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Mahathir's anti-Jewish tirade branded `utter nonsense'

The Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was yesterday accused of speaking "utter nonsense", stirring up embarrassment and damaging the local currency by suggesting that Jews were behind the country's financial woes. Stanley Roth, the US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, who is in Hong Kong for a conference organised by the World Economic Forum, said no one took seriously Mr Mahathir's accusation that speculative attacks on regional currencies were part of a Jewish "agenda". "Furthermore, I think it has hurt Malaysia [in] that we have seen a direct correlation between some of these outrageous allegations and the fall in the currency in Malaysia as well as the stock market."

On Friday, the national Bernama news agency quoted Mr Mahathir, talking about the currency crisis, as saying: "We may suspect that they [the Jews] have an agenda but we do not want to accuse." The Malaysian ringgit fell sharply again yesterday to 3.1575 to the dollar from 3.107 earlier in the session. -- Reuters