Asia Program

Passing the Mantle: A New Leadership for Malaysia

Bridget Welsh, Karim Raslan, and M. Bakri Musa

As Prime Minister Mohamad Mahathir prepares to step down after more than two decades in power, Malaysians are both anxious and hopeful. Bridget Welsh maintains that the political succession has ushered in an era of shifting factions and political uncertainty, as individuals vie for position in the post-Mahathir environment. Karim Raslan discusses the strengths and weaknesses of Mahathir’s hand-picked successor,Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.He maintains that Abdullah will do well at moderating the influence of Malaysia’s more radical Islamic leaders, but doubts whether the new prime minister can live up to the excessive expectations that the political transition has engendered. M. Bakri Musa expresses hope that Abdullah will succeed where (in his view) Mahathir has failed. For example, he urges the new leadership to revise Malaysia’s three-decade affirmative action policy and to tackle the problem of corruption.

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