Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Tun Mahathir had ample governing experience

Secara Rawak

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad marked a triumphant return to Malaysia’s political stage as he was sworn in tonight as the country’s seventh prime minister, holding the record as the world’s oldest head of government to boot.

The 92-year-old’s stamina as he canvassed for support in a gruelling campaign trail throughout the country in the run-up to yesterday’s keenly contested 14th general election could well have brought much younger persons to shame.

And Mahathir, formerly Malaysia’s fourth prime minister, was handsomely rewarded when he and his Pakatan Harapan political partners ended Umno-led BN six-decade rule of Malaysia in spectacular – even surreal – fashion.

What prompted him to come out of a 13-year political hiatus appeared to be developments in the country under former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and his administration that did not go down well with the man who helmed Malaysia from 1981 to 2003.

In 2016, he left Umno over differences with Najib, launched his own political party Bersatu and contested the Langkawi parliamentary seat in GE14 on May 9, winning with a comfortable 8,893-vote majority.

As the longest-serving prime minister, Mahathir had ample governing experience as well as a finely-tuned political wisdom that makes him a formidable leader – proven by how he masterminded Umno’s downfall and checkmated his much younger political rivals.

Mahathir succeeded Hussein Onn in 1981 to become prime minister at the age of 56 years.

His stewardship of the country saw him push the country’s modernisation and development efforts further, earning him the status of “Father of Modernisation” along the way.

Among the things he did was introduce Vision 2020 for the nation to become a self-sufficient industrialised nation by 2020.

The iconic Petronas Twin Towers and the Kuala Lumpur City Centre in the heart of Kuala Lumpur is a must-see attraction for visitors to the nation’s capital, and the man who launched the project back in 1992 was none other than Mahathir.

He also spearheaded the development of the Putrajaya federal administrative capital, the North-South Expressway, KL International Airport as well as the Multimedia Super Corridor, Malaysia’s national ICT initiative.

Mahathir was credited with putting Malaysia on the international sporting map when the country played host to the prestigious Formula One races as well as the Le Tour de Langkawi cycling tournament.

The nation’s spirits soared when a Malaysian astronaut to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft under an arrangement with Russia in 2007. Mahathir mooted the idea to send a Malaysian into space.

Mahathir also handled the country’s economy well, and famously imposed capital controls and pegged the ringgit at RM3.80 to the US dollar during the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis.

He is known for his no-nonsense character and one who is not afraid to speak his mind, including on the international stage.

“He is a stickler for rules and has lots of ideas. He likes to try everything that’s new,” a former aide said of Mahathir who stepped down as prime minister after 22 years in office, in 2003.

Kedah-born Mahathir’s life is one imprinted with service to the people, even from his days as a medical officer at Alor Setar General Hospital and, in 1957, opening MAHA Clinic, also in the Kedah capital – the first private clinic owned by a Malay at the time.

Mahathir was among Umno’s earliest members when he joined the party in 1946 and became a member of parliament after winning the Kota Setar seat in the 1964 general election. A year later, he became UMNO Supreme Council member.

In the 1969 election, he lost his parliamentary seat but won the Kubang Pasu seat unopposed in the 1974 general election, and was subsequently appointed education minister.

Mahathir was elected Umno vice-president in 1975.

He was appointed deputy prime minister by Hussein Onn in 1976 as well as trade and industry minister in 1977 before becoming Malaysia’s head of government four years later.- BERNAMA

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