Mahathir's son revolts against Abdullah, calls for resignation

Mukhriz Mahathir, son of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, speaks to media at a hotel in Butterworth, in northern Penang state, Malaysia, Monday, March 10, 2008. Mukhriz says the ruling coalition's losses in Saturday's general election are a wake up call for leaders to listen to the peoples.(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

KUALA LUMPUR (AP): Former leader Mahathir Mohamad's son has called on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resign after Malaysia's ruling party suffered massive losses in last weekend's elections.

Mukhriz Mahathir is the first government lawmaker to openly revolt after Abdullah repeatedly insisted he would not step down, claiming he has the full backing of members of his ruling United Malays National Organization.

Mukhriz said in a letter made public Friday that Abdullah must take responsibility for the unprecedented electoral setback, which ``sent a sufficiently clear message regarding the people's rejection of (you) as the country's leader.''

``There is no point denying what is obvious simply to keep your position as prime minister,'' Mukhriz wrote in the letter posted on a Web site aligned to Mahathir. ``I hope (you) understand that my plea is made with the intention to resolve this very distressing situation.''

An aide to Mukhriz confirmed the letter is authentic and said that Abdullah and other top UMNO leaders should have received the letter by Thursday. A spokesman for Abdullah said he did not know whether the prime minister has seen it.

Mukhriz is a popular official in UMNO's youth wing and won a parliamentary seat in Saturday's elections.

He and his father have been the only prominent party figures to publicly seek Abdullah's resignation, but Mukhriz is the first party official to do so.

Other UMNO members have been quietly circulating an online petition urging Abdullah to quit as prime minister and party president.

Mahathir, who retired in 2003, said earlier this week he is sorry he chose Abdullah as his successor and accused the prime minister of becoming ``arrogant.''

Current UMNO leaders have nevertheless backed Abdullah, saying no one is solely responsible for the election results. The government remained in power with its lowest parliamentary majority in 51 years of rule and retained control of only eight of Malaysia's 13 states.

UMNO, whose members are from the ethnic Malay Muslim majority, forms the backbone of the governing 14-party National Front coalition.

Mukhriz claimed in his letter that the opposition is trying to coax National Front lawmakers to defect in order to topple Abdullah's administration.

If Abdullah refuses to bow out soon, Mukhriz said he ``truly fears that the people's faith in UMNO ... will completely evaporate.''

Analysts have said Abdullah's position is shaky ahead of UMNO elections in August amid grumbling about how he has tackled problems such as rising prices, crime and racial and religious tensions.

Source : AP