Feb 11, 2007

Tun Mahathir renewed his attack on PM

JOHOR BARU, Malaysia (Reuters) - Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday renewed his attack on his successor, calling him intolerant and asking the people to reject nepotism.

The outspoken 81-year-old, in his first political speech after a lull following a heart attack in November, said Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had created a climate of fear within his ruling UMNO party.

Speaking at a forum in the southern city of Johor Baru, he also warned Abdullah, whose son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin is an ambitious politician, against forming a political dynasty.

"Don't try to make your son or son-in-law as the PM," Mahathir, who in September asked Abdullah to resign, told the 400-strong crowd at a function.

"I hope all Malaysians would oppose any attempts to start a dynasty. In our country anybody can become the PM even the fisherman."

The rally could mark the start of a second round of an Abdullah-Mahathir fight which has unsettled Malaysians as well as foreign investors.

Mahathir, who led the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and the country for 22 years until he handed power to Abdullah in late 2003, remains a party member.

"I feel very sad because UMNO has now changed. Today it is not ready to hear what it doesn't want to hear," he said. "There's climate of fear."

Abdullah's aides could not be immediately reached for comments.

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