Monday, December 21, 2009

Books on Mahathir

Following on from a previous post listing some interesting books on Mahathir, here are three more books providing further insights into this most enigmatic of leaders. In particular, the recently published Malaysian Maverick by Barry Wain has added to heated debates about his legacy (see some online posts here).
  • Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times by Barry Wain. The grandson of an Indian immigrant and the first Malay commoner to become prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad turned the Muslim-majority Southeast Asian country into one of the developing world's most successful economies. During his 22 years in power he adopted pragmatic economic policies alongside repressive political measures, and showed that Islam was compatible with representative government and modernisation. Abrasive and outspoken, Mahathir emerged as a Third World champion and Islamic spokesman by condemning the West, not least for trying to impose liberal democracy and neo-liberal economics on developing nations. By raising living standards and winning international acclaim, he contributed to a sense of national identity, pride and confidence among ethnically diverse Malaysians. But in mixing business and politics, Mahathir encouraged cronyism and failed to prevent the spread of corruption. Authoritarian and impatient, he jailed opponents, sacked rivals and undermined institutions as he pursued his obsession with development. In retirement, he broke a promise to stay out of politics, falling out with his two successors while using all available means to protect his legacy.
  • Dr. Mahathir's Selected Letters to World Leaders edited by Abdullah Ahmad. Seventy-one letters written or received by Dr Mahathir during his term as Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981-2003 are reproduced for the first time in this book. His correspondence with George Bush, Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and Prince Charles reveal their contrasting positions on terrorism, globalisation, economic and diplomatic relations as well as war and conflicts.
  • Unmaking Of Malaysia, The: Insider's Reminiscences Of Umno, Razak And Mahathir by Ahmad Mustapha Hassan. What have two past prime ministers of Malaysia achieved, and what is the legacy they have left behind? While many have tried to provide answers to this question, few people have had the courage and determination to come forth and make their assessments public. The author, Ahmad Mustapha Hassan, takes the reader through the various phases of his involvement in the country's administration and in UMNO politics during the country's formative years. In particular, he focuses on the various facets of the administration of Tun Razak and that of Dr. Mahathir. This book therefore represents the first insider account of the post-independence administration of Malaysia in the 1970s and 1980s from a ringside observer's perspective. It should appeal to anyone interested in Malaysian politics, particularly those who want fresh and critical insights into the administrations of Tun Razak and Dr. Mahathir.

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