KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysia‘s outspoken former prime minister says his relatives are being harassed and intimidated by his hand-picked successor as their bitter, personal feud reached new levels this week.
The 82-year-old politician has accused Abdullah of corruption, nepotism and running a police state.
Asked if he fears being arrested, Mahathir said: "I may not be arrested or put in jail ... but there are ways of hitting out. Maybe at my relatives, or some kind of unpleasantness can occur."
One relative, a businessman, has also received calls from the Anti-Corruption Agency, he said.
During his 22 years in office, Mahathir was credited with industrializing Malaysia, with a penchant for mega-projects, such as the Petronas towers. He also cracked down on suspected Islamic militants, which made his Muslim-majority nation a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.
But he became known for provocative, anti-Semitic comments, especially about what he saw as Western domination of developing countries and U.S. policy in the Middle East. He has been critical of President Bush — and was again during the interview.
"He has brought down the United States to a very low level. It is right that Americans should hate him," he said.
Mahathir also said he was not sure the Republicans would suffer big losses in the upcoming midterm elections, but even if they did, it is unlikely to lead to a change in U.S. policy in the Middle East because the Democrats are "equally guilty" of supporting the invasion of Iraq .
About a year ago, Mahathir began expressing unhappiness with Abdullah‘s style of government, and alleged that the premier‘s son, son-in-law and their cronies were using their position to enrich their businesses and gain political influence.
Abdullah appears to have the backing of his Cabinet as well as the party, but Mahathir‘s considerable behind-the-scenes clout cannot be underestimated.
Abdullah broke his long silence about his former mentor on Thursday before the AP interview, saying he had expected Mahathir to wait for his response to the allegations before saying anything publicly. But instead, he repeated them "with stronger doses of venom. ... What else can be done? He wants to continue," Abdullah said.
tags : tun mahathir mohamad malaysia pm abdullah badawi umno
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