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Mahathir Mohamad

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a Malay name; the name Mohamad is a patronymic, not a family name, and
the person should be referred to by the given name, Mahathir.
Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun

Mahathir bin Mohamad

S.M.N. D.K

Mahathir at National Day celebrations in August 2007

4th Prime Minister of Malaysia

In office
16 July 1981 31 October 2003


Ahmad Shah
Azlan Shah
Mizan Zainal Abidin (Regent)


Musa Hitam (1981-1986)

Ghafar Baba (1986-1993)
Anwar Ibrahim (1993-1998)
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi(1999-2003)

Preceded by

Hussein Onn


Abdullah Ahmad Badawi


4th Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia

In office
5 March 1976 16 July 1981


Yahya Petra
Ahmad Shah


Hussein Onn


Preceded by

Hussein Onn


Musa Hitam


Minister of Finance

In office
5 June 2001 31 October 2003

Preceded by

Daim Zainuddin


Abdullah Ahmad Badawi


In office
7 September 1998 8 January 1999

Preceded by

Anwar Ibrahim


Daim Zainuddin


Minister of Home Affairs

In office
7 May 1986 8 January 1999

Preceded by

Musa Hitam


Abdullah Ahmad Badawi


Minister of Defence

In office
18 July 1981 6 May 1986

Preceded by

Abdul Taib Mahmud


Abdullah Ahmad Badawi


Minister of Trade and Industry

In office
1 January 1978 16 July 1981


Hussein Onn


Preceded by

Hamzah Abu Samah


Ahmad Rithaudden Tengku Ismail


Minister of Education

In office
5 September 1974 31 December 1977


Abdul Razak Hussein


Hussein Onn

Preceded by

Mohammad Yaacob


Musa Hitam


21st Secretary General of

Non-Aligned Movement

In office
20 February 2003 31 October 2003

Preceded by

Thabo Mbeki


Abdullah Ahmad Badawi


Member of the Dewan Negara

In office
30 December 1972 23 August 1974

Constituency Elected by Kedah State Legislative


Member of the Dewan Rakyat

In office
25 April 1964 10 May 1969

Constituency Kota Setar Selatan

In office
24 August 1974 21 March 2004

Constituency Kubang Pasu

Personal details


10 July 1925 (age 89)

Alor Setar, British Malaya (nowMalaysia)


United Malays National Organisation



Siti Hasmah




University of Malaya





Sunni Islam


Mahathir bin Mohamad (Jawi: ; pronounced [mahar bn mohamad];

born 10 July 1925) 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. His
political career spanned almost 40 years.
Born and raised in Alor Setar, Kedah, Mahathir excelled at school and became a
medical doctor. He became active in the United Malays National
Organisation (UMNO), Malaysia's largest political party, before entering Parliament in
1964. He served one term before losing his seat, subsequently falling out with the
then Prime Minister,[1] 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
During Mahathir's tenure as Prime Minister, Malaysia experienced a period of rapid
modernisation 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, nonmainstream 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 in support of the anti-apartheid movement in South
Africa and the interests of Bosnians in the Balkans conflict of the 1990s.
He remains an active political figure after his retirement. He became a strident critic
of his hand-picked successor, Abdullah Badawiand actively supporting Abdullah's
replacement by Najib Razak in 2009. His son, Mukhriz Mahathir, is the Chief
Minister of theKedah.

Childhood and medical career[edit]

Mahathir was born at his parents' home in a poor neighbourhood of Alor Setar, the
capital of the state of Kedah, British Malaya, on 10 July 1925.[2][N 1] His father,
Mohamad bin Iskandar originally from Penang; his mother, Wan Tempawan, was from
Kedah, ofMalay descent and a possible distant Indian ancestry respectively.[3][4] An
aspect of Mahathir's birth set him apart: he was not born into the aristocracy or a
prominent religious or political family.[5][N 2] 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.[6]
The secondary school attended by Mahathir and founded by his father, now the Sultan Abdul
Hamid College[8]

Mahathir was a hard-working student. Discipline imposed by his father motivated

him to study, and he showed little interest in sports. He won a position in
a selective English mediumsecondary school, having become fluent in English well
ahead of his primary school peers.[9]With schools closed during the Japanese
occupation of Malaya during World War II, he went into business, first selling coffee
and later pisang goreng (banana fritters) and other snacks.[2]After the war, he
graduated from secondary school with high marks and enrolled to study medicine at
the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore (now part of University of
Malaya).[10] 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 Chinese chauffeur to drive his Pontiac Catalina (most chauffeurs at the
time were Malay).[11][12] He and Siti Hasmah had their first child, Marina, in 1957,

before conceiving three others and adopting three more over the following 28 years.

Early political career[edit]

Mahathir had been politically active since the end of the Japanese occupation of
Malaya, when he joined protests against the granting of citizenship to non-Malays
under the short-lived Malayan Union.[14] He later argued for affirmative action for
Malays at medical college. While at college he contributed to The Straits Times under
the pseudonym "C.H.E. Det", and a student journal, in which he fiercely promoted
Malay rights, such as restoring Malay as an official language.[11] While practising as a
doctor in Alor Setar, Mahathir became active in UMNO; by the time of the first
general election for the independent state of Malaya in 1959, he was the chairman of
the party in Kedah.[15] Despite his prominence in UMNO, Mahathir was not a candidate
in the 1959 election, ruling himself out following a disagreement with then Prime
Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. The relationship between the two Kedahans had been
strained since Mahathir had criticised Abdul Rahman's agreement to the retention of
British and Commonwealth forces in Malaya after independence. Now Abdul Rahman
opposed Mahathir's plans to introduce minimum educational qualifications for UMNO
candidates. For Mahathir this was a significant enough slight to delay his entry into
national politics in protest. The delay did not last for long. In the following general
election in 1964, he was elected as the federal parliamentarian for the Alor Setarbased seat of Kota Setar Selatan.[16]
Elected to parliament in a volatile political period, Mahathir, as a government
backbencher, launched himself into the main conflict of the day: the future of
Singapore, with its large and economically powerful ethnic Chinese population, as a
state of Malaysia. He vociferously attacked Singapore's dominant People's Action
Party for being "pro-Chinese" and "anti-Malay" and called its leader, Lee Kuan Yew,
"arrogant". Singapore was expelled from Malaysia in Mahathir's first full year in
parliament.[16][17] However, despite Mahathir's prominence as a backbencher, he lost
his seat in the 1969 election, defeated by Yusof Rawa of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic
Party (PAS).[18] Mahathir attributed the loss of his seat to ethnic Chinese voters
switching support from UMNO to PAS (being a Malay-dominated seat, only the two
major Malay parties fielded candidates, leaving Chinese voters to choose between
the Malay-centric UMNO and the Islamist PAS).[19] Large government losses in the
election were followed by the race riots of 13 May 1969, in which hundreds of people
were killed in clashes between Malays and Chinese. The previous year, Mahathir had
predicted the outbreak of racial hostility. Now, outside parliament, he openly
criticised the government, sending a letter to Abdul Rahman in which the prime
minister was criticised for failing to uphold Malay interests. The letter, which soon
became public, called for Abdul Rahman's resignation.[20] By the end of the year,
Mahathir had been fired from UMNO's Supreme Council and expelled from the party;
Abdul Rahman had to be persuaded not to have him arrested. [18][19]
While in the political wilderness, Mahathir wrote his first book, The Malay Dilemma,
in which he set out his vision for the Malay community. The book argued that a
balance had to be achieved between enough government support for Malays so that
their economic interests would not be dominated by the Chinese, and exposing
Malays to sufficient competition to ensure that over time, Malays would lose what
Mahathir saw as the characteristics of avoiding hard work and failing to "appreciate
the real value of money and property".[21] The book continued Mahathir's criticism of
Abdul Rahman's government, and it was promptly banned. The ban was only lifted
after Mahathir became prime minister in 1981; he thus served as a minister and
deputy prime minister while being the author of a banned book. [18][22] Academics R. S.
Milne and Diane K. Mauzy argue that Mahathir's relentless attacks were the principal
cause of Abdul Rahman's downfall and subsequent resignation as prime minister in

Return to politics and ascent to premiership[edit]

Abdul Rahman resigned in 1970 and was replaced by Abdul Razak Hussein. Razak
encouraged Mahathir back into the party, and had him appointed as a Senator in
1973.[24] He rose quickly in the Razak government, returning to UMNO's Supreme
Council in 1973, and being appointed to Cabinet in 1974 as the Minister for
Education. He also returned to the House of Representatives, winning the Kedahbased seat of Kubang Pasu unopposed in the 1974 election.[18] One of his first acts as
Minister for Education was to introduce greater government control over Malaysia's
universities, despite strong opposition from the academic community. [25] He also
moved to limit politics on university campuses, giving his ministry the power to
discipline students and academics who were politically active, and making
scholarships for students conditional on the avoidance of politics. [26]
In 1975, Mahathir ran for one of the three vice-presidencies of UMNO. The contest
was considered to be a battle for the succession of the party's leadership, with both
Razak and his deputy, Hussein Onn, in declining health. Each of Razak's preferred
candidates was elected: former Chief Minister of Melaka, Ghafar Baba; Tengku
Razaleigh Hamzah, a wealthy businessman and member of Kelantan's royal family;
and Mahathir. When Razak died the following year, Hussein as his successor was
forced to choose between the three men to be deputy prime minister; he also
considered the ambitious minister Ghazali Shafie. Each of Mahathir's rivals had
significant political liabilities: Ghazali, having been defeated by the others for a vicepresidency, lacked the support of UMNO members; Ghafar had no higher education
and was not fluent in English; and Razaleigh was young, inexperienced and,
critically, unmarried. But Hussein's decision was not easy. Hussein and Mahathir were
not close allies, and Hussein knew the choice of Mahathir would displease Abdul
Rahman, still alive and revered as the father of Malaysia's independence. After six
weeks of indecision Mahathir was, much to his surprise, appointed as Hussein's
deputy. The appointment meant that Mahathir was the anointed successor to the
prime ministership.[27][28]
Mahathir is regarded as having been a successful Minister for Education and then
Minister for Trade and Industry (19781981).[23] In the latter post, he implemented a
"heavy industries policy", establishing a HICOM, a government-controlled
corporation, to invest in the long-term development of manufacturing sectors such
as an indigenous car industry.[29] He spent much of his time in the ministry promoting
Malaysia through overseas visits.[26]
However, Mahathir was not an influential deputy prime minister. Hussein was a
cautious leader who rejected many of Mahathir's bold policy proposals. While the
relationship between Hussein and Mahathir was distant, Ghazali and Razaleigh
became Hussein's closest advisers, often bypassing the more senior Mahathir when
accessing Hussein. Nonetheless, when Hussein relinquished power due to ill health in
1981, Mahathir succeeded him unopposed and with his blessing.[30]

Prime minister[edit]
Domestic affairs[edit]
Mahathir was sworn in as Prime Minister on 16 July 1981, at the age of 56. [31] One of
his first acts was to release 21 detainees held under the Internal Security Act,
including journalist Samad Ismail and a former deputy minister in Hussein's
government, Abdullah Ahmad, who had been suspected of being an underground
communist.[32] He appointed his close ally, Musa Hitam, as Deputy Prime Minister.[33]
Early years (19811987)[edit]

Mahathir exercised caution in his first two years in power, consolidating his
leadership of UMNO and, with victory in the 1982 general election, the government.
In 1983, Mahathir commenced the first of a number of battles he would have
with Malaysia's royalty during his premiership. The position of Yang di-Pertuan
Agong, the Malaysian head of state, was due to rotate in to either the elderly Idris
Shah II of Perak or the controversial Iskandar of Johor. Mahathir had grave
reservations about the two Sultans. Both were activist rulers of their own states and
Iskandar had only a few years earlier been convicted of manslaughter.[36][37] Mahathir
tried to pre-emptively limit the power that the new Agong could wield over his
government, introducing to parliament amendments to the Constitution to deem the
Agong to assent to any bill that had not been assented within 15 days of passage by
Parliament. The proposal would also remove the power to declare a state of
emergency from the Agong and placed it with the Prime Minister. The Agong at the
time, Ahmad Shah of Pahang, agreed with the proposals in principle but baulked
when he realised that the proposal would also deem Sultans to assent to laws passed
by state assemblies. Supported by the Sultans, the Agong refused to assent to the
constitutional amendments, which had by then passed both houses of Parliament
with comfortable majorities.[38][39] When the public became aware of the impasse, and
the Sultans refused to compromise with the government, Mahathir took to the
streets to demonstrate public support for his position in mass rallies. The press took
the side of the government, although a large minority of Malays, including
conservative UMNO politicians, and an even larger proportion of the Chinese
community, supported the sultans. After five months, the crisis resolved, as Mahathir
and the Sultans agreed to a compromise. The Agong would retain the power to
declare a state of emergency, but if he refused to assent to a bill, the bill would be
returned to Parliament, which could then override the Agong's veto. [40]
The 2012 Proton Prev Sapphireconcept. Mahathir considered that anautomotive industry was
essential to Malaysia becoming a industrial nation. His government used tariffs to support the
development of the Proton as a Malaysian-made car and to limit thecapital outflow of Malaysian
Ringgit to foreign countries.

On the economic front, Mahathir inherited the New Economic Policy from his
predecessors, which was designed to improve the economic position of
the bumiputera (Malaysia's Malays and indigenous peoples) through targets and
affirmative action in areas such as corporate ownership and university admission.
Mahathir also actively pursued privatisation of government enterprises from the
early 1980s, both for the liberal economic reasons it was being pursued by
contemporaries such as Margaret Thatcher, and because he felt that combined with
affirmative action for the bumiputera it could provide economic opportunities for
bumiputera businesses.[42] His government privatised airlines, utilities and
telecommunication firms, accelerating to a rate of about 50 privatisations a year by
the mid-1990s.[43] While privatisation generally improved the working conditions of
Malaysians in privatised industries and raised significant revenue for the
government, many privatisations occurred in the absence of open tendering
processes and benefited Malays who supported UMNO. One of the most notable
infrastructure projects at the time was the construction of the NorthSouth
Expressway, a motorway running from the Thai border to Singapore; the contract to
construct the expressway was awarded to a business venture of UMNO. [44] Mahathir
also oversaw the establishment of the car manufacturer Proton as a joint venture
between the Malaysian government and Mitsubishi. By the end of the 1980s, Proton
had overcome poor demand and losses to become, with the support of protective
tariffs, the largest car maker in Southeast Asia and a profitable enterprise.[45]

In Mahathir's early years as prime minister, Malaysia was experiencing a resurgence

of Islam among Malays. Malays were becoming more religious and more
conservative. PAS, which had in the 1970s joined UMNO in government, responded to
the resurgence by taking an increasingly strident Islamist stand under the leadership
of the man who in 1969 had defeated Mahathir for his parliamentary seat, Yusof
Rawa. Mahathir tried to appeal to religious voters by establishing Islamic institutions
such as the International Islamic University of Malaysia which could promote Islamic
education under the government's oversight. He also attracted Anwar Ibrahim, the
leader of the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (ABIM) to join UMNO. In some cases,
Mahathir's government employed repression against more extreme exponents of
Islamism. Ibrahim Libya, a popular Islamist leader, was killed in a police shoot-out in
1985; Al-Arqam, a religious sect, was banned and its leader, Ashaari Mohammad,
arrested under the Internal Security Act.[46] Mahathir comprehensively defeated PAS
at the polls in 1986, winning 83 seats of the 84 seats it contested, leaving PAS with
just one MP.[47]
Exerting power (19871990)[edit]
Any illusion that the 1986 election may have created about Mahathir's political
dominance was short-lived. In 1987, he was challenged for the presidency of UMNO,
and effectively the prime ministership, by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. Razaleigh's
career had gone backwards under Mahathir, being demoted from the Ministry of
Finance to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Razaleigh was supported by Musa, who
had resigned as Deputy Prime Minister the previous year. While Musa and Mahathir
were originally close allies, the two had fallen out during Mahathir's premiership, with
Musa claiming that Mahathir no longer trusted him. Razaleigh and Musa ran for the
UMNO presidency and deputy presidency on a joint ticket against Mahathir and his
new choice for deputy, Ghafar Baba. The tickets were known as Team B and Team A
respectively. Mahathir's Team A enjoyed the support of the press, most party
heavyweights, and even Iskandar, now the Agong, although some significant figures,
such as Abdullah Badawi, supported Team B. In the election, held on 24 April 1987,
Team A prevailed. Mahathir was re-elected a by a narrow margin, receiving the votes
of 761 party delegates to Razaleigh's 718. Ghafar defeated Musa by a slightly larger
margin. Mahathir responded by purging seven Team B supporters from his ministry,
while Team B refused to accept defeat and initiated litigation. In an unexpected
decision in February 1988, the High Court ruled that UMNO was an illegal
organisation as some of its branches had not been lawfully registered. [48][49]Each
faction raced to register a new party under the UMNO name. Mahathir's side
successfully registered the name "UMNO Baru" ("new UMNO"), while Team B's
application to register "UMNO Malaysia" was rejected. UMNO Malaysia, under the
leadership of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and with the support of both of Malaysia's
surviving former Prime Ministers Abdul Rahman and Hussein, registered the
party Semangat 46 instead.[50]
Having survived the political crisis at least temporarily, Mahathir moved against the
judiciary, fearing a successful appeal by Team B against the decision to register
UMNO Baru. He steered an amendment to the Constitution through parliament to
remove the general power of the High Courts to conduct judicial review. The High
Courts could now only engage in judicial review where specific acts of parliament
gave them the power to do so. The Lord President of the Supreme Court, Salleh Abas,
responded by sending a letter of protest to the Agong. Mahathir then suspended
Salleh for "gross misbehaviour and conduct", ostensibly because the letter was a
breach of protocol. A tribunal set up by Mahathir found Salleh guilty and
recommended to the Agong that Salleh be dismissed. Five other judges of the court
supported Salleh, and were suspended by Mahathir. A newly constituted court
dismissed Team B's appeal, allowing Mahathir's faction to continue to use the name
UMNO. According to Milne and Mauzy, the episode destroyed the independence of
Malaysia's judiciary.[51]

At the same time as the political and judicial crises, Mahathir initiated a crackdown
on opposition dissidents with the use of the Internal Security Act. The appointment of
a number of administrators who did not speak Mandarin to Chinese schools provoked
an outcry among Chinese Malaysians to the point where UMNO's coalition partners
the Malaysian Chinese Association and Gerakan joined the Democratic Action
Party (DAP) in protesting the appointments. UMNO's Youth wing held a provocative
protest that triggered a shooting by a lone Malay gunman, and only Mahathir's
interference prevented UMNO from staging a larger protest. Instead, Mahathir
ordered what Wain calls "the biggest crackdown on political dissent Malaysia had
ever seen". Under the police operation codenamed "Lalang", 119 people were
arrested and detained without charge under the Internal Security Act. Mahathir
argued that the detentions were necessary to prevent a repeat of the 1969 race
riots. Most of the detainees were prominent opposition activists, including the leader
of the DAP, Lim Kit Siang, and nine of his fellow MPs. Three newspapers sympathetic
to the opposition were shut down.[52]
Mahathir suffered a heart attack in early 1989,[53] but recovered to lead Barisan
Nasional to victory in the 1990 election. Semangat 46 failed to make any headway
outside Razaleigh's home state of Kelantan (Musa had since rejoined UMNO). [54]
Economic development to financial crisis (19901998) [edit]
A view of Petronas Twin Towersand the surrounding central business district in Kuala Lumpur, the
iconic towers were once the tallest buildings in the world, but still the tallest twin towers building in
the world, a testament of the Malaysian phenomenal economic evolution. Major economic reforms
together with high-profile megaprojects propelled throughout Mahathir's administration has
catapulted the Malaysian economyfrom an agricultural backwater depending on tin and rubber into
an industrial powerhouse and the 17th largest trading nation in the world.

The expiry of the Malaysian New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1990 gave Mahathir the
opportunity to outline his economic vision for Malaysia. In 1991, he announced Vision
2020, under which Malaysia would aim to become a fully developed country within
30 years.[55]The target would require average economic growth of approximately
seven per cent of gross domestic product per annum. [56] One of Vision 2020's features
would be to gradually break down ethnic barriers. Vision 2020 was accompanied by
the NEP's replacement, theNational Development Policy (NDP), under which some
government programs designed to benefit the bumiputera exclusively were opened
up to other ethnicities.[57] The NDP achieved success in one of its main aims, poverty
reduction. By 1995, less than nine per cent of Malaysians lived in poverty and
income inequality had narrowed.[58] Mahathir's government cut corporate taxes and
liberalised financial regulations to attract foreign investment. The economy grew by
over nine per cent per annum until 1997 prompting other developing countries to try
to emulate Mahathir's policies.[59] Much of the credit for Malaysia's economic
development in the 1990s went to Anwar Ibrahim, appointed by Mahathir as finance
minister in 1991.[60] The government rode the economic wave and won the 1995
election with an increased majority.[61]
Mahathir initiated a series of major infrastructure projects in the 1990s. One of the
largest was the Multimedia Super Corridor, an area south of Kuala Lumpur, in the
mould of Silicon Valley, designed to cater for the information technology industry.
However, the project failed to generate the investment anticipated. [62] Other Mahathir
projects included the development of Putrajaya as the home of Malaysia's public
service, and bringing a Formula One Grand Prix to Sepang.[63] One of the most
controversial developments was the Bakun Dam inSarawak. The ambitious hydroelectric project was intended to carry electricity across the South China Sea to satisfy
electricity demand in peninsular Malaysia. To deliver the project, Mahathir and the

local Barisan Nasional government selected a head contractor close to Mahathir

without an open tendering process. The project subsequently suffered from
environmental protests, conflicts between contractors, and opposition from the
10,000 residents who would be forcibly displaced from the Sarawak jungle. Work on
the dam was eventually suspended due to the Asian financial crisis.[64]
The financial crisis threatened to devastate Malaysia. The value of
the ringgit plummeted due to currency speculation, foreign investment fled, and the
main stock exchange index fell by over 75 per cent. At the urging of the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), the government cut government spending and raised interest
rates, which only served to exacerbate the economic situation. In 1998, Mahathir
reversed this policy course in defiance of the IMF and his own deputy, Anwar. He
increased government spending and fixed the ringgit to the US dollar. The result
confounded his international critics and the IMF. Malaysia recovered from the crisis
faster than its Southeast Asian neighbours. In the domestic sphere, it was a political
triumph. Amidst the economic events of 1998, Mahathir had dismissed Anwar as
finance minister and deputy prime minister, and he could now claim to have rescued
the economy in spite of Anwar's policies.[65]
In his second decade in office, Mahathir had again found himself battling Malaysia's
royalty. In 1992, Sultan Iskandar's son, a representative hockey player, was
suspended from competition for five years for assaulting an opponent. Iskandar
retaliated by pulling all Johor hockey teams out of national competitions. When his
decision was criticised by a local coach, Iskandar ordered him to his palace and beat
him. The federal parliament unanimously censured Iskandar, and Mahathir leapt at
the opportunity to remove the constitutional immunity of the sultans from civil and
criminal suits. The press backed Mahathir and, in an unprecedented development,
started airing allegations of misconduct by members of Malaysia's royal families. As
the press revealed examples of the rulers' extravagant wealth, Mahathir resolved to
cut financial support to royal households. With the press and the government pitted
against them, the sultans capitulated to the government's proposals. Their powers to
deny assent to bills were limited by further constitutional amendments passed in
1994. With the status and powers of the Malaysian royalty diminished, Wain writes
that by the mid-1990s Mahathir had become the country's "uncrowned king". [66]
The final years and succession (19982003) [edit]
By the mid-1990s it had become clear that the most serious threat to Mahathir's
power was the leadership ambition of his deputy, Anwar. Anwar began to distance
himself from Mahathir, overtly promoting his superior religious credentials and
appearing to suggest he favoured loosening the restrictions on civil liberties that had
become a hallmark of Mahathir's premiership.[67] However, Mahathir continued to
back Anwar as his successor until their relationship collapsed dramatically during the
Asian financial crisis. Their positions gradually diverged, with Mahathir abandoning
the tight monetary and fiscal policies urged by the IMF. At the UMNO General
Assembly in 1998, a leading Anwar supporter, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, criticised the
government for not doing enough to combat corruption and cronyism. As Mahathir
took the reins of Malaysia's economic policy over the coming months, Anwar was
increasingly sidelined. On 2 September, he was dismissed as deputy prime minister
and finance minister, and promptly expelled from UMNO. No immediate reasons were
given for the dismissal, although the media speculated that it related to lurid
allegations of sexual misconduct circulated in a "poison pen letter" at the general
assembly.[68] As more allegations surfaced, large public rallies were held in support of
Anwar. On 20 September, he was arrested and placed in detention under the Internal
Security Act.[69]
Anwar stood trial on four charges of corruption, arising from allegations that Anwar
abused his power by ordering police to intimidate persons who had alleged Anwar
had sodomised them. Before Anwar's trial, Mahathir told the press that he was

convinced of Anwar's guilt. He was found guilty in April 1999 and sentenced to six
years in prison.[70] In another trial shortly after, Anwar was sentenced to another nine
years in prison on a conviction for sodomy.[71] The sodomy conviction was overturned
on appeal after Mahathir left office.[72]
While Mahathir had vanquished his rival, it came at a cost to his standing in the
international community and domestic politics. US Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright defended Anwar as a "highly respectable leader" who was "entitled to due
process and a fair trial".[73] In a speech in Kuala Lumpur, which Mahathir attended, US
Vice-President Al Gorestated that "we continue to hear calls for democracy",
including "among the brave people of Malaysia".[74] At the APEC summit in 1999,
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrtienrefused to meet Mahathir, while his foreign
minister met with Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.[75] Wan Azizah had formed a
liberal opposition party, the National Justice Party (Keadilan) to fight the 1999
election. UMNO lost 18 seats and two state governments as large numbers of Malay
voters flocked to PAS and Keadilan, many in protest at the treatment of Anwar. [76]
At UMNO's general assembly in 2002, Mahathir announced that he would resign as
prime minister, only for supporters to rush to the stage and convince him tearfully to
remain. He subsequently fixed his retirement for October 2003, giving him time to
ensure an orderly and uncontroversial transition to his anointed successor, Abdullah
Badawi.[77] Having spent over 22 years in office, Mahathir was the world's longestserving elected leader when he retired.[78] He remains Malaysia's longest-serving
prime minister.

Foreign relations[edit]
During Mahathir's term, Malaysia's relationship with the West was generally fine
despite his being known as an outspoken critic towards it. [79] Early during his tenure,
a small disagreement with the United Kingdom over university tuition fees sparked 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".[80] Although
the dispute was later resolved by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Mahathir
continued to emphasise Asian development models over contemporary Western
ones... he particularly criticised the double standards of Western nations [81]
United States[edit]
Main article: MalaysiaUnited States relations
Mahathir has always been publicly critical of the Foreign Policy of the United
States [82] and yet relations between the two countries were still positive and 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.
The BBC reported that relations with the United States took a turn for the worse in
1998,[83] when US Vice-President Al Gore stated at the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation(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
Gore and the United States were critical of the trial of Mahathir's former
deputy Anwar Ibrahim, going so far as to label it as a "show trial". US News and
World Report called the trial a "tawdry spectacle."[84] Also, Anwar was the preeminent
Malaysian spokesperson for the economic policies preferred by the IMF, which

included interest-rate hikes. 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."[85] 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.[86]
Mahathir greeting US 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
added that Asians need stability and economic growth more than civil liberties.
These remarks did not endear him to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who
was a guest at the meeting.
The relationship was stormy both ways. Following Anwar's firing 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 ofprisoners 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
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?[clarification needed]
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 Washingtondoes 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 George W. 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. 10821) 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 correctly predicted George W.
Bush's victory in the 2004 United States presidential election.
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.
Relationships between Mahathir and Australia's leaders reached a low point in 1993
when Paul Keatingdescribed 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".)[87]
Mahathir, along with other Malaysian politicians (and many other Asian leaders) also
heavily criticised Keating's successor, John Howard, whom he believed had
encouragedPauline Hanson, whose views were widely perceived as racist.[88]
Middle East and remarks about Israel and Jews [edit]
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."[89][90]
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. [91]
On 16 October 2003, shortly before he stepped down as prime minister, Mahathir
said during a summit for the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
in Putrajaya, that:
We [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 the 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.[92]
He also named Israel as "the enemy allied with most powerful nations." Israel
criticised the remarks and the speech was also condemned by several nations from
the Western world. 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.[90][93] United States
Secretary of State Condoleezza Ricesaid Bush considered the comments
"reprehensible and hateful."[94] The Muslim Public Affairs Council condemned
Mahathir's remarks as "extremely offensive, anti-Semitic comments." [90]

The criticism 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?"[95]
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. 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:

the low price of raw water paid by Singapore to Malaysia (3 Malaysian cents
(US$0.008) per 1000 gallons);

the proposed replacement of the Causeway by a suspension bridge to

improve water flow through the Straits of Johor (later cancelled by Mahathir's
successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi);

Singapore's land reclamation work, affecting shipping access to Port Tanjung


the use of Malaysian airspace by Republic of Singapore Air Force jets;

the status of Pedra Branca Island (also known as "Pulau Batu Putih"), was
brought to the International Court of Justice and now belongs to Singapore;

the sovereignty of the railway line crossing Singapore and Points of

Agreement regarding the matter.

Fully suspended the trading of CLOB (Central Limit Order Book) counters,
during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis indefinitely freezing approximately US$4.47
billion worth of shares and affecting 172,000 investors, most of them

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mahathir has been noted as a particular significant ally of
that nation. He visited Sarajevo in June 2005 to open a bridge near Bosmal City
Centersignifying friendship between Malaysians and Bosnians.
He made a three-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 organisations: the Sarajevo School of
Science and Technology, the Congress of Bosniak Intellectuals, and two Christian

organisations: the Serb Civil Council and the Croat National Council, nominated
Mahathir for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work during the conflict.[99]
On 22 June 2007, he made another visit to Sarajevo with a group of Malaysian
businessmen to explore the investment opportunities in the country.
On 11 November 2009, he also chaired closed-door meeting of leading investors at
the Malaysia Global Business Forum Bosnia, which was also attended by then
presidentHaris Silajdi.
Developing world[edit]
Among some developing and Islamic countries, Mahathir is generally respected,
particularly for Malaysia's relatively high economic growth as well as for his
support towards liberal Muslim values.[100] 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, theG22 at the latest World Trade
Organization talks at Cancn.

Mahathir speaking at the United Nations

On his retirement, Mahathir was named a Grand Commander of the Order of the
Defender of the Realm, allowing him to adopt the title of "Tun".[101] He pledged to
leave politics "completely", rejecting an emeritus role in Abdullah's cabinet.
Abdullah immediately made his mark as a quieter and less adversarial premier.
With much stronger religious credentials than Mahathir, he was able to beat back
PAS's surge in the 1999 election, and lead the Barisan Nasional in the 2004
election to its biggest win ever, taking 199 of 219 parliamentary seats.[103]Mahathir
became an adviser to flagship Malaysian companies, such as Proton and the oil
company Petronas.[104] Mahathir and Abdullah had a major fallout over Proton in 2005.
Proton's chief executive, a Mahathir ally, had been sacked by the company's board.
With Abdullah's blessing, the company then sold one of the company's prize assets,
the motorcycle company MV Agusta, which was bought on Mahathir's advice.
Mahathir also criticised the awarding of import permits for foreign cars, which he
claimed were causing Proton's domestic sales to suffer, [106] and attacked Abdullah for
cancelling the construction of a second causeway between Malaysia and Singapore.
Mahathir complained that his views were not getting sufficient airing by the
Malaysian press, the freedom of which he had curtailed while prime minister: he had
been named one of the "Ten Worst Enemies of the Press" by the Committee to
Protect Journalists for his restrictions on newspapers and occasional imprisonment of
journalists.[108] He turned to the blogosphere in response, writing a column
for Malaysia kini, a website sympathetic to the opposition, and starting his own blog.
He unsuccessfully sought election from his local party division to be a delegate to
UMNO's general assembly in 2006, where he planned to initiate a revolt against
Abdullah's leadership of the party.[110] After the 2008 election, in which UMNO lost its
two-thirds majority in Parliament, Mahathir resigned from the party. Abdullah was
replaced by his deputy, Najib Tun Razak, in 2009, a move that prompted Mahathir to
rejoin the party.[111]
Mahathir has continued to attract controversy in retirement for remarks on
international affairs. He is a strident critic of Israel, to the point where in 2012 he
stated: "I am glad to be labeled antisemitic [...] How can I be otherwise, when the

Jews who so often talk of the horrors they suffered during the Holocaust show the
same Nazi cruelty and hard-heartedness towards not just their enemies but even
towards their allies should any try to stop the senseless killing of their Palestinian
enemies."[112] Mahathir established theKuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission to
investigate the activities of the United States, Israel and its allies in Iraq, Lebanon
and the Palestinian territories.[113] He has also suggested that the September 11
attacks of 2001 might have been staged by the United States government.[114]
Mahathir underwent a heart bypass operation in 2007, following two heart attacks
over the previous two years. He had undergone the same operation after his heart
attack in 1989. After the 2007 operation, he suffered a chest infection. He was
hospitalised for treatment of another chest infection in 2010.[110][115]

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).[116]
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.
Mahathir has been a highly controversial figure, and a subject of harsh attacks by his
critics. Former de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahimwrites 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."[117]
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.[118][119]
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 Islamization to corruption and inequality. For while he held
Malaysia together for 22 years, the political-administrative system atrophied and
decayed under his personalized brand of governance.[120]


The Malay Dilemma (1970) ISBN 981-204-355-1

The Challenge,(1986) ISBN 967-978-091-0

Regionalism, Globalism, and Spheres of Influence: ASEAN and the Challenge

of Change into the 21st century (1989) ISBN 981-3035-49-8

The Pacific Rim in the 21st century,(1995)

The Challenges of Turmoil, (1998) ISBN 967-978-652-8

The Way Forward, (1998) ISBN 0-297-84229-3

A New Deal for Asia, (1999)

Islam & The Muslim Ummah, (2001) ISBN 967-978-738-9

Globalisation and the New Realities (2002)

Reflections on Asia, (2002) ISBN 967-978-813-X

The Malaysian Currency Crisis: How and why it Happened,(2003) ISBN 967978-756-7

Achieving True Globalization, (2004) ISBN 967-978-904-7

Islam, Knowledge, and Other Affairs, (2006) ISBN 983-3698-03-4

Principles of Public Administration: An Introduction, (2007) ISBN 978-983-195253-5 Blog Merentasi Halangan (Bilingual), (2008) ISBN 967-969-589-1

A Doctor in the House: The Memoirs of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, 8 March

2011 ISBN 9789675997228.

Doktor Umum: Memoir Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, 30 April 2012 ISBN
9789674150259. This book was the BM version of his best-selling memoir,"A
Doctor in the house".