Wednesday, November 08, 2006


MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has said he will not try to muzzle his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, or sack him as adviser to Malaysia’s biggest companies, for trying to undermine his leadership.

'Let him be there. And let him talk, and say what he wants to say,' Datuk Seri Abdullah told Reuters on Sunday in an interview in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

During the past few months the 81-year-old Tun Dr Mahathir, who stepped aside in 2003 after leading Malaysia for 22 years, has criticised Datuk Seri Abdullah and his administration, accusing his chosen successor of mismanaging the economy and of allowing nepotism.

'I think we must listen. We do not know how much more he wants to say. He can go on... It does not affect my position,' said Datuk Seri Abdullah.

Regarded as the father of modern Malaysia after overseeing its transformation from an agricultural economy into an industrial trading nation, Tun Dr Mahathir retains plenty of clout, although he complains of being marginalised by Datuk Seri Abdullah.

Malaysians will be watching which of the men emerges stronger when the ruling Umno party holds its annual general assembly from Nov 15 to 17.

Umno’s Supreme Council said last week Tun Dr Mahathir could retain his advisory posts in government-linked companies. He is adviser to national oil company Petronas, national carmaker Proton and the Langkawi Development Authority.

'Some people may think it is awkward, but I am not taking the stand to deprive him of that position,' Datuk Seri Abdullah said. 'He can resign any time. If we want to ask him to leave, we can also ask him to leave.' - REUTERS

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