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Emmanuel Samarathisa | 16 Nov 2018 00:30
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants to correct the image that he advocates crony capitalism.

In a Sept 29 interview with The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the veteran statesman decried the criticism levelled against him for rewarding friends and associates with lucrative business projects or powerful political and corporate positions during his previous stint as PM (1981-2003).

“One of the things that they criticised me about was that I had cronies, and that I helped my cronies. They were able to do things. I tend to support people who are capable, who have shown some achievements.

“Since I am with the people who used to criticise me, I want to show them that I’m not what they think I am,” Mahathir was quoted as saying.

To be sure, crony capitalism has in fact oiled the wheels of the Malaysian (or Malayan) economy since the early 50s. But it was under Mahathir that the discussion of the nexus between politics and business turned mainstream due to the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis. During this period of economic decline, many of the country’s top tycoons who made their riches during the boom times had to rely on government assistance to tide them over.

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