10 September, 2008

PM Abdullah should hand over power earlier

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should re-think his 2010 time frame to hand over the premiership to his successor, according to Malaysian Minister for International Trade and Industries, Mr Muhyiddin Yassin.

The minister was speaking to the media after addressing the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore on Wednesday.

In his update on Malaysia's political and economic situation, Mr Muhyiddin emphasised that the investment climate in his country remains strong, despite changes in the political landscape.

He also dismissed de facto opposition leader Mr Anwar Ibrahim's plan to seize power by September 16.

"I, from the very beginning, do not believe this would happen because being in the party for many years, I do not see any trend of exodus," he said.

When asked about PM Abdullah's leadership transition plans, Mr Muhyiddin said the handover of power in 2010 is just a bit too long. He said prime minister's successor would need more time to prepare the party for the next general elections.

He said: "I even mentioned to Datuk Seri Najib, would you want to wait that length of time when you have to manage the party and lead it to the next election. Would you be sure you can win?"

On Dr Mahathir Mohamad's plans to rejoin UMNO, Mr Muhyiddin, who is one of UMNO's three vice presidents, said this is welcomed by several party leaders who look up to the former prime minister.

"That will definitely put many people in high spirits in the sense that his views are much sought after. He is still very critical of matters very close to his heart, not just Malay politics and the Barisan Nasional, and he could still contribute and that would, of course, give a lot of guidance to people," Mr Muhyiddin added.

On a separate note, the minister denied talk that he could be teaming up with Kelantan prince, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, to mount a challenge for the top UMNO leadership posts during the party elections in December.

Meanwhile, according to Malaysiakini, Umno has suspended Bukit Bendera division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail three years over his alleged racist remarks about the Chinese.

This was announced by party president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after an emergency supreme council meeting which went on for about three hours today.

“If it is necessary, the ISA may be used on those who stoke racial tension,” he added.

The decision was reached at a special meeting of the Umno supreme council held at the PWTC Wednesday afternoon. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi chaired the meeting that lasted almost three hours.

As a result of the suspension, Ahmad will be stripped of all party posts and voting rights. He will remain an ordinary member however.

The Star reported that the meeting was held after Barisan component parties said they wanted “immediate and stern action” to be taken against Ahmad during a meeting of the coalition’s supreme council on Tuesday afternoon.

However, because it involved a party matter, they left it to Umno to act.

After stopping 10 busloads of his supporters on their way to the Putra World Trade Centre where the supreme council meeting was held, Ahmad said he would not retract his statements, but urged his supporters and all Malays to remain calm.

At a press conference, he said he accepted Umno supreme council's decision to suspend him, but added he would "make a comeback."

He accused Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon of “raising temperatures” on the issue of race relations.

Dr Koh was one of the many leaders who had asked Ahmad to apologise to the Chinese community.

He also denied that he had torn down a picture of Dr Koh at a press conference on Monday.

The Prime Minister had said on Tuesday that the issue had caused uneasiness, worry and anger among the people.

“Some (component parties) expressed their disappointment over what transpired while some showed anger.

“All of us are of the view that Ahmad’s comments are not acceptable at all. What he said has caused anger and concern among the people, non-bumiputras and bumiputras alike, not just in the peninsula but also in Sabah and Sarawak,” Abdullah told reporters on Tuesday.

Ahmad stirred a hornet’s nest recently when he said in a speech while campaigning for the Permatang Pauh by-election that the Chinese were immigrants in the country and did not deserve equal treatment.

Despite criticisms from various community leaders, he refused to apologise.



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