Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, 50, has a tough role to play. When it comes to calling for a free flow of information and an end to crony capitalism, he has been one of Asia's most outspoken politicians. But Anwar's boss is Asia's most pugnacious politician when it comes to dealing with those same issues. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad repeatedly snarls at foreign hedge-fund managers and decries what he calls Western conspiracies to sabotage Asian progress.
Still, Anwar has moved to ease Malaysian laws that discriminate against ethnic Chinese companies in favor of Malays, and he has fought against the more notorious government bailouts of favored local companies. Reformers are pleased that he is talking about stronger courts and a freer press. Anwar's true test could come as early as next year--when, some say, he will succeed Mahathir as Prime Minister.