CYBERJAYA, Malaysia, July 10— When 25 senior executives from technology companies around the world gathered here this week to tour Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor project, it had all the appearance of a somewhat dutiful pep rally for a technology-friendly Southeast Asian leader.
The meeting, however, was far from routine -- either in its lush tropical setting or in the object of the corporate kudos: Mahathir Mohamad.
Dr. Mahathir, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, has been engaged in the fight of his life over the last year. As the Asian economic crisis tore through this normally tranquil country, Dr. Mahathir, 73, imposed widely criticized controls on Malaysia's capital markets, vilified foreigners for causing Asia's misery, and imprisoned his popular former deputy, Anwar Ibrahim.
Many people here feared that the furor would doom Dr. Mahathir's ambitious vision to make Malaysia the technology lodestar of Asia. The Prime Minister's actions baffled some members of the panel of foreign executives that advises him on his flagship project, the Multimedia Super Corridor. The project, which was started in 1996, officially opened Thursday and is expected to take two decades to complete.
If the three-day meeting in honor of the opening did not quite dispel the manyfears, it provided a much-needed psychic boost.