Bangkok: The turmoil in the US financial sector has stoked many emotions, most of them closely related to fear, as its effects have rippled around the world.

But many in south-east Asia have also reacted with anger at what is seen as the hypocrisy of Western governments in stepping in to prop up failing companies and institutions after preaching the exact opposite to the region during the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis.

For former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammad, who flew in the face of world opinion in imposing capital controls to ride out the financial crisis 11 years ago, the current credit crisis provided a chance for yet another swipe at Washington.

"I remember how well we were told never to bail out failing companies," he wrote in his blog ( last week. "But in the last one year the Fed has bailed out dozens of failing banks, mortgage corporations and other businesses," the 84-year-old mused.

During the Asian crisis, Mahathir blamed variously Jews, currency speculators, George Soros, the foreign media, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and foreigners in general for Malaysia's economic woes.

In Thailand, where the crisis began in July 1997 with the devaluation of the baht under massive speculative pressure, many businessmen and bankers are still bitter at the $17 billion bail-out package agreed with the IMF.

During the "Tom Yam Kung crisis", named after a spicy Thai prawn soup, the strings attached to the IMF loans curbed state support for debt-stricken firms.

That led to strings of bankruptcies and thousands of job losses. "This Hamburger Crisis is showing the hyprocisy and the true colour of the West, from the World Bank to IMF to the United States," Business Radio FM 98 host Danai Ekmahasawadi said on his popular 90-minute talk show in Thailand yesterday.

"During the Tom Yam Kung Crisis, as our creditors they were acting like prophets, telling us not to do this and that, left, right and centre. They are doing the opposite to what they told us now," he said.

"I am sick and tired of those preaching terms like human rights principles, transparency or good governance," he said.