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.
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
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
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.