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The Abdullah-Mahathir saga: Impact on cross-strait ties?

Updated On: Jun 27, 2006

In response to Umno’s full public support for PM Badawi during the Supreme Council meeting last Monday, former PM Mahathir had used the public meeting organised by Malaysia Today (malaysiakini) with yet another round of verbal assaults. 

This time he accused all his former cabinet colleagues as “dancers”. “They are like a chorus line. They are all dancing. When one kicks, all will kick. They are like the Rockettes,” he said.  He also attributed PM Badawi’s silent treatment as weakness in leadership.

While Mahathir is sidelined by the local media with the exception of the private TV3 station which aired his speech, he drew support from theopposition such as Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and the Democratic Action Party, which sawthe outbursts as useful ammunition against the current administration.  

Mahathir in his anger over the scuppering of the bridge project had also been relentless in his attacks on Singapore.  At the public meeting, he repeated his accusations of Singapore being calculative, remarking that 'For 22 years, I have tried, but trying to be friendly with Singapore, it is not possible. They won't be friendly with us, they think of themselves only.

What remained to be seen is also whether his relentless attacks on Singapore over the bridge issue might gave opposition politicians and others the excuse to launch an “open season” against Singapore and complicate the bilateral ties and any ongoing negotiations between the two neighbours on a number of outstanding issues.  

Yet if the media blackout on Mahathir’s tirade has any indication, it would be that the current administration is taking a firm stance to focus on the country’s development, as evidenced by strong coverage of PM Badawi’s speech at the Malaysian Indian Congress' assembly on the same day, for Barisan Nasional component parties to transcend communal interests to realise Malaysia's goal to become a developed country by 2020. Hopefully, such rationality and even-handedness would also prevail in the bilateral ties with Singapore.

Sources:

Mahathir goads PM Abdullah over silence (Reuters/The Straits Times, 24 June 2006)

Mahathir strikes again (The Straits Times, 25 June 2006)

M'sian minister urges Mahathir to leave party (AP/The Straits Times, 26 June 2006)

Opposition now instant fans of former prime minister (The Straits Times, 26 June 2006)