Thursday, June 19, 2008

M'sia ruling bloc asks party explain PM motion

M'sia ruling bloc asks party explain PM motion
19 June, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MALAYSIA'S ruling coalition held back on Thursday from punishing a small party that has called for a no confidence vote against Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as it tried to defuse a political crisis that could eventually unseat the besieged leader.

The Barisan Nasional coalition had been expected to either sack, suspend or issue a stern warning against the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) to send a strong message to other coalition members.

'We will consider an action after getting an explanation from them,' Barisan secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor told reporters after the coalition held an emergency meeting to discuss the planned no confidence vote.

Asked why Barisan did not take action against SAPP, Abdullah said: 'It's not a question of being scared. We want to make the right decision. We don't want to be in a hurry.'

He said Barisan had not issued a show cause letter to SAPP.

The east Malaysia party has only two members of parliament but there are worries its move could embolden others in the 14-party coalition to also break ranks and deal another blow to an increasingly weakened Mr Abdullah administration.

Mr Abdullah is battling for his political survival as he tries to fend off a challenge to his leadership, public anger against rising prices and a resurgent opposition.

The premier has been under pressure to hand over to his deputy Najib Razak after Barisan suffered its worst electoral setback in 50 years during the March poll, losing its two-thirds parliamentary majority and ceding five states to the opposition.

This is the first time in Malaysia's history a prime minister has faced the threat of a no-confidence vote from his own lawmakers.

'If you look at the situation of SAAP, the party leadership must have gone through the entire situation before throwing the last card,' said political analyst Khoo Kay Peng.

'This will potentially lead to a chain reaction.'

Lawmakers from Sabah and neighbouring Sarawak state, who account for about a third of the total seats held by Barisan, have long griped about being marginalised by the federal government.

The opposition needs 30 more seats to win a simple majority and form the government.

It won a record 82 seats in the 222-seat lower house of parliament in the March general election.

The remaining seats are held by Barisan, which has ruled the country since independence from Britain in 1957. -- REUTERS

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