Mar 10, 2008

US says PM Abdullah remains a viable partner despite poll defeat

Pak Lah is not quitting and he is a viable partner for US.

WASHINGTON : Washington stands ready to keep up close cooperation with the current government of Malaysia, a US State Department spokesman said on Sunday, despite a stunning election defeat for the country's ruling party.

The election setback on Saturday for the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled Malaysia for half a century, put a question mark over the future of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said Abdullah remains a viable partner for the United States.

"We have seen the preliminary election results and we look forward to working closely with Prime Minister Abdullah's government on a wide range of issues of mutual interest," Cooper told AFP on Sunday.

The election was a major victory for opposition leader and former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, who has made a spectacular political comeback since his 1998 sacking and imprisonment.

Abdullah has said his coalition could still form the next government, but conceded that Saturday's election could be a vote of no-confidence in his leadership, which has been criticised as weak and ineffectual.

The defeat was the worst ever for Malaysia's government, which lost its two-thirds majority and four states to buoyant opposition.

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