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AirAsia shares fell after group CEO Tony Fernandes, seen here last December, publicly apologized for supporting defeated Prime Minister Najib Razak in Malaysia's May 9 election.   © Reuters
The Big Story

Investors see 'big change' in Malaysian business under Mahathir

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes among company chiefs caught out by surprise result

CK TAN AND MITSURU OBE, Nikkei staff writers | Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR/TOKYO -- It wasn't just pollsters who were wrong-footed by the surprising outcome to Malaysia's election. Business leaders were caught out, too.

In the runup to the election, Tony Fernandes, AirAsia's group chief executive and Malaysia's most famous businessman, threw his support behind the ruling party and then-Prime Minister Najib Razak with apparent gusto. He posed with Najib on an AirAsia airplane and had one of its planes painted in the blue color of Najib's coalition. He put out a video message emphasizing that Najib "puts the country first."

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