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Badawi rubbishes Mahathir, say he is irrelevant - malaysiakini

Malaysian Insider's report:

KUALA TERENGGANU, Jan 8 - Just two months before leaving office, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi finally called his trenchant critic Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad irrelevant as he defended his choice of candidate for the crucial Kuala Terengganu by-election.

Dr Mahathir, who has repudiated his anointed successor Abdullah, had called the Barisan Nasional's candidate Datuk Wan Farid Salleh as a bad choice and a proxy of the prime minister, who hit the campaign trail today.

"Dr Mahathir can say anything he wants. He is irrelevant to us. We know what we are doing and we know what we want, we will continue to fight to defend the seat," Abdullah said after meeting party workers involved in the Kuala Terengganu by-election.

The by-election, which is probably Abdullah's last election campaign as the Prime Minister, is widely seen as a referendum on Datuk Seri Najib Razak's leadership who is slated to succeed him in March.

But the selection of Wan Farid, who was his former political secretary, as the BN candidate is a reflection that Abdullah is still very much in control of Umno, the dominant party in the ruling coalition.

Earlier at the closed door meeting, the Prime Minister said he reminded party members that Wan Farid, a senator who was appointed deputy minister after the last general election, is a serious candidate for BN.

"I have told him that if you do not win, you will lose your senate seat and lose the deputy minister's position and you cannot come back to me to be my political secretary," Abdullah told reporters adding that Wan Farid was willing to risk his political career.

"When I first informed him, he replied that he is willing to be the BN' candidate in Kuala Terengganu because he wants to serve the people in the constituency as he is also the division chief," he added.

He also reiterated that only Wan Farid's name was proposed by the state Umno, which proved that there was no internal bickering within the party.

The Umno president also reminded the party campaign machinery to remain stay focused on the by-election and not to be distracted by the party elections scheduled for March.

Abdullah also said BN component parties remain committed in ensuring Wan Farid's victory on the Jan 17 polling day.

Malaysiakini's report when out.