Sunday, March 9, 2008

A big win for democracy in Malaysia

Malaysia’s former premier Mahathir Mohamad said Sunday his successor Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had “destroyed” the ruling coalition after disastrous weekend elections.

Mahathir, who led the ruling United National Malays Organisation (UMNO) which helms the Barisan Nasional coalition (BN) for 22 years before stepping down in 2003, lashed out after its worst performance in history.

“My view is that he has destroyed UMNO and destroyed the BN,” Mahathir told reporters. He suggested Abdullah should resign, and said he had made a mistake in selecting him as prime minister. “I think he should accept responsibility for this. He should accept 100 percent responsibility,” he said, adding, “I am sorry but I apparently made the wrong choice.”

Mahathir has previously said he never intended for Abdullah to serve more than one term, and that he should have opted instead for influential deputy prime minister Najib Razak who is now leader-in-waiting.

The Barisan Nasional suffered its worst ever result in Saturday’s polls, losing its two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time since 1969 and conceding four more states to a resurgent opposition. Abdullah was punished over rising crime and inflation in an election also tinged by rising racial tensions between majority Muslim Malays and minority ethnic Chinese and Indians.

“I think the people must have been very angry, all the races, Chinese, Malays and Indians,” said Mahathir, adding, “The problem is we (the government) have become so arrogant. We suppress any opinion that we do not like and they begin to believe in their own reports which are not actually consistent with what is happening in the country.”

-Mahathir says his successor ‘destroyed’ Malaysian coalition

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