Farewell to Abdullah; Najib to be sworn in as 6th PM at 4pm

(The Sun) : Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today tendered his resignation as the country's fifth prime minister to the King, as the first step to a power transition plan that was planned a year ago and would be completed by 4pm tomorrow.

Abdullah had an hour-long audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin at Istana Negara to hand over the letter relinquishing the post of prime minister and to seek consent to appoint Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, the new Umno president, to succeed him.

"It's a matter for Tuanku," was all he told waiting reporters after the meeting.

Abdullah arrived at Istana Negara in his official car at 10am and left at 11am, waving to tourists present and the 70-odd foreign and local journalists who had gathered at the palace gate as early as 7.30am.

Najib arrived 30 minutes later for his audience. He did not take any questions from waiting journalists and only said "thank you" and waved as he left at about 12.15pm, Bernama reported.

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan had said in a statement yesterday evening that the King had given his consent for Najib to be sworn in as prime minister at 10am today at Istana Negara.

TV1 will air a live telecast of the swearing-in ceremony tomorrow. At 3.30pm, there will also be another live telecast of the handing-over of the prime minister’s duties portfolio from Abdullah to Najib at the Bangunan Perdana Putra.

At 8pm, the new PM will deliver his inaugural address to the nation which will be broadcast live.

Abdullah, who became the the country’s fifth premier in October 2003, was pressured to step down after the ruling coalition suffered its worst results in the March 8 general elections last year when it lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Today, Abdullah feted about 130 staff of the Prime Minister and Defence Minister's offices to lunch at Seri Perdana.

Abdullah and his wife, Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah, were given a rousing reception when they arrived. Also present was his religious advisor, Datuk Dr Abdullah Md Zin.

Abdullah in his speech recorded his appreciation to his staff for their support and cooperation during his tenure. He also asked for forgiveness for any mistakes he may have made during his service and reminded the staff to carry out their duties diligently.

In the afternoon, he was given a grand send-off at the Defence Ministry in Kuala Lumpur.

Abdullah arrived at Mindef at 3pm and spent two hours in a closed-door meeting with Armed Forces chief Jeneral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal, Defence Secretary Datuk Abu Bakar Abdullah and other military top brass.

On stepping out, he was greeted by hundreds of military personnel before inspecting a guard of honour from the 1st Royal Malay Regiment.

Minutes later he stepped onto a military vehicle which was hand-towed by soldiers to the exit gate. A brief prayer session followed and Abdullah left at 5.30pm.

Abdullah assumed the post of Defence Minister on Sept 17 last year, in a portfolio swap with Najib, who is also finance minister.