Oct 22, 2006

Tun Mahathir won't stop attacks on govt despite peace talks with PM

Extracted from ChannelNewsAsia
Malaysia's Mahathir won't stop attacks on govt despite peace talks with PM

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's former premier Mahathir Mohamad refused Sunday to end his attacks on the government, despite talks with his successor which had raised hopes for a resolution to the damaging feud.

Mahathir met with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for two hours Sunday to address the very public verbal brawling that has sent shockwaves through the ruling party and raised fears of government instability.

The feisty 82-year-old political veteran, who now publicly regrets handing the top job to Abdullah in 2003, described the atmosphere as "cordial" but indicated he was not pleased with the results.

"I can't say I am happy, I am satisfied I am able to say these things directly to him," Mahathir told reporters.

"I will continue to criticise if I feel something is done which is not beneficial to the country," he added.

Mahathir said he "stated all that was in my heart" during the meeting, and that Abdullah responded on most issues including allegations that his influential son-in-law is the power behind the throne.

He said Abdullah also addressed Mahathir's charges that his son had gained improperly from government contracts, and "my allegation that we have become a police state".

Mahathir said Abdullah told him that only opposition figures -- including ousted deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim who was sacked and jailed in 1998 and who is now making a political comeback -- benefited from the stream of criticisms.

"He said each time I do these things, I become more unpopular, and he also lost his popularity because of my criticism."

"But he recorded in his little book... all that I said, and it was quite thick. I hope that after this, there will be action that will be taken."

Abdullah and Mahathir last week agreed to the meeting at the urging of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) which has ruled Malaysia for the past four decades.

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

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

The meeting was hailed as a valuable opportunity to thrash out their differences in private, but some political figures have said they fear the fractures are too deep to be quickly resolved. - AFP/ir

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