Nov 14, 2006

PM's warning triggers fears of crackdown

Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang said Prime Minister Abdullah's remarks yesterday have raised suspicions that he could be planning to silence his critics.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday warned his critics and his own ruling party Umno not to abuse his open approach. He told this at a closed-door briefing session involving about 2,000 Umno delegates ahead of the party’s general assembly.

The beleaguered premier, who faces intense criticism from his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad and questions over his economic management, told his party delegates that his patience was limited.

To this, Lim today asked if the premier was implying some action against his critics.

“I wonder if he is implying a harsh crackdown to consolidate his position. Such a statement is uncalled for,” said Lim, adding that it would only hurt his image.

“What he needs to do is justify his three-year-old administration. Questioning his administration is part of an open society,” he said.

“People will ask if it is a sign of a man coming to an end of his tether. Abdullah should instead remain sober and frank about his own performance.”

Don’t take me for granted

At the briefing yesterday, Abdullah also warned against abuse of the greater freedom of expression he has allowed since coming to power three years ago, and against inciting racial or religious conflict by raising sensitive issues.

"Abdullah's main message overall was 'don't take me for granted'. He showed us that he is firmly in control," said Ramli Mohamad Yunus, an Umno delegate from Kedah.

Abdullah, 66, was hand-picked by Mahathir to take over the top job, but the former leader has now accused him of graft, incompetence and mishandling the economy.

The prime minister has vowed not to quit despite the allegations from Mahathir, which he staunchly denies.

Umno members at the general assembly are expected to demand Abdullah do more for the economy and to remain committed to an affirmative action plan to help the country's majority Muslim Malays.

Economic growth hit 7.2 percent in 2004 but slowed to 5.2 percent in 2005. Foreign investment also fell in 2005 to 3.97 billion dollars from 4.62 billion dollars the year before.

- MalaysiaKini

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