Abdullah badawi “terjepit”
Posted October 8, 2008on:
|PM not contesting, to quit in March|
|Oct 8, 08 4:39pm Malaysiakini.com|
|Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has decided not to defend his Umno president’s post and will quit in March next year when the ruling party meets for its annual general assembly.
The embattled premier announced this today to a packed press conference after chairing a 90-minute BN special supreme council meeting.
He added that his decision not to contest in the Umno polls was not to create a rift in the party.
“I am announcing I will not seek the presidency of Umno in the upcoming elections. I do not want a divided party and governing coalition, but one that is united and harmonious,” Abdullah told a press conference, referring to the party’s internal leadership vote in March.
Under the power transition plan agreed between Abdullah and his deputy, Najib Abdul Razak, the deputy premier will take over as soon as Abdullah steps down.”At some point I will have to hand over to my successor,” he added. “Why do I say ‘at some point’? It is because Najib will have to win the party election first. Once he has won, then we can discuss (the transition).”
Abdullah also said that he would want to implement his promises in reforming the judiciary and to give more bite to the Anti-Corruption Agency to fight graft before he leaves.
He added that Najib had agreed to back these initiatives.
Cleaning up the judiciary, police force
In pursuing these reforms, he said that he will be tabling two key bills in the Parliament before the end of his term – the Judicial Appointments Commission and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
The outgoing premier also vowed to push through the controversial Special Complaints Commission, which has been stalled in Parliament.
Abdullah had spoken much about these reforms in the past but to date no concrete action has been taken to get them moving.
“These initiatives are important because they are necessary to move our country forward. These initiatives are needed to regain our country’s competitiveness. They are necessary to enable our nation and our society to face the challenges that the world has in store for us.”
Earlier a component party leader told Malaysiakini that after Abdullah’s announcement, the BN leaders took turns to thank him for his leadership over the past five years.
While Abdullah was briefing BN leaders on the power transfer plan at the meeting, scores of his supporters had gathered outside the PWTC building to urge him to stay on.
Armed with banners, the supporters called on the embattled premier to continue until 2010 amid the now confirmed speculation that he might be forced to step down earlier.
Most short-lived as PM
Should Abdullah resign as prime minister in March 2009, he would be the most short-lived as prime minister, serving a total of five years five months.
The country’s third prime minister Hussein Onn, who resigned in 1981 to make way for Dr Mahathir Mohamad ostensibly due to health concerns, served for five years six months.
However, it is possible that he may continue to serve as premier for a couple more months despite not being Umno president.
Abdullah, who took power on Oct 31, 2003 from Mahathir, won a landslide victory in the March 2004 general election only to suffer an unprecedented defeat exactly four years later.
He was initially buoyed by a groundswell of support for his promises of reform after two decades of hardline rule under Mahathir – the country’s longest serving leader.
However, he was quickly seen as weak and ineffective after failing to come to grips with endemic corruption, high crime rates and inefficient bureaucracy, issues which he had vowed to address in his 2004 election manifesto.