What Mahathir Has Wrought

The transformation of Kuala Lumpur and the modernization of Malaysia are the realization of one man's vision--that of the country's longest serving prime minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

Issue: Spring 2000

A pre-paid electronic "Touch and Go" card offers the best way to
negotiate the toll booths along the north-south superhighway that
traverses the Malay Peninsula from Johore to the Thai border. By an
unintended irony, the title of the card captures the current
condition of the Malaysian polity. On the one hand, Malaysia has
emerged from the Asian financial meltdown relatively unscathed
economically. On the other, a series of political scandals and a
bitterly contested election campaign in November 1999 have rocked the
United Malay National Organization (UMNO), the ruling party that has
overseen the development of this multi-ethnic state--composed of 62
percent Malays, 30 percent Chinese and 9 percent Indians, the beliefs
of whom traverse the spectrum of spiritual possibility from animism
to Islam.

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