Bloomberg The former Malaysian prime minister's mercurial governing style and fiery rhetoric made for great copy. by William Pesak
I was in a Hong Kong ballroom in 1997 when Mahathir -- the man
credited with turning the agricultural backwater Kuala Lumpur, which
literally means "muddy river," into one of Asia's most impressive
skylines -- responded to his country's crashing economy by castigating
hedge fund managers. He singled out George Soros as a "moron."
Mahathir now has a new target -- Najib Razak, Malaysia's current prime minister. The daily squabbling between
Najib and his predecessor has unsettled Malaysian markets, with the
ringgit falling to its lowest value in a decade. But Najib has nobody to
blame but himself for the attacks, given the country's underlying
economic distress. Malaysia's prolonged slow growth, which has Fitch now
threatening a downgrade of the country's credit ratings, traces back to
Najib's refusal, or inability, to make good on his pledges to dismantle
race-based policies that strangle innovation, feed cronyism and repel
You don't have to take Mahathir's word for it -- Malaysia's most successful entrepreneurs say the same thing. Just ask Tony Fernandes of AirAsia.