 9, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Malaysia's former leader Mahathir Mohamad on Sunday urged his successor to resign in the wake of stunning election losses, and apologized for hand-picking him in 2003 to lead the country.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's National Front lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament and five of 13 states to the opposition in Saturday's general elections — the coalition's worst setback in its 51-year rule since independence.
"I think he should accept responsibility for ... this massive defeat," Mahathir told reporters. "He needs to consider stepping down."
Mahathir, who resigned in 2003 after 22 years in power, choose Abdullah as his successor but turned against him Abdullah two years ago and has frequently accused him of corruption and nepotism. He has said in the past that Abdullah's deputy, Najib Razak, would have made a better prime minister.
"I'm sorry that I apparently made the wrong choice," he said. "My greatest concern is that the leader doesn't understand the situation." He said Abdullah and others in the coalition "have become so arrogant."
Earlier Sunday, Abdullah dismissed suggestions that he would now face pressure from party members to step down.
"I don't know who would pressure me. There is nothing at this time," he said.
Mahathir cited voters' frustrations over price hikes and alleged nepotism as the main reason for the poor election showing, which gave the National Front 139 parliamentary seats and the opposition alliance 82 seats with one still to be decided. Previously, the opposition held only 19 seats.
He said successive high economic growth has not trickled down to ordinary Malaysians, who were now suffering from the rising cost of living.
"And then, of course, they've observed that this government is run by one family," he said, accusing Abdullah of favoring his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, a National Front member.
Malaysians also were upset over the rise in crime and seething ethnic and religious tensions. Some 60 percent of the country's 27 million people are Muslim Malays, while a quarter are ethnic Chinese and 8 percent ethnic Indians.
Discontent over policies that favor Malays in education, business and job opportunities led some 20,000 Indians to protest last November in a rare show of anger. They also complained their Hindu temples were unjustly demolished.
But critics say many of the problems facing the country, including racial tensions, inflation and judicial corruption, have their roots in Mahathir's rule
"Twenty-two years of Mahathir's maladministration and dismantling of democracy and weakening of institutions came to fruition in the last four years," said Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, a political commentator.

No comments: