Malaysia’s deputy leader abruptly scrapped a trip to the Middle East on Friday amid deepening political uncertainty sparked by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s attempt to seize power.
Also Friday, police released an opposition lawmaker who was detained last week along with two other people under a law allowing indefinite detention. The arrests had intensified the climate of political restlessness in the country.
An aide to Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak denied he was postponing his overseas tour because of politics, saying Najib wants to remain in Malaysia over the next week to tackle his new job as finance minister.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi relinquished his finance ministry portfolio to Najib on Wednesday as part of a protracted power hand-over. Abdullah has promised to step down before 2010 amid escalating demands from his ruling party for his swift retirement.
Najib had been slated to leave Malaysia on Friday to visit Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and New York, but he canceled the Middle East leg and will only head for New York on Sept. 24 for the U.N. General Assembly meeting, said an aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements.
Najib delays trip to Middle East amid uncertainty