Read here article by David Chance in Reuters
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MAHATHIR PULLING THE STRINGS?
...An unseemly scramble for power around Malaysia's deputy premier Najib Razak could damage his efforts to rebuild the government.
That could damage Malaysia's chances of attracting new investment and fending off the fallout from the global financial crisis, which is set to cut demand for its exports.
Local investment bank CIMB this week cut its 2009 growth forecast to 3.0 percent from 5.0 percent.
After decades in power (read: 21 years of Mahathir's regime), corruption and nepotism have grown to plague UMNO and the entire Barisan Nasional governing coalition, alienating core Malay voters who feel they have gained little while party leaders and the elite have prospered.
Najib's possible challenger, former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, said corruption was on the rise in UMNO.
One of the first critics of Abdullah was Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister for 22 years.
It was Abdullah's decision to end some of Mahathir's expensive infrastructure projects that triggered his decision to quit UMNO and his subsequent sniping.
Now that Abdullah is going, Mahathir will return to UMNO -- and possibly his influence.
"It's not Najib that is going to rule. It's Mahathir going to pull all the strings from now on, from behind the scene," said Terence Gomez, professor at the University of Malaya.
That means Malaysia is unlikely to see big reforms under Najib of the kind that are needed to reassure investors who want issues such as lack of transparency in the judiciary addressed.
At the same time, the prosecution of bloggers and others who challenge the government is likely to rise under Najib.
A recent crackdown at has drawn criticism from human rights and journalist groups and important trading partners such as the U.S. "We are going to see a clear repression or suppression of media space," Gomez said.
Mahathir May Return to Centre Stage
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Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s planned stepping down in March 2009 may well see a return to the authoritarian rule familiar to Malaysians during the 22-year iron rule of his predecessor Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.
"Mr Najib is a carbon copy of Dr Mahathir and we fear in his rise to power a possible return of iron-fisted rule and intolerance for dissent and curbs on the political opposition," said a diplomat with a European mission, on condition of anonymity.
Critics said Najib’s rise to power would also see the return of Mahathir to political centre stage, probably as a tenured advisor to the government.
"I welcome the departure of Abdullah and am ready to give advise to the new government," Mahathir told local reporters after confirming that Abdullah was leaving.
Dr Mahathir had said last year he picked Abdullah as a "temporary substitute" to hold the seat for Najib.
"Abdullah would be remembered as a pleasant man who simply did not have the skills or the gumption to rule," said a Chinese newspaper editor who declined to be identified. " He tried to please everybody and in the end failed to please anybody."