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Tuesday, Sept 22
Time up for Mahathir, Australian paper says

PERTH, Australia, Sept 22 (AFP) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's ''oppressive regime'' had become an international embarrassment to his nation, The West Australian newspaper said Tuesday.

In a hard-hitting editorial under the heading ''Time is up for despotic Mahathir,'' the independently-owned daily declared: ''As images of masked and heavily armed police invading former deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's home went around the world at the weekend, it became evident Dr Mahathir is fast approaching his political use-by date.

''Like former Indonesian President Suharto, Mahathir presides over a totalitarian administration.

''Like Suharto, he faces ignominious departure from office under pressure from people in the streets who have no further use for his dictatorial excesses and cronyism.''

The timing of the move against Anwar bordered on the inexplicable, the paper said.

''As the host of the first Commonwealth Games in Asia, Malaysia had a unique opportunity to present a face of unity and competence to the world,'' the leading article continued.

''With its economy in tatters, Malaysia needed to promote itself to international markets as a stable nation in which to invest. But an enduring image from the Games will be that of heavy-handed police against a critic of Mahathir.''

In the process, Malaysian authorites had embarrassed the Queen, visiting Kuala Lumpur to close the Games, the paper said.

''As head of the Commonwealth, the Queen symbolises democratic freedoms and processes that are the antithesis of the events at Anwar's house.''