Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dr M mocks Abdullah’s vow on reforms

Singapore, December 6, 2008

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has poured scorn on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's promises to push through reform before he steps down in March next year.

Dr Mahathir, a withering critic of Abdullah for over two years, first listed all the initiatives that Abdullah had promised back in 2004 and, later on, in 2008, and then proceeded to mock the premier's fond, if wistful, hope that he would achieve much of his promises before next March.

“It is now December 2008,” Dr Mahathir wrote in his blog yesterday. “So far we have seen no progress at all in any of these glorious initiatives. Instead, the prime minister is busy visiting foreign countries with his family in the beautiful, big and new Airbus A320.” In fairness, the Bill to set up a new Anti-Corruption Commission is being tabled in Parliament by Abdullah next Wednesday.

It does not seem to have impressed Dr Mahathir one bit. “After failing to implement any of the promises made in the 2004 or 2008 elections, it looks like nothing is being done either with regard to the promise to carry out a variety of so-called reforms as mentioned in the press statement on why the PM would step down in March 2009 — three months after the scheduled Umno General Assembly,” continued the former premier.

“But the visits to foreign countries to sign contracts which were not mentioned in the statement are being assiduously carried out,” Dr Mahathir noted sardonically. “I wonder why.”

He then claimed that the premier was now busy campaigning for his candidates in polls next March in Umno, the dominant political party over which Abdullah presides.

“(Deputy Prime Minister) Najib (Razak) is going to be surrounded by Abdullah's people and through these people Abdullah will control the government of Najib,” Dr Mahathir wrote.

“Najib has already abandoned (International Trade Minister) Muhyiddin (Yassin), the fierce critic of Abdullah,” claimed Dr Mahathir. “He does not want to incur the displeasure of his boss. Would he refuse to appoint Abdullah's nominees? Would he dare go against them?”

It isn't clear why Dr Mahathir, 82, continues to inveigh against his hand-picked successor given that Abdullah is widely seen as a lame duck with no real power to influence the outcome of the Umno elections.

What's clear is that Dr Mahathir does not trust Abdullah. Last week, he even claimed that Abdullah was still interested in staying on as premier even though he would no longer be Umno president, hinting that Abdullah could resort to other means to stay in power.

“Looking at the Umno leaders and members, it is possible for this to happen,” said Dr Mahathir. “They will not go against Abdullah as they are so comfortable with his leadership and certain pleasures that they have received from him.” — Business Times Singapore

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