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Mahathir thrusted himself into the centre of Malaysian politics

Updated On: Jun 30, 2006

Mahathir is back in the news in a big way in Malaysian and Singapore papers.

His “vicious” attacks on his former colleagues seemed to be spiraling out of control. The issue has gone beyond mere internal party politics but has spilled over to national politics and concerns over what these would mean for Malaysia’s image.   The strong exchange of words between Mahathir and some of his present colleagues have gotten quite bad that one had even called openly for Mahathir to leave the UMNO party.  The Deputy Prime Minister was compelled to tell the international press that things were not as bad as it seems. Asked if this matter will erode investors’ confidence, Najib said he did not think so. “I think we can convince them that this is a stable Government and we have a strong mandate,” he said.

Cabinet ministers are also beginning to speak to the international press directly about the Mahathir outbursts. “The more statements he makes, the deeper he gets involved with the country's administrative issues, and he will hurt himself more,” Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin told reporters after opening the Non-Aligned Movement News Network yesterday.

Outside of Malaysia and Singapore, the spats were of course not as extensively reported.  Antara had taken notice of the Mahathir outburst and chose to focus on Mahathir’s conspiracy theory. "I know that there is this process of demonizing me so that I will be hated by UMNO. At that stage, I think they will take action to expel me. At this moment, not yet," Mahathir told reporters.  Opinion pieces to fathom the reasons for Mahathir’s outburst have appeared quite prominently inSingapore papers.  Most seem to hint at the competition for resources by the different factions allied to Mahathir and the present Prime Minister Badawi. 

Reflecting the scepticism of the west towards former strongmen of the east, The Economist editorialized that perhaps Mahathir is “still finding it hard to adjust to retirement” and is facing a bout of “post-prime-ministerial syndrome”.

Sources:

Enough Dr M (The Star, 28 June 2006)

Mahathir blast for the West (The Age, 28 June 2006)

DPM: We’ll explain issue (The Star, 28 June 2006)

Nazri has no right to make demand, says Mahathir (The Star, 28 June 2006)

Nazri’s outburst was too extreme, say party leaders (The Star, 28 June 2006)

He was ‘slightly overboard’ (The Star, 28 June 2006)

State chiefs voice concern over friction (The Star, 28 June 2006)

Mahathir's loyalty questioned (New Straits Times, 28 June 2006)

'People and country the big losers' from spat (The Straits Times, 28 June 2006)

Khaled: Malaysians have faith in Abdullah’s administration (New Straits Times, 28 June 2006)

Vision 2020 beyond Malaysia's reach, says ex-premier (The Straits Times, 28 June 2006)

Dr M: There’s attempt to demonise me (New Straits Times, 28 June 2006)

Mahathir expects to be expelled from Umno (The Straits Times, 28 June 2006)

Country’s image remains intact, says Najib (New Straits Times, 28 June 2006)

Minister tells Dr M: Be a man, quit party (Today, 27 June 2006)

Minister declares 'open war' on Mahathir (Bernama, 27 June 2006)

Nazri accuses Dr M of sleeping with the enemy (New Straits Times, 27 June 2006)

PM: I have a job to do (The Star, 27 June 2006)

Leave Umno, Nazri tells Dr M (The Star, 27 June 2006)

Mahathir speaks of campaign to expel him from ruling party (ANTARA, 27 June 2006)

Malaysia says Mahathir-Abdullah rift not damaging country's image (Channelnewsasia, 27 June 2006)

Mahathir says he expects to be expelled from UMNO over criticism (Channelnewsasia, 27 June 2006)

Senior Malaysian minister calls for Mahathir to leave ruling party (Channelnewsasia, 26 June 2006)

Mahathir lashes Badawi (The Economist, 15 June 2006)

What lies beneath Mahathir’s attacks (Straits Times, 29 June 2006)