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Last Updated: Monday, 22 September, 2003, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Mahathir's musings go on sale

By Jonathan Kent
BBC, Kuala Lumpur

When loyal followers of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong wanted to arm themselves with his writings, they simply carried a copy of The Thoughts of Chairman Mao.

Now Malaysia has produced The Thoughts of the Prime Minister, a selection of Doctor Mahathir Mohamad's speeches.

Mahathir Mohamad
Dr M, as Mahathir is known, is stepping down after 22 years
With Dr Mahathir due to step down next month, the book is to become a compulsory part of the curriculum for the 100,000 students at Malaysia's Universiti Teknologi MARA.

The truly enthusiastic can go one step further, by buying the 10-volume Encyclopaedia of Doctor Mahathir bin Mohamad, available in English, Arabic and bilingual editions, all of which went on sale here today.

Though it is rather less portable than Mao's Little Red Book, 30,000 people reportedly placed advance orders.

(Europeans) are very clever, brave and have an insatiable curiosity... unfortunately they are also very greedy and like to take forcibly the territories and rights of other people
Dr Mahathir

The collection's worldwide launch in Oxford, UK, on Tuesday, begs the question of what interest Doctor Mahathir's writings will be to people outside Malaysia.

Twenty-two years as prime minister have revealed him as an arch-pragmatist rather than as an ideologue.

Many argue that there is nothing that could readily be labelled as "Mahathirism", beyond a blend of nationalism and command capitalism peculiar to his time and place.

Others say that Doctor Mahathir's successful defiance of the IMF after the 1997 regional financial crisis and his two decades steering Malaysia to rapid economic development are reason enough to study his writings.

Malaysia eyes life after Mahathir
04 Mar 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Malaysia
08 Jul 03  |  Country profiles
Profile: Malaysia's strongman Mahathir
22 Jun 02  |  Asia-Pacific

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