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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. - Editor] newsid_1441000/1441299.stm

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 his character.

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 minister.

Economic Advancement

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 region.

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 without trial.

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 large minorities.


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 strongly."

Growth and stability were hallmarks of his rule until 1998, when the Asian economic crisis struck and his deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, was jailed.

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.

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 plans.