Friday, June 30, 2006

Mahathir vs Abdullah Badawi. Have a break. Have a Kit Kat.

Looks like there's going to be some respite from all the jibes and comebacks.

According to Leslie Lopez from The Straits Times, both the PM and former PM will be taking holidays away from each other. Datuk Seri Abdullah left with his family (including Khairy, I presume) for a three-week holiday in Australia on Wednesday, while Tun Dr Mahathir will head for Europe early next week.

I have no idea why both would suddenly walk away from their spat, and timing it such as if on cue. Maybe they really do need a break. Maybe foreign locations would provide more discrete venues for clandestine meetings to marshal their resources and supporters. We'll just have to wait and see.

The Sun has gone as far as quoting Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin that "someone dear to Tun M and respected by Pak Lah" will mediate between the two. Time will tell if this eventually comes to pass. But even if I were a betting man, I wouldn't place too much money on a truce resulting from it.

In the meantime, a lot's happened after Tun Mahathir's speech at the Malaysia Today sponsored event on Saturday last week which was attended by many from the opposition.

Many cabinet ministers have commenced barking. Sparking it all, like a bang from the starter's gun, was the outburst from Law Minister in the PM's Dept Nazri Aziz. Then came Entrepreneur Development Minister Khaled Nordin, Agriculture Minister Muyiddin Yassin, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar and Education Minister Hishammudin Hussein. Pardon me if I left someone out. But all of them carried basically the same message, albeit at varying intensity. By speaking at a function attended by opposition representatives, Tun M is in bed with the opposition (and is therefore disloyal to UMNO). In addition, whatever he has to say to say to the govt, should be said behind closed doors... to preserve "party unity". Basically, retire already, don't rock the boat lah.

Doesn't sound like anything more than toeing the party line to me.

Now even former Deputy PM Anwar Ibrahim is getting plenty of coverage in the mainstream press. He has said that he's being considered to replace Kofi Annan as Secretary General of the United Nations. Well... that's what he says lah. We've yet to see Annan or US State Secretary Condoleeza Rice pay him a visit at his house.

He's also had some comments on the Tun M - Pak Lah situation. He said Tun M should be allowed to ask questions and the govt should respond as those are relevant questions. He also agrees that Tun M, like him, has been largely ignored by mainstream media. And he says that this feud has the potential to destabilise UMNO. He goes on to say that Tun M's motives are personal.

Err... right. Tell us something we don't know, why don'tcha? That was nothing more than simple regurgitation of what bloggers, letters to the editor, coffeshop commentators have been saying for weeks.

And this last one is more interesting. P Gunasegaram, who's some don't-know-what executive editor at The Edge had an article published in the same. He's gone and listed 22 questions directed at Tun M, seeking answers to some big questions that were the result of Tun M's 22 year administration. They range from perceived bad economic decisions like using EPF money to support failing GLCs, to megaprojects like KLIA and Putrajaya, to Anwar's imprisonment and to the Islamisation of what used to be Constitutionally secular Malaysia.

He asks some relevant questions, but I would dispute the purpose of asking them now. Why now? Why now when Tun M is no longer in power and when getting answers to those questions about a malfunctioning previous administration will do nothing more (or nothing less) than help the current malfunctioning administration get the monkey off its back?

Is that really what the Malaysian public needs? Divert attention away from the current administration's problems by focusing on the past? Aren't we better served by having Tun M stick a hot iron into the arse of the current govt - with the hope that some improvement might actually result from this? Notwithstanding whether Tun M has any ulterior motives or not.

Like it or not, there is nobody else capable of forcing the govt to explain itself. And from everything that has transpired since the last general election, there is a lot to explain, don't you agree?

Late breaking news (added on 1 July 2006):

Title : Malaysia's ex-premier agrees to mediator in PM spat
By :
Date : 01 July 2006 1920 hrs (SST)

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's former premier Mahathir Mohamad has agreed to let a mediator try and salvage his crumbling relationship with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, state media said Saturday.

Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin, known to be close to Mahathir, said the former leader had agreed late Friday to meet with a mediator to discuss Abdullah, the target of caustic criticism from his predecessor.

"I told Dr Mahathir it is difficult for (Abdullah) to meet him privately because (Mahathir) has shown his unhappiness with the prime minister," he told the Bernama news agency Saturday.

"Dr Mahathir agreed to accept the mediator," he added.

The name of the mystery mediator was not known but was thought to be a mutual friend of the two prime ministers.

Mahathir has bitterly criticised Abdullah and his administration in recent weeks over their handling of the economy, and key national issues.

The ruling United Malays National Organisation has become increasingly worried by the public dispute, which has sparked speculation of a party rift and fears of political instability.

Mahathir's office, when contacted, declined to comment on the use of a mediator to resolve the spat, but said the former leader was leaving Sunday to holiday in Europe, and would return to Malaysia on July 20.

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