We all know Dr Mahathir. He was both the 4th and 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia!
However, do Malaysians really know much about our beloved former prime minister? If you don’t, here are 11 fun facts about the wise old man that will enable you to get to know him a little bit better.
1. He hails from Alor Setar, Kedah
Our former Prime Minister was born in Alor Setar and lived in a relatively poor neighbourhoood. Interestingly, you’ll be able to visit the house where he grew up as it has been converted into a small museum which is opened to the public.
2. He was a hardworking student and studied a lot
Since young, Dr Mahathir showed little interest in sports. He spent most of his time studying and got very fluent in English – surpassing a lot of his peers.
The wise man still carries the same emphasis on education till today, often encouraging the younger generation to pick up as much knowledge as they can.
“For us to be a successful nation, we need to work hard and have knowledge. The knowledge will come if you are diligent in acquiring it. I am not asking much, all you have to do is work hard,” he said at a speech in UTM previously.
3. He was the oldest world leader at 93 years old
When he was serving as the 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir earned the title of the oldest current world leader at the age of 93!
Interestingly enough, everyone’s favourite Corgi-loving queen, Queen Elizabeth II, is now in second place with only a difference of 285 days.
4. Before he was announced as a candidate for Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir had already been retired for 15 years!
Hard to believe, but Dr Mahathir had officially retired on the 31st of October 2003. Although he was no longer officially involved in government matters after that, it did not stop him from being vocal about local politics. Plus, he definitely stepped up his game when he saw that the nation needed change!
5. He met his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah, while they were studying
We all adore how Dr Mahathir and his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah are basically #relationshipgoals. It’s even more heartwarming to learn that the lovebirds actually met at King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore, where they were both studying to be doctors at that time. How sweet!
6. He wrote for The Straits Times when he was in college
Many of us are often in awe at how eloquent Dr Mahathir was and still is. We all love his witty speeches! Besides being able to carry himself well in front of a crowd, he is also quite the writer, having written for Singapore’s English daily, The Straits Times when he was in college, which he got paid for too!
Under the pen name “C.H.E. Det”, he would write essays that dealt with topics such as his political views on royalty and nationality, and his observations on several Malay issues.
Well, it’s no surprise that he slowly moved his way into the digital world after, which brings us to…
7. He is one of the world’s first leaders to have his own blog
Dr Mahathir did not fall behind in keeping up with modern ways of communicating, as he was regarded as one of the world’s first leaders to have his own blog. He established his blog in 2008 and still keeps it updated quite regularly even up till today.
As expected, a majority of his posts addresses local political issues but he also talks about local culture and his own views on issues like terrorism as well.
8. He is responsible for many of the infrastructures that Malaysians use today
True to his title as the father of modernisation, Dr Mahathir is responsible for many of the infrastructures that Malaysians use on a daily basis today, such as the SMART Tunnel and KL Sentral. Plus, you can’t forget his legacy, the iconic Petronas Twin Towers that’s still the tallest twin towers in the world!
Source: Wikimedia Commons
9. Dr Mahathir previously held multiple positions in the government
Source: Malay Mail
We all know that our current PM has had quite a long and lustrious career in politics but in case you weren’t exactly sure just how experienced he is, here’s a brief recap of the different positions he has held previously:
- Minister of Education
- Deputy Prime Minister
- Minister of Trade and Industry
- Minister of Defence
- Minister of Home Affairs
- Minister of Finance
- 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia
10. He was once mentor to former PM, Najib Razak and Anwar Ibrahim
At one point, Anwar Ibrahim was not only his Deputy Prime Minister but was also someone that Dr Mahathir actually mentored, before things took a different turn due to Anwar’s desire for reform.
Source: Malay Mail
In addition to that, when he was head of Barisan Nasional (BN), Dr Mahathir had actually mentored Najib who succeeded him in 2008. However, after there were multiple allegations of corruption and when 1MDB came out, he couldn’t take it anymore and decided to join the opposition coalition in 2016.
11. He keeps a little black book with him where ever he goes
Dr Mahathir has revealed previously how he always keeps a little notebook with him so he would not forget certain matters. He mentioned that putting things down on paper and pen is a good way to remind yourself on the important things you’ll have to do.
Dr Mahathir also have always put strong emphasis on education. Till this date, he still reads plenty of books as one is never too old to learn, plus it keeps his brain moving! His secret to staying so sharp despite being 95 years old!
12. He has participated in one of Malaysia’s most gripping elections yet
Source: The Straits Times
Gripping here meaning filled with lots of drama of course! During the weeks and days leading up to GE14, Malaysians witnessed a new law redrawing election boundaries, a ‘fake news’ law that could hinder freedom of speech, and allegations of electoral crimes too. We were all infected with election fever as GE14 turned out to be one of the most dramatic elections in Malaysian history but the outcome was certainly surprising!
Dr Mahathir emerged victorious from GE14 and the majority of the rakyat rejoiced.
13. He’s regarded as one of the last ‘old guards’ of Asia
Along with Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew and Indonesia’s Suharto, Mahathir was regarded as one of the ‘old guards‘ of a generation of politicians who had led Asia to prosper economically under their leadership.
Source: Macau Daily Times
With the passing of his comrades, he is now one of the last and is already setting the stage for things to come.
Happy Birthday Dr Mahathir!
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