06 March, 2008

Mahathir slams Khairy

The Perdana Leadership Foundation chairperson, when quizzed about the possibility of Abdullah’s son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin being appointed minister after the elections, did not mince his words in criticising the ambitious deputy Umno Youth chief.

He said Khairy should not seek protection from his father-in-law.

“He (Khairy) has said that ‘I can do these things because I get protection from my father-in-law’. Nobody should ever say that. Do the right thing - you don’t ask for protection from your father-in-law,” he asserted.

Meanwhile, Khairy Jamaluddin said , privileges for ethnic Malays in Malaysia, a divisive issue as the country votes in elections on Saturday, must be retained.

`The constitutional special rights are part and parcel of the whole social contract in this country,'' he said in an interview yesterday, referring to provisions agreed by representatives of all the country's races at independence.

``Khairy is one of the strongest UMNO leaders around, a potential future prime minister,'' said Mohamed Mustafa Ishak, international studies dean at Universiti Utara Malaysia, referring to the ruling United Malays National Organisation. ``There are a lot of people watching him,'' and he is positioning himself carefully, Mustafa said.

Oxford University-educated Khairy, 32, denied having any aspirations to succeed his father-in-law Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

``I've never even thought about it. To me you have to take one step at a time,'' he said, noting he wasn't even a member of parliament. ``We'll see what happens on Saturday,'' he said, adding that even if he wins, his first task would be serving his constituents.

In 2005 he bought a stake in Malaysian stockbroker ECM Libra Bhd. and became a director of its corporate advisory division. ECM advised on deals including the initial share sales of AirAsia Bhd. and Parkson Retail Group Ltd. He sold his stake the following year.

Khairy rejected suggestions that his political career might be helped by his family connections.

``The whole business of family members going into politics is not peculiar to Malaysia, it is not new,'' he said, noting that the U.S. is on the cusp of having a ``Bush-Clinton-Bush- Clinton dynasty.''

``A lot of people follow in their father's and mother's footsteps, be it doctors, lawyers or engineers,'' he said.

Malaysia's detailed affirmative action policy was introduced in 1971 after racial clashes that broke out when the constitutional rights were questioned by the opposition in the 1969 election.

``It's about empowering those who need help the most and merit help the most,'' he said, ``not about cronyism and giving privileges to people who have connections.''

``We still need this policy to correct certain imbalances, but let's get it right this time,'' Khairy said. ``I believe if we get it right we don't need another 30 years.''

While some elements of the policy can be ``refined'' away, he rejected a suggestion that UMNO, which governs in coalition with junior Chinese, Indian and other parties, could use its two-thirds parliamentary majority to remove Malay special rights from the constitution.

Mahathir: We need an opposition

“I believe in an opposition. I have always maintained that this country needs an opposition and they should be critical of the government without which we don’t have a mirror to look at our faces. We think that we are very beautiful but it is the opposition that keeps telling us (that may not be true).

“You know the government member (of parliament), sometimes they are ‘ahli bodek’ (apple polishers). They are always saying ‘you’re right’, and you have no means of assessing whether you are going in the right direction or not

He told Malaysiakini in an exclusive interview today that it would be a “disaster” if the country “loses its opposition” as in Singapore.

Malaysia's Election Commission (EC) has dramatically scrapped a plan to use indelible ink to prevent multiple voting and stop phantom voters, provoking a storm of protests among opposition parties, which were expecting to make major gains at the polls on Saturday.

The sudden reversal of the plan to use indelible ink has put the spotlight on the Malaysia's electoral process. It comes as political analysts expect a growing number of urban voters to switch to the opposition this time...read more

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