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June 21, 2008

Malaysia PM wins support from party to ride out censure
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi shrugged off a move by one of his own ruling coalition partners to unseat him through a no-confidence vote as other party leaders pledged Thursday to stand by him.

Abdullah summoned leaders from 13 component parties of the National Front coalition, or BN, to an emergency meeting after Sabah Progressive Party President Yong Teck Lee said Wednesday his party would support a motion of no-confidence to be tabled in Parliament next week.

SAPP, a small provincial party based in the Sabah State in northern Borneo, was not invited to the Thursday meeting.

In a statement read out by BN Secretary General Adnan Mansor at the end of the three-hour meeting, the leaders said they reached "a consensus" to "condemn the statement" by Yong.

They want all their federal lawmakers to reject the motion of no-confidence against the prime minister.

"The BN Supreme Council supports the leadership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the prime minister," the statement said.

In a press conference, Abdullah said any ruling party lawmaker who supports the motion would face disciplinary action.

As for SAPP, the BN leaders decided to wait for an "official explanation" from the party before taking any step such as expelling the party from BN. Abdullah said the statement from Yong may not be a party stand.

SAPP appeared to be split as the party's deputy president to publicly criticised Yong's move.  Abdullah claimed Yong's decision was due to unhappiness after Abdullah rejected his request to be nominated to run in the election.

Abdullah appeared confident he could ride out what seems to be the most serious threat to his leadership 101 days after he began his second term in office.

"I have been a politician for a long time," he said, "I can't afford to be distracted by issues that keep cropping up. I have to be focused on what I have to do," he said.

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