PM, Dr M in name calling mode, but not against each other

Posted by SM Maulana

KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — It’s mud raking time in Malaysia for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

When Abdullah chairs an emergency Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting this afternoon, he is likely to tell component party leaders of the lunchtime conversation he had with Datuk Yong Teck Lee several weeks ago at his family home in Jalan Bellamy.

That was around the time the Sabah Progressive Party president had been making threatening noises about the lack of respect shown by Barisan Nasional leaders towards Sabah BN MPs and the marginalisation of Sabahans by the federal government.

Abdullah invited Yong to his home, served him lunch and talked politics. During the course of conversation, the SAPP chief broached the possibility of being appointed as a senator and then a federal minister.

Yong did not contest Election 2008 after his request to stand in Kota Kinabalu was turned down by the BN leadership. There is also a push from Abdullah’s supporters for him to disclose correspondence from Yong, where the latter demands the return of Labuan to Sabah.

Though there has been overwhelming support for Abdullah from BN party chiefs since SAPP announced that it was going to table a motion of no confidence against the PM in Parliament on Monday, the PM knows that he has to wage a campaign to convince Malaysians that he is not a weak leader, as portrayed by Yong and the SAPP.

Instead, he will try to show that he is paying the price of standing firm against the unreasonable demands made by Yong and hope that this disclosure will persuade other SAPP members to distance themselves from the no-confidence gambit.

Ironically, his nemesis Tun Dr Mahathir is also in the mud-raking mode. The target of his attack: his long-time colleague in the Cabinet, MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

Stung by criticism from Samy Vellu that he did not do much for the Indian community while he was the prime minister for 22 years, Dr Mahathir hit back.

He noted that the MIC president wanted to free the Hindraf leaders who were being detained under the Internal Security Act.

He said that Hindraf represents “Tamil racists who still look to their old masters, the British, to protect them. They don’t believe in Malaysian institutions”. And said that the MIC chief was exposing his deep racist sentiments by sympathising with Hindraf.

“He insisted that he was the only leader of the Indians. He refused to allow other Indian political parties to join the Barisan Nasional. His arrogance was unbearable. The defeat of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) is entirely because of him,” said Dr Mahathir in his blog., promising to provide extracts of what Samy Vellu said while the former was the PM.

“You can then judge what kind of Indian the Indians have as their leader,” said the former prime minister, who has used his blog to lash out at his critics.

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