About 20,000 wellwishers are expected to greet PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he steps down on to the tarmac at Penang Airport on his first day in power.

The 63-year-old Abdullah was sworn-in on Friday as Malaysia's fifth PM since it gained independence from Britain in 1957. He took over from Mahathir Mohammed who stepped down from
post after 22 years at the helm.

Abdullah is due to make his maiden speech as premier before being whisked away from the northern resort island by a motorcade of some 2000 motorcycles to his village in Kepala Batas on the mainland peninsula.

Police said some 300 security personnel will be on duty and several roads will be closed in stages to provide a smooth
journey for his convoy home.

When he arrives the new PM will seeks blessings from his
79-year-old mother Kailan Hassan and break the Ramadan fast with his family before attending a nearby mosque for prayers and a thanksgiving feast thrown by supporters.

Kailan has described Abdullah's appointment as God's will and
has advised her son to remain down-to-earth.

"It never crossed my mind Abdullah will become prime minister.
Everything is up to God. We should not be carried away by
positions," she said, adding that they would share a simple meal of porridge and dates, her son's favourite.

Observers do not expect Abdullah, who is less bristly than his predecessor, to make any dramatic departures from Mahathir's economic and social policies, at least in the short term.

On Sunday, he gets down to work by visiting flood victims in the northern region and handing out aid packages before returning to Kuala Lumpur and clocking-in at the PM's office early Monday morning.

Later in the day he will deliver his first parliamentary
address.

Mahathir, who has said he will play no further role in
government, was due to leave Saturday for an
undisclosed holiday destination on the Mediterranean.