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BBC: Mahathir Marks 20 Years In Power
By Simon Ingram
17/7/2001 11:47 pm Tue
[Ada banyak lapuran media luar mengenai 20 tahun Mahathir
berkuasa. Jelas sekarang Mahathir semakin memperkasakan
kuasa (otokratik) sehingga apa yang boleh dipelajari oleh
pelajar pun hendak disekatnya. Yang peliknya dia mengatakan
orang melayu lupa, malas, tidak bersyukur dan bodoh pula.
Setelah 20 tahun berkuasa Mahathir rupa-rupanya asyik menyalahkan
orang lain sahaja. Sudah berbilion wang lesap tetapi berapa orangkah
yang sudah didenda kerana itu? Sebaliknya dia mengurung orang yang
tidak mengambil pun sebarang benda. Dia mengurung orang yang sakit
ditibai oleh polis yang dilantik olehnya juga. Ini bukan sikap
seorang pemimpin terulung negara tetapi sikap seorang yang sudah
berhati setan dalam dirinya. Akibatnya bukan sahaja dia tidak popular
malah seluruh Umno dan BN cedera padah dalam pilihanraya.
Monday, 16 July, 2001, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Mahathir marks 20 years in power
By regional correspondent Simon Ingram
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad marks his 20th
anniversary in office on Monday - a period which has seen
unprecedented economic growth, but also, according to Dr Mahathir's
critics, a slide towards increasingly autocratic and corrupt rule.
In an era when political leaders tend to pay as much attention to their
image and popular appeal as to their policies, the 75-year-old Dr
Mahathir is very much the exception to the rule.
During his years in power, he has never concealed the abrasive side to
At the general assembly of the ruling United Malays National
Organisation (Umno) in June, he castigated the party's supporters -
and Malays in general - as lazy, ungrateful and greedy.
If any of his audience were offended, it mattered not a jot to the prime
Single-mindedness and an unswerving commitment to the economic
advancement of the majority ethnic Malay community have been among
the hallmarks of his long career.
The one-time village doctor has presided over Malaysia's
transformation from an impoverished backwater, dependent on tin and
rubber exports, to become one of Asia's most developed economies.
Tilting at his enemies - both at home and abroad - has been intrinsic to
the process that cemented Dr Mahathir's grip on power.
His strident criticism of the West and of institutions like the IMF have
raised his stature in the developing world.
It went down well at home too, at least until 1998, when the dismissal
and subsequent jailing of his popular heir-apparent, Anwar Ibrahim,
provoked the biggest political crisis of his rule.
Since then Umno's declining popularity, allegations of cronyism and the
growing assurance of the Islamist opposition party, Parti Islam
Se-Malaysia (Pas), have clouded the Mahathir legacy.
The prime minister's aim is to leave office with that legacy re-burnished.
Whether that is achievable before the next general election, due in
2004, is the subject of much speculation.
Dr Mahathir's most recent pronouncement on the issue - to the effect
that Malaysia would not get rid of him easily - suggests that, health
permitting, he intends to hold onto power for some time yet.
07/16/2001 - Updated 10:44 AM ET
Malaysian leader marks 20 years in power
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Malaysia's prime minister celebrated 20 years
in power Monday, building a legacy as a great modernizer of his country while
struggling against a drooping economy and calls for democratic reforms.
Mahathir Mohamad, 75, acknowledged that he has made unpopular decisions and
some mistakes. But he stressed that he had no regrets.
"I believe I made these things for the good of the country, not for my own good,
because I'm going, anyway," Mahathir told reporters. "I can't stay forever."
Asia's longest-serving leader refused to say when he might retire, saying
half-jokingly that such a prediction could touch off a stock market tumble.
Mahathir came to power July 16, 1981, and transformed this Southeast Asian
country from a backwater dependent on tin, rubber and palm oil exports into a
center for electronics manufacturing and one of the wealthiest countries in the
Along the way, he consolidated power, and was heavily criticized for arresting his
opponents, weakening the judiciary and placing curbs on the media.
About 25,000 people gathered for a dinner banquet in Mahathir's honor in
Malacca, Malaysia's oldest city, 90 miles south of Kuala Lumpur. The prime
minister, wearing a traditional batik shirt, beamed as people in the crowd shook his
hand amid tight security.
The party came a day after police used water cannons and charged hundreds of
opposition activists at a protest in northern Malaysia. More than 41 people were
arrested at the rally outside a prison camp where six activists are being held
Despite growing dissent since he sacked his popular deputy and heir-apparent,
Anwar Ibrahim, in 1998, Mahathir has made no commitment to step down. The
sacking triggered Malaysia's biggest street protests in decades.
Anwar was convicted of corruption and s###my and sentenced to 15 years in
prison. His supporters say he was framed to stop him from challenging Mahathir.
While many dispute Mahathir's politics, they concede that his sometimes
unorthodox economic strategies made his country one of the success stories of the
developing world, symbolized by the construction of the world's tallest buildings,
the Petronas Twin Towers.
Mahathir contends that his rejection of cures advocated by the Washington-based
International Monetary Fund enabled Malaysia to recover faster from the 1997
Asian economic crisis and kept the country free from foreign interference and the
political turmoil suffered by neighboring Indonesia and the Philippines.
But that recovery is again threatened by an economic slowdown in the United
States, the main market for Malaysian electronics exports.
In recent months, Mahathir has come down hard on his political opponents who
accuse him of becoming increasingly autocratic.
Mahathir says that an iron hand is needed to safeguard peace and prosperity.
Except for a brief spell in 1969, Malaysia has been relatively free of race riots.
Malay Muslims are the dominant ethnic group, and ethnic Chinese and Indians form
Tuesday, July 17, 2001
Malaysian Leader Acknowledges 'Mistakes' but Denies Having Regrets
KUALA LUMPUR Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad
commemorated 20 years in power on Monday, while 37 people were
reportedly charged for protesting outside a detention camp where
leading opposition activists were being held. The milestone put Mr.
Mahathir, 75, in the same ruling longevity club as Fidel Castro of Cuba
and several African leaders.
Asia's longest-serving elected leader has discouraged celebrations of
his two decades in power, and there was little comment on the
anniversary by the pro-government mainstream press.
"I think I may have made some mistakes, but I can't regret the decisions
that I have made although they may have been unpopular," Mr.
Mahathir said Monday.
"I believe I did those things for the good of the country."
Mr. Mahathir said he hoped for a stable Malaysia that would "grow
Growth and stability were hallmarks of his rule until 1998, when the
Asian economic crisis struck and his deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, was
The former finance minister, popular among Muslim Malays, is serving
a 15-year jail term on sex and graft charges that he said were
manufactured to thwart his challenge to Mr. Mahathir.
Mr. Mahathir is the last survivor of a formidable generation of Southeast
Asian strongmen, which included Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, Mr.
Suharto of Indonesia and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.
A newspaper columnist, Karim Raslan, said the dearth of media
comment may be related to Mr. Mahathir's realization that he isn't
popular enough to have a successful jubilee. "To make too much of the
whole event could backfire," he said, adding that Mr. Mahathir needed
to build bridges with the Malay opposition if he wanted to preserve his
legacy of a successful economy founded on peace among the Malay,
Chinese and Indian communities.
Mr. Mahathir is struggling to regain the popularity he enjoyed before
Mr. Anwar was jailed.
The only notice appeared in the New Straits Times, which said that
there are those who would like to see Mr. Mahathir leave the political
scene but "there are also an equal if not greater number who want him
to continue leading the country."
Mr. Mahathir frequently has pointed at the political chaos in neighbors
like Indonesia and the Philippines to justify crackdowns on opponents.
On Sunday, water cannon and riot police broke up a protest by about
500 people outside a detention camp in central Malaysia. They were
protesting the use of security law to lock up six supporters of Mr. Anwar
without trial. Journalists said 37 protesters were charged with unlawful assembly,
which has a maximum jail sentence of a year.
Journalists said 37 protesters were charged with unlawful assembly, which has a maximum jail sentence of a year.
Mr. Mahathir has said the November 1999 election would be his last.
The next election is due in 2004, but he has given no indication of his