Saturday, September 09, 2006

MAHATHIR's DDay to Political ISOLATION; 50-50 he Predicts; APPEALS: WITHDRAW Contest; FRONT Seat Better; NAZRI: NO Humiliation, a DOSE of his Medicine

UPDATE: 18:45Pm Sep 09 06; The verdict is out

Dr M Fails In Bid To Be Kubang Pasu Umno Delegate; Sept. 09, 2006 18:11 PM

JITRA, Sept 9 (Bernama) -- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad failed in his bid to get elected as a delegate of the Kubang Pasu Umno division to the Umno General Assembly in November.

The former prime minister, who garnered 227 votes, came in ninth of the 15 candidates who contested for the seven elected delegates.
The results were announced at
5.08pm by the Alor Star Umno division head Datuk Ahmad Bashah Md Hanifah who was the Kedah Umno liaison committee representative.

The moment the results were announced, many observers walked out of the meeting hall and some were visibly unhappy with the results.
Dr Mahathir was not at the hall when the results were announced. He is believed to have returned to
Kuala Lumpur.
ABOVE:Tun Dr Mahathir arriving in the morning being greeted by his loyal supporters BELOW: Seating in the front during the opening but at the back as observers during the meeting

In the morning, Dr Mahathir and his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, were seated at the guest seat during the opening of the meeting by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.
They moved to the observers seat at the back of the meeting hall when the meeting started at

ABOVE: A section of the delegates at this historical meeting and BELOW: The Timbalan Ketua & Naib Ketua

Dr Mahathir and Dr Siti Hasmah left the hall at about 2pm and are believed to have returned to Kuala Lumpur after cancelling their visit to Langkawi.

Delegates casting their votes

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir's son, Datuk Mukhriz, who received 289 votes, emerged fifth and was among the division's seven elected delegates to the three-day assembly.

The Kubang Pasu Umno delegates conference hogged the limelight when Dr Mahathir, who is also former Umno president, offered to contest as a delegate.

Kubang Pasu Umno Calls For Dr M And Abdullah To Resolve Differences; September 09, 2006 15:53 PM

JITRA, Sept 9 (Bernama) -- Kubang Pasu Umno chief Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum took the opportunity of the presence of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the division's delegates conference Saturday to urge the former prime minister and Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resolve their differences amicably.

He said his call was in line with the established party tradition to resolve problems through negotiations.

Their differences did not augur well for Umno as they could erode the strength and harmony in Umno and the Opposition would surely take advantage to "fish in troubled waters."

"I don't think we are prepared to ruin the party merely due to differences of opinion, we should return to the basics in party politics and abide by the philosophy of our forefathers who gave priority to Umno and its struggles," he said when opening the division's delegates conference by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

Dr Mahathir, who helmed the division for 30 years, is vying for one of the division's seven elected delegates to the Umno General Assembly in November.

Mohd Johari, who was former political secretary to Dr Mahathir and Abdullah, said Kubang Pasu Umno wants to be the role model of moderation and not extreme in the issue of the two leaders.

"While we take the stance to hold Dr Mahathir in high regard as an Umno stalwart and statesman, we must also support Abdullah as the prime minister and Umno president.

"While we accept Abdullah as the successor shown by Dr Mahathir himself, it is appropriate for us to give our full support to his leadership. We must stand firmly with Abdullah," he said.

Mahdzir, in his speech, stressed on the unity among Umno members as the party was the government's backbone and the platform for Malay struggles.


Malaysia's Mahathir fails key test of support in ruling party

By SEAN YOONG Associated Press Writer; Sep 9, 7:35 AM EDT

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad failed a key test of his support Saturday, as ruling party members in his home state rejected his bid to become a delegate who can address the party's annual congress.

The defeat marks a dramatic blow for Mahathir, who has accused
Malaysia's current leadership of trying to prevent him from voicing grievances against the government during the United Malays National Organization's general assembly in November.

Mahathir will be invited to the UMNO congress as the party's former president, but he wants to be able to give a speech - a right typically reserved for top current office-bearers and delegates representing UMNO's nearly 200 local divisions.

Roughly 470 UMNO members in Mahathir's former parliamentary constituency, Kubang Pasu in the northern state of Kedah, cast ballots Saturday to choose seven delegates from a roster of 15 candidates, including Mahathir and his son, Mukhriz.

Even though Kubang Pasu had been considered Mahathir's political stronghold
since the 1970s, Mahathir only came in ninth at Saturday's election, obtaining votes from just 227 members, officials announced. Mukhriz made the cut, ranking fifth among the top seven vote-winners.

In a speech, Kubang Pasu's UMNO division chief Johari Baharum urged Mahathir to settle his grievances with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,
stressing that no one should "ruin the party merely due to differences of

Mahathir, 81, who retired in 2003 after 22 years in power, attended the gathering, but left nearly two hours before the results were announced.

Mukhriz said he informed his father of the result, and that they both were disappointed.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied any attempt to manipulate the
vote. However, senior UMNO officials earlier urged Mahathir to abandon his plan to become a local delegate, saying the position is unworthy of his stature as a former premier.

Mahathir has said if he isn't elected, UMNO leaders could claim his influence has dwindled and that his current opinions have failed to resonate with members.

In recent months, Mahathir has launched stinging criticism of Abdullah, his
hand-picked successor, accusing him of mishandling national interests and of
allowing his family to influence his decisions.

Abdullah and Cabinet ministers have dismissed Mahathir's criticism and warned that UMNO should avoid unnecessary debate that could split the party, which has led the government for nearly 50 years.

Mahathir first expressed displeasure last year by accusing the government of not protecting the national car maker, which he had championed. He stepped up attacks after Abdullah scrapped plans this year for a new bridge between
Malaysia and Singapore, which Mahathir proposed.


Saturday September 09 2006 is the Doomsday for Tun Dr Mahathir in his fight to be a delegate to the UMNO’s General Assembly in November. With the government machinery fully stacks against him and the perception of the people changing; he rated his own chances as 50-50 of being elected. But he would like to play the underdog and might still spring a surprise as there are still many sympathizers within his old constituency.

Playing up all his fears, being unwanted and allegations that PM Abdullah mistakes are harmful to the country, he is appealing to the sentiments of the people in his old constituency. A local sympathetic website has a poll giving him 92% being elected. And his fate is sealed by 509 members from 143 branches who are attending the division's delegates meeting.

Dr Mahathir's Place Is With VIPs Not Delegates, Says Wanita Umno; September 08, 2006 18:32 PM
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8 (Bernama) -- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as a former Umno president, should sit in the VIP seat and not with the delegates at the party's general assembly, Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz said Friday.

She said Dr Mahathir had been given a special seat in keeping with his status.
"The way Wanita Umno sees it, it's not nice for an ex-president who is given a special seat at the assembly (to sit with the delegates).

"Normally, the former presidents are invited as special observers. That's what we normally do, that's our tradition," she told reporters when asked to comment on Dr Mahathir's intention to contest to be a Kubang Pasu delegate to the Umno general assembly in November.

Rafidah, who was met after chairing the Wanita Umno exco meeting here, said, however, it was up to Dr Mahathir to decide. "Secondly, it is up to the Kubang Pasu Umno division to decide on the matter," she added.

Dr Mahathir, who on Aug 23 announced his intention to be a delegate for Kubang Pasu, has received 15 nominations and is among 17 candidates vying for the seven delegates' seats.
His position will be decided by 509 members from 143 branches who are attending the division's delegates meeting Saturday.

Rafidah also said that as of June this year, Wanita Umno had 1.335 million members including over 10,000 new members registered in the last six months.
She said that besides the membership drive and efforts to strengthen the movement, the exco meeting also discussed efforts to explain the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the initiatives in the 2007 Budget to the people

Kubang Pasu Umno Advised To Vote Against Dr M To Safeguard His Status; September 08, 2006 00:13 AM

KUALA KRAI, Sept 8 (Bernama) -- Two Umno state liaison committee chairmen have advised Kubang Pasu Umno division members against voting for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as a delegate at the party general assembly in November.

Johor Umno Liaison Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman and his Kelantan counterpart Datuk Seri Annuar Musa concurred that it would not be appropriate for the former prime minister to be seated among the delegates at the general assembly after having held the reins of the party for a long time.

They felt that Dr Mahathir should continue to be regarded in high esteem.

"Make the best decision this Saturday and I believe Kubang Pasu Umno members will place Tun Dr Mahathir in his present status," Abdul Ghani, who is also Johor Menteri Besar, told reporters after opening the Kuala Krai Umno division delegates meeting here.

Annuar said he was against the election of Dr Mahathir as a delegate for Kubang Pasu because if the former prime minister was elected, it would affect the morale of party members.
"I feel Umno members want to see Tun occupy a front seat as a distinguished guest at the general assembly and not as a delegate," he added.

Abdul Ghani said Umno Johor would share the secret behind its untainted unity with Kelantan Umno to pave the way for the Barisan Nasional (BN) to wrest control of the state from PAS in the next general election.

He said that by returning BN to power, the problems in the state, such as poverty, could be solved.

Final Appeal To Dr Mahathir To Withdraw Candidacy As Umno Delegate; September 07, 2006 23:58 PM

JITRA, Sept 7 (Bernama) -- With one more day to go before the Kubang Pasu Umno division delegates meeting, its head Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum has made a final appeal to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to withdraw his candidacy as a delegate to the Umno general assembly in November.
Johari said he had sent a letter to the former party president and former prime minister urging him not to take part in the contest on Saturday for it would not be appropriate for him as a statesman.

"This is a final appeal before the divisional delegates meeting on Saturday. I humbly make this appeal to Tun," he said while keeping his emotion in check at a press conference that was attended by most of the division's committee members.
Although the former prime minister was not barred from contesting, he said the division hoped that he would withdraw to safeguard his image.

Mohd Johari said he had high regard for Dr Mahathir who had headed the division for 30 years.
"We have not asked anything from Tun. We just want to appeal to Tun," he said.
When asked what if Dr Mahathir ignored the appeal, Mohd Johari said: "It's his right. If he wants to contest, we will not stop him. But I'll be sad," he said.

Mohd Johari, who is also Deputy Internal Security Minister, said Dr Mahathir, who had received 15 nominations, was among 17 candidates vying to be seven elected delegates to the Umno general assembly.

No Attempt By Umno To Block Dr M; September 07, 2006 14:22 PM

BANGI, Sept 7 (Bernama) -- Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Thursday denied that there was an attempt by the party to block its former president, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, from becoming a delegate to the Umno general assembly in November.

"There is no attempt by Umno to block him," he told reporters after launching the Inland Revenue territorial army corps at the Malaysia Tax Academy here.

Najib was asked to comment on Dr Mahathir's recent allegation on the matter.
Dr Mahathir's candidacy as a delegate will be decided at the Kubang Pasu Umno annual meeting this Saturday.

INTERVIEW - Malaysia's Mahathir faces political isolation

By Mark Bendeich Fri Sep 8, 2006 3:23 PM IST

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (Reuters) - Mahathir Mohamad, the face of Malaysian politics for a generation, is no longer sure of winning more than a few hundred votes in his home state.

Mahathir, who ruled the country with a firm hand for 22 years, conceded on Friday that he faced defeat at the weekend in one of the smallest contests the ruling party has to offer.

"It's 50-50
," the 81-year-old told Reuters, when asked his chances of winning.

Mahathir wants his division of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) -- a group numbering about 500 members -- to elect him on Saturday as a delegate to its annual assembly, so he can use the meeting to air grievances about the government.

Mahathir, who retired from politics in late 2003, emerged from quiet retirement this year to launch scathing criticisms of his chosen successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, accusing the current administration of selling out sovereignty and lacking "guts".

He is upset at recent decisions to scrap major state projects conceived during his reign and says he wants to explain his position at the assembly, a move that could deepen splits within UMNO and embarrass Abdullah, the party president.

"I want to point out the mistakes that he made that's harmful to the country. The rest is up to the party," Mahathir said in his office in Putrajaya, the still-unfinished administrative capital built by his government on old rubber-plantation land.

He denied he wanted to topple Abdullah.

"I have no means to topple him," said Mahathir, wearing a collarless Nehru suit, sitting at a large desk covered with hand-written notes and no computer.

Local blogs brim with talk that Mahathir wants to use the assembly to undermine and ultimately unseat Abdullah, who Mahathir accuses of betrayal, of ditching projects and policies that he had agreed to continue under the new administration.
Business and foreign investors, too, have been rattled by the row, afraid of political instability. But as time goes by, they wonder if Mahathir has finally reached the end of the road.

"They (the government) feel they are in control and Mahathir doesn't seem to be able to throw much at them, except complain of being a pariah, being pushed aside," said Ooi Kee Beng, a fellow of the Institute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore.
"People might feel a bit sad this old man has to end up like this."

Mahathir played on this sentiment on Friday, accusing the government of pressuring party members not to vote for him on Saturday, when UMNO's Kubang Pasu division meets in a public hall near his birthplace in the rural, northwest state of Kedah.
"It's in order to humiliate me," he said. "It just shows how worried and frightened they are of what I have to say ... If I lose, then they will say that even my own division rejected me."

Abdullah has refused to engage in public debate with Mahathir, but one of his ministers, Nazri Abdul Aziz, has been vocal. Nazri denied on Friday the government was out to humiliate Mahathir or was forcing party members not to vote for him.
"That's probably what he would have done when he was prime minister," Nazri told Reuters. "I think he's getting a piece of (his own) medicine for whatever he did to others when he was prime minister."

All around Mahathir, parts of his legacy are being chipped away and his reputation eroded, say his supporters.
Mahathir's Putrajaya office overlooks an unfinished suspension bridge spanning a man-made lake but unconnected to any road. There are no construction crews, the site is abandoned -- a daily reminder of how work has stopped on Mahathir's dream.

The office is housed in his Perdana Leadership Foundation, a thinktank, which has become an isolated base for Mahathir supporters. Mahathir says the foundation has had to cancel some events because the government has stopped people from attending.
Mahathir said he would not stop criticising the government if it succeeded in blocking his attempt to be a delegate at November's assembly. But he portrayed it as a lonely struggle, saying his years of strong support within UMNO had ended.

"No longer," said the man who only four years ago brought the party's assembly to tears by announcing his resignation. "Nobody sees me – and nobody can see me, nobody can talk to me, even civil servants.
"I am alone," he added. (Additional reporting by Jalil Hamid)
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