Monday, March 10, 2008


Mahathir blames Abdullah for election debacle


Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said his successor, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, must take full responsibility for the major defeat suffered by Barisan Nasional (BN) in the just-concluded general election “He should accept responsibility for this, just as in 2004 the huge victory was reportedly due to him, 100 per cent, and that was said by the then secretary-general of Umno. “But now also he should accept 100 per cent responsibility. He has destroyed Umno, he has destroyed BN, and he should be responsible for this massive defeat,” he told a news conference held hours after the polis results were announced here. The former prime minister said it was shocking that the BN had been trounced in five states and the Federal Territory due to the same signal sent by all the three major races - Malays, Chinese and Indians. I think the Japanese would have committed hara kiri. But I think Malays are not up to this yet. I think he should consider stepping down,” he said, adding that he would have done the same thing if he was in Abdullah’s shoes now. To a question on whether the BN had miscalculated in holding the general election early, Dr Mahathir said he doubted that postponing it another year would make any difference in terms of results, as “the people’s dissatisfaction against Abdullah’s administration was already boiling over”. “Four years after the last election, he has done so many things which were wrong but these people (media) keep on reporting how the people loved him,” he said. Issues leading to the dissatisfaction against the Government included the perception that despite high figures on economic growth announced by the Government as well as the launch of development corridors, the people on the ground did not feel anything (its benefits). “They have observed that this Government is run by one family for the family. As long as you have that kind of arrangement where family takes precedence over the Cabinet, over the Government itself, I think people would want to go against them,” he said. Answering another question, he said it is up to Umno to decide on Abdullah’s successor should the latter step down, or probably Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak could take over. “Datuk Seri Najib has scored an amazing victory, more than the 2004 result when it was the best year for BN. His majority increased while Abdullah’s decreased quite significantly,” he said. - Dr Mahathir said a government formed with a simple majority was a weak government, especially in a multi-racial country which could cause instability, among others, and later affect investors’ confidence. He, however, said there was hope yet for the BN to rectify the damage, provided it took note of the signal sent by the people. To another question, Dr Mahathir said he believed it would be difficult for Abdullah to step down voluntarily as, until now, Abdullah still did not comprehend the ramifications of the losses and put the blame of the defeat on the people instead. Expressing his sadness over the losses, the former premier said he did not expect BN to lose to such an extent. On the resurgence of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in this election, Dr Mahathir said he believed that Anwar was still “relevant” but he would never become the prime minister of this country. Asked about the possibility of the Opposition keeping their promises as stated in their manifestos, he said: “They simply made such promises as they did not think that they would form the government but I doubt they could deliver their promises when they gained control of five states.” Dr Mahathir said he would continue to play his role as a citizen by voicing out his opinions as well as sharing them if needed. “I don’t want any official title, senior minister or advisor, but if they come to me and ask my advice, I’m willing to share it for the benefit of the country,” he said. On his son Datuk Mukhriz’s victory in the Jerlun parliamentary constituency, he said it was just a normal success, albeit with a bigger majority. - Bernama