Succession plan when time is ripe: Razak

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Singapore, Apr 17 (UNI) A clear guide on the political succession plan will be given to United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) members when the time is ripe, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has said.

At the moment there is no indication whatsoever on when to implement the transition plan, he told mediapersons in the central Malaysian city of Petaling Jaya yesterday.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as UMNO President, will decide the time for the succession plan, Kuala Lumpur-based media reports citing Mr Razak, who is also UMNO's deputy president and the next in line for the premiership, said.

Mr Badawi recently took responsibility for the ruling UMNO-led coalition Barisan Nasional's (BN) poor performance in the March 8 general elections, having lost a two-thirds majority for the first time in the five-decade old independent Malaysia.

The Prime Minister was under pressure to handover the leadership to new leaders. He named Mr Razak as his successor.

Meanwhile, UMNO leadership called on its members to lead the party and the BN to win over ethnic Chinese and Indians, who are assumed to have voted against the ruling government and made the opposition win 82 parliamentary seats out of the 222 contested in the elections.

The opposition also won assembly seats to rule five states in Peninsular Malaysia.

Political analysts expected Mr Badawi to step down by end of this year after the UMNO general meeting scheduled for December.

The opposition, made up of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Parti Islam Se Malaysia and Democratic Action Party, claimed to have won the support of 30 pro-government members of Parliament to form the next government with simple majority, and create a political upset in independent Malaysia.

PKR's de facto leader and former sacked deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim was widely expected to lead the opposition, having led the opposition score a landslide win by securing one-third seats in Parliament.

If the opposition plans succeeded in winning a simple majority in Parliament with the cross over of 30 MPs from the ruling BN government, Mr Anwar is tipped to be the Prime Minister, the analysts said.

Mr Anwar cleared his 10-year political ban this week and held a 20,000 strong rally in Kuala Lumpur, calling for a major political change in Malaysia, till now ruled by religion and race-based parties.

The three opposition parties pledged to remove religion and race-based politics, giving every Malaysian independent rights.

The UMNO has been predominantly in the BN and blamed for giving incentives to Mulsim Malays under the new economic policy, while the Chinese population has flourished with the support of the business-oriented Malaysian Chinese Association.

The ethnic Indians blamed their failure, despite the country's economic prosperity, on the Malaysian Indian Congress, the third largest component of BN.

UNI XC SKB AS1318

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