Tun Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir bin mohamad is Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad (Jawi:محضير بن محمد; IPA: [maˈhaðɪr bɪn moˈhamad]; born 10 July 1925) is a Malaysian politician currently serving as the seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia. He is the chairman of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, as well as a member of the Parliament of Malaysia for the Langkawi constituency in Kedah. He previously served as the fourth Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003, making him the office’s longest-serving holder. Mahathir’s political career has spanned more than 70 years since he first joined a newly formed United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in 1946, before forming his own party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Malaysian United Indigenous Party), in 2016.
Born and raised in Alor Setar, Kedah, Mahathir excelled at school and became a medical doctor. He became active in the UMNO before entering Parliament in 1964. He served one term before losing his seat, subsequently falling out with Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman and being expelled from UMNO. When Abdul Rahman resigned, Mahathir re-entered UMNO and Parliament, and was promoted to the Cabinet. By 1976 he had risen to Deputy Prime Minister, and in 1981 was sworn in as Prime Minister after the resignation of his predecessor, Hussein Onn.
During Mahathir’s first tenure as Prime Minister, Malaysia experienced a period of rapid modernization and economic growth, and his government initiated a series of bold infrastructure projects. Mahathir was a dominant political figure, winning five consecutive general elections and fending off a series of rivals for the leadership of UMNO. However, his accumulation of power came at the expense of the independence of the judiciary and the traditional powers and privileges of Malaysia’s royalty. He deployed the controversial Internal Security Act to detain activists, non-mainstream religious figures, and political opponents including the Deputy Prime Minister he fired in 1998, Anwar Ibrahim. Mahathir’s record of curbing civil liberties and his antagonism towards western interests and economic policy made his relationships with the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, among others, difficult. As Prime Minister, he was an advocate of third-world development and a prominent international activist.
After leaving office, Mahathir became a strident critic of his hand-picked successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2006 and later, Najib Razak in 2015. His son Mukhriz Mahathir was the Chief Minister of Kedah until early 2016. On 29 February 2016, Mahathir quit UMNO in light of UMNO’s support for the actions of Prime Minister Najib Razak, in spite of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal. On 9 September 2016, the Malaysian United Indigenous Party was officially registered as a political party, with Mahathir as chairman. On 8 January 2018, Mahathir was announced as the Pakatan Harapan coalition candidate for Prime Minister for the 2018 general election, in a plan to pardon Anwar Ibrahim and hand a role to him if the campaign was successful.
Following a decisive victory for Pakatan Harapan in the 2018 election, Mahathir was sworn-in as Prime Minister on 10 May 2018. At 92, he is the world’s oldest sitting head of government. He is the first Malaysian Prime Minister not to represent the Barisan Nasional (or preceding Alliance). He is also the first Malaysian Prime Minister to serve from two different parties and on non-consecutive terms.
Childhood and medical career
Mahathir was born on 10 July 1925 at No. 18, Lorong Kilang Ais, Seberang Perak, Alor Setar, the capital of the state of Kedah, British Malaya as the youngest of nine siblings and was nicknamed Cek Det. Mahathir’s birth certificate gives his date of birth as 20 December. He was actually born on 10 July; his biographer Barry Wain explains that 20 December was an “arbitrary” date. Mahathir’s grandfather, Iskandar, was married to Siti Hawa from Johor in 1881 in Penang. His grandfather was brought to Malaya by the British East India Company to teach English in the Kedah royal palace. Mahathir’s father, Mohamad bin Iskander was from Penang, an Indian with a Malay mother with ancestors from the South Indian state of Kerala and the first Malay headmaster of an English school (now Maktab Sultan Abdul Hamid) in Alor Setar, while his mother Wan Tempawan binti Wan Hanafi, was from Kedah, of Malay descent respectively and came from a long line of Kedah royal household courtiers. One aspect of Mahathir’s birth set him apart: he was not born into the aristocracy or a prominent religious or political family. Mahathir’s father was a school principal whose low socio-economic status meant his daughters were unable to enroll in secondary school, while Wan Tempawan had only a distant relationship to Kedah’s royalty. Both parents had been married previously; Mahathir had six half-siblings and two full-siblings.
Mahathir was a hard-working student. Discipline imposed by his father motivated him to study, and he showed little interest in sports. He started out his primary education at the Seberang Perak Malay Boys School in 1930 and studied there for two years. However, in 1933, he won a position in a selective English medium secondary school, having become fluent in English well ahead of his primary school peers. With schools closed during the Japanese occupation of Malaya during World War II, he went into business, first selling coffee and later pisang goreng (fried banana) and other snacks. After the war, he graduated from secondary school by completing Senior Cambridge exams in December 1946 and enrolled to study medicine at the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore (now part of National University of Singapore). There he met his future wife, Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, a fellow medical student. After he graduated, Mahathir worked as a doctor in government service before marrying in 1956. He returned to Alor Setar the following year to set up his own practice. The success of his practice, as the only Malay doctor in the town, allowed him to build a large house, invest in various businesses and, pointedly, employ a chauffeur to drive his Pontiac Catalina. He and Siti Hasmah had their first child, Marina, in 1957, before conceiving three others and adopting three more over the following 28 years.
Return to politics
In the wake of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal in 2015, Mahathir became a vocal critic of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government, even more so than Abdullah. He has repeatedly called for Najib to resign. On 30 August 2015, he and his wife, Siti Hasmah, attended the Bersih 4 rally, which saw tens of thousands demonstrating for Najib’s resignation.
In 2016, Mahathir ignited several protests that culminated in the Malaysian Citizens’ Declaration by himself with the help of Pakatan Harapan and NGOs to oust Najib. Najib’s response to the corruption accusations has been to tighten his grip on power by replacing the deputy prime minister, suspending two newspapers and pushing through parliament a controversial National Security Council Bill that provides the prime minister with unprecedented powers. In June 2016, Mahathir also actively campaigned for AMANAH candidates from Pakatan Harapan for the 2016 Sungai Besar by-election and the 2016 Kuala Kangsar by-election.
By 2017, Mahathir had registered a new political party and had it join Pakatan Harapan. He was proposed as a possible chairman and prime ministerial candidate of Pakatan Harapan.
Controversial speech on Bugis people
On 14 October 2017, referencing the 1MDB scandal, Mahathir said of Najib Razak; “a prime minister who came from “Bugis pirates” is now leading Malaysia”. He remarked “go back to Sulawesi”, which aroused discontent from the Bugis descendants in Malaysia and Indonesia who protested against him. It also disappointed the Sultan of Johor and the Sultan of Selangor, who are both of Bugis descent.
After his controversial speech, the decorations of SPMS and DK (Selangor) were returned by Mahathir to the Selangor royal house on 7 December 2017.
On 8 February 2018, Mahathir’s Darjah Kerabat Al-Yunusi (DK Kelantan) was revoked by the Kelantan royal house, alongside two of his Pakatan Harapan colleagues, with no reason given.
On 8 January 2018, Mahathir was announced as the Pakatan Harapan opposition alliance’s prime ministerial candidate for the election to be held on 9 May 2018, seeking to oust his former ally, Najib Razak. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of his former political enemy, Anwar Ibrahim, will run as his deputy. If he were to win, at 92, he would become the world’s oldest head of state or government. According to the election results disclosed on 10th May 2018, Pakatan Harapan had claimed victory, thus successfully propelling him to the prime ministerial seat once again, a historical feat which has never been achieved before in Malaysia. He was expected to be sworn in as the 7th Prime Minister by 9 p.m. on the same day (GMT +8:00). He would then seek a pardon for Anwar, in order to allow him to take over the leadership.
Second term as Prime Minister
Following the historic victory of the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan, led by the re-emerging prime ministerial candidate Mahathir himself on 9th May 2018, Najib Razak, the prime ministerial candidate for the Barisan Nasional governmental coalition, was successfully ousted from the incumbent prime ministerial seat, thus ending the leadership of the 6th Prime Minister of Malaysia. As of 1 pm (GMT +8:00) the next day (10th May 2018), Mahathir hopes to be sworn in as the new Prime Minister by 5 pm. Concerns for a smooth power transition emerges as Najib Razak, although admitting the defeat of his party and coalition during a press conference on 11 am, declared that no party has achieved a simple majority win (due to the fact that the opposing coalition were competing as allied individual parties, and was not successfully registered as a single unit by the Electoral Committee, who was believed to be under Najib’s heavy influence during his power), thus leaving the appointment of the prime ministerial seat to the hands of the Malaysia Head of State Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Nevertheless, the National Palace of Malaysia had promptly issued a royal statement, confirming Mahathir Mohamad will be sworn in as the 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia at 9.30 pm, on the same day (10 May 2018), and had strongly refuted any claims of delaying the Prime Minister appointment. At 10 pm, Mahathir was officially sworn in as the 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia.
As the 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir is now the oldest currently serving state leader in the world (Age: 92 years, 304 days), with Queen Elizabeth II (Age: 92 years, 19 days) being second. He is also the 10th oldest ever serving state leader in the world. As proposed in the original plan of Pakatan Harapan, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the wife of Anwar Ibrahim, is expected to run as his deputy, thus becoming the first female Deputy Prime Minister in Malaysia. Following his appointment as Prime Minister, Mahathir promised to “restore the rule of law”, and would make elaborate and transparent investigations on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal possibly perpetrated by the ex-Prime Minister, as Mahathir told the press that if Najib has done something wrong, he would face the consequences.
Timeline of Mahathir’s first 100 Days Premiership
- 10 May 2018:
- Mahathir is sworn in as the 7th prime minister
- 12 May 2018:
- A Council of Eminent Persons is formed as government’s advisory board, board members are
- Tun Daim Zainuddin, former Finance Minister of Malaysia
- Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)
- Tan Sri Hassan Marican, former president and CEO of Petronas
- Robert Kuok, Hong-Kong based Malaysian billionaire tycoon
- Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram, prominent economist
- Lim Guan Eng, Muhyiddin Yassin, and Mohamad Sabu are named for three top cabinet posts
- Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor are barred from leaving the country
- Najib resigns as UMNO and BN chief
- A Council of Eminent Persons is formed as government’s advisory board, board members are
- 13 May 2018
- Mahathir instructs Inland Revenue Board to return taxes collected ‘illegally’
- 14 May 2018
- Attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali goes on unrecorded leave, duties taken over by solicitor-general
- MACC chief Dzulkifli Ahmad resigns
- Treasurer general Irwan Serigar Abdullah’s contract shortened, transferred to Public Service Department
- Mahathir says laws on fake news will be clearly defined
- Mahathir says political appointments in government linked companies will be reviewed
- 15 May 2018
- Audit Department declassifies its 1MDB report
- Council of Eminent Persons sets up a committee on institutional reforms, committee includes:
- Retired judge of Court of Appeal Datuk KC Vohrah;
- Retired judge of the Court of Appeal and Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Commissioner Datuk Mah Weng Kwai;
- National Patriot Association President Brigadier General (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji;
- University Malaya Tunku Abdul Rahman Professor of Law Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi;
- Hakam President and Bar Council former President Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan
- Apandi Ali, Irwan Serigar, Dzulkifli and former IGP Khalid Abu Bakar barred from leaving the country
- 16 May 2018
- Anwar Ibrahim is freed from prison after receiving full pardon
- 1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy is also barred from leaving the country
- Police search Najib’s house and seize handbags and clothes
- Government announces GST will be zero-rated effective, 1st June 2018
- Mahathir to sack 17,000 political appointees from civil service
- Registrar of Societies approves Pakatan Harapan’s registration.
- Ministries instructed to cease use of 1Malaysia slogan
- Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia 2.0 (KR1M) programme ceased
- Board meetings of the Cooperatives Commission of Malaysia and committees which have political appointees to be postponed
- 17 May 2018
- Mahathir appoints himself as education minister, and Wan Azizah as women and welfare minister
- Police search at Najib’s house continues
- Police arrest man for insulting Mahathir.
- Finance Ministry initiates fiscal reforms
- 18 May 2018
- Withdrew his appointment as education minister in light of his promise with collition
- Mahathir disagrees with police action to arrest a man who insulted him.
- 20 May 2018
- Former executive of PetroSaudi whistleblower Swiss national Xavier Justo meets Mahathir
- 21 May 2018
- Special task force formed to investigate the 1MDB scandal as well as to prosecute wrongdoers and retrieve related assets. Task force would be jointly headed by former attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail, former MACC head Abu Kassim Mohamed, current MACC head Mohd Shukri Abdull and former special branch head Abdul Hamid Bador.
- Deputy prime minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and several federal ministers officially sworn in as members of cabinet.
- 22 May 2018
- Former PM Najib Razak is brought in for questioning at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
- 28 May 2018
- Mahathir cancels the HSR project citing the enormous cost of construction and gloom prospects of returns and benefits for Malaysia.
- 1 June 2018
- Mahathir cancels GST.
For his efforts to promote the economic development of the country, Mahathir has been granted the sobriquet of Bapa Pemodenan (Father of Modernization).
Mahathir’s official residence, Seri 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.
One of Tun Dr Mahathir greatest project was the Petronas Twin Towers that is situated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. That building put Malaysia in a global scale. And until now it has been the landmark of Kuala Lumpur and also a very popular tourist attraction. Besides, until now Petronas Twin Towers is the tallest twin towers in the world and were the tallest building in the world from 1998-2004.
Mahathir has been a highly controversial figure, and a subject of harsh attacks by his critics. 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.”
Two of Mahathir’s sons became active in politics: Mokhzani was a senior official of UMNO Youth (the party’s youth wing) before leaving politics and focusing on his business career; Mukhriz was elected to Parliament in 2008, and in 2013 became the Chief Minister of Kedah.
According to Wain, writing his biography of Mahathir in 2010:
Rising living standards, together with Dr. Mahathir’s showpiece buildings and outspoken defence of Malaysia’s interests, contributed to a sense of national identity, pride and confidence that had not existed before. He put Malaysia on the map, and most Malaysians were pleased about it…. [However], he would not be able to escape responsibility for many of the problems likely to plague Malaysian society in the future, from creeping Islamisation to corruption and inequality. For while he held Malaysia together for 22 years, the political-administrative system atrophied and decayed under his personalised brand of governance.