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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

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The Week Ahead: Malaysia's Next Race
For top posts in UMNO - and the leadership
By WAYNE MORRISON

also:
TAIWAN: The Battle Intensifies

January 4, 2000
Web posted at 11 a.m. Hong Kong time, 10 p.m. EDT


    INTELLIGENCE
Buddhist Scapegoat?
One Thai abbot is taken to task, but the whole system is to blame
- Thursday, Dec. 30, 1999

Making Plans
Leaders are coming to grips with the new millennium in China, Malaysia and even Myanmar - sort of
- Thursday, Dec. 23, 1999

My Wish List For Asia
A baby princess, a soft landing, a global president -- and peace on earth
by Ric Saludo
- Wednesday, Dec. 22, 1999

Technology: Unchained Melodies
Taking the MP3 to the streets
by Stuart Whitmore
- Monday, Dec. 20, 1999

The Week Ahead: Fast Track?
After the blasts, Sri Lankan voters can choose talks now or slower change
by Ann Morrison
- Monday, Dec. 20, 1999

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Each business evening with analysts around the region

Voters in Malaysia's general elections held Nov. 29 delivered a setback to the country's ruling National Front coalition and its dominant party, UMNO -- the United Malays National Organization. But it's often said that the really important elections in Malaysia are those for top posts in UMNO. That's because the president of UMNO becomes the prime minister. As to who will ultimately succeed the man who currently holds both posts, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, watch the contest for the party's deputy president post and also the elections for the three vice presidencies.

The UMNO supreme council elections are held every three years and it is being said that the one due in 2000 could be scheduled as early as March. A meeting of the supreme council may decide the date this week. This year's UMNO races are particularly important because Mahathir, 74, has said that the five-year term that began with the general elections is his last. There has even been some speculation that he might step down mid-term. Mahathir will again be candidate for UMNO president this year.

Who will succeed Mahathir? In December, he tapped deputy prime minister Abdullah Badawi as his choice for UMNO deputy president, a post vacant since Anwar Ibrahim was ejected from the party in 1998. Abdullah is currently one of three vice presidents. Said to be angling for vice presidencies are Rais Yatim, a cabinet minister in the 1980s recently brought back into government, and Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar. There is possibly a dark horse in the race that is shaping up -- Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, onetime opponent of Mahathir who is now back in UMNO's senior ranks and has hinted he might run for the top job when the PM steps down.

Taiwan's Battle Intensifies

Expect more fireworks from Taiwan's presidential election campaign, in which the three leading candidates are locked in a fierce struggle. The election on March 18 will choose the successor to President Lee Teng-hui, who cannot seek another term and is determined to see his legacy of an independent-minded Taiwan endure (China suspects he is against reunification). Lee, Kuomintang candidate Vice President Lien Chan and their ruling party have unleashed a volley of money- politics allegations against James Soong Chu-yu, a former KMT stalwart who is running as an independent. Apparently an early casualty of the campaign slugout was John Chang, son of late president Chiang Ching-kuo, who quit his presidential office post after publicly confirming newspaper reports of marital infidelity involving an actress. Similar accusations have surfaced about Lee himself.

To many campaign-watchers in Taiwan, any senior KMT figure of recent decades is vulnerable to accusations about slush funds since the ruling party -- some say it's the world's wealthiest party -- has long had the dubious reputation of involvement in money-politics and even been allegedly linked with underworld organizations. Now the campaign has taken a new turn with the Lien Chan proposing that the KMT, as well as other parties, cut its links with business in a burst of reform. The KMT is believed to have investments in as many as 200 companies. That proposal may or may not be a truce call on charges of money- politics. But it is unlikely to lower the heat of the campaign battle. Some polls have Lien Chan trailing both Soong and opposition Democratic Progressive Party candidate Chen Shui-bian. That is not a situation President Lee is likely to tolerate for long.

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