Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad has complained that his successor has turned the country into a police state and allegedly taken away his civic rights.
"The habit of asking police to frighten people should be stopped," Mahathir told reporters on Monday after a much-awaited meeting on Sunday with his hand picked successor, premier Abdullah Badawi.
In the two-hour long meeting at Abdullah's official residence Mahathir said he aired all his grievances against the government including allegations of nepotism, management of national car company proton and the scrapping of a proposed bridge to Singapore.
"I consider this a police state. I also consider my civic rights have been taken away," Mahathir said alleging that police had pressured people who invited him to speak at public gatherings to withdraw at least ten invitations in recent weeks.
Mahathir said he had taken up the issue of Abdullah's name appearing in the list of companies that dealt with the oil-for-food programme.
"He (Abdullah) said he had nothing to do with that, that he simply wrote a letter to introduce this man who was married to his sister-in-law," Mahathir was quoted in the Star daily.
The former premier said he would continue to criticise the government if he felt something being done was "not good for the country."
Yesterday's talks were cordial according to Mahathir who had unleashed a volley of criticism at Abdullah during the recent months especially over the government's decision to shelve major state projects planned before Mahathir stepped down in 2003.
"I hope following this meeting there will be some kind of action taken", the former PM said after the meeting.
Mahathir's criticism has upset some members of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the key party in the country's ruling coalition, led by Abdullah. There are several Mahathir loyalists too in the party.
"I can't say I am happy. I am satisfied that I have been able to say these things directly to him," he said.
Mahathir has been largely responsible for the high growth of this South East Asian economy during his term as premier and for his adept handling of the economic policies during the financial crisis which hit the region in 1997.
Mahathir fixed the ringett rate to the US dollar, thereby stabilising the currency. The currency was depegged some months ago.