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Mahathir Vows to Keep Criticizing Hand-Picked Successor


Malaysia's former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, says he will continue to criticize the government of his hand-picked successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, dimming hopes the two men could patch up a rift that has gripped the nation.

The two men held a one-on-one meeting Sunday to try to resolve their differences, but the always outspoken Mr. Mahathir told reporters later that he was not satisfied with the talks.

The former prime minister is unhappy with Mr. Abdullah's decision to put several major infrastructure projects initiated during Mr. Mahathir's 22 year-rule on hold, among them a new bridge linking Malaysia and Singapore.

Over the past several months, Mr. Mahathir has accused Mr. Abdullah of corruption, nepotism and incompetence, all of which, he says, undermine support for the United Malays National Organization, the political party that has run Malaysia for the past four decades.

Mr. Abdullah has denied those accusations but has generally responded with silence to Mr. Mahathir's attacks. When he was prime minister, Mr. Mahathir was himself accused of corruption and nepotism, and of severely restricting freedom of expression.

On Monday, Mr. Mahathir told reporters he will continue to speak his mind if he feels government policies are not benefiting Malaysia.

"I will continue to [criticize] until there is some change and until I achieve some results because I'm 82 years old and people believe that if they delay long………then I would not be able to speak," he said.

Mr. Mahathir says the government is trying to prevent him from airing his grievances in public and says Mr. Abdullah has turned Malaysia into a police state.

The former prime minister, who stepped down in 2003, was also accused by human rights groups and members of the opposition of stifling dissent during his years at Malaysia's helm.

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