Aug 20, 2006

Reuters : Malaysia ruling party warns of split

Extracted from Reuters
Malaysia ruling party warns of split - report
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Any rift between top leaders of Malaysia's ruling party could split the organisation and threaten its rule, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

It was the first time the government had so openly addressed the political risks of the ongoing spat between Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad.

Najib did not mention Mahathir by name but it was clear he was referring to him in his speech on Saturday to delegates of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in Mahathir's home state of Kedah.

"If the top (leaders) cause trouble, it will break the structure," Najib said, according to state news agency Bernama.

"As long as we don't learn from history, we can repeat the mistakes. We don't want the dark history to happen again in the party."

UMNO must avoid a structural split to ensure it remained the backbone of the country's administration, Najib said.

Any structural break-up would cause the Malays to lose power, he said, and history showed the negative effects of such a split.

In recent months Mahathir has made a series of scathing attacks on Abdullah's government over a range of issues including its decision to scrap a planned bridge to neighbouring Singapore.

Mahathir, Malaysia's longest-serving leader who retired in late 2003, still wields considerable influence within UMNO. Analysts have warned that the row could destabilise the party and deter foreign investment.

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