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MARCH 25, 2003

Dr. Mahathir talks up the Grand Prix

Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad used the Malaysian Grand Prix to illustrate that his country is safe for foreign tourists, despite the fact that there are strong anti-American and anti-British feelings in Malaysia.

"There were more than 100,000 spectators at the circuit," he said. "People can see that it is safe to be among large crowds in Malaysia."

Observers were surprised by the crowd claims throughout the weekend. There is no doubt that the crowds were bigger than in previous years but there did not seem to be anything like the 100,000 people claimed although the nature of the circuit and the covered areas which protect the crowds from the heat does tend to disguise the numbers. There were reports of serious congestion with the bus services which are run from downtown KL to the Sepang circuit.

It is worth noting that Dr. Mahathir commended the new rules introduced by the FIA, saying that it had "obviously added more excitement to the event".