Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has resigned from the ruling party as a protest to how his hand-picked successor had ran the party thus far. His successor, PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over the helm in 2003 and since then, things had been going on a landslide. In the latest general elections, Umno did not manage to get the minimum majority in parliament and had to settle for less. This prompted a lot of displeasure from the former premier as well as some law makers in the party. He is also asking the rest of the party members to follow suit so that PM Abdullah will have no choice but to step down and for fresh elections to be called.

KUALA LUMPUR – FORMER Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad has quit the ruling party Umno in protest over the leadership of his successor Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, his son said on Monday.

‘Dr Mahathir has resigned from Umno in protest over Pak Lah’s continued leadership as both the prime minister and president of Umno,’ Mr Mokhzani Mahathir said, referring to Mr Abdullah by his nickname.

‘He will also write a letter to the Umno secretary-general to inform him of his resignation,’ he said, adding that Dr Mahathir announced his departure during a speech on Monday in Alor Star, the capital of his home state Kedah.

‘He made it clear at the gathering at Alor Star that he is resigning in protest over the current leadership,’ he said.

Dr Mahathir ruled Malaysia and the dominant United Malays National Organisation (Umno) for 22 years until 2003 when he handed over to Abdullah, his hand-picked successor.

However, in recent times he has been a vocal critic of Mr Abdullah’s administration and since disastrous March general elections, which produced Umno’s worst ever results, has actively campaigned for him to step down.

News website Malaysiakini quoted Dr Mahathir as urging all Umno ministers and party leaders to follow him by quitting the party, and return only when Mr Abdullah has departed.

‘I will only come back to the party when there is a change in leadership,’ it quoted him as telling the Alor Star gathering.

‘Wait till Mr Abdullah quits as the prime minister and party president and then we can return to Umno,’ he reportedly said.

Mr Shahrir Samad, a cabinet minister and senior Umno member, said Dr Mahathir’s surprise move could trigger a flurry of resignations from the embattled party that could force Mr Abdullah to hold fresh general elections.

‘By Tun doing this it could cause a situation where many other Umno lawmakers might resign,’ he said, using Dr Mahathir’s honorific title.

‘If this happens then the government has no choice but to form a new government or call a fresh general election,’ the domestic trade and consumer affairs minister said.

‘Certainly it is not helpful or constructive to the struggle of Umno right now,’ he said, as the party fends off a challenge from opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim who says he could soon seize power with the help of defectors.

Mr Shahrir said that while Mr Anwar was threatening to snatch lawmakers from the smaller parties with which Umno rules in coalition, Dr Mahathir could chip away at the ranks of the ruling party itself.

‘This will be a reduction of the number of Umno lawmakers which is the ruling party of the present government,’ he said.

‘I suppose it is Dr Mahathir’s way of trying to force a call for a referendum from the grass roots.’

The Star’s website quoted Umno information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib as saying he was surprised at Dr Mahathir’s abrupt departure.

‘Every member has the right to join or leave the party,’ he said.

Asked whether Umno would convene an emergency meeting in response to the move, he said that ‘we will wait and see.’

Dr Mahathir, 82, joined Umno at its inception in 1946 and he has weathered a number of storms including his expulsion from the party in 1969 and a 1988 crisis when Umno was declared illegal. — AFP

Article obtained from on 19th May 2008

Reader's Comments

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: