Mahathir to retire early

MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad will retire at the end of 2003, a year earlier than planned. Mahathir, who has been in power in Malaysia for 21 years, has been the man behind the country's drive into Formula 1 racing with Petronas, Magnum and KL sponsorship and with the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur. Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will take over in preparation for the elections in 2004. Mahathir is currently on holiday and will not resume his duties for a couple of months and even then will leave much of the day-to-day work to Abdullah. Mahathir will however keep control of the Finance Ministry.

It is not expected that Abdullah will change many of Mahathir's policies but it will be interesting to see what happens in the elections in 2004 as much of Mahathir's support was based on his personal appeal to the voters. Having said that the political opposition in Malaysia has not been very effective.

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