Sep 4, 2006

Old friends now shunning me: Mahathir

Extracted from MalaysiaKini
Former Malaysian premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is embroiled in a feud with the government, has said old friends from the ruling party are now ignoring him.

"Old friends who had sat on the same table with me for 20 years do not want to get close to me now and I am alone," Mahathir was quoted as saying in the Star newspaper.

Mahathir, 81, has been accused of trying to bring down the government with caustic attacks on his successor Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, to whom he handed over power in 2003 after 22 years.

He has accused Abdullah of nepotism and corruption, and of damaging the economy and dismantling his legacy by reversing some major decisions including a plan to build a new bridge to Singapore.

Mahathir, who has said he is now a "pariah" in the ruling Umno, over the weekend blasted excuses being floated to keep him from speaking out.

"People say I am old and senile, unable to talk. Out of compassion, they want me to stay put, on a bed, marking time ... that is not right," he was quoted as saying by the state Bernama news agency.

The elder statesman has announced that he will stand in a Umno division contest in his home state of Kedah on Sept 9, which will select delegates to attend the party's key general assembly meeting in November.

Mahathir, if elected to attend the meet, is expected to use the opportunity to criticise Abdullah and his administration, and a number of Umno members have pleaded with him not to stand.

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