April 2, 2009
Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, resigns to the king.
The Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is poised to be officially sworn in on Friday
The Prime Minister of Malaysia Abdullah Ahmad Badawi officially resigned to the countrys constitutional monarch today, clearing the way for his deputy Najib Razak to take over on Friday.
After an hour-long audience with the king, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, the outgoing prime minister emerged from the palace smiling and waving to reporters.
Asked what happens now that he has resigned, Mr Abdullah said: It’s up to his majesty now.
Government officials confirmed that the king had agreed that deputy Prime Minister Najib could be sworn in as Malaysias newest leader.
Mr Najib will be sworn in as the new prime minister on Friday, in a carefully planned power transition that has been one year in making.
Mr Abdullah, 69, who took office in October 2003, was pressured to step down after the ruling National Front coalition suffered its worst results ever in general elections a year ago.
On Thursday, Malaysian newspapers paid polite tributes to Mr Abdullah’s time in office, noting his achievements but some columnists also wrote candidly about his failures.
Thank You Pak Lah, said the headline of a special pullout in the New Straits Times, referring to Mr Abdullah by his nickname.
He will be remembered for allowing more public freedoms than his predecessor Mahathir Mohamad, who was known for his semi-authoritarian rule during his 22 years in office. But Mr Abdullah also failed to fulfill his promises to eradicate corruption, reform the judiciary, strengthen institutions such as the police and the civil service.
Conservatives in the ruling party also blame Mr Abdullah’s attempts to provide greater freedom of speech for the massive gains made by the opposition in the March 2008 general elections. The opposition benefited from a growing feeling of alienation among the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, who often are discriminated against by the majority Muslim Malays.
The ruling coalition, which has been in power since independence in 1957, failed to get a two-thirds majority for the first time in 40 years. It also lost control of an unprecedented five states.
It is very difficult to say Abdullah has left behind a legacy of reforms, political analyst Khoo Kay Peng told The Associated Press. He had the ambition (to introduce reforms) but he lacked political will and leadership control.
In his final interview before handing over power, Mr Abdullah told editors of Malaysian media Tuesday that his time in office was marked by missed opportunities, and that the electoral fiasco was his biggest regret.
Mr Najib was last Thursday officially declared president of the United Malays National Organisation party, effectively clearing his path to the premiership because of its dominance of the political scene.
He said he would reveal details Friday of the direction he wanted to take Malaysia amid economic crisis and political uncertainty, with the core of his roadmap being a programme aimed at uniting the multi-racial nation.
“I think this new thrust will ensure there will be a fairer distribution of government allocations and assistance to all communities,” he said on Wednesday.