Apr 2, 2008

PM Abdullah says he will not step down

PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Wednesday brushed off speculation that he would step down as Prime Minister.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Wednesday brushed off speculation that he would step down as Prime Minister, state-run Bernama news agency reported.

There have been some calls for Abdullah to step down after the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) suffered its worst electoral setback in 50 years in the March 8 poll.

The coalition conceded five states to the opposition and lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority.

"I am here. They make all the speculations that I want to run away, I've resigned," the prime minister told Bernama.

"Why should I resign? Why I must run away from my entrusted responsibility?" he added, reiterating that the coalition still had a strong majority.

Meanwhile, UMNO information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib said that it is not only unfair to ask Abdullah to step down but also to blame the dismal election performance solely on the prime minister.

He said: "It is very unfair to repeatedly ask the prime minister to resign. The BN has won with a big majority. We have won 140 seats in Parliament compared to 82 by the Opposition. As a comparison we are only eight seats short of a two-thirds majority.

"If the prime minister is the cause of our defeat, then we should have lost the whole country to the Opposition. We lost because there were many other contributory factors like the use of blogs and websites to run down the BN."

He said the use of the information and communications technology like the Internet and short-messaging service (SMS) played a crucial role in last month's general election.

Asked about the claim by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad that UMNO leaders were now muzzled and had become "yes men" to Abdullah, Muhammad said the Cabinet still functioned the same way as it did when Mahathir was the prime minister.

Mahathir had repeatedly asked Abdullah to take responsibility for the unprecedented election defeat and resign as prime minister. The former prime minister fired his latest salvo on Tuesday at a forum convened to discuss the general election results.

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