Published:  12:42 AM, 08 February 2019

Dr Mahathir Mohamad: A living legend

Dr Mahathir Mohamad: A living legend

Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of 13 states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand in the north and maritime borders with Singapore in the south, Vietnam in the northeast, and Indonesia in the west.

East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines and Vietnam. Kuala Lumpur is the national capital and largest city while Putrajaya is the seat of federal government. With a population of over 30 million, Malaysia is the world's 44th most populous country.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the largest city in Malaysia, as well as its main commercial and financial centre. The air travel shortest distance between Bangladesh and Malaysia is 2,490 km= 1,547 miles. The country is situated southward to Bangladesh. Malaysia was founded on August 31, 1957 and its GDP is US$364.92 billion USD (2018).

Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad has proved to an adept political leader for modern Malaysia. His speeches became famous and proved an important rallying cry for his country through all the difficult years. Malaysians have all sorts of emotions when it comes to him. You just have to say his name in Malaysia, and you get all sorts of reactions. Yes, it is true, when you mention the name of Mahathir, even among students, you surely get all sort of comments and reactions. Dr Mahathir was born on 20 December 1925 at AlorSetar, Kedah in Malaysia.

His name is synonym to the vast development of modern Malaysia and a very well-known political leader who served as Prime Minister of Malaysia for 22 long years (1981-2003), making him Malaysia's longest-serving Prime Minister, and one of the longest serving leaders in Asia. The country from an agaric based country has become a modern industrial nation under his dynamic and able leadership.

In the field of national development, Dr Mahathir has successfully created a paradigm shift in the structure of the economic system in Malaysia. He has transformed Malaysia from a country that depended so much on self-subsistence agriculture, cultivation of rubber and tin mining, into a vibrant economic based on trading and industrialisation. It now has heavy and high technology industries that have become developed and competitive and at par with other developed countries in the world.

He has also initiated several changes in the administrative system of the country, by introducing several policies which, among others, include the Look East Policy by emulating the good qualities of the East Asian countries, the 'Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy' policy, 'Leadership By Example' policy, and instilling 'Islamic Values in Administration' policy which would make the government machinery more efficient, of higher quality and more competitive. The implementation of such policies has resulted in the Malaysian Civil Service being one of the best in the world.

Besides, in order to achieve the status of a developed country, Dr Mahathir has conceptualized VISION 2020, where by the year 2020 Malaysia is expected to be a fully developed country. He has called upon the entire citizens of Malaysia to work harder and prepare them to really achieve that vision. The vision 2020 is a blueprint for Malaysia's journey to becoming a developed economy and a mature democracy by the year 2020.He is an admirable and living legend statesman of the present world.

The twin-towers is owned by Petronas, Malaysia's government-owned oil company and the building is also occupied by associated Malaysian firms as well as multinational companies. Any Malaysian should feel proud when Twin Tower becomes a national landmark on the international stage.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Formula One Circuit planning to build KLIA began in 1990 when the government decided that the existing airport (Subang International Airport) would not suffice to handle future demand. Dr Mahathir was a prime driver behind the project. KLIA is one of the major airports of South East Asia which is huge even multinational level. Currently, the airport handles 35 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of cargo and ranked the 14thbusiest airport in the world, and is 5th busiest international airport in Asia.

Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, to give him his formal Malaysian designation, was the fourth prime minister of Malaysia. He was trained during colonial times as a medical doctor at the University of Malaya in Singapore, graduating in 1947. As prime minister, he was widely credited with the transformation of Malaysia into a prosperous, fully employed, newly industrialised country that became a magnet for illegal immigrants from Indonesia, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. He is best known in the West as an outspoken advocate of "Asian values" and a critic of Zionism and Western hypocrisy.

Mahathir is a member of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the party that with its ethnic Chinese and Indian allies has ruled Malaysia since independence from the British in 1957. Mahathir was elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat in 1969 and was expelled from the party after criticising the prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903-1990).

After readmission to the UMNO, Mahathir was again elected to parliament in 1974. He then became minister of education and from 1976 served as deputy prime minister. Throughout his career, Mahathir was both a strong advocate for the advancement of the indigenous Malay majority and one of the most vocal critics of Malay stereotyping.

He held a strong conviction that racial harmony in Malaysia and elsewhere requires all communities to stand at approximately equal levels of prosperity, and he became frustrated when some sections of the Malay community encountered difficulties in their attempts to advance economically, despite the strong preferences afforded to them by Mahathir's government.

During his twenty-two years in power, Mahathir was successful in creating a prosperous and sizable Bumiputra (literally, "sons of the soil," that is, indigenous) middle class. During the colonial period, commerce and industry had been dominated by the Chinese and the professions by ethnic Indians. With Mahathir in power, the Bumiputra came to dominate Malaysia's civil service, police, and military; they also gained a foothold in commerce, industry, and the professions. However, this progress was achieved at a substantial price.

Quotas on non-Malay students in the universities, for example, prompted many non-Malay Malaysians to seek higher education in the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, and elsewhere, and many never returned to Malaysia.

During Mahathir's tenure, Malaysia evolved from a predominantly rural, low-income economy in the 1970s to a middle-income economy with full employment and social indicators similar to high-income economies. His economic policies were always nationalistic, although based on exports and guided capitalism. He also promoted a number of large-scale pet projects aimed at modernising the economy and turning it into a high-tech centre for the region.

Mahathir is perhaps best known in the West for his strong views on Asian values and his rejection of Western moral leadership. He argues that Asian societies place more value on the community than on the individual, and he considers the guidance of an authoritarian government as necessary to ensure stability and rapid economic development in Asian societies.

Mahathir has also been a fierce critic of Israel. His relationships with the United States and other Western governments, most notably the United Kingdom and Australia, have often been tense, with much criticism flowing in both directions. Mahathir has been highly critical of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by US led forces and of the US policy of detention without trial for prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere.

With a career spanning more than 70 years, Mohamad is currently the world's oldest-serving political leader as Prime Minister of Malaysia at age of 92. He previously held the position between 1981 and 2003. During this time, Malaysia experienced rapid economic growth and modernization. In the 2018 election, he was re-elected Prime Minister of Malaysia. He has said, "To be a great leader, one needs to hold good schemes; be knowing and able to foretell the future." Malaysia has changed from a hapless agricultural state to a really rich industrial modern state where he is known as the Father of Modernisation for Malaysia.

He has taken attention to construct roads and bridges associating the metropolis and small towns of Malaysia as interested in the amplification of the economic vision for Malaysia 20207. He was acute to construct a strong web of contacts in order to lend to progressing the Malayan economic system and therefore, was able to come in the state to the epoch of fast communicating in the early 1880s of the last century.

He passes long hours at work and barely takes a holiday, but he continues to work to better the economic state of affairs of Malaysia. He is a multi-talented individual and a man of deep thought. He can be seen from his thought of The Look East Policy and The Vision 2020 whereby it is shown of his concern and consciousness about the state and the way to travel for Malaysia and the benefits to all Malayan people.

He is considered as one of Asia's most influential leaders and is also noted in the Western world as an outspoken critic of Western civilisation. It was Dr Mahathir who dominated political headlines in Malaysia. I am used to seeing him at the forefront of Malaysian politics.

I believe that under his stewardship, Malaysia experienced rapid modernisation and economic growth. I have always admired his passion for the advocacy of third-world development and actively raising international awareness for causes, such as, the interests of Bosnians in the 1990s Balkans conflict.

He is intelligent, honest, and outspoken. We appreciate everything that he has done to his country. Dr Mahathir is truly a great leader. We all know what Mahathir's contributions were or are for the country. As a leader, he has fantastic public speaking skills; able to make speeches which are entertaining and informative at the drop of a hat; and courageously challenges the frontier and desires only to make Malaysia a better country.

He is more than just a Prime Minister; he is a father figure who tirelessly takes care of the Malaysian citizens and for that, I applaud you, Mahathir. Malaysians can take great pride in the fact that the most well-known personality of their country is Dr Mahathir Mohamad and cite him as their role model. Many of his principles have universal application and eternal validity.

The writer is a senior citizen, writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs

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