Apr 6, 2009

Tun Mahathir: I will not accept senior minister post

Just two days after rejoining Umno, ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad ruled out taking a senior minister post in Najib Abdul Razak's cabinet but is open to being an unofficial advisor to the government.

Mahathir also appeared to have withdrawn earlier criticism of the BN takeover of Perak, by addressing BN's Zambry Abd Kadir as the Perak menteri besar.

TAIPING, April 6 - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today shot down speculation that he would be appointed a senior minister in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's Cabinet but did not rule out the possibility of serving as an advisor in an unofficial capacity.

Government sources have however told The Malaysian Insider that Najib has asked the former PM to focus on strengthening Umno, making it clear that Dr Mahathir will not have a role in government.

"No position in Cabinet," said Dr Mahathir today to questions of whether he would be appointed a senior minister in the new Cabinet expected to be announced by Najib soon.

"Unofficially yes, I am retired so I should remain retired," he said when asked whether he was willing to serve as an advisor.

On the allegation by the opposition that he was going to dictate the direction of the new administration, he said it was made without basis.

"They condemn Mahathirism. What is wrong with Mahathirism? The country was developed for 22 years because of Mahathirism. So I think it is good," he told reporters.

He said that despite his support to Najib who was appointed Prime Minister last Friday, he would still continue to criticise the government if it does anything wrong.

"I find that Umno is now willing to listen to the people so is Datuk Najib and he has taken early steps to release ISA detainees, to allow Harakah to be published again and he met the people after he came to

office," said Dr Mahathir who left Umno in May last year to express his dissatisfaction with the administration of Tun Abdullah Badawi before rejoining the party last Saturday.

Dr Mahathir also said it is up to Najib whether to appoint Abdullah's son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin who won the Umno Youth chief post to the Cabinet.

"That is not for me to determine. It is up to Datuk Najib, I am no longer the prime minister, fortunately or unfortunately," he said.

When asked about his criticism on the legality of the newly formed Perak government, Dr Mahathir said he is now supporting the government which was formed last February.

"We have to support, unless of course they can prove legally that it is wrong, so that it is a different matter. But at the moment it seems accepted by the people," said Dr Mahathir.

On why he had raised doubts on the legality of the Perak government in his blog he said: "The explanation is very simple. I am not a judge, maybe I am wrong, and it depends on the judge."

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