Malaysian Ex-Leader Warns of Frame-Up

By SEAN YOONG March 28, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) . Former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad claimed Friday that people were trying to dig up evidence that he committed crimes during his time in power to stop him from criticizing his embattled successor.

Mahathir was the first public figure to urge Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resign after the ruling coalition suffered unprecedented losses in March 8 general elections. Several other coalition members, including Mahathir's son, have since echoed the demand.

Mahathir, who has repeatedly accused Abdullah's administration of corruption and nepotism during the past two years, said he knows his detractors believe he "did worse things" when he headed the government between 1981 and 2003.

"I am aware that people are looking into possible misdeeds by me during my 22 years so as to threaten me and ask me to shut up," Mahathir wrote in a letter to The Sun newspaper, without identifying the people.

"So far they have not found anything," Mahathir said. "Not only have I not taken anything that was not due to me while I was prime minister, but I have given back to the government and the people everything that I had received as gifts during my tenure of office."

He added that "unless there is a frame-up, I think there should be nothing to pin on me."

An aide to Abdullah declined to immediately comment. The prime minister has repeatedly rejected Mahathir's allegations of impropriety.

Mahathir claimed the ruling coalition had implemented many "totally unnecessary and wasteful" infrastructure projects in Terengganu state since 2004, adding there were suspicions that contracts for the projects went to those who had connections to Abdullah's family.

Mahathir's latest comments add to Abdullah's troubles after his National Front coalition lost its two-thirds majority in the recent elections, though it retained power with a simple majority. The coalition also lost control of five state legislatures.

Associated Press reporter Julia Zappei contributed to this report.