Pak Lah: Pro-Mahathir bloggers were out to get me

(MM) – Reports that Malay bloggers in support of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had conspired to topple his successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, were never denied, Abdullah has said in his latest book.

Abdullah, popularly known as Pak Lah, said in Awakening that many of the bloggers were “richly” rewarded with titles and money and that “a lot of money was spent” in the campaign against him.

“Some reports on Wikileaks have come out to suggest that the Malay bloggers, pro-Mahathir bloggers had a meeting in Tengku Razaleigh’s house to plan how to oust me,” said Abdullah in the book edited by political analysts Bridget Welsh and James Chin, which will be out later this month.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a veteran Umno lawmaker, has tried several times to be prime minister, but to no avail.

“These reports have not been denied….one person from Kelantan claims he was given RM4 million by PAS to write articles to topple my administration,” said Abdullah.

The country’s fifth prime minister said that the opposition attacks against him may have been because he was “the biggest vote-getter for Barisan Nasional (BN) in 2004.”

“So part of their game plan was to inflict as much damage on personally. Unfortunately, detractors from my party, who were resistant to the reforms, also used the same medium to attack me personally,” he added.

In Awakening, Abdullah blamed Dr Mahathir for “unwarranted attacks” that had led to his eventual ouster after serving for just one term.

Although handpicked by Dr Mahathir to be his successor, Abdullah later came under relentless attack from the nation’s longest-serving prime minister and ultimately was forced to relinquish his presidency of Umno and position as prime minister to Datuk Seri Najib Razak in April 2009, after BN lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority in Election 2008.

“Mahathir cannot deny that he contributed to the erosion of BN’s support in the 2008 general election through his open and unwarranted criticism and attacks,” said Abdullah..

“Calling my administration, which included a majority of people from his own Cabinet, as a ‘half-past-six government’ and accusing us of corruption and all kind of things,” he added.

BN won a resounding mandate in the 2004 general election after Abdullah, known as “Mr Clean”, pledged to eradicate endemic corruption and institute political reforms.

But Abdullah’s reforms, such as passing the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Judicial Appointments Commission and Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) Acts, came after Election 2008, only just months before he later stepped down in 2009.