06 April, 2008

Dr M : centre of Umno’s many problems ?

Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi goes for the jugular against former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Gua Musang division chief Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in front of 1,500 supporters at the Putra World Trade Centre. He signals that he will hand over to Najib sooner rather than later.

The prime minister says Dr M did not tolerate opposition even within his party. He points the finger at internal sabotage for the loss of 22 parliamentary seats in Election 2008, saying that BN won only 19 per cent of seats where more than 60 per cent of voters were non-Malays.

He faults Dr M for stifling the press and the poor state of the judiciary

(Latest from The Malaysian Insider)

Meanwhile, The Edge has waded into the political battle between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, urging Malaysians not to forget that many of the problems facing Umno and Malaysia happened under the former prime minister’s watch. This article could set the tone for a weekend of fireworks.

In an editorial headlined “Lest We Forget”, the influential financial weekly said that despite Dr Mahathir’s selective memory, he cannot absolve himself from the sacking of the Lord President and two other judges in 1988. Nor should he forget that it was he who put in place the rule that anyone who wants to contest the party president’s position must receive nominations from at least 30 per cent of the divisions.

The paper said that contrary to assertions by the former PM, Umno tends to have a crisis every 10 years. There was the quarrel with Musa Hitam, the jailing and sacking of Anwar Ibrahim and now he is attacking Abdullah.

“Three crises in three decades and the central figure in each of them is Mahathir. Mahathir ‘mudah lupa’ but we hope the rest of the Malaysians will not forget that easily,‘’ said the editorial.

The paper upped the ante in an accompanying article. Its writer noted that Dr Mahathir challenged the authorities to get foreign agencies to investigate him.

“Perhaps it is high time Abdullah called his bluff and launched an international investigation into all the alleged misdeeds of Mahathir during his 22 years in office, with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as his first key witness,‘’ said the writer.

It is unlikely that Abdullah will order any investigations into the Mahathir era. Throughout his political career, he has not exhibited a ruthless streak or a willingness to get down into the trenches and fight.

It is also unlikely that Dr Mahathir will lose any sleep after being painted as a hypocrite by the Edge. Throughout his 22 years in office, he has shown an unerring ability to stay on message.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said his criticisms against the Umno leadership will not destroy the party but would instead help Umno to be stronger.

"It's up to them whether to listen or otherwise," he said after a `tahlil' session for his late sister Habsah Mohamad at the Surau Ibrahim Mi, Kampung Ranggut Padang Matsirat, here Saturday night.

Dr Mahathir was asked to comment on statements by several Cabinet ministers who are also Umno leaders who cautioned him against making harsh criticisms against the party leadership following the Barisan Nasional's (BN) dismal performance in the last general election.

Among them were Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhamad Taib.

According to Malaysiakini, fourteen parliamentary seats and 22 state seats were lost in the last general election as a result of acts of sabotage by party members.

Bernama reported that
Abdullah said disciplinary action will be taken against Umno members in 14 parliamentary constituencies and 22 state constituencies who sabotaged the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the last general election, the parliamentary and state constituencies concerned had been identified as `white' areas where the BN could win, but because of their actions, the BN had lost in these constituencies.

He said if there had been no acts of sabotage which had robbed BN of victory in the 14 parliamentary constituencies, the BN would have won the general election with a more than two-third majority, he said at a press conference after attending a briefing session with the Umno president which was attended by the party's information machinery at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), here Sunday.

Abdullah said the BN would not have lost Kedah and Perak if there had been no acts of sabotage against the coalition in the 22 state constituencies concerned.

Asked why there were members who had sabotaged candidates from their own party, he declined comment.



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