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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 May 2006, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Mahathir condemns 'gutless' PM
Dr Mahathir Mohamad
Mahathir Mohamad: "I am unhappy only when you kowtow"

Former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad has accused his successor of surrendering sovereignty to Singapore over his handling of a bridge project.

Dr Mahathir said Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had shown Malaysia was a "country with no guts".

Malaysia began building its half of the bridge in January but abandoned it this month after failing to find agreement with Singapore.

Dr Mahathir remains a powerful force and feared enemy in Malaysian politics.

He chose Mr Abdullah as his successor but has been a frequent critic of the two-and-a-half year administration.

Bilateral tension

Dr Mahathir told reporters on returning from London: "I have promised not to interfere in politics and I have not said anything about many things which were done wrong.

"But this is the limit. To surrender your sovereignty to Singapore as if you are scared of them."

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi
Mr Abdullah scrapped the bridge project this month

Dr Mahathir had earlier criticised the scrapping of a major rail project, a proposed trade deal with the US and the handling of the troubled Proton car company.

The bridge - a project Dr Mahathir visualised in the 1990s - seems to have been the final straw.

"I am unhappy only when you kowtow," he said. "This is our country, yet we have to seek permission from another country to build a bridge on our side. Where is the sovereignty?

"I think this is a... country with no guts."

Malaysia began building the controversial bridge without Singapore's agreement and it has been a major source of bilateral tension.

Malaysia wanted to replace an ageing 1km (0.66 mile) causeway between the two countries with a modern bridge, allowing ships to pass underneath.

It said this would ease congestion on the causeway.

But Singapore said it was concerned about the cost of the project and the impact on the environment.

It suggested a decision on the bridge issue should be part of a package deal on unresolved bilateral issues.

Mr Abdullah is currently in the Caribbean and has made no response to Dr Mahathir's comments.

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18 Aug 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Malaysia
14 Jan 05 |  Country profiles

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