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Yearbook 2002

Malaysia. According to Countryaah website, the country's prime minister, Mahathir bin Mohamad, who has dominated politics for over 20 years, announced during the summer that he would step down as head of government, finance minister and leader of the UMNO party in late 2003. The country's deputy prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would then succeed him.

2002 Malaysia

Mahathir has contributed greatly to making Malaysia a modern, centralized state with a successful economy, but he has also been criticized for an authoritarian leadership style.

Malaysia was significantly affected during the year by the effects of the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. The country adopted a moderate attitude among the world's Muslim countries. Mahathir quickly joined the international campaign against terrorism and relations with the United States improved. In the spring, when he called all suicide bombers terrorists, the tense relationship with Israel also improved. Several militant Islamists were arrested during the year for links to the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The opposition accused Mahathir of using the fight against terrorism to win domestic political points against the Islamist PAS party. PAS's popularity declined after the terrorist attacks and in the summer its strong leader, Fadzil Noor, passed away. His successor, Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang, is believed to be a more radical Islamist, further reducing the party's popularity.

M's attitude to the approximately one million illegal immigrants living in the country has hardened. An allowance was made against the many workers from neighboring countries who came to the country during the boom in the 1990s and who, after the 1998 Asian crisis, have not been as sought after.

Thousands of Filipinos and Indonesians were arrested and their homes or tents demolished. A new stricter immigration law came into force which, among other things, meant that prison and whip punishment could be punished against people who stayed illegally in the country. The law led to more than 300,000 foreigners leaving the country. A month later, the government went out and said it was prepared to re-host the guest workers after the country's construction sector complained of labor shortages.

The country's imprisoned former finance and deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, tried to appeal against the conviction for corruption that gave him six years in prison. In July he lost in the Court of Appeal.

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