The country's 70-year-old Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has shown he is neither mellowing nor slowing down. He is now preparing to accept endorsement for a sixth three-year term from his party, the United Malays National Organisation, next month. And he has just spent a busy two weeks abroad, which began with him delivering a short salvo against his Western counterparts for failing to join him at a solar energy conference in Zimbabwe, and ended with him launching a full-scale assault against the West at the United Nations in New York. In a speech to the UN General Assembly replete with harsh rhetoric, Dr Mahathir portrayed the world as a place in which developed countries of the North oppressed developing countries of the South by maintaining a 'vice-like grip on all spheres of international activity'. He accused Western biotechnology companies of stealing the genetic resources of the South and said the Western media distorted reports so as to put anything happening there 'in the worst possible light'. He attacked the workings of the World Bank, the International Monetary fund, the World Trade Organisation and the Group of Seven. Dr Mahathir called for international action against pornography-trafficking 'criminals in the North' before the world sank 'deeper into moral decay'. Zimbabwe and New York were just two of his stops in a fortnight of travelling. He also went to Estoril for the Portuguese Grand Prix, where he secured the agreement of the Formula One Constructors' Association to hold a race in Malaysia in 1999, and to Boston, where he announced a plan for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to set up a private university in Malaysia. In Portugal he gave a hint of why he involves himself in all these activities. He said the 1999 Malaysian Grand Prix would give Malaysia the international recognition it deserved. 'We know we are not famous,' said Dr Mahathir. 'Our neighbours like Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand are more famous - sometimes to the extent that a letter sent to Malaysia ends up in Malawi,' he said. 'Malaysia has its own identity and people should know where we are.'