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Mar 3, 2008

Not Sleeping ... just ZZZzzzzZZzzzz

Seeking re-election, Malaysia's leader denies sleeping on the job

By SEAN YOONG,Associated Press Writer AP

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysia's prime minister rejected critics' claims Monday that he deserved to lose in this week's general election for being a poor leader who sleeps on the job.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi insisted that his time in office since October 2003 has "not been a time of failure, but of success," citing steady economic growth and bolstered job opportunities under his government.

Opposition officials have urged voters not to hand Abdullah another five-year mandate in Saturday's general election, claiming that crime, corruption and racial and religious tensions have mounted because of his weak leadership.

"We are not deaf for we hear what the people say," Abdullah was quoted as saying by the national news agency, Bernama. "We are not asleep for we are working."

Opposition rivals have accused Abdullah of being a "sleeping prime minister" who dozes off at Cabinet meetings, while anti-government Web sites have circulated photographs of him yawning or bowing his head with his eyes closed at political gatherings.

Abdullah, speaking while campaigning in northern Penang state, acknowledged that "problems will be there," but pledged his administration would try to resolve any grievances. Abdullah's National Front ruling coalition is expected to retain power but with a lower parliamentary majority.

Aides traveling with Abdullah could not immediately be contacted for comment.

Cash-strapped opposition leaders meanwhile said they have been seeking donations through the Internet for the first time for their election campaign, but that they cannot match the National Front's massive spending power.

The Democratic Action Party's candidates have pleaded on Web sites and online journals for supporters to contribute funds through credit cards and bank transfers to help them print campaign posters and hold public forums, party official Tony Pua said Monday.

One of the party's candidates, Jeff Ooi, has secured about 113,000 ringgit (US$35,000; �23,000) from readers of his Web journal.

Hatta Ramli, treasurer of the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, said online donations were nevertheless still insufficient, adding that government candidates have been "very much advanced in the number of campaign posters and banners that they can afford to put up."


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