Who is our Mahathir in Tanzania? Dr Mahathir bin Muhammad As Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003, Dr Mahathir bin Muhammad became known as one of the most distinctive and commanding leaders of the rising new "tiger" economies of South East Asia. Malaysia has been transformed in the past 25 years from a developing country, dependent on the production and export of raw materials, into one of the world's most rapidly industrializing nations-and the third richest country in South East Asia. 1998 Prime Minister Mahathir bin Muhammad dismissed his deputy Anwar Ibrahim, who was arrested on corruption and morals charges. 1999 Anwar was sentenced to six years in prison. Parliamentary elections held in November; Prime Minister Mahathir re-elected. 2000 Anwar was found guilty of sodomy and received an extra nine-year sentence. to make a total of fifteen-years.