13 April, 2008

Mahathir urges PM to quit now to save reputation

Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad has called on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resign immediately, saying his reputation will be shredded if he insists on staying on in the top job.

"For his own good he should step down now because then (the transition) will be very smooth but if you wait until the (party polls) you don't know what the people are going to say," Mahathir said late Saturday.

"There may be rude remarks, they may say, 'Why don't you go?' You know, all the kinds of nasty accusations, finger pointing," he told reporters after addressing 1,000 United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) members.

"If he waits until the elections, it will cause a major split within the party because those who support him and those who oppose him will clash at the assembly."

In his latest salvo, Dr Mahathir Mohamad warns his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of dire consequences should the latter not step down as prime minister immediately, reported Malaysiakini.

According to CNN, Malaysia's prime minister has accepted responsibility for his ruling coalition's poor election results and will plan how to hand over power to his deputy after December, an official and news reports said Saturday.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi assured party officials at a private meeting late Friday that he would discuss a succession plan with his deputy, Najib Razak, a party official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements

"It is not that I want to carry on helming the party for a long time,"

"I have to discharge my duties and I feel duty-bound to ensure that all problems are resolved. That is the priority."

Meanwhile, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Monday will celebrates his official return to the political stage, as a ban from public office expires a decade after he was sacked as deputy prime minister.

The lifting of the ban marks the end of an extraordinary saga that saw Anwar convicted on sex and corruption charges and spend six years in jail, before storming back to prominence in historic March elections.

"Certainly not in the next few months," he said.

"Building up an effective, creditable Pakatan Rakyat is to my mind far more important for now."

"My number-one priority is to ensure accountability and good governance in maintaining the five states."

Anwar said the expiry of the political ban "has no significance in my mind" because he does not recognise the decision of the court which convicted him of corruption.

But Keadilan is nevertheless holding a major rally on Monday evening, with thousands of supporters of Anwar's campaign for "Reformasi" (Reform) expected to attend to hear him speak.

Malaysia drafting new laws to prevent religious conflicts

Attempting to deal with the increasing number of conflicts over burial rights when a person who supposedly converted to Islam dies, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Thursday proposed new legislation that would require any person converting to Islam to notify his or her family in writing, the proposal is receiving widespread support.

The opposition Democratic Action Party called for the government to also make it easier for those who previously converted to Islam to return to their original religious faith if they wish to do so. Currently such individuals must go to the Shariah Court to renounce Islam. Karpal Singh, head of the DAP, said that courts should also refuse to permit the unilateral conversion of children from a civil marriage. He urged that there be no change in the child's religion until the child reaches the age of majority.

Two major political parties, besides representatives of the bar and religious groups have supported the government's proposed move for a law that any non-Muslim seeking to convert to Islam must inform the family in writing.

The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) that has spoken for the 33 percent ethnic Chinese population since the country became free and the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) welcomed the move Friday.

But,according to Bernama, Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said that it was not necessary for non-Muslims to inform their family of their wish to embrace Islam.

He said the requirement for them to do so could hinder them from converting to Islam.

The PAS spiritual leader said nobody should stop anyone from embracing Islam.

"It is not right to impose the requirement (to inform family members) of one's desire to embrace Islam because it concerns an individual's right.

"However, if it is to maintain relations and harmony among the country's multiracial society, it is better to inform the family," he told reporters after a muhibah (goodwill) function here today.

This, he said, could be done after the non-Muslim had converted to Islam.

He was reacting to the proposal by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to make it compulsory for non-Muslims to inform their family before converting to Islam to avoid problems in future, like tussle over the remains of a deceased convert for burial.



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