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Malaysia in transition

Mahathir faces new challenges in second stint as prime minister

Fiscal discipline and inexperienced cabinet are issues confronting Malaysian leader

Malaysia's newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attends a news conference.   © Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad officially began his second stint in office on Monday, with a different set of circumstances from his first time in the post.

In July 1981, Mahathir, then 56 years old, inherited a largely stable government from Hussein Onn, who stepped down due to health issues. The economy, which was undergoing a transformation from agriculture to industry, was growing at a rate close to 7%. As processes were still heavily bureaucratic, Mahathir introduced several measures to reduce red tape and improve efficiency, including making civil servants clock in to work and wear a name tag. 

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