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Zaid - Mahathir conflict of words intensifies - malaysiakini

In case you haven't been following it on Malaysiakini, here is the Malaysian Insider report:

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad lashed out in his blog today against former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim in the latest instalment in the war of words between the two men.

The former Prime Minister accused Zaid of benefiting from government contracts awarded to his law firm, and questioned the ex-minister for “preventing other Bumiputeras from this lucrative source of income.”

He also suggested Zaid should join the opposition.

Ties between Zaid and Dr Mahathir have deteriorated into a feud ever since the former was appointed a minister responsible for judicial reform by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi earlier this year.

Zaid’s role in getting the government to agree to ex gratia payments for five Supreme Court judges dismissed in 1988 during Dr Mahathir’s time as PM had put the two men at loggerheads with each other.

Dr Mahathir has not been happy at the perception since then that he was to be blamed for the dismissal of the five, an episode which many in the legal fraternity say led to the end of judicial independence.

Since Zaid’s resignation from the Cabinet over a lack of support for his reform measures, the two men have stepped up their rhetoric against each other.

“I agree with Datuk Zaid that an ex gratia payment of RM5 million is suitable if compared to the income of a top lawyer who can earn up to RM2 million a year,” Dr Mahathir wrote in an obvious reference to the payment received by former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas.

“But I am shocked that a top lawyer can earn RM2 million a year. It is clear I have chosen the wrong career because a prime minister only gets RM240,000 a year. This must be because a PM’s responsibilities are not as heavy as that of a lawyer.”

Dr Mahathir said he had never previously read of Zaid making any court appearances and, therefore, wondered what his firm’s lucrative source of income was.

“Is it possible the high income comes from government privatisation cases and other governmental conveyancing needs? If that is not true, then show proof that it is not.

“If true, then is it appropriate for this former minister to prevent other Bumiputeras from this income source as he now wants to be known as a liberal who rejects the NEP?”

The former PM, who resigned from Umno earlier this year, pointed out that “PKR beckons” for Zaid, suggesting the ex minister should join the opposition party.