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Asiaweek: Putting a price on Mahathirabilia
By Maria Cheng

10/9/2001 1:27 am Mon

Issue 14th September 2001

Putting a price on Mahathirabilia

Rest easy, eBay. Vintage Macintosh computers and other gems from the dawn of the personal computer regularly attract record bids at auctions these days.

But when computer equipment used in the early 90s by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was put on the block last week by auction site, it didn't exactly create a buying frenzy. Items up for grabs included two desktop PCs, a Toshiba laptop and an Apple Laser Writer printer, as well as 10 autographed copies of books written by Mahathir during the 1997-98 Asian economic crisis. Although no records were broken, 22 bids - the highest being $6,579 - had been received for a decade-old Apple computer by the time the auction ended on Sept. 5. In total, over $25,000 was raised to fund a scholarship at the country's two-year-old Multimedia University.

Not bad, especially since the offer had a couple of big catches: The website warned that though the equipment was used by Asia's longest-serving ruler for less than five years, it isn't operational, and is intended "only for display." Also, Lelong spokesman Ling Tau Chuin says that "all potentially sensitive information has been erased." Bids might also have been higher had Mahathir's high-tech transformation plans made more progress.


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