A Malaysian university will introduce a course on the opinions and leadership of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is retiring later this year, the vice-chancellor said yesterday.
The University of Malaysia in Sabah state will offer a course called "Dr. Mahathir's Thoughts," as soon as it is approved by the school's council, said Vice-Chancellor Abu Hassan Othman.
"Dr. Mahathir is a leader with very vast experience and a world statesman, hence his leadership traits should be studied," Abu Hassan was quoted as saying by the national news agency, Bernama.
Abu Hassan's comments come less than one week after delegates to the ruling party's annual assembly rushed to support a suggestion that a think-tank be established in Mahathir's name.
Mahathir, 77, is due to retire in October after 22 years in power. He has dominated Malaysian politics in that time and has been an outspoken and often controversial critic of the West, particularly colonial Britain and the United States.
Since becoming prime minister in 1981, he has published a series of books of essays on issues ranging from globalization to Islam and the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. He regularly makes speeches condemning globalization and Western influence on the world.
In a speech that opened last week's ruling party assembly, Mahathir accused the European "race" - including Americans, Australians and New Zealanders - of being violent warmongers who are using the fight against terrorism as an excuse to attack Muslims and achieve world domination.
Mahathir has been a U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism - Malaysian authorities have arrested more than 90 Islamic militant suspects since mid-2001. But his anti-Western comments have sometimes caused friction with foreign countries.
Mahathir has overseen a period of rapid development in which Malaysia transformed from a backwater dependent on tin, rubber and palm oil exports to one of Southeast Asia's wealthiest countries with a sophisticated manufacturing sector.