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Malaysia's Ruler Has 20 Years in Power

16/7/2001 8:46 am Mon

[Sudah 20 tahun Mahathir berkuasa tidak ada apa yang dapat dimegahkan sekarang ini kerana masyarakat sudah semakin binasa. Jenayah seks ganjil dan bunuh membunuh dalam keluarga sudah berleluasa sehinggakan bayi dibuang begitu sahaja.

Siapakah yang memberi 'pelajaran percuma' kepada rakyat gejala ini jika tidak Mahathir sendiri sewaktu mengaibkan Anwar. Kita sudah berada di dalam 'darurat jiwa' akibat ajaran-ajaran Mahathir seperti 'dalam lagi penting kerana orang yang bertudung pun boleh melakukan maksiat'. Sekarang lihat apa sudah jadi kepada masyarakat kita hari ini. Siapa yang mengajar membuntingkan pelajar sekolah dan boleh lepas dengan mudah jika tidak orang kuat Mahathir juga. Yang peliknya Lim Guang Eng yang cuba membela gadis itu pula dipenjara.

Sekarang gejala samseng sudah menjadi-jadi di sekolah sehingga ada yang mati dikerjakan. Cuba kita titip baik-baik perkara ini. Di negeri-negeri inilah ceramah ugama disekat sedangkan apa yang diajar tidak menyentuh sedikit pun perihal politik. Akibatnya jiwa anak-anak remaja ini dipengaruhi oleh syaitan yang berupa manusia tanpa ada usaha yang padu untuk membanterasnya. Syaitan ini diberikan ruang yang bebas untuk mengajar di dalam akhbar sehingga hejab wanita pun dikatakan tidak perlu dan firaun pun baik sedangkan ayat al Quran sudah terang lagi jelas akan hal itu (tanpa berkias). - Editor] w-asia/2001/jul/14/071409524.html

July 14, 2001

Malaysia's Ruler Has 20 Years in Power

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - At the ruling party's recent congress, huge photographs of carnage in neighboring Indonesia hung on the walls, showing mutilated bodies being dragged behind motorcycles and thousands of refugees fleeing in terror.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad then took the podium and berated Malaysians in a nationally televised speech for not appreciating him more.

Mahathir's point was that the difference between anarchic Indonesia and middle-class Malaysia is stable government. He repeated the assertion days later before an international gathering, pointedly referring to his long leadership of this Southeast Asian nation - which reaches 20 years Monday.

"If you keep on changing prime ministers every two years, and each prime minister wants to show his hand and changes every policy made by his predecessor ... you are going to see turmoil continuously," he said. "I think that being 20 years in the office, you must have learned something."

A sprightly 75, Mahathir remains a master of unorthodox politics, entrenched at the top despite swelling dissent. He is a rarity in the Third World, a critic of U.S.-dominated globalization who gets listened to because of his country's economic achievements.

While he has promised to step down before elections due in 2004, Mahathir has shown few signs he's preparing to leave.

He has been Asia's longest serving leader since 1998 - when Indonesian dictator Suharto was ousted - and he survived the biggest challenge to his rule months later when tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of Kuala Lumpur to demand his ouster.

But Mahathir remains on top, and the man championed by the protesters, former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, is serving prison sentences totaling 15 years for corruption and s###my.

Coming to office July 16, 1981, Mahathir pledged greater democracy and accountability. But his legacy of economic prosperity is increasingly marred by political suppression in the twilight of his rule.

"I used to admire Mahathir, but not now," said Mohamad Helmi, a businessman. "He wants to control everything and everybody."

Under Mahathir, Malaysia has been transformed from a backwater dependent on exports of tin, rubber and palm oil into one of the region's wealthiest countries and a big electronics exporter. Annual per capita income of $4,000 is 13 times what it was at independence from Britain in 1957.

Though racial issues are highly sensitive, Malaysia's 23 million people have largely been spared the ethnic and religious violence that has destabilized Indonesia and other neighbors.

But the "Father of Modern Malaysia" - as supporters call Mahathir - also has curbed the judiciary and press and ordered opponents detained without trial to hold down dissent. He defends such actions as needed to protect Malaysia's prosperity.

Yet, rising standards of living, the Internet and a resurgent opposition have helped raise questions about his rule. Even some in his own United Malays National Organization have urged Mahathir to lay out his succession plan - which hasn't been clear since Anwar was fired in 1998.

By ousting Anwar, who was popular with Malaysia's Muslim majority, Mahathir threw out a shield protecting his generally secular government from the fundamentalist Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, known as PAS. In 1999 elections, the party tripled its parliamentary seats and won control of two of Malaysia's 13 state governments.

"For this Mahathir must take the blame," said P. Ramasamy, a political science lecturer at the University of Malaya. "PAS has used the Anwar issue to turn the tables on Mahathir and change the country's political landscape, perhaps forever."

The prime minister fights back with trademark rhetoric, blasting the West and warning of upheaval between Muslims and ethnic Chinese if the opposition should gain power. Critics say the old ways may no longer work.

"Mahathir has not come to grips with the new mentality of educated Malay voters," said Mohamad Agus Yusoff, an academic at the University of Malaya. "They are concerned about human rights and democracy abuses, not just physical development."

Mohamad Agus adds, however, that Mahathir's career is not necessarily coming to an end.

"You can never rule him out," he said. "He wouldn't have survived so long without always having an ace tucked somewhere."