AFP | Jan 30, 08 4:23pm
Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said he never intended his successor Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to serve more than one term and suggested he should stand down.
Abdullah, who has had a very public falling out with the veteran leader, will contest for his second term in general elections expected to be held in March.
Mahathir previously said he made a mistake in picking Abdullah, and should have opted for influential deputy prime minister Najib Razak.
“That was my thinking, since (Abdullah) was older than Najib, he should be PM for one term and then Najib should be able to take over,” he told a press conference at the launch of selected letters to world leaders.
“I know it takes time to implement plans and projects but I think if that is to be used as an excuse to stay in power for 18 years then that will not be very welcome.”
Abdullah won a landslide victory in 2004 polls when voters were enthused by his plans to fight corruption, but since then he has been widely criticised for inaction and suffered a steep tumble in popularity.
In recent months he has faced an unprecedented wave of public protests over the rights of minority ethnic Indians, as well as electoral reform and rising food and fuel prices.
“They see a government that is retreating and they want to take advantage,” Mahathir said of the street rallies which would have been unthinkable during his term in power which ended in 2003 after more than two decades.
Abdullah was Mahathir’s hand-picked successor when he stepped down, but after the new leader dumped several of his pet projects he began launching accusations of economic mismanagement, nepotism and corruption.