Opposition woos Mahathir, but son defies his call

May 21st, 2008 - 3:29 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, May 21 (IANS) The initial response to the rebellion by Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad who quit the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) has been poor. Most lawmakers, including his son, have ignored his call that they follow suit. While UMNO lawmakers reposed their faith in Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership, only 156 members in Kedah state, to which Mahathir belongs, have followed him out of the party, reported The Sun newspaper.

Mahathir’s son Mukhriz Mahathir, 44, a first-term lawmaker, said after a meeting with Badawi that his father had quit UMNO “out of love” but that he would not do so.

However, on Tuesday, Mahathir received an invite from the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) and the Party Keadalan Rakyat (PKR) of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, whom he had sacked and jailed a decade ago. The two opposition parties have gained strength in this March’s general election and are threatening to pull down the Badawi government.

Mahathir has thus to choose between his hand picked successor Badawi and his old foe Ibrahim. Political analysts have said a Mahathir rebellion has the potential of boosting Ibrahim’s political prospects.

Ibrahim’s PKR has the support of 82 lawmakers and needs just 30 more to cross over from the Badawi-led ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) to form a government, media reports have said.

While Ibrahim has gloated over the UMNO crisis, his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail who leads the parliamentary opposition said the whole issue was “just about UMNO’s internal politics” and it showed that the party had “no direction”.

“We, however, welcome it if it makes our party stronger and they (UMNO members) are also welcome to join us,” she was quoted by The Star as saying.

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