http://instapedia.com/m/[search keyword]
PC Instapedia >>
English Wikipedia Results:

Mahathir bin Mohamad

Tun Mahathir bin Mohamad (; born July 10, 1925) is a retired Malaysian political figure. He was the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. He held the post for 22 years from 1981 to 2003, making him Malaysia's longest-serving Prime Minister, and one of the longest-serving leaders in Asia.[1] During his term in office, he was credited for engineering Malaysia's rapid modernisation.[2] Mahathir is also known for his criticisms towards western and developed countries.[3]

During his administration, he was considered to be one of Asia's most influential leaders.[4] Mahathir is also noted in the Western world as an outspoken critic of Western-style globalization.[5]

Contents


Early life

Personal

Mahathir was born in Alor Setar, Kedah,[6] the youngest of nine children[7] of a schoolteacher and a housewife. His father, Mohamad Iskandar, was of Indian origin, being the son of a Malayalee Muslim (who migrated from Kerala) and a Malay mother, while Mahathir's own mother, Wan Tampawan, was Malay.[8]

During World War II, he sold pisang goreng (banana fritters) and other snacks to supplement his family income during 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 (the predecessor of present-day National University of Singapore) in Singapore, where he edited a medical student magazine called The Cauldron; he also contributed to the The Straits Times newspaper pseudonymously under the nickname "Che Det". Mahathir was also President of the Muslim Society in the college.[9] 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 5 August 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).[10] Some critics have suggested this foreshadowed a later hallmark of Mahathir's politics, which focused on the "cultivation of such emblems of power".[11]

From his marriage with Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah binti Haji Mohamad Ali, they have seven children,[12] four sons and three daughters: Marina Mahathir, Mirzan Mahathir, Melinda Mahathir, Mokhzani Mahathir, Mukhriz Mahathir, Maizura Mahathir and Mazhar Mahathir. [13] Both Mukhriz and Mokhzani [14] are involved in business as well as in politics while their eldest daughter Marina is a prominent local writer and AIDS activist.[15]

He successfully underwent a heart bypass operation in 1989 at age 63.[13]

Political career

In the third general election of 1964, Mahathir was elected Member of Parliament for Kota Setar Selatan[16] 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.[17]

Following the race riots of 13 May 1969, 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. Dr. Mahathir was subsequently relieved of his party membership on 26 September.[17]

While in the political wilderness, Mahathir wrote his book, "The Malay Dilemma"[17] in which he sought to explain the causes of the 13 May 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.[17] 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" (NEP) 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.[17]

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.[17] In 1975, he became one of the three vice-presidents of UMNO, 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 had announced that he has resigned from UMNO, the backbone of the ruling party, the Barisan National on 19 May 2008 which coincides with the Wesak Day celebration.

Prime Minister

Mahathir became the Prime Minister of Malaysia on 16 July 1981 when Tun Hussein Onn stepped down due to health reasons. He was the nation's first Prime Minister that came from a modest social background, whereas the first three prime ministers were members of the royal or elite families.[13]

After 22 years in office, Mahathir retired on 31 October 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.

Deputy Prime Ministers

Major constitutional changes

In 1983 and 1991, he took on the federal and state monarchies, removing the royal veto and royal immunity from prosecution.[11] 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.

In 1988 when the future of the ruling party UMNO was about to be decided in the Supreme Court (it had just been de-registered 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.

Economic policies

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 Southeast 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 the North-South Expressway, Multimedia Super Corridor, the planned capital city of Putrajaya, Johor's Port of Tanjung Pelepas, Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the Bakun Dam in Sarawak, and the Petronas Towers.

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.[18] 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.

1997 Asian financial crisis

During the Asian financial crisis of 1997, IMF had 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.[19]

During Mahathir's administration, there are a few speculation activities made by the administration which caused losses for Malaysia. Between 1981 and 1982, Malaysian businesses became involved in the international tin venture. The activity caused the price of the commodity to skyrocket, resulting in the collapse of the export market for tin. This venture cost Malaysia USD 80 million or MYR 209 million in losses.[20]

In 1990, Bank Negara Malaysia became involved in the Pound Sterling speculation. The speculation activity failed and costs the central bank USD 4 billion.[21] In 1994, the bank continued to pursue the speculation activity and further lost USD 2.2 billion. Finally, in 1994, the central bank technically become insolvent and was bailed out by the Ministry of Finance.[22][23]

Sacking of Anwar Ibrahim

In 1998, the government brought charges of sexual misconduct 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.

The government included the statements of the purported victims of Anwar's sexual assaults, evidence that was alleged by some to be tainted.[24][25] 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.[26][27]

The Anwar crisis sparked protests by many Malaysians, of all ethnic groups, and Anwar's supporters formed "Parti Keadilan Nasional" (National Justice Party) or "KeADILan". It garnered widespread support from Malaysians, but it managed to win only five parliamentary seats in the 1999 elections.[28] In the subsequent 2004 elections, when Mahathir's successor became Prime Minister, KeADILan was nearly wiped out, with Anwar's wife Wan Azizah winning its sole parliamentary seat. Six months later, Anwar's conviction was overturned and he was released. Mahathir criticized the release of Anwar. The 2008 elections showed a major comeback from the opposition parties with Anwar's KeADILan party helping to form five state governments, as well as becoming the biggest opposition party in Parliament.

Educational system

In 1974, Mahathir was appointed Minister of Education.[29][30] 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 United States, United Kingdom, 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.

In 1980, education quota was introduced as part of the National Economic Policy.[31] 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 citizens.

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 the University of Nottingham in Malaysia (in partnership with the University of Nottingham, U.K.), Malaysia University of Science and Technology (M.U.S.T.), in partnership with M.I.T. (U.S.) and Motorola) , Monash University Malaysia (in partnership with Monash University, Australia) and Curtin University of Technology, Sarawak Campus (in partnership with Curtin University of Technology, Australia)

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 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.[32]

Foreign relations

During Mahathir's tenure in office, Malaysia's relationship with the West was generally fine despite being known to be an outspoken critic towards them.[3] 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.

United States

Mahathir has always been an outspoken critic of the United States[5] 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,[33] 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.

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". US News and World Report called the trial a "tawdry spectacle."[34] 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. Many of the "reformasi" supporters who were against Mahathir at that time were arrested by the FRU and Special Branch and were detained without trial under the ISA. Some of them were opposition supporters, and some of them were former academics.

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."[35] 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.[36]

Mahathir greeting U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.

Mahathir greeting U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
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?"

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.

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 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, 18 October 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." This prediction was proven faulty.

Australia

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".)[37]

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)[38] 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".

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.

Middle East

Under Mahathir, 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.

Mahathir's public remarks about Jews date back as early as 1970 when he wrote in his controversial book The Malay Dilemma: "The Jews for example are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively."[39][40]

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.[41]

On 16 October 2003, shortly before he stepped down as prime minister, Mahathir said during a summit for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Putrajaya, that:

He also named Israel as "the enemy allied with most powerful nations." Israel strongly criticized the remarks. The speech was also condemned by most nations from the West. Speaking on behalf of the European Union, 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, Mahathir's speech was defended by several Muslim leaders and politicians, including Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Maher and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai.[40][42] United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Bush considered the comments "reprehensible and hateful."[43] The Muslim Public Affairs Council condemned Mahathir's remarks as "extremely offensive, anti-Semitic comments."[40] The Malaysian prime minister's comments were also condemned by Jewish organizations and the government of Israel.

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." He also said "But when somebody condemns the Muslims, calls my prophet, "terrorist", did the European Union say anything?"[44]

Singapore

Mahathir is an alumnus of the Medical College at the University of Malaya at that time located in Singapore under British Malaya [University of Malaya campus at Singapore has since been renamed National University of Singapore while the campus at Kuala Lumpur remains as 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 structure which would symbolise Singapore's uncompromising attitude. 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.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

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 Bosniak 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.[45]

On 22 June 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. Since the 1990s however, relations between Russia and Malaysia have improved significantly. In 2002 Mahathir made his visit to Moscow. He made the statement that Russia can be the rival to the United States and Israel and he praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and his opposition to Western interference and democracy promotion.

Developing world

Among some developing and Islamic countries, Mahathir is generally respected,[3] particularly for Malaysia's relatively high economic growth as well as for his support towards liberal Muslim values.[46] 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.

Retirement

Mahathir at the 50th Hari Merdeka Parade (Independence Day) celebrations.
Mahathir at the 50th Hari Merdeka Parade (Independence Day) celebrations.
In 2002 a tearful[47] 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.

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".[48]

Mahathir has also ventured into a bakery business with a Japanese partner. Together they established a Japanese-style bakery and bistro outlet called "The Loaf". As of October 2007, there are two outlets in Malaysia, one in Langkawi and one in Kuala Lumpur. They are planning expand their business into other countries in Southeast Asia.[49] In May 2008, Mahathir started a blog under his old pseudonym, which reached a million visitors within the span of one month.[50][51]

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 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.[52] 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.[52] 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."[53]

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.[54] 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 cast against him. Mahathir also challenged the government to throw him in jail if the government wanted him to shut his mouth.[55]

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.[56]

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.

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.[56]

He continued his criticisms of Abdullah for being responsible for the ruling party's disastrous performance in the recent general elections. Mahathir accused Abdullah of corruption, nepotism and weakness in his administration and said they were reasons voters snubbed the UMNO-led coalition.[57]

Weblog

Mahathir started to weblog since May 2008. The site is intended to publish all his writings as when he is able to pen his thoughts and opinions. http://www.chedet.cc/

Resignation from UMNO

Mahathir announced his resignation from UMNO on 19 May 2008 (Monday) at 12.35pm before 1,000 Kedah UMNO members in Alor Star and urged other members to follow suit as a way of pressuring Abdullah to step down. However, he resists to join any other party and would only rejoin UMNO after Abdullah steps down. His departure raises the possibility of large-scale desertions by loyalists, which could split the party and bring down the government.[58]

His son Mukhriz, the Jerlun member of Parliament, and a contender for the UMNO youth chief post in the next party election, however stays put but nevertheless urges Abdullah to quit immediately.

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.[59]

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.[60] He urged the world's 1.3 billion Muslims to boycott Dutch products following the release of the anti-Islam movie Fitna by the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, it was reported on 30 March 2008.[61]

On 17 January 2008, Mahathir was brought before a Royal Commission that is looking into alleged manipulation of top judicial appointments during his administration, a scandal that has cast doubts about the independence of Malaysia's judiciary. He was made to testify before a government inquiry into a secretly recorded video clip that showed a man believed to be a prominent lawyer, V.K. Lingam, boasting that he could get key judicial appointments made with Mahathir's help. Throughout the inquiry Mahathir feign ignorance and forgot key timelines.[62] The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam video clip finally found that it was former Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim who was talking to prominent lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam on the telephone. Sources said the five-man panel also found that the video clip was authentic and that the conversation was true in substance. They said the commission also found that it was lawyer Loh Mui Fah who Lingam was speaking to after his telephone conversation with Fairuz. Commission chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor presented a two-volume report on the findings to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin at the Istana Negara here yesterday.[63] The Cabinet has ordered the attorney-general to immediately direct agencies to investigate on allegations levelled against six prominent individuals identified in the Lingam video clip. The six are former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, retired chief justices Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin and Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan and prominent lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam.[64]

Justice Datuk Ian Chin revealed that he received threats from a former prime minister in two cases he presided in Sibu in 1997. One being a libel suit and the other on an election petition matter.[65] One was a judgment on a libel case involving MGG Pillai and Tan Sri Vincent Tan where he refused to give what he considered to be an astronomical award. The other judgment was in an election petition on Bukit Bangunan in the Sri Aman Division that he ruled in favour of Independent candidate Donald Lawan against Barisan Nasional candidate Mong Dagang. He also claimed that he and selected judges were sent to a boot camp to ensure they got the message.[66] However, Mahathir has sinced rebuked Justice Ian Chin's allegations in his blog. http://www.chedet.com/2008/06/ian-chins-great-revelation.html

A retired Federal Court judge, Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin has alleged that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had wanted to amend Article 121 of the Federal Constitution because he wanted the judiciary to be under his control. He mentioned that Dr Mahathir’s agenda was tied to the Umno 11 case involving then Umno vice-president Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah whose supporters had challenged his post as Umno president.[67]

Many commentators are critical of Mahathir's perceived corruption, particularly because of his penchant for megaprojects and his policies aimed at creating a class of Malay capitalists. However, former de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim writes in his memoirs: "In my heart, I cannot accept allegations that Dr Mahathir personally was a corrupt man. Corrupt people are never brave enough to speak as loudly as Dr Mahathir. Wealth is not a major motivation for him. He only craves power."[68]

Health

The former Prime Minister has a history of mild heart attacks. He had a coronary artery bypass in 1989. On 9 November 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.[69] On 14 May 2007, Mahathir was admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital in Langkawi after suffering from breathing difficulties.[70]

Mahathir, 82, underwent a second heart bypass on 4 September 2007 in a specialist cardiac hospital in Kuala Lumpur.[71] He recovered in the intensive care unit where he was operated on by a team of surgeons, including a US specialist.[72]

On 23 September 2007, Mahathir underwent further surgery at the National Heart Institute due to an infection of the surgical wound in his chest.[73] He has since come out of the hospital and appears to be healthy, even appearing in the V. K. Lingam public inquiry on 17 January 2008 as a witness.[74]

Legacy

Mahathir was featured on the facade of Telekom Tower in Kuala Lumpur during the national day celebrations in 2004.
Mahathir was featured on the facade of Telekom Tower in Kuala Lumpur during the national day celebrations in 2004.
For his efforts to promote the economic development of the country, Mahathir has been granted the soubriquet of Bapa Pemodenan (Father of Modernization).[2]

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.

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.

Books

References

Notes and references

Other references

External links

Home pages

Others

ar:مهاتير محمد bn:মাহাথির বিন মোহাম্মদ da:Mahathir bin Mohamad de:Mahathir bin Mohamad es:Mahathir bin Mohamad eo:Mahathir bin Mohamad eu:Mahathir bin Mohamad fa:مهاتیر محمد fr:Mahathir bin Mohamad ko:마하티르 빈 모하마드 hi:महाथिर मोहमद id:Mahathir Mohamad is:Mahathir bin Mohamad jv:Mahathir Mohammad kk:Махатхир бин Мохамад mr:महातिर मोहम्मद ms:Mahathir bin Mohamad ja:マハティール・ビン・モハマド no:Mahathir bin Mohamad pl:Mahathir bin Mohamad qu:Mahathir bin Mohamad ru:Мохамад, Махатхир sa:महाथिर मोहमद so:Mahathir Bin Maxamed sh:Mahatir Mohammad fi:Mahathir bin Mohamad sv:Mahathir bin Mohamad ta:மகதிர் பின் முகமது th:มหาเธร์ โมฮัมหมัด tl:Mahathir bin Mohamad vi:Mahathir bin Mohamad zh:马哈迪·莫哈末