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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?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

NOVEMBER 12, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 45

Claims, Counter-Claims
The new routine in Malaysian politics
By ARJUNA RANAWANA Kuala Lumpur

Lay on the sleaze. In court, sacked deputy PM Anwar Ibrahim has been pouring out dirt about his erstwhile colleagues. Anwar has accused cabinet members of conspiring against him - and of being corrupt. But Anwar himself now stands accused of the same thing. Abdul Murad Khalid, a former central bank assistant governor, held a press conference Oct. 28 at which he claimed he had helped Anwar stash away nearly $790 million in slush funds.

    ALSO IN ASIAWEEK
Myanmar: A Tale of Two Countries
Our correspondent goes on assignment to ASEAN's No. 1 pariah - and discovers that nothing is quite as it seems

Malaysia: The Leader in Waiting
Tengku Razaleigh could well be Mahathir Mohamad's heir apparent - if he can win his home state
• Claims, Counter-Claims: The new routine in Malaysian politics
• Meanwhile, at the Front: On the campaign trail in Kelantan
• ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Full Interview
'What Will Be Will Be' - That's Razaleigh's fatalistic take on becoming a future leader. Sure

Forum: Diplomatic License
An Asiaweek-PECC roundtable considers the regional impact of the East Timor situation

Indonesia: The Rise - and Rise - of Amien Rais
Is the MPR chief merely kingmaker, or the power behind the throne?

Thailand: The Politics of a Debacle
More fallout from the Krung Thai Bank affair

  RELATED STORIES
ASIAWEEK
Malaysia: Now, the Sinatra Principle 'We all did it our own way,' croons Mahathir
The Maps to Power Voting districts lay a confusing quilt
Trial by Dirt Anwar's claims fill the court and the media

Malaysia Speculation continues over the election date (10/22/99)

Just as the allegations made by Anwar were given big play by domestic and international media, so were the allegations about him. Murad named recipients of the slush funds. They ranged from the Malaysian democracy activist group Aliran to the U.S.-based Asia Pacific Policy Center. (Anwar and both organizations have denied getting any money and Aliran says it will sue Murad.) Murad produced no documents to back his claims. Also, he himself has been charged with failing to declare property worth some $6.3 million. Anwar supporter Marina Yusoff, a slush-fund beneficiary according to Murad, claims he was "threatened, cajoled and blackmailed" into making the allegations. The Anti-Corruption Agency says it will probe the allegations.

All these claims and counter-claims will be overshadowed if PM Mahathir Mohamad testifies in Anwar's trial. He says he will, and the court has already issued a subpoena for him to do so. As Mahathir will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting in South Africa from Nov. 9, he may not appear till the end of the month.

The trial has a bearing on when Mahathir will call general elections. The government wants to make the sodomy charges against Anwar an election issue, but, theoretically, they cannot be mentioned as this could lead to contempt of court. Officials believe the opposition is deliberately dragging out the case, not only to build its election machinery but also to stretch the polling date past January, when hundreds of thousands of new voters - many expected to vote opposition - become eligible. The defense says it wants to present Anwar's case comprehensively.

The government is certainly laying the groundwork for polls. On Oct. 29 it tabled what is clearly an election budget amid what is already a recovering economy. Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, one of those named by Anwar in his testimony, cut personal income tax by 1%, raised the taxable ceiling, and gave government workers a 10% pay hike and a 1,000-ringgit (about $260) bonus. The budget also diverted cash to improving infrastructure in rural areas, where the crucial battles will be fought. Politics is dirty - and costly.

This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home

AsiaNow


Malaysia: The Leader in Waiting
Tengku Razaleigh could well be Mahathir Mohamad's heir apparent - if he can win his home state
• Claims, Counter-Claims: The new routine in Malaysian politics
• Meanwhile, at the Front: On the campaign trail in Kelantan
• ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Full Interview
'What Will Be Will Be' - That's Razaleigh's fatalistic take on becoming a future leader. Sure

Quick Scroll: More stories and related stories
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