Saturday, August 12, 2006

Malaysia PM Abdullah's imperfect plan

Friday, August 11, 2006

Malaysia PM Abdullah's imperfect plan

By Colum Murphy
Far Eastern Economic Review

The recent mudslinging by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has enthralled Malaysia almost as much as the 2006 World Cup. Not since he dumped his former protege, Anwar Ibrahim, has Mr. Mahathir's vitriol been so potent.

Mr. Mahathir has accused Mr. Abdullah of incompetence and "stabbing him in the back" by halting some of the large projects begun when he was leader, including the plan to replace the causeway linking Malaysia to Singapore.

At stake is more than hurt feelings. Mr. Mahathir and his cronies are not happy with Mr. Abdullah's approach to overhauling the Malaysian economy. In March, Mr. Abdullah announced the first installment of his blueprint -- the $60 billion Ninth Malaysia Plan, or 9MP, which covers the five-year period 2006-10 -- aimed at keeping Malaysia on track to achieve its much touted goal of becoming a developed country by the year 2020. While the goal is consistent with the "Vision 2020" slogan coined by Mr. Mahathir, there are some notable differences in Mr. Abdullah's approach.

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