I, too, have family in Indonesia, who have extensive contacts in Malaysia, because of their business obligations. I remember being in Indonesia in April of 1997, when people were still speaking of Indonesia as you speak of Malaysia now. Once again, Soeharto had vanquished his enemies, as Mahathir has just done, with the appearance of an even tighter grip on the country. One year later, Soeharto was on television resigning...unthinkable and amazing all at the same time. Malaysia, being a much smaller and much less diverse nation, is naturally easier to control. With the upswing in the SE Asian economy of late, something on the scale of Indonesia will not happen there. But, Mahathir will not be around forever. If he was in such firm control, he would not have had to manipulate the court system as he did to do away with Anwar. That is not to say that I support Anwar in any way, that is just to say that the way in which he was done away with is suspect, to say the least. If that was true of the US, Clinton would not be in office right now...the safeguard here worked.
The point is, these events relate directly to the airline industry. Malaysia has avoided, this time, the move toward the international standard of transparency, while its neighbors, although not of their own choice, are now two years ahead, which will help in the long run. How many regularly scheduled flights are there into Dili or Baghdad? The same reason there are no United or Northwest flights into Jakarta at this moment. It is the same reason most carriers are more apt to sign a less risky code-share agreement with MAS than to develop their own routes into KUL. The same reason they are currently more apt to sign a codeshare with SQ into Jakarta rather than Garuda, let alone open up their own routes. It's all about risk, and these issues point directly to risk.
I wasn't attempting to bash Malaysia, but rather explain my reasons for believing, based on my study of the SE Asian economy, of why there is still a lack of US carriers in places like Indonesia and Malaysia. Within the next 5 to 10 years, I don't think they will be able to keep people out of Malaysia and Indonesia (including myself, can't wait to go back
), as those countries, that region in fact, has the most promising future as far as growth potential and foreign interest.
Just as an aside, what was BBC reporting on the Bush campaign?