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Wednesday, Sept 23
Asian papers condemn detention

HONGKONG -- Malaysia's veteran Premier Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad is staring at the same fate as Indonesia's former President Suharto by cracking down on the reform movement led by his ousted Deputy Premier, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, according to editorials in the Asian press yesterday.

Condemning Datuk Anwar's arrest and detention under the Internal Security Act amid allegations of sexual misconduct, regional papers saw close parallels between Dr Mahathir's actions and those of Mr Suharto before he was toppled as Indonesian leader in May after 32 years in power.

The Jakarta Post said the scenes of social unrest in Kuala Lumpur, coinciding with the visit of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, were a "disgrace for Mahathir", who was trying to deflect attention from the economy.

"Besides, a worsening economic and political situ ation could trigger more massive and more violent demonstrations that could lead to his downfall, as happened to former Indonesian President Suharto," said the Indonesian paper.

In Bangkok, The Nation daily agreed that Dr Mahathir could share a fate similar to Mr Suharto following his offensive against Datuk Anwar.

"No doubt Prime Minister Mahathir would hate that comparison, but like it or not, he will have to live with it," it said.

The South China Morning Post in Hongkong warned that Datuk Anwar's detention would do nothing for Malaysia's standing.

"Malaysia's international image, already badly damaged by the recent imposition of capital controls, will now be tarnished still further by justifiable suspicions that the nation's judicial system is being misused for political purposes," the newspaper said. AFP