Mahathir bin Mohamad

Mahathir bin Mohammad
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Mahathir bin Mohamad

DeputyMusa Hitam (1981 - 1986), Ghafar Baba (1986 - 1993), Anwar Ibrahim (1993 - 1998), Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (1998 - 2003)
Preceded by
Succeeded by

Political partyBarisan Nasional, UMNO
SpouseSiti Hasmah

Mahathir bin Mohamad (b. December 20, 1925)(referred to as "Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad" in Malaysia) is the former Prime Minister of Malaysia. He held the post from 1981 to 2003. During his term in office he was credited for engineering Malaysia's rapid modernization and promoting "Asian values". He is also known for his sharp criticisms of Western nations.

Early life

Born in Alor Star, the capital of the northern state of Kedah, Mahathir said in his autobiography that he had Indian ancestry (from his father), with its origins tracing back to Kerala in India, while his mother was a Kedah-born Malay. Mahathir, however, considers himself to be a "full Malay", in line with Article 160 of the Constitution. Under Article 153 of the Malaysian Constitution, Malays are granted particular special rights not available to other non-Malay citizens of Malaysia.

During World War II, he sold pisang goreng (banana fritters) to supplement his family income in the Japanese occupation of Malaya.

Mahathir attended a Malay vernacular school before continuing his education at the Sultan Abdul Hamid College in Alor Star. Mahathir then attended the King Edward VII Medical College in Singapore, where he edited a medical student magazine called The Cauldron; he also contributed to the The Straits Times newspaper anonymously under the nickname "Che Det". Mahathir was also President of the Muslim Society in the college.[1] Upon graduation in 1953, Mahathir joined the then Malayan government service as a medical officer. He married Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali—a fellow doctor and former classmate in college—on August 5, 1956, and left government service in 1957 to set up his own private practice in Alor Star. Mahathir thrived in private practice, and allowed him to own by 1959 a Pontiac Catalina and employ an ethnic Chinese chauffeur (at the time, almost all chauffeurs in Malaysia were Malays, owing to the economic dominance of the ethnic Chinese ). Some critics have suggested this foreshadowed a later hallmark of Mahathir's politics, which focused on the "cultivation of such emblems of power".[2]

Active in politics since 1945, beginning with his involvement in the Anti-Malayan Union Campaign, Mahathir joined the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) at its inception in 1946. As State Party Chairman, and Chairman of the Political Committee, he inadvertently angered some quarters with his proposal that the selection of candidates be based on certain qualifications for the 1959 general election. Hurt by accusations that he was scheming to put up candidates who were strongly allied to him, Mahathir refused to take part in the national election that year.

In the third general election of 1964, Mahathir was elected Member of Parliament for Kota Setar Selatan[3] defeating the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party's (PAS) candidate with a 60.2% majority. He lost the seat in the following general election in 1969 by a mere 989 votes to PAS's candidate, Haji Yusoff Rawa[4] after he categorically declared that he did not need Chinese votes to win.[5]

Following the race riots of May 13, 1969 in the May 13 Incident, Mahathir was sacked from the UMNO Supreme Council on 12 July, following his widespread distribution to the public of his letter to Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Prime Minister at that time. In his letter, he had criticised the manner in which Tunku Abdul Rahman had handled the country's administration which was believed to favour the ethnic Chinese. Mahathir was subsequently relieved of his party membership on 26 September.[4]

While in the political wilderness, Mahathir wrote his book, "The Malay Dilemma"[4] in which he sought to explain the causes of the May 13 Incident in Kuala Lumpur and the reasons for the Malays' lack of economic progress within their own country. He then proposed a politico-economic solution in the form of "constructive protection", worked out after careful consideration of the effects of heredity and environmental factors on the Malay race. The book, published in 1970, was promptly banned by the Tunku Abdul Rahman government.[4] However, some of the proposals in this book had been used by Tun Abdul Razak, Tunku Abdul Rahman's successor, in his "New Economic Policy" (N.E.P.) that was principally geared towards affirmative action economic programs to address the nation's economic disparity between the Malays and the non-Malays. The ban on his book was eventually lifted after Mahathir became Prime Minister in 1981.[4]

Mahathir rejoined UMNO on 7 March, 1972, and was appointed as Senator in 1973. He relinquished the senatorship post in 1974 in order to contest in the general elections where he was returned unopposed in the constituency of Kubang Pasu, and was appointed as the Minister of Education.[4] In 1975, he became one of the three vice-presidents of U.M.N.O., after winning the seat by 47 votes. Tun Hussein Onn appointed Mahathir as Deputy Prime Minister on 15 September, 1978, and in a Cabinet reshuffle, appointed him concurrently as the Minister of Trade and Industry.

Mahathir became the Prime Minister of Malaysia on 10 July, 1981 when Tun Hussein Onn stepped down due to health reasons. After 22 years in office, Mahathir retired on October 31, 2003, making him one of Asia's longest-serving political leaders. Upon his retirement on 31 October 2003, Mahathir was awarded a "Tun"-ship, Malaysia's highest civilian honour.Mahathir is also is a candidate for the noble prize award for his efforts against the wars at the middle east. 2006

Economic policies

Many of Malaysia's economic policies starting from the time of Mahathir Mohamad's premiership have a striking resemblance to those of Singapore's. During his term in office, Mahathir turned Malaysia into a regional high-tech manufacturing, financial, and telecommunications hub through his economic policies based on corporate nationalism, known as the various "Malaysia Plans" which set out the government middle-term objectives. These policies with strong Keynesian tendency remained in effect almost to the end of his tenure in office.

His pet projects have included Perwaja Steel, an attempt to emulate South Korea and Japan, the Proton car company, and Astro, a satellite television service.

Mahathir is credited with spearheading the phenomenal growth of the Malaysian economy, now one of the largest in South East Asia . Growth between 1988 and 1997 averaged over ten percent and living standards rose twentyfold, with poverty relatively almost eradicated and social indicators such as literacy levels and infant mortality rates becoming almost on par with developed countries.

During this period, Mahathir embarked on various large scale national projects, such as: While such projects have their benefits, corresponding high costs have made some Malaysians reluctant to engage in more of such ventures, believing that the money can be better spent on other areas of development. On the other hand, Mahathir has always argued that such projects yield a direct return to the economy, apart from just serving the national pride, as government spendings in turn create jobs along with other multiplier effects. Mahathir has also been criticised for the failures and inefficiency of some of his pet projects. Perwaja Steel eventually failed and had to be rescued by a corporate white knight. Its chairman, Eric Chia, faced charges of corruption in 2004. Proton eventually had to be bought by Petronas when its parent DRB-HICOM found itself over-extended, and is still currently fighting to become profitable. Astro enjoyed a monopoly on pay television services in Malaysia until 2005 when it ended with the granting of a licence to a rival MiTV

The Bakun Dam project was to be managed by a local construction firm, Ekran Berhad. It issued a 1-for-1 on time rights issue which was 63% undersubscribed (the first time in Malaysia for an event of this magnitude). Ekran's chairman, Ting Pek King, had to purchase all unsubscribed shares at a cost of $500 million ringgit due to his agreement with the underwriters. Subsequently the dam project was taken back by the government which was obliged to pay Ekran for the work already completed.

Financial speculation during the Mahathir Administration

  • 1981, 1982 - Involved in the international tin venture; the whole practice caused Malaysia to lose RM209 million, or USD$80 million.[6]
  • 1990 - Bank Negara Malaysia (B.N.M.) pound sterling speculation; estimated losses are close to USD$4 billion.[7]
  • In 1993 B.N.M. lost $2.2 billion in speculative trading, according to Millman (p. 229).
  • In 1994 B.N.M. became technically insolvent and was bailed out by the Malaysian Finance Ministry (Millman, p. 229)

Political machine

After his twenty-two year rule, Mahathir is still seen as a political "strongman". As Prime Minister, he was often criticised by the west for his authoritarian policies and use of state power to suppress opponents via the media, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies.

In 1983 and 1991, he took on the federal and state monarchies, removing the royal veto and royal immunity from prosecution.[2] Many Malaysians, however, were pleased with this, as there had been frequent cases of abuse of power by the royal families. Prior to this amendment of the law, royal assent was required in order for any bill to pass into law. With effect of this amendment, approval by parliament could be legally considered as royal assent after a period of 30 days, notwithstanding the views of the monarchs. However, this only applied to secular laws and the various sultans continued to enjoy the right to make Islamic law in their own jurisdictions.

In 1988 when the future of the ruling party UMNO was about to be decided in the Supreme Court (it had just been deregistered as an illegal society in the High Court), he was believed to have engineered the dismissal of the Lord President of the Supreme Court, Salleh Abas, and three other supreme court justices who tried to block the misconduct hearings. The series of incidents in 1988 has been widely viewed as the end of the Malaysian judiciary's independence from the executive.

In 1998 attention around the globe was focused on Malaysia when the government brought sodomy and abuse of power charges against the former finance minister and deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar claimed that he was being set up because he had tried to turn corruption and nepotism into major political issues, with Mahathir and his associates as the targets. Mahathir's supporters believe that it was Anwar's attempt to replace Mahathir as the Prime Minister, upon seeing the downfall of Indonesia's Suharto, that has led him to be removed from politics altogether. It was Mahathir after all, who had groomed and placed Anwar there as his deputy.

At the UMNO meeting in June 1998, Anwar's supporters had planned a sneak attack on the prime minister, hitting him in the area where they consider him most vulnerable: corruption. Mahathir fired back, reading from a prepared list, the names of all ruling-party members who had benefited from government contracts. The list included some of Anwar's relatives. The corruption talk was quickly shelved.

Many observers also saw the engineering of Anwar's dismissal as the result of the triumph of the secular corporate nationalist old guard over the younger "green" or Islamist faction within UMNO, created after the popular Islamic youth leader, Anwar, had been brought into the government by Mahathir.

The trial itself was a tawdry spectacle. The government included the statements of the purported "victims" of Anwar's sodomy attacks, evidence that was widely considered to be tainted. Furthermore, the prosecution was unable to accurately decide on a date that the alleged acts of anal sex had occurred - the government originally alleged that a sodomy had occurred inside a building that had not been constructed at the time of the alleged event. When the anomaly was pointed out, the prosecution amended the date of the alleged acts to a date after the building was built. Mahathir himself went as far as to go on television to declare Anwar guilty of sodomy and homosexual acts, even as the trial still was underway. There was widespread condemnation of the trial from human rights groups and the Malaysia bar association, who expressed serious doubts about its fairness. Mahathir then ordered a crackdown on the media and opposition parties who protested the trial. Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption and nine years prison for sodomy, to be served consecutively.[8][9]

The Anwar crisis sparked protests by some Malaysians, of all ethnic groups, and some of Anwar's supporters from UMNO regrouped around the intellectual-Muslim "Parti Keadilan Nasional" (National Justice Party). It garnered widespread support from Malaysians, though "Parti keAdilan" could win only five parliamentary seats in the 1999 elections as Mahathir frequently used his authority and intimidation to stifle its organization. In the subsequent 2004 elections, with Anwar's release and conviction overturned, the party was nearly wiped out, with Wan Azizah, the wife of Anwar, winning one seat by the narrowest of margins, mainly based on sympathetic votes, and thereon ceased to be a relevant political party.

UMNO under Mahathir developed a feudalistic tradition whereby political factions battling to ensure the growth of so-called 'warlords' would gladly throw UMNO into chaos, rather than see their prominent champion miss out on appointment to plum posts. The Anwar debacle was an example of this, as was an earlier rebellion by UMNO strongman, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who broke away to form the "Semangat 46" (the Spirit of '46) party (now defunct).

UMNO heads were seen by opposition supporters as corrupt politicians more focused on power and economic gain, as Mahathir was only interested in their total loyalty. PAS leveraged this into a selling point by promising a clean, Islamic administration. Despite this, PAS only captured the state of Terengganu in the 1999 elections, and failed to retain it in the next election. This was largely seen to be due to PAS' fundamentalist Islamic policies, as they had introduced Islamic sharia laws into Terengganu and their other stronghold, Kelantan. These laws included banning various forms of entertainment, and mandatory wearing of the headscarf for female civil servants. Many political analysts felt that this had prevented PAS from making major gains, keeping the reins of power firmly in Mahathir's hands, as the non-Malay voters were turned off by the perceived religious fundamentalism of PAS. Also, Mahathir remained tremendously popular among many Malaysians, and the third world. He is known for being a man of few words, and for his somewhat successful policies in steering Malaysia towards development and economic prosperity. In the Asian financial crisis of 1998, IMF has prescribed a recovery package for Malaysia, but Mahathir defied international pressure, his then Deputy Anwar Ibrahim, and conventional wisdom, in rejecting the package. Though economic prosperity has been mixed since then, Mahathir argued that Malaysia's recovery was relatively faster and better, as compared to many other Asian countries affected. After the financial crisis, the IMF and World Bank acknowledged that Mahathir's approach had worked, and if Anwar's policies had been carried out, Malaysia would have ended up like Argentina.

Ministries were allotted to all component parties of the Barisan Nasional. Even non-Malay parties obtained the ministerships of key ministries such as Health (MCA), Transport (MCA), and the Works Ministry (MIC). Certain ministries were also shared with one party traditionally getting the ministers post and another party getting the deputy ministership. This was standard coalition politics as with all other coalition governments who wanted to ensure everyone got a slice of the cake.

Educational system

Main article: Education in Malaysia
In 1975 Mahathir was appointed Minister of Education. He had always believed in the need for "education for the masses", with greater emphasis on maths and science, at high school level, in order to achieve his dream of a developed Malaysia. He continued to strongly promote his agenda of quantity-and-quality higher education during his term as prime minister.

In those days, English, Chinese and Tamil-medium schools were fully run by private and missionary organizations. Students from these school sat for the respective overseas examinations set by the board of school committees and associations. For instance, Overseas Cambridge School Certificate (OSC) was set for English schools. Under the former Prime Minister's order, he drafted the KBSM syllabus in order to make Malay a compulsory subject to be taught in all subjects in these schools. Overseas examinations were subsequently abolished one after another throughout the years. Schools which converted to the national type received heavy fundings from the government. Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Rendah Pelajaran (SRP) were fully introduced as national examinations.

In order to cater for the lower income indigenous population, boarding schools were promoted and constructed. Through government scholarships, tens of thousands of students were sent yearly to universities in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, western-type countries that Mahathir aspired to achieve par development with. Middle- and higher-income groups from non-Bumiputera Malaysians who were unable to get a place in the local universities, due to the restrictive quota system and limited government scholarships, also independently sent their children to these universities. This has led Malaysia to have the third largest number of students going to western-type countries to pursue higher education, after China and India. Till today, education is a major source of Malaysia's expenditure, something that the current administration is trying to remedy. After years of sending students abroad, Malaysian post-graduate and industrial research and development has still not shown any notable progress.

In 1980, education quota was introduced as part of the National Economic Policy. Mahathir who became the acting prime minister, introduced the quota system to all economic sectors in Malaysia including the education system, whereby a designated percentage of undergraduate seats of higher institutions were reserved for Bumiputra (natives) citizens. This has led to a large number of highly competitive non-bumiputra applicants being unable to secure admission to institutions of higher learning. These applicants resort to the neighbouring or foreign countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada and the western countries mentioned above.

Towards his later years, Mahathir promoted the liberalization of university start-ups, leading to branch campuses being built or the formation of permanent tie-ups with some of the most prestigious universities in the world. Amongst others, these led to the construction of Private companies with a long running history in Malaysia like Intel and AMD were also encouraged to set up, and run partnerships and/or higher education centres and centres of excellence.

In 2003 after more than 20 years in post, he commented that non-bumiputra students excel far ahead of bumiputra students in academic qualifications. He soon introduced meritocracy by gradually lowering down the quota percentage reserved each year for the intake of bumiputra applicants in higher institutions to encourage fair competitions. Despite the quota system was stripped, the government has been criticized for adopting double standards among bumiputras and other races. In pre-university level, bumiputras are mostly streamed into matriculation while non-bumiputras are taken into Form Six. Although it is widely recognized that Form Six is far more comprehensive and demanding than its counterpart, the government treats both equally and admission into government universities depend on students' performances. In spite of the government's provocation that students are free to choose either of the courses, this is rarely done and the majority of students sorted into matriculation and Form Six according to race.

In the year before his retirement, he announced that Mathematics and Science subjects must be taught in English in all primary and secondary schools with aim to increase competitiveness of Malaysian students. As a result of this rapid transition, the new school textbooks contain numerous typographical errors, and school teachers who are not fluent in English suffer difficulties in their teachings. This also subsequently caused some resentment among the Chinese education community and the hard-line Malays.

Foreign relations

During Mahathir's tenure in office, Malaysia's relationship with the West was turbulent. Early during his tenure, a small disagreement with the United Kingdom over university tuition fees sparked off a boycott of all British goods led by Mahathir, in what became known as the "Buy British Last" campaign. It also led to a search for development models in Asia, most notably Japan. This was the beginning of his famous "Look East Policy". Although the dispute was later resolved by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Mahathir continued to emphasize Asian development models over contemporary Western ones. Although Mahathir has managed to find solutions to many problems in Malaysia, ironically, he has managed to create more problems diplomatically, as seen with a great number of countries. These problems are usually small ones which crop up from personal matters, yet Mahathir always brings the Malaysian government into play, such as the imposition of boycotts.

United States

Mahathir has always been an outspoken critic of the United States and yet the United States was the biggest source of foreign investment, and was Malaysia's biggest customer during Mahathir's rule. Furthermore, Malaysian military officers continued to train in the US under the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.

Some say that relations with the United States took a turn for the worse in 1998, when US Vice President Al Gore stated at the APEC conference hosted by Malaysia:

"Democracy confers a stamp of legitimacy that reforms must have in order to be effective. And so, among nations suffering economic crises, we continue to hear calls for democracy, calls for reform, in many languages - People Power, doi moi, reformasi. We hear them today - right here, right now - among the brave people of Malaysia."

Al Gore left immediately after making that statement, probably as a form of protest. The walk-out was an insult to Malaysians in general, regardless of the support Malaysians gave to Al Gore's statement, since he was a guest of Malaysia at that time.

Al Gore and the United States were critical of the trial of Mahathir's former deputy Anwar Ibrahim, going as far to label it as a "show trial". The trial itself was a tawdry spectacle. The government included the statements of the purported "victims" of Anwar's sodomy attacks, evidence that was widely considered to be tainted. Furthermore, the prosecution was unable to accurately decide on a date that the alleged acts of anal sex had occurred - the government originally alleged that a sodomy had occurred inside a building that had not been constructed at the time of the alleged event. Mahathir himself went as far as to go on television to declare Anwar guilty of sodomy and homosexual acts, even as the trial still was underway. In response to widespread condemnation of the trail from human rights groups and the Malaysia bar association, he ordered a crackdown on the media and opposition parties who protested the trial.

Also, Anwar Ibrahim was the preeminent Malaysian spokesperson for the economic policies preferred by the IMF, which included interest rate hikes, among others. An article in Malaysia Today commented that "Gore's comments constituted a none-too-subtle attack on Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and more generally on governments, including Japan, that resist US demands for further market reforms."[10] Gore's endorsement for the reformasi (reformation) asking for (among other things) the ouster of Mahathir, was anathema to Mahathir, and he remarked that "I've never seen anybody so rude". This also summed up the Malaysian expectation that one who is a guest should not show such discourtesy to the host.

However, Mahathir's views were already firmly entrenched before this event. For example, before the ASEAN meeting in 1997, he made a speech condemning the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, calling it an oppressive instrument by which the United States and other countries try to impose their values on Asians. He went on to share his view that Asians need stability and economic growth more than civil liberties. These remarks did not endear him to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was a guest at the meeting.

The relationship was stormy both ways. Following Anwar Ibrahim's sacking and subsequent imprisonment, Madeleine Albright paid a visit to Anwar's wife.

Yet Mahathir has not hesitated to point to America for justification of his own actions. In speaking of arbitrary detention without trial of prisoners of conscience in Malaysia, he said: "Events in the United States have shown that there are instances where certain special powers need to be used in order to protect the public for the general good."

At the other end of the spectrum, the United States government has previously criticised the Malaysian government for implementing the ISA, most recently in 2001 when President George W. Bush said "The Internal Security Act is a draconian law. No country should any longer have laws that allow for detention without trial." In 2004, however, Bush reversed his stance and claimed "We cannot simply classify Malaysia’s Internal Security Act as a draconian law."

In 2003 Mahathir spoke to the Non-Aligned Movement in Kuala Lumpur, and as part of his speech, said:
"If innocent people who died in the attack on Afghanistan and those who have been dying from lack of food and medical care in Iraq are considered collaterals, are the 3,000 who died in New York, and the 200 in Bali also just collaterals whose deaths are necessary for operations to succeed?"(unclear)

Marie Huhtala, the American ambassador to Malaysia responded with a statement:
"These are not helpful statements by any standard, and I'm here to tell you that Washington does take note of them. They are bound to have a harmful effect on the relationship."

More recently, the 2003 Invasion of Iraq caused additional friction between the two countries; Mahathir was highly critical of President Bush for acting without a United Nations mandate.

On October 16, 2003 Mahathir said during a summit for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, "[Muslims] are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million [during the Holocaust]. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them. They invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries. And they, this tiny community, have become a world power." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Bush considered the comments "reprehensible and hateful."[11] Mahathir's comments were also condemned by Jewish organizations and the government of Israel.

In spite of all this, Malaysia's relationship with the US has been strong. A 2003 house subcommittee hearing (Serial No. 108–21) on US Policy policy towards South East Asia sums it up as "Despite sometimes blunt and intemperate public remarks by Prime Minister Mahathir, U.S.-Malaysian cooperation has a solid record in areas as diverse as education, trade, military relations, and counter-terrorism".

Even after retirement, Mahathir was not hesitant about his criticisms of the United States. In 2004, (The Star, October 18, 2004), he was quoted as having said "The American people are, by and large, very ignorant and know nothing about the rest of the world.... Yet they are the people who will decide who will be the most powerful man in the world". In the same interview, he also predicted George W. Bush's victory in the 2004 United States Presidential Election, in which he was later proven correct. In another October 2006 interview with Associated Press, he predicted that the Republicians will retain both chambers in the 2006 mid-term elections because "American voters are not astute and will be fooled by President George W. Bush's propaganda."


Mahathir's relationship with Australia (the closest country in the Anglosphere to Malaysia, and the one whose foreign policy is most concentrated on the region), and his relationship with Australia's political leaders, has been particularly rocky. Mahathir regularly took offense at portrayals of Malaysia in the Australian media (which criticized Mahathir's belligerence and outspokeness), calling on the government to intervene in this (an action that would be politically unthinkable in Australia). Relationships between Mahathir and Australia's leaders reached a low point in 1993 when Paul Keating described Mahathir as "recalcitrant" for not attending the APEC summit. (It is thought that Keating's description was a linguistic gaffe, and that what he had in mind was "intransigent".)[12] The Malaysian government threatened trade sanctions, which if imposed, would actually have more negative effect on Malaysia than Australia.

Mahathir, along with other Malaysian politicians (and many other Asian leaders) also heavily criticized Keating's successor, John Howard, whom he believed had encouraged Pauline Hanson, whose views were widely perceived in Asia (and Australia[13]) as racist. Australian politicians then pointed out Mahathir's farcical trial of Anwar Ibrahim, saying that the prosecution was using homophobic overtones.

Mahathir has valued the right of a nation to do whatever it wants within its borders, which he calls "sovereignty". This was articulated in the ASEAN policy of non-interference. In 2000, Mahathir was quoted as saying: "If Australia wants to be a friend to Asia, it should stop behaving as if it is there to teach us how to run our country. It is a small nation in terms of numbers and it should behave like a small nation and not be a teacher." He also said, "This country stands out like a sore thumb trying to impose its European values in Asia as if it is the good old days when people can shoot aborigines without caring about human rights" and denounced Australia as the "white trash of Asia".

Mahathir also made remarks to the effect that John Howard was trying to be America's 'Deputy Sheriff' in the Pacific region. This was in response to John Howard's statement that they would pursue terrorists over the borders of their neighbours.

His perception of Howard has not softened after retirement. In an interview, he stated: "They (accepted) Blair, and I am sure they will accept Bush. They have already accepted Howard who told a blatant lie", a reference to the "Children overboard" scandal during the run-up to the 2001 Australian elections.

Despite this supposed non-interference policy, Malaysia during Mahathir's premiership had been constantly criticising Singapore, but would take the slightest unfavourable comment coming from Singapore as an attempt to interfere in the domestic affairs of Malaysia. Such hypocrisy is quite common.

Middle East

Mahathir is regarded by many, especially in the West, as an anti-Semite. In 1984, his government banned the performance of works by the Jewish composer Ernest Bloch, during a visit by the New York Philharmonic, specifically because of Bloch's religion. The Orchestra responded by refusing to play in Malaysia. [1]

Under Mahathir, a leading critic of Israel, Malaysia was a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, and established diplomatic relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization. (Israeli citizens remain banned from entering Malaysia and Malaysian citizens from Israel without special government permission.) In 1986, a major diplomatic row erupted with neighbouring Singapore when Chaim Herzog, the President of Israel, paid a state visit.

In 1997, during the financial crisis, he attributed the collapse of the Malaysian ringgit to a conspiracy of Jews against a prosperous Muslim state: "The Jews robbed the Palestinians of everything, but in Malaysia they could not do so, hence they do this, depress the ringgit." Under strong international criticism, he issued a partial retraction, but not in Malay-language media sources. [14]

On October 16, 2003 (shortly before he stepped down as prime minister), Mahathir said at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Putrajaya, "We Muslims are actually very strong, 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Nazis killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them." He also named Israel as "the enemy allied with most powerful nations." Israel strongly criticized the remarks. "The speech was also condemned by the European Union and Germany in particular, as well as by the United States, Australia and other Western states. Germany summoned Malaysia's charge d'affaires in Berlin to protest at the 'totally unacceptable' comments. Speaking for the EU, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said that Dr Mahathir had employed 'expressions that were gravely offensive, very strongly anti-Semitic and... strongly counter to principles of tolerance, dialogue and understanding'." At the same time, "His speech was defended and admired by many Muslim leaders."[15]


Mahathir is an alumnus of the National University of Singapore (previously named University of Malaya). He graduated as a physician from then King Edward VII Medical College in 1953, during British rule. He is held in high regard by his alma mater, and regularly attends reunions.

However, relations with Singapore under Mahathir's tenure have been stormy. Many disputed issues raised during his administration have not been resolved, and in fact have been exaggerated. Many of these international issues have been raised up under Mahathir's Premiership term, but no significant headway had been made then to resolve them bilaterally. Issues have included: Both sides had stubbornly refused to compromise, with the result of bilateral relations turning frosty. The absurdity of the whole situation was illustrated by Mahathir's proposal to replace the Malaysian portion of the Causeway with half a bridge, with the end result, a crooked structure, being derided as ridiculous by citizens of both nations. Under Prime Minister Abdullah, relations have begun to thaw, and inter-citizen relations have gone on much as they have before in that they are totally independent of political bickering. Many Singaporeans and Malaysians have relatives on the both sides of the Causeway, and despite the bickering of both governments over different issues, relations between citizens of both countries remained unaffected.

Recently, the issue of replacement of the Causeway with a bridge and the use of Malaysian airspace by the RSAF have been successfully solved by Mahathir's successor Abdullah, an issue that has been heavily criticised by Mahathir.

People's Republic of China

Though an anti-communist in his early career, Mahathir highly approves of the new directions adopted by the People's Republic of China (PRC) after Deng Xiaoping's ascension to power. Malaysia and the PRC maintained a close relationship since the late 1990s, when doubts and suspicions of China's ambition in ASEAN region were cleared, and Mahathir and Chinese leaders found many common grounds in their authoritarian style of ruling and their opposition to Western interference in regional matters. Mahathir is keen that the rise of PRC could to some extent balance the American influence in Southeast Asia, as well as benefiting Malaysia from the PRC's economic prosperity.


In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mahathir has been noted as a particular ally and sympathetic co-religionist of that nation. He visited Sarajevo in June, 2005 to open a bridge near Bosmal City Center signifying friendship between Malaysians and Bosnians.

He made another 3-day visit to Visoko to see the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun in July 2006. He made another visit a few months later.

In February 2007, four non-governmental organizations: the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology, the Congress of Bosnik Intellectuals, and two Christian organizations: the Serb Civil Council and the Croat National Council, nominated Mahatir for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work during the conflict. [16]

On June 22, 2007, he made another visit to Sarajevo with a group of Malaysian businessmen to explore the investment opportunities in the country.

Russian Federation

Before the fall of the Soviet Union, Malaysia had relations with the Communist state. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the Malaysian government and other Islamic states sided with the mujahideen. In 1999, Malaysia urged Russia to stop the invasion of Chechnya.

In 2002 Mahathir made his visit to Moscow. He made the statement that Russia can be the rival to United States.

Developing world

Among developing and Islamic countries, however, Mahathir remains greatly admired, particularly for Malaysia's impressive economic growth. Foreign leaders, such as Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, praised him and have been trying to emulate Mahathir's developmental formulae. He was one of the greatest spokesmen on Third World issues, and strongly supported the bridging of the North-South divide, as well as exhorting the development of Islamic nations. He was dedicated to various Third World blocs such as ASEAN, the G77, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Nations, and most recently, the G22 at the latest WTO talks at Cancún.


In 2002 a tearful[17] Mahathir announced his resignation to a surprised UMNO General Assembly. He was persuaded to stay on for a further eighteen months, in a carefully planned handover that ended in October 2003. On his retirement, he was granted Malaysia's highest honour, which entitles him to the title Tun from his original Datuk Seri. Since retirement, he has been serving as an advisor to the Malaysian national oil company Petronas and the Malaysian national car company Proton, an original core national project initiated by Mahathir during his premiership. He is also the head of the Perdana Leadership Foundation, a foundation whose aim is to preserve, develop and spread materials regarding or written by previous Malaysian Prime Ministers. While he has retired from all political offices, he remains very outspoken regarding national policies.

Shortly before leaving office, Mahathir sparked off a fierce controversy when at the 57-member "Organization of the Islamic Conference" (OIC) summit, he claimed that "the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them".[18] However, he also mentioned:" We also know that not all non-Muslims are against us. Some are well disposed towards us. Some even see our enemies as their enemies. Even among the Jews there are many who do not approve of what the Israelis are doing."

His comments were widely criticized in the West, but the issue was ignored in Asia and Islamic countries, which felt that his remark had been taken out of context. Mahathir later defended his remarks, saying: "I am not anti-Semitic ... I am against those Jews who kill Muslims and the Jews who support the killers of Muslims." He tagged the West as "anti-Muslim", for double standards by "protecting Jews while allowing others to insult Islam." also mentioning “But when somebody condemns the Muslims, calls my prophet, "terrorist", did the European Union say anything?".[19] In 2004, he stated that both Bush and Kerry avoided certain acts due to concerns that they would "annoy the Jewish group." However, his comments does not stop international criticism especially from United States and Israel.

In 2005 Mahathir brought up the issue of excessive awarding of Approved Permits (APs) to import cars, stating that they were creating too much competition for Proton, causing friction between him and Rafidah Aziz, the Minister for International Trade and Industry, who oversaw the awarding of APs. His successor, Abdullah, then announced that a National Automotive Policy (NAP) would be created to appropriately handle the issue. Later, when touching on the issue, Mahathir lamented the government's majority in Parliament, saying, "I believe that the country should have a strong government but not too strong. A two-thirds majority like I enjoyed when I was prime minister is sufficient but a 90% majority is too strong....We need an opposition to remind us if we are making mistakes. When you are not opposed you think everything you do is right".[20]


The former Prime Minister has a history of heart attack. He had a coronary artery bypass in 1989. On November 9 2006, he was admitted into Institut Jantung Negara (National Heart Institute) in Kuala Lumpur after suffering a mild heart attack that was caused by a clot in his arteries and has since recovered.[21] On 14 May 2007, Mahathir was admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital in Langkawi after suffering from breathing difficulties at 1600 (MST). The former premier's condition was reported to be stable.[22]

Mohamad, 82, underwent a second heart bypass on September 4, 2007 in a specialist cardiac hospital in Kuala Lumpur Sunday. [23] He is recovering in the intensive care unit and was already conscious (in the Kuala Lumpur Institut Jantung Negara where he was operated by a team of surgeons, including a U.S. specialist).[24]

On September 23, 2007, Mahathir Mohamad, underwent further surgery (Kuala Lumpur's National Heart Institute) due to an infection of the surgical wound in his chest. He is currently on a respirator in the ICU.[25]

Criticism of his successor

In 2006 Mahathir's relationship with his successor started to get strained. In a press conference on 7 June 2006 at the Perdana Leadership Foundation, which he heads, Mahathir said that Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was not his first choice as successor but it was the current Deputy Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, instead. He said that he felt hurt by allegations that he "finished all the government's money, and that the government was bankrupt" because of the mega-projects initiated by him during his tenure as prime minister.[26] Mahathir added that he has "...a habit of choosing the wrong people" when he was answering the question whether Abdullah had stabbed him in the back.[26] He has also criticised the present government's decision to scrap the plan to replace Malaysia's side of the Johor-Singapore Causeway. In his opinion, Malaysia does not need to seek the approval to build a bridge on its own soil. This and other such issues have led many to believe that UMNO is under the threat of splitting into Mahathir and Badawi factions. A statement was issued by UMNO to reassure the public that they wholeheartedly supported Badawi, although as of yet, no stand has been taken over the issue of Mahathir's membership in the party. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Nazri Aziz, suggested that Mahathir "wants to force him (Abdullah) to quit. He needs to be told he is no longer Prime Minister. His campaign is not for the sake of the country but for himself."[27]

To make his voice heard, Mahathir decided to bid to become a delegate from Kubang Pasu for the 2006 UMNO general assembly. This move, if successful, would bring great chagrin to Abdullah who seemed to use every form of censorship available to shut Mahathir up. He failed in his bid to be elected as a representative which is surprising given the fact that Kubang Pasu is his stronghold for over three decades. Later, an angry Mahathir claimed that the "establishment" (in reference to the present government) were doing everything in their power including, but not limited to using government machine that is normally reserved for general elections, to ensure that he didn't get elected. Mahathir even went as far as to allege — albeit, without proof — that the interested party paid RM200 for every vote casted against him. Mahathir also challenged the government to throw him in jail if the government wanted him to shut his mouth.

On, 22 October 2006, Mahathir had a private meeting with Abdullah, in which he voiced his dissatisfactions face-to-face for the first time with Abdullah. This meeting was highly anticipated by members of UMNO and other Malaysians to be an opportunity to narrow the differences between both of them.

However, Mahathir continued his criticisms of Abdullah after the meeting, saying that he was not satisfied with Abdullah's answers to his views.[28]

In a press conference after the meeting, Mahathir revealed one of his dissatisfactions; he felt that his civil liberties to voice his opinions and meeting with people were curtailed by the government. This is a quote from the press conference on this topic.
  • And I pointed out to him that firstly, this has become a police state. Because every time anybody invites me to give a talk, they would be called up by the police and warned, called up by the police and told to withdraw the invitation. Someone was not allowed to hold any meeting at all which involves me. This happened to many people. They were very shy to tell me about it but they were called up by the police and of course they were also called up by the mentri besar as well... But I consider this a police state. And I consider also that my civic right has been taken away from me because I have every right to talk to Umno people, university people, civil servants and that’s my right.[28]
Mahathir also voiced certain conducts of Abdullah and his relatives (before and after Abdullah became Prime Minister) that would amount to corruption although Mahathir did not explicitly accuse Abdullah of that. Mahathir expressed his disappointment regarding Abdullah's role in the oil-for-food programme with Iraq; Abdullah's name was listed as a beneficiary in a report published by the US government regarding the programme. Abdullah's son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, and his son had also been accused by Mahathir of offering contracts to their connections, which amounts to corruption.

Mahathir had also criticised Abdullah's handling of the Approved Permits (AP) issue, expressing his surprise that Rafidah Aziz was still retained as a Cabinet member although two people on the list of persons issued with highest number of APs were linked to Rafidah.[28]

Other controversies

Former Malaysia Airlines chief executive officer, Tajudin Ramli claimed that he (Tajudin) was "forced" to buy out the shares of Malaysia Airlines by Mahathir during a period when the national carrier suffered financial difficulties. However, Mahathir denied this claim and said that he only asked if Tajudin was interested in the shares.

In 2006 he had a 2-hour talk with James W. Walter and William Rodriguez with regards to the US Government involvement in the 9/11 attacks.[31]


For his efforts to promote the economic development of the country, Mahathir has been granted the soubriquet of Bapa Pemodenan (Father of Modernisation).

Since his resignation, there are signs that his influence is on the wane, notably the cancellation of a Mahathir-approved double tracking rail project on grounds of cost.

Moreover, his policies also came with a significant cost which Malaysians were reluctant to address as long as Mahathir was in control: The consequent distortion of free market dynamics is said to have fostered favoritism and inefficiency. Due to his statist policies along with the effects of the New Economic Policy, Malay-owned companies, resting on lavish government aid and subsidies, are extremely uncompetitive in Malaysia itself, let alone the world market.

Non-Malay firms, mostly owned by pro-Mahathir figures, have devoted most of their energies to trying to operate within this system as opposed to formulating and operating according to international capitalism, which explains their lack of noticeable effect on the global business scene. In private, Malaysians dubbed the favoured group the 'UMNO-putras'.

In most local caricature which portrays him, most of his appearance has been made distinguished by his oddly large nose. Cartoonist like Lat and Zunar are most popular with this caricature.

Galeria Sri Perdana

Mahathir's official residence, Sri Perdana, where he resided from 23 August 1983 to 18 October 1999, was turned into a museum (Galeria Sri Perdana). In keeping with the principle of heritage conservation, the original design and layout of the Sri Perdana has been preserved.


Many of his economic policies have a striking resemblance to those taken by Singapore many years ago, with the principal differences only in matters where ethnic Malay rights are concerned. Although he is often spoken of as if he originated many of the economic ideas that modernised Malaysia, many of the economic policies and ideas are in fact those of others, e.g. Tun Daim Zainuddin. He is also often credited with the economic measures that helped Malaysia to recover promptly from the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis, when in fact he was advised by foreign and Malaysian financial and economic advisors, with many of these advisors going unnoticed in the eyes of the Malaysian public.


  • '''1925: Born in Alor Star, Kedah on December 20.
  • '''1945: Joined the Anti-Malayan Union Campaign.
  • '''1946: Joined the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) as a member upon its inception.
  • '''1953: Graduated as a physician from King Edward VII Medical College, Singapore (subsequently became the medical faculty of the University of Malaya;
  • Joined the Malaysian government service as a medical officer upon graduation.
  • '''1956: Married Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali on August 5.
  • '''1957: Left the government medical service to set up his own practice in Alor Star.
  • '''1957: His first child Marina Mahathir was born in June, she is Mahathir bin Mohamad's eldest daughter.
  • '''1958: Mirzan was born in November, it is his second child and first son.
  • '''1961: Mokhzani was born in January, it is his third child and second son.
  • '''1964: Elected Member of Parliament for Kota Setar South on an Alliance Party ticket, defeating the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party'(PAS) candidate with 60.2% of the votes polled.
  • '''1964: Mukhriz was born in November, it is his fourth child and third son.[32]
  • '''1965: Elected as a member of the UMNO Supreme Council.
  • '''1968: Appointed as Chairman of the first Higher Education Council.
  • '''1969: Lost his parliamentary constituency of Kota Setar South to PAS's candidate, Haji Yusoff Rawa, by 989 votes;
  • Sacked from the UMNO Supreme Council on July 12, following the widespread distribution to the public of Mahathir's letter to Tunku Abdul Rahman, then Prime Minister and President of UMNO;
  • Relieved of his party membership on September 26.
  • '''1970: Published "The Malay Dilemma" that was soon banned.
  • '''1972: Rejoined UMNO on March 7.
  • '''1973: Appointed as a Senator.
  • '''1974: Appointed Chairman of the National University Council;
  • Relinquished the post of Senator in order to contest in the 1974 General Elections where he was returned unopposed;
  • Appointed as the Minister of Education on September 5.
  • '''1975: Became one of the three vice-presidents of UMNO, after winning the seat by 47 votes.
  • '''1976: Elected as Deputy President of UMNO on March 5.
  • '''1978: Appointed Deputy Prime Minister by the then Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn on September 15;
  • Relinquished the Education portfolio to become Minister of Trade and Industry (June 1, 1978 - July 1981;
  • '''1981:
  • June 26: Elected as UMNO President at the party's 32nd Annual General Assembly;
  • July 13: Malaysia expelled three Soviet Union officials for espionage and Dr Mahathir's former political secretary, Siddiq Mohamed Ghouse, was arrested for spying for them.
  • July 16: Appointed or sworn in as Prime Minister of Malaysia at the age of 56 at Istana Negara, when Tun Hussein Onn stepped down for health reasons;
  • July 18: Dr Mahathir announced his new Cabinet, naming Tun Musa Hitam as his deputy. It was the largest Cabinet the country has ever held. Plus, he concurrently took charge of the Ministry of Defence (July 18, 1981 - May 6, 1986);
  • July 22: The Cabinet held his its first meeting. After the meeting, Dr Mahathir asked Malaysians to judge his administration a year from now.
  • July 30: Fourteen days after taking office, Dr Mahathir gave the go-ahead for the release of 21 ISA detainees.
  • July 31: Ban on Dr Mahathir's book "The Malay Dilemma", which was imposed in 1968, lifted. It soon became a bestseller.
  • August 6: Introduction of a punch card system for senior civil servants to cut out late arrivals and early departures at government offices. Later that year, Dr Mahathir implemented measures to get ministers and civil servants to wear name tags.
  • August 15: Dr Mahathir said the Auditor-General's report of 1977 was made public for the first time to let the people know how government funds were spent. Previously, all auditor reports were kept confidential.
  • September 7: Engineered the dawn raid in Malaysia’s takeover of Guthrie Corporation by Perbadanan Nasional Berhad (P.N.B.) in the London Stock Exchange to return ownership of some 200,000 acres (800 km²) of agricultural land to the people.
  • September 15: Dr Mahathir decided not to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Melbourne, leading to severe criticisms in the Australian media, which broadcast a satirical programme on him.
  • October 26: Dr Mahathir celebrated his 100th day in office as Prime Minister.
  • December 31: Dr Mahathir standardised time by moving forward the clock by half an hour in Peninsular Malaysia to bring it in line with East Malaysia;
  • Made a public apology to Malaysia's first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman;
  • '''1982:
  • January 3: Dr Mahathir was announced as The Star's Malaysian of the Year.
  • February 8: Dr Mahathir advocated the "Look East Policy" for Malaysia to beef up work ethics and management to achieve economic success.
  • April 15: Dr Mahathir promised and launched the slogans for a "Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy Government" public administration. They are "Leadership Through Example", the "Look East Policy"; "Permeation of Islamic Values", and "Buy British Last";
  • April 22: Dr Mahathir led the Barisan Nasional to a victory in the general elections and defeated PAS' Yusof Rawa Abdullah for the Kubang Pasu parliamentary seat by a 15,761 majority.
  • June 1: Dr Mahathir announced an austerity drive to cut down on seminars and overseas trips for senior officials on account of an economic downturn in the country. The next day (i.e. June 2), he announced that he and Musa would cut their salaries by RM1,000.
  • July 10: Dr Mahathir announced the proposal to set up Islamic banking in Malaysia.
  • September 10: Dr Mahathir in his address at the 33rd UMNO Annual General Assembly urged Malaysians to aim for a population of 70 million within 120 years as a basis for a ready market and demand for local goods.
  • '''1983:
  • February 19: Dr Mahathir declared a six-month war on drugs, referring to dadah (a Malay word or term which also means "drugs" or a "drug" in English) as the nation's number one menace.
  • March 19: Dr Mahathir launched the "Leadership by Example" campaign where he urged civil servants to work 15 minutes longer each day as a "symbolic sacrifice".
  • August 9: The Dewan Rakyat passed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 1983 by 136 to 9 which stated that if a Bill had not received the Royal Assent within 15 days of it being presented, it would be deemed to have been done so and gazetted. The Prime Minister Dr Mahathir, instead of the King, would have the power to declare a national emergency. Although the Dewan Negara passed the Bill, it took four months for the Bill to be assented to. The Bill sparked a constitutional crisis in the country between the Government and the Rulers. The Government had to resort to a nationwide campaign to drum up support for its position. Its first mass rally was held in Alor Star, Kedah, and attended by 50,000 people. Soon after that, Dr Mahathir removed royal veto, such that a bill could become law on approval by parliament.
  • Initiated Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional (can also be known as Proton), a national car project.
  • '''1984:
  • April 6: Dr Mahathir announced that maternity and leave benefits would be extended to parents having five children as a measure to encourage people to have more children to achieve the 70 million population target.
  • April 16: Labuan in Sabah was turned or was officially declared into a Federal Territory by Dr Mahathir at 8.59am as a step towards achieving national integration and unity between Peninsular Malaysia together with Sabah and Sarawak.
  • April 30: Dr Mahathir was returned unopposed as UMNO President at its 35th UMNO General Assembly.
  • May 12: Dr Mahathir announced that Britain had agreed to return Carcosa to Malaysia. The residence of the former British High Commissioner was given to Britain as a gesture of goodwill by the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra.
  • August 25: Dr Mahathir challenged PAS to a televised debate on the subject of PAS' accusation that UMNO members were kafir. The debate, which was planned for on November 11, was called off.
  • '''1985:
  • January 30: Dr Mahathir witnessed a peace accord signing between rival factions in MCA after months of mediation by Tun Ghafar Baba. However, this accord was soon to come undone.
  • July 6: Dr Mahathir embraced his deputy Musa publicly in a show of "no rift" at an UMNO supreme council meeting in response to rumours.
  • July 9: At 10.30am, the country's first national car Proton Saga rolled off the assembly line, witnessed by Dr Mahathir.
  • August 3: In a symbolic gesture, Dr Mahathir drove across the newly opened 13.5km Penang Bridge costing RM800 million in a red Proton Saga sedan to mark the realisation of two dreams.
  • October 17: Dr Mahathir's hard-hitting speeches against apartheid at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Nassau, Bahamas, won him international acclaim.
  • November 19: Newspaper reports emerged on the Kampung Memali incident in Mukim Siong, Baling, Kedah, where four policemen and fourteen others died in a clash. Dr Mahathir was in China while Musa was then the Home Minister.
  • November 30: On his return, Dr Mahathir said the villagers had resisted arrest, which was a crime.
  • '''1986:
  • February 26: Musa Hitam resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister (on the following day i.e. February 27) after delivering in a seven-page letter to Dr Mahathir, stating that he was unhappy with allegations that he had been involved in efforts to discredit and topple the premier. On the same day, he left for his umrah. Musa was later persuaded to remain as deputy UMNO president.
  • May 7: Dr Mahathir, instead, appointed Ghafar Baba to the post of deputy premiership. He also concurrently took charge of the Ministry of Home Affairs on the following day (?) (i.e. May 8).
  • August 4: Dr Mahathir led the Barisan Nasional to victory by securing 148 out of 177 seats. He won at his constituency by beating PAS' Azizan Ismail with a majority of 15,298 votes.
  • December 5: The controversial Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill was passed by Dewan Rakyat after almost eight hours of debate at 128 to just 3 votes, imposing a mandatory jail term of at least a year on anyone convicted under its provisions. Dr Mahathir said there was a need for the jail term owing to the widespread leakage of Government secrets.
  • A major diplomatic row erupted with neighbouring Singapore when Chaim Herzog, the President of Israel then, paid a state visit.
  • '''1987:
  • January 1: Langkawi was made a free port, as officially declared and witnessed by Dr Mahathir.
  • April 24: Dr. Mahathir narrowly warded off a challenge by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for the UMNO presidency by 761 votes to 718 while Ghafar beat Musa by 739 to 699 votes.
  • April 30: Dr. Mahathir received resignation letters from the then International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.
  • May 1: Dr. Mahathir expelled three ministers and four deputies from his Cabinet. The Ministers were Defence Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Welfare Minister Datuk Shahrir Samad and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ajib Ahmad. The deputies were Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir (of Foreign Affairs), Datuk Radzi Sheikh Ahmad (of Primary Industries), Datin Paduka Rahmah Osman (of Transport), and finally Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin (of Energy, Telecommunications and Post).
  • May 19: Dr. Mahathir announced the appointment of a new Cabinet line-up, promoting Datuk Mohamed Rahmat to Information Minister, Datuk Dr. Yusoff Noor as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Sabbaruddin Chik as Culture and Arts Minister, and Datin Paduka Napsiah Omar as General Industries Minister.
  • June 17: Dr. Mahathir was announced as the chairman of the International Conference on the Abuse and Trafficking of Narcotics in Vienna, Austria.
  • October 27: Dr. Mahathir launched Operation Lalang in which at least 106 people were arrested and detained under the I.S.A., including the then Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, political scientist Dr. Chandra Muzaffar and leading lawyer Karpal Singh. The publishing permits of the three national or local newspapers: The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan were all revoked.
  • October 28: Dr. Mahathir, as also the Home Minister, explained the crackdown in Parliament.
  • November 20: Only eleven out of the 106 were released unconditionally from I.S.A.
  • '''1988:
  • February 4: The Kuala Lumpur High Court, in dismissing the suit by eleven UMNO members, ruled that the party was an unlawful society during its 38th General Assembly and election last April. The party was thus declared illegal.
  • February 16: Dr Mahathir announced the registration of Umno Baru (or the New Umno) and the party was accepted into the Barisan Nasional fold.
  • March 26: The Star resumed publication after 149 days of suspension by the Government following the ISA crackdown.
  • May 31, July 6, July 9, August 6, and August 8: Engineered the dismissal of the Lord President of the Supreme Court, Salleh Abas, and five other supreme court judges or justices who tried to block the misconduct hearings, when the future of the ruling party UMNO was about to be decided in the Supreme Court (it had previously been deregistered as an illegal society in the High Court on February 4 of the same year).
  • '''1989:
  • January 18: Dr Mahathir was admitted to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital after complaining of chest pains.
  • January 24: Dr Mahathir underwent a successful coronary bypass operation at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital.
  • January 26: Five ISA detainees, including DAP MP Karpal Singh, were released. Karpal Singh had been one of those picked up during the Operasi Lalang.
  • January 31: Musa returned to the folds of Umno.
  • November 11: Dr Mahathir and Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was also a Semangat 46 adviser, had a historic meeting, paving the way towards uniting the Malays. The four-eye meeting took about half-an-hour at Tunku's residence in Kuala Lumpur. This was their first meeting since Tunku Abdul Rahman became adviser to Semangat 46.
  • November 17: Tunku Abdul Rahman attended the opening of the UMNO General Assembly and was asked by Dr Mahathir in his speech to act as the "middleman" to resolve the split among the Malays.
  • '''1990:
  • January 1: The official start of Visit Malaysia Year by Dr Mahathir after a colourful launch at the Dataran Merdeka.
  • May 4: Dr. Mahathir announced that the Social Welfare Lottery, which began 39 years ago, would stop in six months.
  • June 1: G15 Summit began in Kuala Lumpur with Dr Mahathir as the chairman of the meeting. Among the other countries taking part were Mexico, Peru, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, India, Indonesia, Brazil, and Egypt.
  • October 15: Parti Bersatu Sabah (or PBS) abruptly pulled out of Barisan Nasional on the eve of the general election and aligned itself with Semangat 46, prompting Dr Mahathir to called it a "stab in the back".
  • October 21: Dr Mahathir led the Barisan Nasional to victory in the general elections, winning 127 out of 180 seats.
  • November 30: Dr Mahathir was returned unopposed as UMNO president. Anwar Ibrahim obtained the most votes for the party's vice-president followed by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
  • Dr Mahathir took over the Ministry of Home Affairs from October 1990 until January 1999.
  • '''1991:
  • January 13: Dr. Mahathir was treated at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital for a minor wrist injury.
  • February 9: Dr. Mahathir's Cabinet reshuffle saw Tun Daim Zainuddin retiring from his Finance Ministry's post and Anwar was made his successor.
  • February 21: Dr Mahathir launched the establishment of UMNO in the state of Sabah.
  • July 10: Dr. Mahathir outlined the blueprint for Malaysia to become a caring and industrialised nation by the year 2020 in the 6th Malaysian Plan tabled in Parliament. The plan has since been known as the Vision 2020.
  • July 20: Dr Mahathir spoke for the first time of the need to set up the East Asia Economic Caucus at the Asean Post-Ministerial Conference held in Kuala Lumpur. It met with stiff resistance from the United States.
  • October 12: Dr Mahathir announced an 8% to 10% pay revision for civil servants under the New Remuneration System, which would come into force early next year.
  • November 8: After about eight-and-a-half months since the launch of UMNO in Sabah, UMNO delegates from that state attended the party's Annual General Assembly for the first time.
  • '''1992:
  • December 15: Johor's Tengku Bendahara Tengku Abdul Majid Idris faced assault charges at a Session's Court, accused of beating up Perak hockey goalkeeper Mohd Jaafar Selvaraja Vello]] on the 10th of July. His case paved the way for the amendments to strip Rulers of their immunity.
  • '''1993:
  • March 10: The Constitutional (Amendment) Bill was finally assented to by the King, allowing Rulers to be stripped/limited of their legal immunity of the monarchy from persecution, after the Douglas Gomez incident.
  • September 29: The Then Deputy Prime Minister and Rural Development Minister Tun Ghafar Baba resigned as head of the Sabah UMNO liaison committee and chairman of the Sabah Barisan Nasional.
  • October 15: Ghafar Baba officially resigned as Deputy Prime Minister.
  • November 4: Anwar Ibrahim won the deputy president's post at the UMNO General Assembly.
  • November 7: Malaysia become the first Asean country to establish diplomatic ties with South Africa as witnessed by Dr Mahathir during his official visit into that African country.
  • November 23: Relationships between Dr Mahathir and Australia's leaders reached a low point when the then Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating described/labelled Dr Mahathir as a "recalcitrant" for not attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Seattle. (It is thought that Keating's remark was a linguistic gaffe, and that he actually meant "intransigent".)
  • December 1: Anwar Ibrahim was officially appointed Deputy Prime Minister by Dr Mahathir, succeeding Tun Ghafar Baba.
  • '''1994:
  • January 30: Dr Mahathir launched the RM15 billion Bakun Dam project in Sarawak, which would supply electricity to that state, Sabah, and Brunei. It would be linked to Peninsular Malaysia with an underwater cable. However, the project ran into objections from the environmental and the orang asli groups.
  • February 15: Anwar announced the banning of British companies from bidding for new government contracts after the British Sunday Times made baseless allegations against Malaysian leaders. The ban was subsequently lifted on the 7th of September.
  • May 7: Dr Mahathir met Bill Clinton in Washington for the first time to set the stage for better ties between the two countries.
  • August 29: Malaysia's second national car Perodua Kancil was launched and witnessed by Dr Mahathir.
  • '''1995:
  • April 25: Dr Mahathir led the Barisan Nasional to victory in the general election, beating P.A.S.' Ahmad Mohamad Alim by a 17,226-vote majority.
  • August 29: Dr Mahathir launched the RM20 billion Putrajaya project, one of the country's most ambitious infrastructure projects and the future administrative capital.
  • October 26: A coalition of 25 ruling and Opposition parties met in the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) and signed a five-point resolution to condemn France's nuclear testing in South Pacific. The meeting was chaired by Dr Mahathir, who remarked that this was the first time the political parties were united and adopted a common stand.
  • November 1: Mega TV, the country's first multi-channel subscription television, made its debut.
  • November 25: The UMNO General Assembly unanimously adopted a "binding" motion to retain Dr. Mahathir and Ibrahim as president and his deputy respectively until the year 1999.
  • '''1996:
  • January 13: Malaysia's first satellite --- the Malaysia East Asia Satellite (Measat-1) was launched into orbit from the Ariane Launch Complex in Kourou, French Guyana, South America.
  • August 1: Dr Mahathir announced the Multimedia Super Corridor project, a 15 km by 50 km environment for companies specialising in multimedia products and services.
  • September 25: The All-Asia Satellite Television and Radio Company (Astro), Malaysia's first digital satellite television and Radio network, was launched. It offered 223 satellite TV channels and eight new radio channels.
  • October 1: Malaysia's tallest telecommunications structure in Asia and also the third tallest (at that time of the official opening) in the world, the KL Tower was officially launched by Dr Mahathir. At the height of 421 metres high, it cost the nation RM300million to build.
  • October 6: Razaleigh dissolved Semangat 46 and rejoined UMNO.
  • October 13: Malaysia's Mr Opposition Tan Sri Dr Tan Chee Khoon died after a long illness. An MP for almost two decades, Dr Tan had interviewed Dr Mahathir for a lengthy interview in The Star before his assumption of power in the year 1981.
  • December 18: Dr Mahathir revealed that Microsoft Corp founder and chairman Bill Gates had accepted Malaysia's invitation to sit on the advisory panel of technological leaders to develop the MSC.
  • '''1997:
  • Introduced the currency peg to resolve the 1997 Asian financial crisis on September 1.
  • Aroused international outcry by blaming the collapse of the ringgit on a Jewish conspiracy.
  • '''1998: Sacked his deputy, Anwar Ibrahim;
  • Relations with the United States took a turn for the worse, when US Vice President Al Gore made a derogatory statement at the APEC conference hosted by Malaysia.
  • Brought sodomy and abuse of power charges against Anwar Ibrahim following a disagreement on certain political issues;
  • Official opening of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, built at a cost of USD$3.5 billion;
  • Completion of the 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world;
  • Named as "Asia's Newsmaker of 1998" by TIME Magazine.
  • '''1999: Took over the Ministry of Finance on January 8;
  • Appointed Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Deputy Prime Minister in January;
  • Official opening of Cyberjaya, a township that is a key part of Malaysia's "Multimedia Super Corridor".
  • '''2001: Took over the Ministry of Special Functions on June 5.
  • '''2002: Announced that Mathematics and Science subjects will be taught in English, rather than in Malay with effect from 2003;
  • Announced his resignation to the UMNO General Assembly, but was persuaded to stay on for a further eighteen months.
  • '''2003: Retired as Prime Minister of Malaysia on October 31, after 22 years in office, making him one of Asia's longest-serving political leaders;
  • Awarded the Tun-ship, Malaysia's highest honour.
  • '''2006:
  • November 9: Being warded in National Heart Institute, after suffered minor heart attack.
  • Member of the International Committee for the Defence of President Saddam Hussein[33]


  • The Malay Dilemma (1970)
  • The Challenge (1986)
  • The Pacific Rim in the 21st century (1995)
  • The Challenges of Turmoil (1998)
  • A New Deal for Asia (1999)
  • Islam & The Muslim Ummah (2001)
  • Globalisation and the New Realities (2002)
  • Reflections on Asia (2002) ISBN 967-978-813-X
  • ''Achieving True Globalisation (2004-11-30) ISBN 967-978-904-7
  • ''The Chinese Malaysian Contribution (2005)

Notes and references

1. ^ Tan, Chee Khoon & Vasil, Raj (ed., 1984). Without Fear or Favour, pp. 49, 50. Eastern Universities Press. ISBN 967-908-051-X
2. ^ Beech, Hannah (Oct. 30, 2006) Not the Retiring Type (page two) TIME
3. ^ Tan & Vasil, p. 50
4. ^ Tan & Vasil, p. 51
5. ^ Mahathir's Party a Big Loser in Malaysian Vote, International Herald Tribune
6. ^ "Malaysia Loss In Tin Venture", ''New York Times, November 12, 1986.
7. ^ "NO SECOND THOUGHTS", Asiaweek
8. ^ "Malaysia: Double injustice heaped on Anwar Ibrahim", Amnesty International Press Release, April 18, 2003.
9. ^ "Human Rights Watch Monitors Second Anwar Trial", Human Rights Watch
10. ^ Symonds, Peter. "What Anwar Ibrahim means by "reformasi" in Malaysia", Malaysia Today
11. ^ U.S.: Comments raise specter of religious clash within terror war RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
12. ^ Joseph Masilamany. "Mending fences", theSun, 2006-06-29. Retrieved on 2006-08-10. 
13. ^ Nicolas Rothwell. "Upsetter tips the apple cart", The Australian, 1998-07-16, p. 4. 
14. ^ [2] International Herald Tribune, October 11, 1997.
15. ^ "Malaysia defends speech on Jews", BBC News, October 17, 2003.
16. ^ "Dr M nominated for Nobel Prize", The Star, February 4, 2007.
17. ^ "It's My Party...", Time, June 24, 2002.
18. ^ "Malaysian Leader: 'Jews Rule World by Proxy'", Fox News, October 16, 2003.
19. ^ "Mahathir hits back in Jewish row", CNN News, October 21, 2003.
20. ^ Krishnamoorthy, M. (Dec. 11, 2005) "Dr M: Stand up and speak out" The Star (Malaysia)
21. ^ Bernama, Mahathir Admitted To IJN For Mild Heart Attack, November 9 2006.
22. ^ Ex-Malaysian premier Mahathir hospitalised, Channel NewsAsia, May 14 2007
23. ^ Reuters, Malaysia ex-PM Mahathir set for heart surgery - son
24. ^ Reuters, Malaysia's Mahathir recovering after heart surgery
25. ^ Malaysia ex-PM Mahathir back on respirator, but in stable condition.
26. ^ "Dr M slams Pak Lah but BN leaders rally behind the PM", The Star (Malaysia), 2006-06-08. 
27. ^ Beech, Hannah (Oct. 30, 2006). Not the Retiring Type (page one). TIME.
28. ^ "Transcript of Tun Mahathir's press conference", The Star (Malaysia), 2006-10-24. 
29. ^ Template error: argument title is required. 
30. ^ "Transcript of Tun Mahathir's press conference", The Star (Malaysia), 24.10.2006. 
31. ^ "Group Seeks Dr Mahathir's Assistance To Reopen 9-11 Investigation", Bernama, June 12, 2006. pictures
32. ^ Profile of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
33. ^ [3]

Other references

External links

Preceded by
Hussein Onn
Deputy Prime Ministers of Malaysia
Succeeded by
Musa Hitam
Preceded by
Hussein Onn
Prime Ministers of Malaysia
Succeeded by
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Prime Ministers of Malaysia
Tunku Abdul Rahman | Abdul Razak | Hussein Onn | Mahathir Mohamad | Abdullah Badawi

NAMEMahathir bin Mohamad
ALTERNATIVE NAMESDr. M (sobriquet); Mahathir Mohamad (alternate form)
SHORT DESCRIPTIONPrime Minister of Malaysia
DATE OF BIRTHDecember 20, 1925
PLACE OF BIRTHAlor Star, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia
Musa bin Hitam (born 18 April 1934), is a Malaysian politician and a former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, serving under Mahathir bin Mohamad. He was born in Johor Bahru, Johor on 1934.
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Ghafar Baba (February 18 1925–April 23 2006) was a Malaysian politician from Melaka and a former Deputy Prime Minister. He was born on February 18 1925 in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan, the son of an impoverished villager.
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Anwar bin Ibrahim (born August 10, 1947) is a former deputy prime minister and finance minister of Malaysia. Early in his career, he became a protege of the former prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad, but subsequently emerged as the most prominent critic of Mahathir's
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Tun Dr Siti Hasmah binti Mohamad Ali is the wife of the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia,Tun Mahathir Mohammad. She served as First Lade of Malaysia for 23 years from 1981 till 2003.

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