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" Malaysia leader makes thinly veil

Reply-To: south@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (SAFHR KATHMANDU)
Subject: " Malaysia leader makes thinly veiled attacked on Soros for currency crisis"

The Kathmandu Post
"Malaysia leader makes thinly veiled attacked on Soros
for currency crisis"
Kuala Lumpur, July 22(AFP)- Malaysian Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad made a thinly veiled attack published
Tuesday on US financier George Soros, blaming him for
Southeast Asia'a currency turmoil.
Without identifying anyone, Mahathir accused a foreign
financier of upsetting currencies to pursue his own
political agenda. Soros was clearly the target.
Reports carried by Malaysian newspaper said the finacier
responsible for attacking the currencies was opposed to
Burma joining the Association of Southeast Asian
The report said Mhathir made the remarks to a business
group in the Japanese city of Okayama on Monday.
" We feel that there is some other agenda apart from
making money. As you may have noticed ASEAN countries are
the targets," he was quoted as saying by Business Times.
Mahathir said targets were Thialand, Indonesia, the
Philippines and Malaysia.
"We ask ourselves is it just speculation to make money
or is it something else? We feel that there is some other
agenda, especially by this particular person who is the
patron of a foundation," Mahathir said.
"If they want to attack the British pound, by all means
do so. Britain is rich. Malaysia is poor country and it
is not right for people like these to play and speculate
with our currency," he was quoted as saying.
Soros, widely blamed for forcing the pound out of
European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992, called in
January for am International tourist boycott of Burma and
an end to investment there by oil companies.
"Every citizen of the world should abstain from
travelling to Burma as a tourist. The use of forced
labour has made it possible for the miliary regime to fix
up tourist attractions and build new hotels," Soros said.
Soros heads a foundation for an "open society" which aims
to promote democracy and which provides financial aid for
several countries, notably in central and eastern Europe.
Mahathir asked:" If we are sovereign nations, shouildn't
we be able to protect what belongs to us?"
"Instead, we are told that we should allow for such
speculative activities, but they are teaming up to
impoverish the poor countries,"
Mahathir refused to named the financier but the New
Straits Times said he was "known to have tried to have
used his financial clout in the United Sates to block
Burma's entry into ASEAN, due on Wednesday.
Business Times added that the prime minister"would not
rule out the possibility that this foundation is against
ASEAN's decision to admit Burma and is therefore putting
pressure on the currencies of the grouping's members in
the hope of undermining their economies."
ASEAN-comprising Brunies, Indonesia, Malaysia. the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam- is to admit
Burma and Laos as new members at the annual meeting in
Kualalumpur, Cambodia's membership has been put on hold
after the fighting there.
Several western countries, notably the United States,
strongly opposed Burma's currency has plunged some 20
percent against the dollar.
The Philippines peso has also succumbed to heavy selling
pressure while the Indonesian ringgit has hit all-times
The Malaysian ringgit has fallen to a three-year low and
the Singapore dollar has also weakened.
"What is most distressing is that people can push up or
down your currencies simply because they have a lot of
money," the Malaysian prime minister was quoted as
saying." This is very bad."
Referring to the ringgit's decline, Mahathir said"
Malaysia has strong economic fundamentals" which if
anything called for a stronger currency.
Bruised Southeast Asian currencies were steady in
cautious Singapore trade Tuesday as speculators took a
breathe after taking profits on the US dollar, dealers
and analysts said.