09 May, 2007

Successor doesn't deserve to lead based on qualifications

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad ended an unspoken truce and launched a new attack on his successor, saying he is not the most qualified person to lead the country.

Mahathir, whose enmity with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi surfaced last year, said in an interview published Wednesday that Abdullah's deputy, Najib Razak, was "the better candidate."

Mahathir told independent news Web site Malaysiakini.com that before he retired in 2003 after 22 years in power, he had considered handing the office to Najib instead of Abdullah.

"If it is a comparison between (Abdullah) and Najib, I would say that (Abdullah) was less qualified," he said. "But I also thought that he (Najib) was, maybe, a little bit young, so he should give an older person a chance. That was why I decided on Abdullah."

Asked whether he believed Najib, 53, is still the best person to lead Malaysia, Mahathir said, "I think if Najib is not so afraid of losing his (current) position if he displeases the prime minister, he would make a good prime minister."

Mahathir's comments appeared to be aimed at driving a wedge between the 67-year-old Abdullah and Najib, both of whom have repeatedly voiced confidence in each other and denied speculation of any friction. Malaysia's Cabinet and ruling party leaders have also said they support Abdullah completely.

Mahathir's main aide did not immediately answer calls on his mobile phone. Abdullah's aides could not be reached for comment.

Mahathir began attacking Abdullah for alleged nepotism and weak governance in mid-2006, but the 71-year-old elder statesman has largely steered clear of open criticism following a mild heart attack in November.

Mahathir has not presented proof to back up his allegations, and Abdullah has refrained from retaliating against Mahathir while vehemently denying the accusations.

In his interview with Malaysiakini, Mahathir said he believed Najib, who has also served in recent years as defense minister, would not have aborted Mahathir's vision of building a new bridge to neighboring Singapore.

"I think our world views will be slightly different, but by and large, they are more or less the same," Mahathir said. "I wouldn't say, for example, that Najib would drop the bridge. He was talking about building the bridge to the very last moment."

Najib was on a visit to the United States, and his aides could not be reached for comment.

Abdullah announced the scrapping of the bridge project last year, saying Malaysians were unhappy with Singapore's preconditions for the plan. Mahathir has accused Abdullah of compromising national interests and being too afraid to negotiate properly with Singapore.

(IHT-Asia Pacific)

A human rights group has urged the Malaysian government to disband a feared volunteer security force, saying its members are responsible for violence and numerous cases of illegal detentions, mainly against migrant workers.

The Ikatan Relawan Rakyat, known by its Malay acronym RELA, has almost half a million uniformed and armed volunteers working for it. It was set up in 1972 to maintain public order, but in recent years has primarily been used to round up illegal migrant workers in the country.

"Fully uniformed, armed, and unaccompanied by police or immigration officers, they break into migrant lodgings in the middle of the night without warrants," New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement Wednesday.

By law, RELA volunteers are allowed to make arrests, use firearms, and enter and search any premises without a warrant. They also have effective legal immunity from prosecution.

Human Rights Watch said RELA members "brutalize inhabitants, extort money, and confiscate cell phones, clothing, jewelry, and household goods, before handcuffing migrants and transporting them to detention camps for 'illegal immigrants.'"

"The government has set up what's little more than a vigilante force to target foreigners," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Given RELA's repeated abuses, it should be disbanded right away."

The government did not immediately respond to the accusations, and RELA officials were not available for comment before office hours Wednesday.

Following a public outcry over reported abuses by RELA, authorities demanded last month that a RELA team leader search members to make sure they do not steal or plant evidence. They are also not allowed to carry cell phones anymore.

(CNN via Yahoo!)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mahathir is now saying all kinds of bad things about AAB for the simple reason that the PM's cronies have replaced his own and he is furious. All his cash cows, save for Petronas, have been taken over by Khairy and the 4th floor boys, and that makes Mahathir even more angry. The minute AAB restores what had been taken over from Mahathir's cronies, the mamak will swing full circle and praise AAB. This shows how despicable Mahathir is. Everyone knows he is complaining about the media because he is at the receiving end of the stick. He should remember that he is getting a taste of his own medicine in so far as the how the bodek mainstream media operates. No sympathies for someone who is used to bullying others but is now at the receiving end of the stick.

May 09, 2007 8:06 PM  

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