Malaysian crisis persists, say analysts

May 22nd, 2008 - 3:27 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, May 22 (IANS) Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has won resounding support from lawmakers of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), but analysts said the political crisis persists. Ninety-five percent of the 79 UMNO lawmakers attended an emergency meeting Badawi convened during the lunch hour in parliament, party officials claimed Wednesday.

The meeting was in response to Badawi’s predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad, quitting the UMNO that he helped found way back in 1946, explicitly saying that he was doing so because Badawi had not quit the party leadership despite a debacle in the March election.

Mahathir’s departure, which cast further doubt on Abdullah’s future, raised Malaysia’s political hazards and spooked investors as the government grapples with high inflation, slowing economy and rising subsidies, The Sun newspaper said Thursday.

UMNO and the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), both led by Badawi, fared badly, losing the two-thirds majority advantage in the election that marked the emergence of an 82-strong opposition in Parliament.

The BN also lost control of five states, triggering demands that Badawi step aside.

Mahathir, who had hand-picked Badawi in 2003, has been increasingly critical of him since the poll debacle. He quit the UMNO last Monday triggering the crisis.

His wife and businessman son Mokhzani too have quit the party. But his other son Mukhriz, a first-term lawmaker, said he would stay on, while supporting his father’s action which, he said, was taken “out of love for UMNO”.

Although Mukhriz met Badawi before announcing his decision that has not spared him disciplinary action from the party for supporting the father.

Mukhriz stayed away from the meeting Badawi chaired Wednesday, The Sun newspaper said.

The Star newspaper speculated that Mukhriz was “staying to fight from within”.

The crisis for Badawi and his government has persisted because opposition alliance leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is “waiting in the wings”, The Star said quoting political sources.

Ibrahim, who needs 30 lawmakers to cross over from the BN to form a government has been upbeat about UMNO’s internal crisis for long, claiming that the opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would form a new government by September this year.

Ibrahim has said his group had the numbers to topple the government.

“The excessive politicking has generated extra uncertainties into the whole political and economic environment,” said Zainal Aznam Yusof, a senior fellow at Malaysia’s Institute of Strategic and International Studies.

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