Aug 7, 2006

FACTBOX-Key issues in the Abdullah-Mahathir dispute

Extracted from Reuters
Aug. 7 (Reuters) - Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is expected to counter his predecessor Mahathir Mohamad's criticisms of his leadership in a televised interview on Monday.

Here is an overview of some key issues:


    - Abdullah's decisions to scrap major state projects initiated by Mahathir's administration, such as the crooked bridge between Singapore and Malaysia, is at the heart of the spat.

    - The bridge was to replace Malaysia's half of the causeway linking the two countries, leading to the name "crooked bridge". Conceived by Mahathir towards the end of his 22-year reign, the plan was scrapped by Abdullah in April, after failing to agree terms with Singapore on the relocation of water pipes running beside the causeway.

    - Mahathir said in May that cancelling the project amounted to a surrender of sovereignty to Singapore as Malaysia should not have to consult to build a bridge on its own soil.


    - The 2005 sale of Malaysia's state-controlled car-maker Proton's indebted Italian motorcycle unit, MV Agusta, to Italy's GEVI, also angered Mahathir.


    - A 14.5-billion-ringgit Mahathir-approved double-tracking rail project is another bone of contention.

    - Mahathir awarded the deal to lay and electrify 636 km (400 miles) of tracks along the length of Peninsular Malaysia, before he retired in October 2003, as part of a 5,600-km trans-Asia rail link between Singapore and China.

    - Abdullah put the 14.5-billion-ringgit ($3.8-billion) project on hold in December 2003, saying the money would be better spent on health care, education and agriculture.


    - The price Singapore pays to Malaysia for its raw water supply has been disputed ever since the resource-starved island was ejected from the Malayan Federation in 1965.

    - With one agreement expiring in 2011, Abdullah must tread carefully around his predecessor's legacy. Mahathir has said in the past that Malaysia has the right to review water prices, which he has said are too low.


    - Mahathir has also attacked Abdullah's son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin. He accuses 30-year-old Khairy, the ruling party UMNO's deputy youth chief, of being the power behind the throne.

    - On August 6, Khairy denied calling chief ministers to issue directives.

    Source: Reuters

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