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Malaysia outgoing PM bids farewell to Cabinet

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi bade farewell to his Cabinet on Wednesday, the eve of his resignation after more than five years of lackluster rule.

world Updated: Apr 01, 2009 10:46 IST

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi bade farewell to his Cabinet on Wednesday, the eve of his resignation after more than five years of lackluster rule.

Abdullah is scheduled to meet Malaysia's king, the constitutional monarch, to submit his resignation Thursday. Cabinet ministers and dignitaries have received invitations to a palace ceremony Friday, when Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak is likely to be sworn in as premier.

In his final interview before handing over power, Abdullah told editors of Malaysian media Tuesday that his time in office was marked by "missed opportunities."

He did not elaborate, but many have criticized Abdullah for failing to fulfill his pledges of boosting government transparency and multiracial unity.

Abdullah, 69, was pressured to step down after the ruling National Front coalition suffered its worst results ever in general elections a year ago.

Abdullah said in the interview that the electoral fiasco was his biggest regret since taking office in October 2003. "When your time's up, it's time to go," Abdullah said, according to a transcript published by The Star newspaper.

"No fanfare necessary. What has been done has been done." Domestic Trade Minister Shahrir Samad said Wednesday he was attending the final Cabinet meeting that Abdullah would chair. Najib is expected to announce a major Cabinet reshuffle next week after April 7 special elections to fill legislative vacancies.

Najib has vowed to revive the National Front's support through wide-ranging political and economic reforms, which include efforts to fend off a looming recession. However, opposition leaders insist there are signs that Najib will crack down on political dissent.

Government officials Tuesday barred opposition politicians campaigning for next week's ballot from repeating accusations linking Najib to the 2006 killing of a Mongolian woman who was the mistress of Najib's friend. Police warned that those who defied the ban could be arrested. Najib has denied involvement in the killing.

"The repression is going to get much more thorough," said opposition lawmaker Tian Chua. "I think we are going to face a much bigger clampdown. The bad days are coming."

In recent weeks, the government has suspended two opposition newspapers, while police used tear gas to break up an opposition rally and seized DVDs used by the opposition to campaign for the by-elections.

Najib says he should be judged by his actions after he assumes office.