Dec 15, 2006

Malaysia's former leader Mahathir meets financier George Soros

Tun Mahathir met up with George Soros today. It's nice to see that in 1997, Tun Mahathir referred Soros as a "moron," blamed him for undermining the Southeast Asian economies by destabilising their currencies, and later established capital controls to prevent currency speculation. However, things got better after this meeting.

As reported by MalaysiaKini :

"I accept Soros is not responsible for the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis,” said former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad today.

He said this after meeting the US billionaire philanthropist George Soros at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur this morning.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Mahathir said the ringgit crash was a result of speculations by other traders.

and news by IHT :
(IHT) KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Malaysia's former leader Mahathir Mohamad on Friday met George Soros, the U.S. financier he accuses of triggering the Asian financial crisis in 1997, when the two men became bitter foes and publicly traded insults.

Mahathir and his daughter Marina arrived at a luxury Kuala Lumpur hotel where Soros was staying during his two-day visit for a meeting of the London School of Economics Alumni Society. He was set to make a speech to the society Friday.

Mahathir did not speak with reporters in the hotel lobby, and took the elevator to Soros' room for their first-ever face-to-face meeting since the financial crisis. Details of the meeting were not immediately known.

The meeting is a remarkable event given that Mahathir, who was prime minister during the Asia's financial crisis that began in 1997, had accused Soros and others of wrecking the region's economies through currency speculation.

Mahathir called Soros a "moron," and Soros hit back by accusing Mahathir of being a "menace" to his own country. Mahathir replied that Soros was a menace to the world economy.

Soros, the self-made Hungarian-born billionaire, was ranked number 27 in Forbes' list of 400 richest Americans in 2006, with a net worth of US$8.5 billion (€6.6 billion) to his name through hedge funds. He is currently on a regional trip to publicize his new book "The Age of Fallibility," reports said.

Soros was convicted in 2002 by a French court of insider trading and fined $2.2 million (€1.7 billion). The fine was the same amount Soros was accused of having made from buying stocks at French bank Societe Generale with insider knowledge 14 years earlier.

Mahathir took bold measures to rejuvenate Malaysia's economy during the economic crisis, and unlike neighboring Thailand and Indonesia, did not turn to the International Monetary Fund for economic assistance.

The country recovered from its worst recession in a decade after fixing its currency, the ringgit, at 3.8 to the U.S. dollar in 1998 to insulate it from fluctuations, and imposing sweeping exchange controls.

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