Asia must have a liberal environment if it wants to attain 'cultural empowerment and human dignity', says Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. His remarks, made in an interview with Newsweek, revealed views that were markedly different from those of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whom he is in line to succeed. The 50-year-old said people in his generation would 'certainly like to see greater liberty, access to literature and knowledge and less censorship'. They did not have 'an obsession about the need for order and political stability', he said. But in a speech earlier this year, Dr Mahathir, 71, said developing countries needed political stability more than ever before. 'Liberal democracy may be good for some, but not for everyone. And I don't think, from what I have observed, it will work for everyone of us,' he said. Mr Anwar said it was very important for Asian tigers like Malaysia to move beyond economics and begin to 'talk about the development of man'. He said that in his book The Asian Renaissance, he spoke of economic, scientific and cultural development. 'That can only be achieved in a liberal, free environment - and that builds a need for democracy and civil society.' Replying to a suggestion his views were in conflict with the region's values, he said great Asian thinkers had used a free press to debunk colonial practices and atrocities and promote independence and human dignity. 'So I'm not suggesting that we adopt Western values,' the deputy premier added. 'What I'm suggesting is universal and very closely associated with our own past.' Mr Anwar said he stood by his proposal that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should seriously consider the idea of 'constructive intervention' to deal with Cambodian-like crises. But at the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting last month, Dr Mahathir argued against proposals that were 'not part of the ASEAN way' in an apparent rebuff to Mr Anwar. Judging from Mr Anwar's comments, his assumption of the post of prime minister could have significance for the whole region.