Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

Conclusion

Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

Conclusion

Article excerpt

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has defied all odds to cling tenaciously to the seat of power that he has occupied for more than twenty years. During this period, he has presided over some major dramatic developments in this multi-ethnic country of around 24 million people. Since the major political setbacks of 1998, in the aftermath of the sacking and arrest of his deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, and the 1999 general election disappointments, Mahathir has concentrated his efforts to rejuvenate his Malay-based party and weaken the BA. His detractors, however, would argue that despite his evident success in modernizing and industrializing the country, the Mahathir era is also marked by a progressive strengthening of the executive at the expense of other political institutions. According to political analyst Michael Leigh:

Probably the most enduring consequence of the Mahathir era has been a deliberate and decisive weakening of Malaysia's institutions, including the judiciary, the royalty, the independent civil service, the parliament, the electoral system and now, UMNO, the core party of power.36

The international situation emerging from the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States has turned out to be fortuitous for the beleaguered leader. President George W. Bush's firm anti-terrorist policy ensured that fence-sitters would have no respectable place in Washington's global security agenda, thus obliging leaders like Mahathir --- whose political rhetoric has at times irked Washington --- to declare support for the U. …

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