Commentary: Tough Love: Just What Asia Needs

Participants knew the latest Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Kuala Lumpur would be tense, given the stresses of Asia's crisis and the political turmoil in Malaysia, host nation to this year's meeting. But no one quite expected U.S. Vice-President Al Gore to lob a hand grenade right into the middle of the proceedings. At a banquet on Nov. 15, Gore lauded the "brave people of Malaysia" in their struggle for reform. Noting that democracy helps "root out corruption and cronyism," he took a direct slap at long-serving Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who recently sacked his reform-minded Deputy Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, and put him on trial. Gore's speech came perilously close to calling for Mahathir's ouster.

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