Monday, April 7, 2008



KUALA LUMPUR, April 6, 2008 (AFP) - Malaysia's past and present prime ministers on Sunday traded barbs and accusations over responsibility for the ruling party's disastrous performance in the recent general elections.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi accused his predecessor of abusing his influence to destroy the ruling party while former premier Mahathir Mohamad said he will not ease off until Abdullah steps down.
Abdullah said Mahathir's recent attacks against the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) leadership could destroy the party and weaken the government.
"It can, why not? It can. He says he's powerful, he is undeniably powerful but he is abusing that power," Abdullah told reporters.
"Give us a chance to do our best for the party and the country," he said after addressing a crowd of more than 1,000 UMNO members at the party's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur to explain the dismal election results.
Abdullah has been battling for his political life since disastrous results in March 8 general elections by the UMNO, which leads the Barisan Nasional coalition.
Government ministers and Abdullah supporters have lashed out at Mahathir, accusing him of being responsible for the losses, saying his open criticism of Abdullah was a major factor in voters backing the opposition.
But the feisty 82-year-old veteran politician hit back.
"Vote for him (Abdullah) if you want to destroy UMNO," Mahathir told more than 2,000 cheering UMNO members at a talk in the city's suburbs of Ampang.
"I will stop, honestly, if they (Abdullah and his supporters) will stop doing what is wrong, which has caused UMNO to lose in this election," he said.
Mahathir accused Abdullah of corruption, nepotism and weakness in his administration and said they were reasons voters snubbed the UMNO-led coalition.
"We have never had such a bad election result in our history and we are supposed to support these people who led to the defeat so they can completely destroy the party?" he asked.
Abdullah, however, accused Mahathir of double standards, saying that when the BN won a landslide victory in 2004, it was Mahathir who complained that the government was too powerful and needed a stronger opposition voice.
Abdullah, 68, was Mahathir's handpicked successor when he stepped down in 2003 but has been attacked by the elder statesmen after Abdullah scrapped several of his high-profile projects.

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