Monday, June 23, 2008

Parliament battle for Malaysia PM

By Robin Brant BBC News, Kuala Lumpur
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi could face a vote of no confidence in parliament on Monday. It would be the first time in the country's history that such a vote has taken place.
Supporters of Mr Abdullah have promised to try to fend off the challenge with procedures that favour the government. But it is the latest sign of the growing weakness of the prime minister, following a dismal result in the general election earlier this year.
Embattled leader
No prime minister has ever had to endure a vote of no confidence in Malaysia's parliament, in fact there is no specific provision for it in the constitution. Abdullah Badawi could be the first.
To add insult to injury it is lawmakers from his own side who are questioning his leadership.
The leader of a small party from Sabah, the usually sleepy state on the island of Borneo, stunned the country last week when he called for the vote.

He may have been hoping to trigger similar defections in other parties in the ruling coalition.
That has not happened yet. But the idea of a no confidence vote has, once again, focused attention on the leadership of Abdullah Badawi - a man whose credibility is already battered.
He resisted calls to resign in the wake of March's general election, when his government suffered an unprecedented fall in support.

But he has been forced to agree a timetable to hand over to his deputy. All this comes as the government has had to contend with a public angry at the rising costs of food and fuel.
Petrol prices jumped 40% two weeks ago after the government cut the subsidy.

Senior government politicians have said the no confidence vote will never happen. But if not on Monday, then disillusioned lawmakers may be able to force it in the weeks ahead.