Oct 22, 2006

Dr M meets Pak Lah in PM's residence

Extracted from MalaysiaKini
Dr M meets Pak Lah in PM's residence

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his handpicked successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi met at the PM's residence in Putrajaya at 3pm today.

Mahathir was seen leaving at 5.10pm but did not talk to reporters who were waiting outside the building.

He smiled and waved as he left Abdullah's residence in the administrative capital in a black Mercedes after the two-hour meeting.

Not knowing exactly where the meeting was to be held, reporters had earlier today camped outside a number of possible venues, including the Umno headquarters at the Putra World Trade Centre.

There are no immediate details of what had transpired at the meeting. Mahathir is expected to break fast tonight at the home of his eldest son, Mirzan.

Abdullah and Mahathir last week agreed to hold talks to try to resolve their differences after months of public brawling which sent shockwaves through the ruling party, and brought warnings the government could be destabilised.

Both sides said they want to meet before the Hari Raya festival, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and is expected to be held Tuesday.

Mahathir has said that at the meeting he will raise the issues that he has "been keeping in my heart" since he handed the top job to Abdullah in 2003 - a decision he now says he regrets.

Infuriated by the axing of pet projects conceived during his two decades in power, including an abandoned proposal to build a new bridge to Singapore, Mahathir has accused Abdullah of incompetence, nepotism and corruption.

The peace talks come as a surprise following months of rhetoric from Mahathir, the 81-year-old firebrand who has complained he is now a pariah in the party he once ruled with an iron fist.

Heart-to-heart private talks

Deputy prime minister Najib Razak, Abdullah's heir-apparent, has hailed the prospects of the talks.

"Umno has been hoping for both leaders to meet and have a heart-to-heart talk. This cannot be solved by open statements," he said last week.

"If they can meet face-to-face they can talk privately and may be make it easier to explain issues and decisions made by the government."

However, other political figures have said that the differences between the pair are too wide to be bridged in a meeting, and that they are sceptical the talks will stem Mahathir's damaging criticisms.

Abdullah has largely declined to respond to his predecessor's accusations, and ruled out backing down on any of the decisions which riled Mahathir.


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