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 Malaysia: Mahathir Slams Deputy Prime Minister As 'Coward'

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Registration date : 2008-01-28

PostSubject: Malaysia: Mahathir Slams Deputy Prime Minister As 'Coward'   Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:17 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad, a bitter critic of the current prime minister, has now turned against the deputy prime minister, describing him as a coward who may be unfit to run the country, a news report said Monday (21 Apr).

In his often virulent attacks over the past two years, Mahathir has lamented choosing Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as his successor when he retired in 2003. He has also said in the past that he should have chosen Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak instead.

But Najib's unstinting support for Abdullah has irked Mahathir, The Star daily reported from Manchester, England, where the former leader gave a speech on Sunday (20 Apr).

"We see that he (Najib) is a coward. He is always saying, 'Yes sir, yes sir, I support, I support,'" the daily quoted Mahathir as saying.

Abdullah is battling for political survival after the ruling National Front coalition lost its traditional two-thirds majority in Parliament in the 8 Mar general elections. It also lost elections for five state legislatures in the coalition's worst performance in history.

Several members of Abdullah's United Malays National Organization party, the dominant member of the National Front, have called on Abdullah to step down and hand over power to Najib.

But Abdullah says he will announce a succession plan only after party elections in December.

Mahathir accused Abdullah of destroying the party by lingering in power, and said although he had supported Najib before "I'm not so confident" about him taking over now, The Star said.

"Najib will have to face competition from others ... I believe he should rightly explain the real reasons for (the National Front's) losses in the election," Mahathir was quoted as saying.

His aide in Malaysia could not immediately confirm the report.

Abdullah took over in 2003 as Mahathir's hand-picked successor. But Mahathir _ who ruled the country for 22 years and is still esteemed by many Malaysians _ turned against Abdullah when he canceled several large projects that had begun under Mahathir.

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