Sep 30, 2008

Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir dan Batin


Sep 29, 2008

Mukhriz urges Umno divisions to freely decide nominations

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — Umno Youth exco member Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir tonight urged state party leaders to let the divisional delegates decide the fate of candidates contesting in the party elections now rescheduled to March next year.

"Like in Sabah where a certain candidate was endorsed by the state youth leadership, but I read in Sabah newspapers that some youth leaders do not agree with the endorsement," Mukhriz told reporters when asked to comment on the action by several state Umno liaison committees to endorse candidates for the upcoming party polls.

"We know those who made the endorsements were appointed by the candidate," he added.

On Sept 23, Sabah Umno youth chief, Datuk Japlin Akim reportedly said his colleagues in the state youth wing would give undivided support to Umno youth vice chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who had announced his candidacy for the movement's top post.

Kelantan and Penang Umno had also endorsed party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to defend his position.

"Why should we fear the grass roots, let them decide, that is where our strength lies," said Mukhriz, who is also Jerlun MP.

Mukhriz, who launched his campaign to head the youth wing early this month, also doubted the legitimacy of the meetings conducted by the state party leadership before issuing endorsements.

"We know not all division chiefs attended the meetings," he added.

The son of the former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also expressed his concern on the implication of the postponement of the party polls to March next year and the possibility of Abdullah clinging to power.

"There are several scenarios. One is he still stands for presidency and Datuk Seri Najib defends his deputy presidency, then in March when Abdullah hands over the reins to Najib, he will be the acting president, so what happen when we have vacancy for the deputy president?" Mukhriz questioned.

He added that he is willing to support the postponement if the move is beneficial to Umno.

"If within three months the supreme council can bring back the support of the people then I am all for it, but if the delay is just to prevent members from exercising their rights, I urge the supreme council to reconsider its decision," he added.

On whether the delay was for Abdullah to win the contest Mukhriz said: "I can't say for sure, but we have to be prepared in the event that he decides to defend his post before the division meeting."

On his father's intention to return to Umno, he said Dr Mahathir has not submitted his application.

"I asked him which branch? I personally want him to return to Jitra branch in Kubang Pasu, but he is worried the division may not accept him, but my friends in Kubang Pasu want him to be in the division," said Mukhriz.

Sep 27, 2008

Tengku Razaleigh : Reject delay of party polls

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said today he will contest the Umno presidency even if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi decides against defending his post.

He also spoke out against the postponement of the party polls, and urged members to push for the reinstatement of December as the date of the annual general assembly.

(Malaysiakini) Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has called on Umno members to reject the postponement of party elections to March next year as it is not provided for in the party constitution.

He told a press conference at his Kuala Lumpur residence this afternoon that the new Umno plan unveiled by the party's supreme council yesterday was not acceptable.

Today's media briefing by Razaleigh was a follow up of his press statement yesterday where he slammed Umno president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Najib Abdul Razak over the power transfer plan.

"I think I speak for the country when I say we are embarrassed at the sight of two grown men playing this endless children's game of 'yours and mine' with the most important responsibility in the land, oblivious of the law, oblivious to the damage they are doing to the nation.

"Instead of a national economic plan or any kind of reform all the Umno leadership has given us since March 8 is a transition plan designed to save two individuals from the inconvenience of facing elections. Their personal careers appear to be more important than the future of the nation," the Umno stalwart said yesterday.

Najib more unpopular than his boss

HONG KONG, Sept 27 — Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday his campaign to topple the government would only be strengthened if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stepped down earlier than expected and Abdullah's deputy took the reins.

As Umno huddled in Kuala Lumpur to discuss whether the country's unpopular prime minister should step down earlier than planned, Anwar said both leaders had lost the mandate of the people to rule, but that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had even less credibility.

"From a survey [it] showed that however unpopular Abdullah is now, Najib is more unpopular. He has a major problem of credibility. Many unexplained cases which does insinuate his involvement in [an] earlier murder case he has to explain, I'm not suggesting anything beyond that," Anwar said in Hong Kong, while in Hong Kong for an Asia investment conference.

"It's not a matter of going to the mosque and swearing that you are not involved. Then you make a mockery of Islam, the Quran and the law.

"If you go to the prison and say to these convicted murderers and rapists, 'if you swear on the Quran you go scot free', then 99.9 per cent would go free."

Discussions on whether Abdullah would step down early would not derail the opposition's plans, Anwar said, denying that he had lost credibility after failing to meet the Sept 16 deadline by which he had said he would have enough support in government to become prime minister.

While he had the names of the MPs who supported him, he said he could not disclose them because of the climate of fear in Malaysia.

"The climate of fear is real. Why do we need to expose them" and make them take such a risk, he asked.

Another risk for Anwar supporters was that Najib would be more willing to implement the Internal Security Act, a draconian law that allows people to be detained without trial for up to two years.

Anwar feared that the powers of ISA would only be strengthened and used more if Najib took power next year. Najib "has not said that he won't use the Internal Security Act — not only against me", he said.

Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, an ally of Anwar, has been detained for reporting on Najib in connection with a murder case on the Malaysia Today political website.

Sep 26, 2008

PM Abdullah hints could step down earlier

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi indicated Friday he could step down next March, saying he had not decided whether to stand in ruling party leadership elections to be held then.

Abdullah spoke after an emergency meeting of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), held amid speculation he would be forced to quit ahead of a planned transition to his deputy Najib Razak in mid-2010.

The embattled premier said that UMNO internal polls scheduled for December would now be postponed until March, and that he would make an announcement in the next few weeks over whether he would bid for the top job.

“I have not made any decision as far as this particular point is concerned," he said. "The decision is mine, you can go on guessing. As far as I'm concerned I love the party."

But he indicated that he would depart sooner rather than later, saying the party polls had been brought forward "to help facilitate an early transition".

Abdullah admitted that several members of UMNO's Supreme Council were pushing for a speedy transition of power, but he said the policy-making body agreed with the decision to shift the party elections.

Muhyiddin: March is new deadline for Pak Lah to quit

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 - Umno vice president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today the postponement of the party elections to March next year indicates a new deadline had been set for party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi to step down.

"It was earlier decided 2010, but at today's meeting the president and deputy president indicated that the postponement from December to March is to facilitate earlier transition, you can analyze anyway you want, but as far as I am concern, maybe a new deadline has been set, but let the president make the announcement," he told reporters after the supreme council special meeting today.

"I sense magnanimity in making this decision which is very important for the party," said the International Trade and Industry Minister.

When asked whether he was satisfied with the decision, as it is still unclear whether March 2009 is the new deadline, Muhyiddin said: "There must be some element of trust on the decision made today, there is no need for unnecessary speculation."

"Most importantly, we have to wait before the divisional meetings as the divisions need a clear sign whether the president will defend his position, it is not for me to say, but wait for his announcement," said Muhyiddin.

"Let's not pre-empt what is going to be. I cannot go beyond that," he said.

He added that the postponement reflects the sentiment on the ground and will not affect Abdullah's integrity.

"Whatever decision we make it must not split the party and adversely affect the president's image," said Muhyiddin.

"This is the best time to close ranks, because we have a bigger agenda to bring back the confidence and rebuilding the Barisan Nasional," he added.

Muhyiddin was the first senior Umno leader to urge Abdullah to reconsider the 2010 deadline.

He is also widely speculated to be considering a tilt for the party's deputy presidency.

UMNO AGM postponed, PM mum on plans

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will make a decision on whether he will defend the Umno presidency before the party's divisional level elections begin on Oct 9.

The Umno president and Prime Minister said this after charing a special party supreme council meeting at PWTC here Friday morning.

(Malaysiakini) The Umno supreme council today decided to postpone its party polls and annual general meeting to March next year to allow for a smooth transfer of power from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to his deputy.

The meeting, along with party polls, was scheduled to be held this December.

abdullah ahmad badawi najib razak pc change portfolio 170908 05However divisional elections will proceed as scheduled from Oct 9 to Nov 9.

These decisions were made at an hour-long emergency supreme council meeting held this morning at Umno headquarters.

Talking to reporters later, Abdullah refused to comment if he would defend his president's post at the party polls, saying that he would decide before the division-level meetings on Oct 9 - giving him a window of two-weeks to finalise his plans.

"I am not under any pressure. It (the transition) will be my decision," he said.

"The postponement of the AGM is to facilitate the transition plan," he added.

Abdullah's original plan was to handover his power to Najib in June 2010. However he has come under tremendous pressure in recent weeks to bring forward this date, preferably to mid of next year.

This was the second time in this month the highest decision making body of the party had met. It held its monthly meeting on Sept 18.

New plan a bad deal for Pak Lah

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 - If the Umno Supreme Council endorses the new transition deal this morning, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will announce that he will not seek re-election as president but will continue to head the party for at least eight months more until the elections are held.

Judging by behind the scenes discussion over the past 48 hours, there is every reason to believe that the council elders will fight for the plan, which involves postponing elections from December till May or June next year, and Abdullah handing over the reins to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak then.

Still, selling the idea of postponing the party polls to the rank and file is not going to be a walk in the park for council members. Many branch and division leaders have expanded a lot of resources and funds on galvanizing their supporters. Having to go through the same expensive process in a few months' time is not going to be an attractive option for them.

In a perverse way, Abdullah’s supporters in the government and Umno are hoping that this new transition plan is jettisoned by the supreme council. They believe that the Najib-inspired idea of postponing the party elections will make the Prime Minister more unpopular on the ground and create the impression that he is willing to stay on even when he does not have the backing of the grassroots.

They also argue that there will be a cloud over his legitimacy to rule and this will be a historical footnote on his years in office. Abdullah’s supporters want him to either seek a new mandate from party members or consider handing over the reins before the party elections in December.

“This plan of postponing the elections is an acknowledgment that Najib cannot control the ground. Pak Lah’s first instinct was to think that the idea was not palatable, but it has been presented to him as the best approach to keep the party together, ‘’ said a senior government official.

Officials in the PM’s camp say that Najib had impressed on him during recent discussions that the new transition plan would allow both of them to focus on tackling problems inside and outside the party. These include Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The deal on the new transition plan was sealed this week when both of them agreed that, come what may, they would not go up against each other.

Sep 25, 2008

UMNO party talks trigger speculation over PM's fate

Top Umno leaders will convene an emergency supreme council meeting tomorrow in the hope of finding a way for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to make an honourable exit and pass on the baton to his deputy Najib Abdul Razak by early next year.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's ruling party is to hold high-level talks on Friday, in a hastily arranged meeting that has triggered fresh speculation on the future of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Abdullah was reportedly hit with calls to stand down by four of his Cabinet ministers at a meeting last week of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) Supreme Council.

"I believe there will be a special Supreme Council meeting tomorrow," Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters Thursday, but declined to give details of what would be discussed.

Abdullah steered the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional coalition to its worst electoral showing in half a century in March, as voters punished him over broken promises for reform, as well as spiralling prices of food and fuel.

Since then he has resisted repeated calls to quit, and has also been faced with an unprecedented challenge from the opposition, which has said it has enough support from defecting lawmakers to topple the government.

In a bid to end the damaging speculation over his future, which has suppressed foreign investment and trade on the stock market, Abdullah forged a deal to hand over to Najib in mid-2010.

But the pact has been criticised within UMNO, and Trade Minister Muhyiddin Yassin -- a potential challenger -- said this week that the party faced oblivion if it did not quickly address internal conflicts and the opposition threat.

Online news website Malaysiakini cited UMNO sources as saying that Friday's emergency meeting would likely address the power transition plan.

The site quoted UMNO information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib as saying that all members of the supreme council -- which usually meets monthly -- were informed Thursday of the meeting.

"I am in the dark just as you. All I know is I received the phone call and was told to attend the meeting tomorrow morning," he reportedly said.

A senior party source said that according to a proposal to be discussed at the emergency meeting, Abdullah may quit in June 2009, earlier than the 2010 date planned.

The source said that Abdullah had asked the supreme council to move back leadership elections to next year from December to avoid a contested vote in which he may have been forced out.

"The idea to push back (the party annual meeting) was the prime minister's idea... The 2009 plan and the move to delay the (UMNO) annual general meeting may not go down well with the party grassroots,' said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Muhyiddin says top two posts should be contested

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 - Umno vice president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today that the top two posts in the party should be contested, echoing the views of fellow party leader Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

"As far as the Umno constitution is concerned, all positions in the party can be contested not only at the supreme council, but also at the divisional and branch level, because we are a democratic party, we have a constitution," he told reporters today.

He added that there is nothing unusual about the Foreign Minister's idea as it is consistent with the party's constitution.

"At the end of the day, delegates will decide, although leaders can make plans," he added.

Yesterday, Rais said the contest is needed for a process of reversion in the party.

Umno has not had a contest for the top two posts for some years now to ensure stability, but this policy is increasingly drawing fire.

The Umno presidency was last contested in 1987, where Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad defeated Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah by a majority of 47 votes.

"Maybe at that time people did not want to contest. Tengku Razaleigh had already expressed his intention to contest," said Muhyiddin when asked to comment on the fact that the top two positions have not been contested for a very long time.

On whether he would accept nominations from party divisions for any of the top two positions, he said that it is still too early.

"When the time comes I will announce," he added.

He also denied there is a power struggle within the party and refused to comment on any attempt to postpone the party election scheduled for December to June next year to enable party president, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi to step down before 2010.

"I am not too sure about the idea, obviously those are very important matters, I don't think I have the privilege to comment on that yet," said Muhyiddin.

New Mahathir broadside could boost Razaleigh

SEPT 25 - In a move that could help Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah bid for Malaysian leadership, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has launched one of his strongest attacks yet against the leadership of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno).

Expressing amazement at recent developments in Umno's Supreme Council, Dr Mahathir deplored "private deals" between Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and his deputy Najib Razak as "unsatisfactory".

"By the time Abdullah meets Najib, he would have been briefed by his family on what to say," Dr Mahathir wrote in his Internet blog yesterday.
"And Najib, being Najib, would then accept Abdullah's solution to the problem. Najib would have the task of selling the solution to the Supreme Council. By doing so, Najib would go down further in the estimation of council members and the public when Najib's behaviour is leaked."

Dr Mahathir predicted that Najib would not get his wish for a peaceful transition. "There has never been a president of Umno who is as much disliked and even hated by the people as Abdullah," said the former premier. "Malays, Chinese, Indians . . . the ordinary people all want Abdullah to go - the sooner the better."

Dr Mahathir's outburst is the latest in a long line of ferocious attacks going back two years. It comes at a critical point for the embattled Abdullah, who could face a party revolt amid calls for him to go much earlier than his previously announced June 2010 handover to Najib.

Dr Mahathir's tart comments could also bolster former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh's chances in his seemingly quixotic quest to obtain enough nominations to challenge Abdullah for Umno's presidency and, with it, the prime ministership.

The 72-year-old Kelantan prince faces an uphill battle getting the 58 nominations he needs to challenge Abdullah, largely because he has been out of government for 21 years and a whole generation of Umno members do not know or care about his contributions to the nation.

But if Najib, 55, maintains support for Mr Abdullah and refuses to challenge him, Tengku Razaleigh could get support from frustrated Umno divisions desperate for a change at the top and a firm hand on the rudder.

As if sensing the country's dark mood, Tengku Razaleigh issued an epistle-like statement to all Malaysians on Monday, urging them "to come together in this dangerous situation" because Umno and the government "are no longer viable".

He said the government now commands much less support than it did after the March 8 general election, but rather than share the public's urgency for change, the present office- holders had "redoubled efforts to frustrate renewal, cut off reform, and silence criticism".

Tengku Razaleigh blasted Abdullah's transition plan as a "fantasy which rides roughshod over the party's constitution and the rights of its members".
In many ways, the prince's statement echoes Dr Mahathir's sentiments. "This brazen attempt to treat public office and party trust as a private bequest between two individuals - one of whom wishes to hold office beyond his democratic mandate, the other to ascend without one - and the continuing effort to force-feed the country with this notion, fools no one," said the prince. And there is no mistaking the individuals he was referring to. - Business Times Singapore

Sep 23, 2008

Raja Petra detained for 2 years

A prominent political blogger was jailed for two years under a strict security law that can keep him in prison indefinitely, a lawyer said today. Online commentator Raja Petra Kamarudin, known for his anti-government views, was already in police custody and was served a detention order last night, said his lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar.

Another of his lawyers, J. Chandra, confirmed that Raja Petra has been sent to Kamunting under Section 8(1) of the ISA which states that "if the Minister is satisfied that the detention of any person is necessary with a view to preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to the maintenance of essential services therein or the economic life thereof, he may make an order (hereinafter referred to as a detention order) directing that the person be detained for any period not exceeding two years."

(Malaysiakini) Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin will be sent to the Kamunting Detention Centre in Taiping, Perak today to begin his two-year detention under the Internal Security Act, said his lawyers.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar had signed his detention order last night for the blogger to be held without trial under section 8(1) of the tough security law. Under the Act, the government can renew his detention indefinitely.

Lawyers said the police had informed them this morning that they would be taking Raja Petra to the detention centre.

"The act by the minister to sign the section 8 order yesterday is completely unacceptable," said Raja Petra's lead lawyer Malik Imtiaz.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court is to hear a habeas corpus bid by Raja Petra's lawyers to overturn the detention of the controversial blogger today.

Habeas corpus is a writ ordering prisoners to be brought before a judge to ascertain if there are any procedural defects which could render their detention unlawful.

The detention order of Raja Petra has "thrown a spanner" in the efforts to get the release of the well-known blogger.

Raja Petra's wife Marina Lee Abdullah confirmed that the police had informed her that the detention order had been issued by the minister yesterday.

"(Police) said my husband has been sent to Kamunting this morning and that he will remain there for two years with no trial. This is the worst news I can receive but we will keep fighting for his release," she said, holding back tears.

"This is dirty foul play by the government as they know that we are in the process of fighting for his release in the court but I was expecting this," she told AFP.

Malaysian government denies opposition's claim of handover talks

The Pakatan Rakyat opposition said it has begun negotiations with the ruling coalition over a transition of power, after it claimed to have signed up enough defectors to topple the government. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has refused to meet with Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim but officials said contacts are being made through intermediaries.

"There is initial contact between our middleperson and Abdullah's middleperson," said Tian Chua, information chief of Anwar's PKR.

"Our intention in holding them is for a transition of power to the opposition but I cannot speak for the other side," he told AFP.

"So far it looks good and we will wait to see what happens."

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's opposition said Tuesday it has begun negotiations with the ruling coalition over a transition of power, after it claimed to have signed up enough defectors to topple the government.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has refused to meet with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim but officials said contacts are being made through intermediaries.

"There is initial contact between our middleperson and Abdullah's middleperson," said Tian Chia, information chief of Anwar's Keadilan party.

"Our intention in holding them is for a transition of power to the opposition but I cannot speak for the other side," he told AFP. "So far it looks good and we will wait to see what happens."

Tian Chua said contact was made initially on the weekend and that more than one meeting had taken place.

The government has so far denied the claim.

Anwar said earlier this month that he had the support of more than 31 lawmakers from the ruling coalition but refused to release the list of names until Abdullah agreed to a meeting.

The premier dismissed his claims as bluff and has shown no sign of stepping down even as he faces another challenge from cabinet ministers who have called on him to quit before his scheduled departure in 2010.

Abdullah has been fighting for his political life since a March general election handed the opposition unprecedented gains and plunged the coalition into disarray.

Ruling party insiders say he is now under intense pressure to quit by the end of the year.

Sep 21, 2008

PM Abdullah under new pressure to quit by year-end

The end is near. PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is under intense pressure to quit, after being confronted by rare criticism from within his cabinet, as well as an opposition bid to seize power.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is under intense pressure to quit, after being confronted by rare criticism from within his cabinet, as well as an opposition bid to seize power.

Abdullah led the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition to its worst electoral showing in half a century in March, as voters punished him over broken promises for reform, as well as spiralling prices of food and fuel.

So far he has clung tenaciously to the job, and refused to negotiate with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who has announced he has enough support from defecting lawmakers to topple the government.

But last week Abdullah faced an unprecedented challenge from within his cabinet, as four ministers spoke out against him at a meeting of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) which leads the coalition.

According to The Star daily, they told Abdullah at a meeting of the party's supreme council that "the political situation was not improving and that he should consider an earlier exit".

UMNO information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib confirmed the challenge took place and said Abdullah was saddened and visibly affected by it, but insisted he could ride out the crisis.

"The four of them spoke and said this to the prime minister... but it was not the majority speaking. There are more than 30 supreme council members and not all are in unison, asking the PM to resign," Muhammad told AFP.

"He listened. It was not the first time for him. He has his own intelligence report well prepared on what the feeling is at the grassroots level," he said.

Abdullah in July unveiled a plan to hand over to his deputy Najib Razak in mid-2010, but the strategy failed to quell calls for his ouster, and last week he indicated the timing was "flexible" and that he could depart earlier.

He handed over the important finance ministry post to Najib in a show of solidarity, but was hit with the challenge from his ministers just a day later.

An UMNO official from Abdullah's home state of Penang said the premier's position was now untenable and he would have to quit before the party holds leadership elections in December.

"Abdullah does not have any choice left. He has to go by year-end," the senior official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Najib is widely tipped to replace Abdullah, with his new deputy likely to be Trade Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who has been one of the premier's most outspoken critics.

Muhyiddin was one of the ministers who reportedly challenged Abdullah at last week's meeting, along with UMNO's youth wing chief Hishammuddin Hussein, women's wing chief Rafidah Aziz and Culture Minister Shafie Apdal.

The meeting took place after a series of blows, including a furore within the 14-party Barisan Nasional over the arrests of an opposition MP, a blogger and a journalist under draconian internal security laws.

Cabinet minister Zaid Ibrahim, who had been appointed to direct a shake-up of the judiciary, quit in disgust after the arrests, saying he had met a "brick wall" in the ruling party which had blocked any reforms.

And last week a small party from Borneo island quit the coalition, saying the government had "lost its moral authority to rule".

Lim Kit Siang, a veteran figure in the three-member opposition alliance, called on Abdullah to agree to Anwar's call for an emergency session of parliament to hold a no-confidence vote in his leadership.

Sep 18, 2008

PM: No need for emergency session of Parliament

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today rejected a call by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim for an emergency Parliament session to debate a no-confidence motion.

"I don't see the need as the Parliament will sit after Ramadhan," Abdullah told reporters after chairing an Umno supreme council meeting at Putra World Trade Centre today.

KUALA LUMPUR:There is no need to call for an emergency session of Parliament because the next session is soon anyway, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

He told this to reporters Thursday after the Umno supreme council at PWTC.

Earlier on Thursday, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had told reporters at a press conference at the PKR headquarters that he had sent a letter to the Prime Minister requesting for an emergency session of Parliament to be held by Sept 23 to enable MPs to move a vote of no-confidence against Abdullah's leadership.

To a question on whether Anwar would be arrested under the ISA, the Prime Minister said there was no suggestion from him to use the ISA on anyone.

On party matters, Abdullah said he officially informed the Umno supreme council about the portfolio change with his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

On Wednesday, Abdullah and Najib swapped ministry portfolios as part of the power transition plan agreed between them. Abdullah took over as new Defence Minister while Najib assumed the Finance portfolio.

On another matter, Abdullah said four division members would be sacked from the party - three from Beaufort and one from Beluran. The four had stood as candidates for the Opposition during the general election.

Anwar calls for emergency no-confidence vote on PM

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim today said he has sent a letter to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi asking him to convene an emergency session of Parliament for an emergency motion to debate on the premier's government.

KUALA LUMPUR- Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim Thursday called for an emergency session of parliament to hold a no-confidence vote against the prime minister.

Anwar promised to use the sitting to prove his claim he has the support of enough government defectors to topple Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's Barisan Nasional ruling coalition.

"Today, the Pakatan Rakyat (opposition alliance) leaders have submitted a letter to the PM requesting him to call an emergency session of parliament to deliberate a motion of censure against the leadership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi," he said.

Anwar said he would name the defectors at the session, which he hoped would be held no later than September 23.

"Convene an emergency session and you will see in parliament," he said, adding that "it is critical for the prime minister to respond."

"We face a major economic crisis. It is pertinent that they think of the nation and not the interest of themselves."

Anwar needs the support of 30 government lawmakers to take control of the 222-seat parliament.

He stepped up the pressure on Abdullah a day after the small National Front party on Borneo island quit the ruling coalition, and the prime minister indicated he may step down earlier than planned.

Anwar said that if Abdullah fails to convene the emergency session, he may meet the King Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin to stake his claim to government.

"I am not discounting the possibility," he said.

Sep 17, 2008

PM Abdullah says may step down earlier than planned

PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Wednesday he might step down before a planned handover to his deputy in mid-2010.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is facing an opposition bid to seize power, said Wednesday he might step down before a planned handover to his deputy in mid-2010.

Abdullah also said he was giving up his finance portfolio, which will go to deputy premier Najib Razak with immediate effect.

"I will decide when I want to go... I will not be staying more than 2010," Abdullah told a press conference.

"If I should want to go earlier, that is flexible. That is the flexibility we have arranged," he said of the transition plan forged with Najib after disastrous March elections that triggered calls for him to quit.

"It depends on the progress of the role I am giving to Najib. Let's see what he can do. At the same time I'm looking at things I need to do -- reform measures, social measures to deal with the poor."

Abdullah, who will take over Najib's responsibilities as defence minister, said that both he and his deputy were committed to the transition plan, which has been criticised within the ruling party as undemocratic.

There had been speculation that Najib and other figures in the ruling party were preparing to challenge Abdullah, whose popularity has tumbled due to a weakening economy and broken promises for reform.

Adding to the pressure on the premier, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said this week that he has the support of enough lawmakers to topple the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled for half a century.

Abdullah on Wednesday delivered a warning to the opposition leader, accusing him of "lying to the public and confusing the people".

"He has become a threat to the economy and national security," he said -- a serious allegation in Malaysia, where the government can use draconian internal security laws to detain its opponents without trial.

"I will not indicate what plan I will take, what I do will be in the best interests of the people and the country," Abdullah said when asked what action he was going to take.

He also confirmed he would not agree to the opposition leader's request for a meeting to discuss a peaceful transition of power. "There is nothing to discuss," he said.

Tun Mahathir to rejoin UMNO

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad is expected to officially rejoin the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) later Wednesday, according to his son, UMNO Youth executive council member Mukhriz Mahathir.

SHAH ALAM, Sept 16 (Bernama) -- Umno Youth executive council member Datuk Mukhriz Tun Mahathir said Tuesday his father Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad took the decision to rejoin Umno after being persuaded by several quarters who wanted him to return and help strengthen the party.

He said they managed to persuade the former prime minister that his services were needed within the party and not outside it.

"The decision to rejoin Umno was made by himself and God willing, he will submit his membership application form soon, possibly before Aidilfitri," he told a press conference after attending a breaking of the fast function organised by Umno Youth's International Relations and Non-Governmental Organisations Bureau here.

On talk that Mahathir would officially rejoin Umno Wednesday, Mukhriz said: "My father did not mention it, so I think it might not necessarily be tomorrow."

Mukhriz, who is also the Member of Parliament for Jerlun, said several Umno branches and divisions had invited Mahathir to join them and it was up to him to make the choice.

Meanwhile, commenting on the resignation of Datuk Zaid Ibrahim as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Mukhriz described it as a 'hit and run' because one moment he was in the government and the next he decided to run away.

"I noticed while he was in the government, he was trying more to realise the opposition's manifesto like the Judicial Appointments Commission, the issue of the Anti-Corruption Agency and the Internal Security Act, all of which were not mentioned in the Barisan Nasional manifesto for the recent general election," he said, adding that he was not disappointed by Zaid's resignation.

On another matter, he said Umno divisions should allowed to carry out their divisional meetings next month without any interference.

"The party's interest must be the overriding factor and not the personal interests of anyone. The grassroots must have their say and this is important if Umno is to be strong again," he said.

Sep 16, 2008

Anwar claims to have 31 MPs

Anwar claims to have 31 MPs while Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi scoffed at the opposition coalition’s claims that it has the numbers to topple the Barisan Nasional government.

Anwar says the number of lawmakers wanting to defect from the ruling National Front coalition is "increasing by the hour."

PETALING JAYA: Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has claimed that more than 31 Barisan MPs have agreed to cross over to Pakatan Rakyat.

He, however, refused to reveal the names of the 31 MPs.

Anwar told a press conference at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday that he would do so when he meets the Prime Minister.

The Permatang Pauh MP also claimed that the transition to the new Government has been delayed a few days pending the meeting with Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition.

He said it was up to Abdullah to agree to the meeting and its date.

PM Abdullah rejects opposition claim on power

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi scoffed at the opposition caolition’s claims that it has the numbers to topple the Barisan Nasional government.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday rejected the opposition's claim it has enough support to seize power, and said he was not under pressure to resign.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said late Monday he would form a new administration with defecting government lawmakers, and sought a meeting with Abdullah to show him the list of names and discuss a handover.

"This is a waste of our time. It is a game of political lies by Anwar Ibrahim and the people are choosing to believe him," Abdullah told a press conference.

"He has no substance but the people will continue to be fascinated by him."

Abdullah, who has faced repeated calls to quit since elections in March which saw the opposition dramatically increase its seats in parliament, said he did not feel compelled to quit.

"Why should I be pressured? It is mere dreams. If at all it is true, (Anwar) would have announced it by now. The whole world would have known," he said.

"Do you think he would ask for a meeting with me to discuss a transition? He would storm into my room with hundreds behind him, shouting victory. This is Anwar's style."

After the elections, Anwar set a date of September 16 to persuade at least 30 government lawmakers to switch sides and allow him to form a new administration.

Tian Chua, information chief of Anwar's Keadilan party, said the three-member opposition alliance had secured a simple majority in parliament and that more government lawmakers would defect later.

But he said there were concerns that the coalition - which has ruled since independence from Britain 51 years ago - would stoke conflict in order to justify a crackdown to keep itself in power.

Abdullah did not rule out a meeting with Anwar, who wants an assurance that the government will not deploy the police and military onto the streets in order to retain power.

"We will see if there is anything concrete to discuss at a suitable time," Abdullah said, but insisted he was getting on with the business of governing.

"Our government is in power, we will continue to do our work," he said holding a meeting with top civil servants.

He also dismissed suggestions that he faces a revolt from within his cabinet, after six ministers spoke out against the arrests last week of an opposition politician, a blogger and a reporter under internal security laws.

"They were giving their views and this is because I allow ministers to express their views," he said. "This will not compromise the government's position."

Abdullah refused to discuss his plan to transfer power to his deputy Najib Razak in mid-2010, which both Najib and influential trade minister Muhyiddin Yassin have now questioned.

The opposition has said that Najib and Muhyiddin may be preparing to challenge Abdullah and install themselves as the new premier and deputy.

Abdullah acknowledged that his ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation which has been in disarray since the elections debacle, was "facing a lot of troubles."

"Whatever weakness there is in our party, we will rectify the best we can," he said. "Believe me, we will improve and everything will be alright."

Sep 15, 2008

Malaysian government split over crackdown

Seems like the effect of ISA is really affecting PM Abdullah's government. The De facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has submitted his resignation letter to the Prime Minister. However, it is known yet whether Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has accepted Zaid's resignation. According to sources, the senator tendered his letter

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's government faced a storm of criticism Monday over a series of arrests under internal security laws, with several cabinet ministers breaking ranks to speak out against the move.

The furore highlighted disarray within the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, which has been rattled by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's plans to seize power by persuading government lawmakers to defect.

Anwar has set a Tuesday deadline to topple the coalition, but said on the weekend that although he has enough support for a takeover, the timing could be delayed in order to preserve national stability.

Cabinet minister Zaid Ibrahim, who is in charge of legal affairs, led the criticism of the Saturday arrests of an opposition politician, the nation's leading blogger, and a reporter for a Chinese-language daily.

Zaid said the government was wrong to use the Internal Security Act (ISA) which provides for indefinite detention without trial, and was willing to step down for his stance if necessary.

"The ISA is open to abuse. If we cannot be fair in implementing it, then we should confine its use to terrorists," he said, according to the New Straits Times.

The arrests triggered fears that the government was planning a wider crackdown on dissent to crush Anwar's ambitions, but the quick release of the journalist on Sunday eased fears of a national crisis.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar defended the arrests but said the police carried them out without instructions from him, in comments ridiculed by the opposition which said he and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi were accountable.

Abdullah must explain whether the crackdown was rolled out "in order to protect his position as prime minister now that he is under attack," opposition veteran Lim Kit Siang told a press conference.

Lim said it appeared that deputy premier Najib Razak, and Trade Minister
Muhyiddin Yassin were "teaming up" to challenge Abdullah who has faced repeated calls to quit since a drubbing in March general elections.

Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek also called on police to explain the ISA arrests, and welcomed the release of the journalist, whose offence was to report racist remarks made by a ruling party politician.

Opposition lawmaker Teresa Kok, from the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party which is a member of the opposition alliance, was also arrested over allegations she complained about the noise of morning prayers at a mosque.

She has said the accusation is "preposterous".

The other detainee is Malaysia's leading blogger, 58-year-old Raja Petra Kamaruddin, who has repeatedly targeted government figures on his website "Malaysia Today".

He has already been charged with sedition and defamation after linking Najib and his wife to the sensational murder of a Mongolian woman.

Sep 13, 2008

Sin Chew Daily Newspaper reporter released

Sin Chew Daily senior reporter Tan Hoon Cheng was released this afternoon after being held for 16 hours under the ISA and is now back at home in Bukit Mertajam.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian authorities said Saturday that a journalist for a Chinese-language newspaper, whose arrest triggered a furore in the ruling multiracial coalition, has been released.

Tan Hoon Cheng, 32, was one of three figures detained Friday under draconian internal security laws that allow for detention without trial, along with an opposition politician and a prominent blogger.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar denied that the crackdown was aimed at suppressing dissent as the opposition tries to seize power, and said Tan was released on Saturday afternoon after she "cooperated with the police."

"She is not a security threat," he said, adding that one of the reasons she was taken into custody was because "we received reports her life was threatened."

Tan, a reporter for the Sin Chew Daily News in northern Penang state, was thrust into the national spotlight after reporting on an outburst from a ruling party member who called ethnic Chinese "squatters."

The politician was disciplined by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which represents Muslim Malays who dominate the population, and the action against Tan triggered widespread disbelief.

The arrest drew rare condemnation from the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the second-largest political party in the Barisan Nasional coalition.

"MCA is dismayed, disappointed and shocked with the ISA (Internal Security Act) detention of Tan Hoon Cheng," said Ng Yen Yen, head of the MCA's women's wing.

"ISA now faces improper implementation ... we should respond to the public view to review and even abolish the ISA," she said in a statement.

Malaysia cracks down as opposition bids to seize power

Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, Seputeh member of parliament Teresa Kok and a Sin Chiew Daily News reporter were arrested Friday under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
Raja Petra was picked up from his house in Sungai Buloh at 1.10pm, Kok in front of her condominium here at 11.20pm while the Sin Chew Daily News reporter, Tan Hoon Cheng, was picked up from her house in Bukit Mertajam in Penang at 8.30pm.

KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysian authorities Friday arrested an opposition politician, a prominent blogger and a journalist, according to officials and reports, in a crackdown as the opposition plots to seize power.

The three were all believed to be held under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows for detention without trial and has been used against government opponents in the past.

Political observers said they feared the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, which was humiliated in March elections and is now threatened by the opposition's plans, was planning a repeat of an infamous 1987 crackdown.

"Is Malaysia in the grip of another ISA madness, akin to Operation Lalang 21 years ago when there were mass arrests under the ISA and closure of three newspapers?" said opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang who was jailed in that campaign.

Malaysia's leading blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, who has targeted government figures on his website "Malaysia Today", was the first to be taken into custody.

Raja Petra has already been charged with sedition and defamation after linking Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife to the sensational murder of a Mongolian woman.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar justified the arrest, saying the offending articles had insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad -- an offence in predominantly Muslim Malaysia.

"We have called him in many times and advised him on his statements but he continued until he posed a threat," he said.

Tan Hoon Cheng, a reporter for the Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily News, was also arrested after reporting on an outburst from a ruling party member who called the ethnic Chinese community "squatters".

Her report triggered a major row in the coalition which is made up of race-based parties. The leading party, which represents majority Muslim Malays, was forced to punish the member responsible.

"Her colleagues from Sin Chew Daily are shocked about the arrest," the newspaper said in a statement. "Sin Chew Daily will stand firmly by our editorial position."

The Star daily's website also reported that Teresa Kok, a lawmaker from the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party which is a member of the opposition alliance, had also been arrested under the ISA.

It did not give further details, but Kok has been defending herself against allegations that she complained about the noise of morning prayers at a mosque in her electorate. She has said the accusation is "preposterous".

The Internal Security Act, which human rights groups have pushed to have abolished, allows for renewable two-year periods of detention without trial and is normally used against suspected terrorists.

Malaysia's opposition, led by Anwar Ibrahim who is plotting to topple the government as soon as next week, condemned the move to deploy the law as "draconian and unjustified."

The Centre for Independent Journalism said the measures "bear a disturbing resemblance to the period in the lead-up to the Operasi Lalang in 1987" when dozens of activists, artists, academics and politicians were detained.

"Both incidents are similar in that it relates to ongoing political crisis within UMNO, but manifested as alleged racial tension by the government," it said in a statement.

Three Malaysian newspapers -- the Sin Chew Daily News, The Sun which is a free English-language daily, and Suara Keadilan which is published by the opposition -- were also Friday reportedly threatened with suspension.

The Star's website said the three had been issued with "show cause" letters from the home ministry, requiring them to explain their actions or face suspension.

Sep 12, 2008

Malaysia Today's Blogger Raja Petra is 'arrested under ISA'

Malaysia Today's blogger, Raja Petra Kamaruddin has been arrested under ISA according to the latest news by Malaysiakini.

(Malaysiakini) Controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin has been detained under the Internal Security Act, said his wife Marina Lee Abdullah.

According to her, Raja Petra was arrested when 10 police personnel who arrived at his home in Sungai Buloh at 1.10pm.

When Malaysiakini contacted her at 1.25pm, the police personnel were still there.

Marina said that Raja Petra has yet to appoint a lawyer to handle the matter.

This is the second time Raja Petra has been detained under ISA, which allows detention without trial.

His first arrest under the tough security law was in 2001, where he detained as part of a crackdown against reformasi activists in which nine others were also held.

Raja Petra was released about two months later. However, six of the reformasi leaders were eventually sent to the Kamunting Detention Centre in Taiping where they were detained for two years.

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Sep 11, 2008

PM Abdullah says UMNO will decide on Tun Mahathir’s return

Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Umno will decide on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s return to the party. Earlier, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been persuaded to rejoin Umno after three months out of the party.

PUTRAJAYA: Umno will decide on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s return to the party.

Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the matter would have to be discussed and decided by Umno as “this is a party matter.”

“We have not discussed the subject. My views on this alone is not enough,” he said when asked to comment on a report that the former prime minister had agreed to rejoin Umno after leaving the party in May.

The report quoted party vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as saying that Dr Mahathir had expressed his interest to return to the party. However, according to Muhyiddin, Dr Mahathir was unsure whether his application would be accepted by the supreme council.

Umno secretary-general Datuk Tengku Adnan Mansor said the party had yet to discuss this as he had not applied formally.

“So far, all we have are Muhyiddin’s words,” he said.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim described himself as “the happiest person” that Dr Mahathir was planning to return to Umno.

“Tun (Dr Mahathir) plays an important role in the party. His views will give certain a perspective over issues and I am sure that his return will bring about a positive impact.

“I hope the process of him returning to the party fold is not delayed,” he said.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad said that as a Malay, the former PM had every right to rejoin the party.

“My principle is that Umno belongs to everyone and everyone should have the right to join Umno,” he said.

Asked if this meant that Dr Mahathir could continue to criticise Abdullah’s leadership from within the party, Shahrir said being critical and vocal of the Prime Minister had never been a “condition” against joining Umno.

“Maybe it was a condition back in 1987 when the party was dissolved and Umno Baru was established. But it is no longer the condition now.

“It’s better for him (Dr Mahathir) to criticise from within the party, rather than from outside. It’s good for him to be back, I welcome him.” he said.

PM surprised by Muhyiddin's call to hand over power earlier

PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today expressed surprise over remark made by Muhyiddin Yassin that calls for PM Abdullah to hasten his exit plan.

(Malaysiakini) Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today expressed surprise over senior cabinet colleague Muhyiddin Yassin's call for the premier to hasten his exit plan.

"I am not staying on just for the pleasure of staying on," said Abdullah today. He was visibly upset when reporters posed him the question on Muhyiddin's remarks.

The prime minister said that he had a lot of responsibilities and problems to solve before he handed over the leadership to his current deputy Najib Abdul Razak in 2010.

He said that the handover plan was agreed to by the cabinet, adding that Muhyiddin was merely stating his own opinion.

Yesterday International Trade and Industry Minister Muhyiddin said Abdullah should transfer power to Najib before the agreed 2010 deadline.

He said 2010 was too far away, and recent political setbacks by the ruling coalition should prompt Abdullah to rethink his timetable.

The Umno vice-president said an earlier leadership transition would give the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition time to prepare for the next general election.

"I'm being very frank and open because I have no qualms about saying what I think is correct: 2010 is too long," Muhyiddin was quoted as saying at the sidelines of a Forbes conference held in Singapore

Sep 10, 2008

Muhyiddin says PM Abdullah should hand over power earlier

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should transfer power to his deputy Najib Abdul Razak before the agreed 2010 deadline, International Trade and Industry Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said today.

According to a Reuters news report, the Umno vice-president said this would give the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition time to prepare for the next general election.

(SINGAPORE) Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should re-think his 2010 time frame to hand over the premiership to his successor, according to Malaysian Minister for International Trade and Industries, Mr Muhyiddin Yassin.

The minister was speaking to the media after addressing the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore on Wednesday.

In his update on Malaysia's political and economic situation, Mr Muhyiddin emphasised that the investment climate in his country remains strong, despite changes in the political landscape.

He also dismissed de facto opposition leader Mr Anwar Ibrahim's plan to seize power by September 16.

"I, from the very beginning, do not believe this would happen because being in the party for many years, I do not see any trend of exodus," he said.

When asked about PM Abdullah's leadership transition plans, Mr Muhyiddin said the handover of power in 2010 is just a bit too long. He said prime minister's successor would need more time to prepare the party for the next general elections.

He said: "I even mentioned to Datuk Seri Najib, would you want to wait that length of time when you have to manage the party and lead it to the next election. Would you be sure you can win?"

On Dr Mahathir Mohamad's plans to rejoin UMNO, Mr Muhyiddin, who is one of UMNO's three vice presidents, said this is welcomed by several party leaders who look up to the former prime minister.

"That will definitely put many people in high spirits in the sense that his views are much sought after. He is still very critical of matters very close to his heart, not just Malay politics and the Barisan Nasional, and he could still contribute and that would, of course, give a lot of guidance to people," Mr Muhyiddin added.

On a separate note, the minister denied talk that he could be teaming up with Kelantan prince, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, to mount a challenge for the top UMNO leadership posts during the party elections in December.

Muhyiddin: I've invited Tun Mahathir back to Umno

Muhyiddin said the former prime minister wanted to help strengthen and rebuild the people's confidence in the party. "Tun wants to contribute and also rethink his position in Umno and we are happy to receive him at any time during this holy Ramadan. "But the decision to accept him back is entirely up to the supreme council," Muhyiddin said after chairing a Malay- sian Services Development Council Meeting.

Dr Mahathir left the party three months ago and urged others to follow him to pressure Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resign following Barisan Nasional's worst-ever electoral showing in March. Dr Mahathir had said that he would only return if there was a leadership change.

(Malaysiakini) Umno vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin said he has invited former party president Dr Mahathir Mohamad to rejoin Umno to help "fix the problems" afflicting the party.

“I persuaded him to rejoin Umno. He is considering it," Muhyiddin told reporters this morning after a closed-door meeting in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian Services Development Council.

Muhyiddin is the third-most senior Umno leader after the president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Najib Abdul Razak.

Muhyiddin said Mahathir had invited him to his residence last Saturday to express concern over problems besetting Umno, following the party's unprecedented losses in the March 8 general election.

“I have not been in touch with him for a long time… (And) there was an opportunity for me to seek his views on many things, especially political development,” explained Muhyiddin.

“But of course his interest is to see how Umno, in particular in Barisan Nasional (BN), can be reinforced and strengthened in view of the post-general election (results)… and he expressed his concern about the state politics.

“I think he is concerned about what is happening and we assessed that he feels that things are not getting better by him going out (of the pary)."

Muhyiddin said Mahathir is very concerned about recent developments in Umno and BN and public sentiments about all that is happening today.

“So I told him that, in order for him to be able contribute more, maybe he should rethink his position in Umno...he left Umno, so it is better that he reconsiders rejoining Umno,” he said.

“I told him that if he wanted to fix the problems, he should come back."

Muhyiddin said he is waiting for Mahathir's aides to officially submit his membership form to the party.

“He agreed… but he was not so sure (whether) the supreme council will accept his application,” said Muhyiddin, who is also international trade and industry minister.

“I told him, the decision to leave Umno was (by) his own free will, (at the time) the supreme council accepted it. But there was a clause that we would be happy to receive him any time he thinks of coming back."

Asked if his invitation to Mahathir would be well-received by other Umno leaders, especially those who have been at the sharp end of Mahathir's criticism, Muhyiddin was confident this would not be an issue.

“When he left, many let him go with a heavy heart. I am sure they will now welcome him back to the party,” he said.

Mahathir quit the party on May 19 after expressing disgust with Abdullah's leadership. While he said he would return only after Abdullah had been replaced, the premier has since brokered a handover pact to step down in favour of Najib in June 2010.

Sep 9, 2008

Tun Mahathir rejoins UMNO

In order to support Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for the post of UMNO president, Tun Mahathir has been persuaded to rejoin UMNO.

PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been persuaded to rejoin Umno after three months out of the party.

However, he has also decided to support Gua Musang MP and his former nemesis Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for the post of Umno president in the party elections in December.

Former Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Sabaruddin Chik, who disclosed this, said these were among the matters discussed at a private meeting at Dr Mahathir’s Cyberjaya residence last Saturday.

Besides Dr Mahathir and Sabaruddin, the meeting also involved Umno vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Tengku Razaleigh and former secretary-general Tan Sri Sanusi Junid.

Sabaruddin said Muhyiddin’s role at the meeting was to invite Dr Mahathir to rejoin Umno.

He declined comment when asked whether the International Trade and Industry Minister’s presence at the meeting implied that he might be considering running with Tengku Razaleigh for the two top posts in Umno.

Dr Mahathir, who has been a vocal critic of his hand-picked successor Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, quit Umno in May, saying that he would only return to Umno when there was a leadership change.

“Why is it surprising that Dr Mahathir wishes to rejoin Umno? He only wants to save Umno and the Barisan Nasional.

However, the decision whether to reaccept Dr Mahathir into Umno rests with the supreme council.