March 10, The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said his successor Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should accept responsibility for Barisan Nasional’s major losses in the general election and resign.

“Just as in 2004, the huge majority was reportedly 100% due to him as said by the then secretary-general of Umno, now he should also accept 100% responsibility,” Dr Mahathir told a press conference yesterday.

Describing the coalition’s performance as “shocking”, he said he was saddened by it.

“I expected Barisan to lose support but not this badly,” he said of the Opposition victory in five states and 10 of the 13 parliamentary seats in the Federal Territories.

He said that while it was up to Umno to decide, one possibility was Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak taking over from Abdullah.

He said the fact that Indians, Chinese and Malays voted for the Opposition showed that it was not about racial politics but that on the whole, the people sent the same signal.

Malays and Umno members voted for the Opposition because they were affected by the high inflation, and despite the high economic growth figures announced by the Government and the launch of development corridors, the people did not feel the benefits, he said.

Asked if Barisan had miscalculated holding the election, he said postponing it by another year would have led to more pent-up frustrations.

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photo: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi waving to well wishers and supporters outside Sri Perdana when leaving to have an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara on march 9 (TheStar)