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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?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

NOVEMBER 5, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 44

Chan Looi Tat for Asiaweek
M A L A Y S I A:
Hishammuddin Tun Hussein
Lim Guan Eng

Hishammuddin Tun Hussein
Born 1961
Hisham, as he is widely known, doesn't have the easiest job in the world. He is acting chief of the Youth wing of Malaysia's dominant United Malays National Organization (UMNO). He took over the position in October last year when the political crisis over Anwar Ibrahim was at its height. With young Malaysians gravitating toward the ousted deputy premier, the prospects for UMNO Youth did not look rosy. "A year ago, I didn't know if UMNO Youth would be there for us to be talking about the future," says Hisham. "If I can be proud of anything, it is ensuring the movement is still intact."

A new breed of politicians and activists are ready to break the shackles of the past, here listed by country:

The People Power Century
Combining idealism and pragmatic political instincts, these leaders are repudiating politics-as-usual

Hong Kong Leung Chun-ying

India Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Chandrababu Naidu

Indonesia Andi Mallarangeng, Munir, and Emmy Hafild

Japan Noda Seiko, Shii Kazuo and Watanabe Yoshimi

Malaysia Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Lim Guan Eng

Philippines Manuel Roxas II and Michael Defensor

Singapore Teo Chee Hean and George Yeo

South Korea Choo Mi Ae, Kim Min Seok and Nam Kyung Pil

Taiwan Ma Ying-jeou and Chen Shui-bian

Thailand Chaturon Chaisang and Abhisit Vejjajiva

Business & Finance
Journeying Beyond the Crisis
Born amidst unparalleled prosperity and tempered by adversity, a new generation of business leaders is poised to take the region to new levels of success in banking, commerce and industry

Hisham, 38, achieved that by actively reaching out to university students and young professionals. He has received plenty of hate mail for his association with the establishment, but he is hardly a reactionary concerned with preserving the status quo. At the recent World Economic Forum in Singapore, he told the audience: "Old values must be infused with modern expression and new ways of thinking." Thus, he is always on the lookout for promising new talent: "A sign of a good leader is being able to recruit people better than himself."

Abdullah Ahmad, Malaysia's special envoy to the U.N., says of Hisham: "I would like him to develop more like his grandfather [Onn Jaafar, a co-founder of UMNO], who was a people's man and an intellectual, but I hope he succeeds like his father [Tun Hussein Onn, Malaysia's respected third prime minister]." Throw in a little youthful fire and it would be a formidable combination indeed.

Chan Looi Tat for Asiaweek

Lim Guan Eng
Born 1960
If his time in jail has broken his spirit or made him a bitter man, Lim Guan Eng doesn't show it. The 38-year-old oppositionist was freed in August after serving one year in prison for sedition and publishing false news. Lim says the jail term has not changed him - except in one respect. "I lost 20 pounds [9 kg], which may not be such a bad thing," he jokes.

Not that it wasn't hard on his family. After Lim was locked up, whenever his wife tried to leave home for work, their three-year-old son Marcus would get hysterical. "He said if she went to work, it would be like Daddy, who never came home," says Lim. "When I heard that, I got very upset."

Still, the deputy secretary-general of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) refuses to be cowed by what his supporters say was yet another case of the government persecuting dissenters. "Sorrow sometimes gives me strength to carry on," says Lim. Indeed, the experience appears to have reinforced his determination to fight for the opposition's cause. He slams what he calls a lack of "political morality" and "democratic accountability" in government. In the new millennium, he says, the burning issues will be "demand for equal opportunity in justice and socioeconomic and political rights" - issues that his party seeks to address. The goal of the DAP (headed by his father Lim Kit Siang) is to "establish a healthy democratic culture that enables every Malaysian to participate and expect full accountability."

Lim's single-mindedness in his mission has earned him praise and respect. "He's very capable, quite fearless in defending the innocent," says political scientist P. Ramasamy of the National University of Malaysia. "He's been able to highlight corruption, which opened the eyes of Malaysians."

Lim's jail term means that, barring a royal pardon, he cannot run for Parliament for the next five years. He has also lost his professional accreditation as an accountant. But, says Ramasamy, "he has excellent credibility. He will have no difficulty making a comeback." Lim himself promises: "I will continue to be active in the political scene." Lately, he has been traveling around the country, speaking at ceremahs (lectures) and campaigning for his party. Whatever the legal obstacles, Lim is clearly determined to fight as long as he feels his country's future is at stake.

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