Mahathir to stand down in 2004

MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says that he will stand down from office at the end of his current term in November 2004, who will be 79 by then time the next elections come up. Mahathir has been in charge in Malaysia for 19 years and has been the architect of the country's surge towards modernization, a program which includes the Petronas sponsorship of Sauber and the Sauber Petronas Engineering joint venture. These are designed to give Malaysia top level automotive technology while also turning Petronas into a global oil giant. Mahathir has also been the force behind the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Much will depend on whether his nominated successor Abdullah Badawi has the political skill to continue to push ahead with Mahathir's plan to make Malaysia a fully industrialized country by the year 2020. Badawi has the disadvantage that there are currently three previous Mahathir deputies floating around Malaysian politics, notably Anwar Ibrahim, who is currently in jail. As long as Mahathir stays in power Malaysia should remain fairly stable but there may be changes when he retires.

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