Friday, April 10, 2009

Mahathir praises new Malaysia PM Najib's cabinet

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's influential former premier Mahathir Mohamad endorsed Prime Minister Najib Razak's new cabinet on Thursday and praised efforts to stamp out corruption.

The outspoken former premier, who ruled Malaysia for 22 years and famously spurned International Monetary Fund cash and advice during the 1998 financial crisis, was a fierce critic of Najib's predecessor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, hastening his departure.

"I think Najib did very well by dropping most of the people who are accused of corruption, although one or two somehow or other slipped in,"he told a small group of reporters.

Mahathir's son Mukhriz was made deputy trade minister in a move seen by political analysts as placating Mahathir. Abdullah's son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin, a target of Mahathir's criticisms, was left out.

Mahathir remains fiercely critical of Khairy, whom he had said exerted undue influence on Abdullah's administration.

"He (Khairy) was not given any posts. That is proof that Najib wants to clean up the party," he said.

Mahathir said he had faith his own son would perform well in his cabinet debut.

"Of course I'm happy," he said in response to a question.

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