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Mahathir’s legacy and the stability of Malaysia

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Mahathir and the outstanding development of Malaysia.
    1. Modernity and entrepreneurship as a goal.
    2. The choice of industrialisation.
    3. Authoritarian policy and the economy.
  3. Mahathir's legacy: Badawi's challenge.
    1. Replacing a 'national hero'.
    2. The flipside of Mahathir's reign.
    3. Corruption and democracy.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Bibliography.

Nowadays, Malaysia is known as a model of rapid development. Indeed, in the middle of the twentieth century, the economy of this country is agriculture-oriented and nothing hints any economic boom to come such as the one which occurs a few years later. The economic growth starts to soar as soon as Dr Mahathir bin Mohammad becomes Prime Minister in 1981. His influence over Malaysia is such that he embodies the economic progress of the country. The twenty-two years during which he does his best to put Malaysia on the path to modernity have contributed to build the hero image of Mahathir. However, his resignation in 2003 triggers several worries regarding the stability of the country as such a charismatic leader cannot be replaced easily. Moreover, the Malaysian society being completely different today than the one Mahathir knows when he becomes head of government, his successor already has to confront the legacy of his predecessor with a country which middle class is far more significant than it used to be. As a consequence, one might wonder how Mahathir's legacy can endanger the stability of Malaysia.

[...] The impact of this strong competition is that: ?Malaysia remains at the assembly stage of many electrical and electronic products.?[10] The reason why Malaysia does not prevail over its competitors is because the two decades spent in Mahathir's authoritarian policy has prevented any academic freedom and original research from existing. Mahathir's decisions of ethnic based quotas in favour of Malay people and needs based quotas regarding entrepreneurship explains why the economy is hindered in several sectors. In the end, a greater academic freedom is required to raise the level of creative and critical thinking. [...]

[...] ?Malaysia's future? Wait and see?. Asia Times. July 4th 2002 Anil Netto. ?Malaysia in transition, but to where??. Asia Times. January 17th 2003 Anil Netto. ?Malaysia: Survival of the fittest?. Asia Times. November 1st 2003 Anil Netto. ?Abdullah Badawi: Malaysia's tinker Asia Times. November 25th 2003 Anil Netto. ?Malaysia walks in Mahathir's shadow? Asia Times. January 9th 2004 Anil Netto. ?Malaysia's web of politics and business?. Asia Times. January 25th 2006. Anne Munro-Kua, Authoritarian Populism in Malaysia (London: MacMillan Press [...]

[...] As soon as the British leave, Tunku Abdul Rahman becomes the first Prime Minister of Malaysia and puts the four-year economic plans into practice. Their purpose is aimed at helping the country to move away from the agriculture- oriented economy, which concentrates on a few items and is thus unable to develop the country rapidly. In 1969, Tun Abdul Razak, the successor of Rahman, announces the New Economic Policy (NEP) which purposes are to alleviate poverty and improve the economic conditions of the Malays, also called bumiputeras. [...]

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