Tuesday, 1 April 2008

The Embattled Prime Minister

(Straits Times) KUALA LUMPUR - RULING party dissidents in Malaysia launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday, saying there is 'something very wrong' with his leadership following disastrous election losses last month.

Led by former leader Mahathir Mohamad, about 2,000 party members gathered at a hotel, in the most serious challenge to Mr Abdullah's leadership since he presided over the ruling National Front coalition's dismal show in the March 8 elections.

The meeting's agenda was to analyse the unprecedented losses suffered in the vote. But as speaker after speaker took the stage, the meeting turned into a free-for-all session to bitterly criticise the 68-year-old prime minister, who is watching his grip on power weakening day by day despite claiming to have the full support of his United Malays National Organisation.

The party is the dominant component of the 14-party National Front.

'We cannot deny the truth when there is a cancer,' said Mahathir, adding that Mr Abdullah has lost touch with reality because he is surrounded by 'yes men.'

'I call on him to resign. Anyone else would have done so already, but he is shameless,' Mr Mahathir said.

Mr Mahathir ruled Malaysia for 22 years before handing over power to Mr Abdullah in 2003. Although Mr Mahathir hand-picked Mr Abdullah, he is now the prime minister's most vocal critic. His son Mukhriz, a senior party official, also urged Mr Abdullah to resign.

'We have reached a crossroads. There is something very wrong with our leadership, which is Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,' Mr Mukhriz said to loud applause.

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