Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was born on 10 July 1925. Today, 10 November 2008, actual marks his 1000th month’s birthday.
Achieving a one thousand moons’ life on earth is itself a blessing. And Malaysia is blessed with this towering figure who has achieved so much for the country.
There are some many things to mention about Dr M, thousands of them, at least one for each of the month he lived on earth.
May be we should start to compile the best 1000 list to describe Dr M.
Dr M started as an entrepreneur at a young age, selling banana fritters (pisang goreng).
When he was a practising doctor in Langkawi, he used to attend to some rural folks on a pro bono basis, especially to those who were unable to pay the medical charges.
In 1969, he dared to confront the then Prime Minister, Tunku, heads on; which resulted in Dr M being sacked from UMNO.
When he was appointed the Minister of Education, he stopped the practice of naming schools after politicians.
When he was the Minister of Trade and Industry (cum Deputy Prime Minister), he mooted the idea of a national automotive industry. He promptly launched The Heavy Industries Corporation of Malaysia (HICOM) when he became Prime Minister in 1981, and gave birth to Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional (PROTON) a few years later. He started transforming Malaysia from an agricultural-based economy into industrial and manufacturing era.
On infrastructure, I think, his biggest contribution was the construction of the North-South Expressway, without which our balik kampung ritual would be near impossible. (My family used to stop overnight in Segamat every time we travelled from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur due to the long journey). Now KL-JB is only a three-hour ride at 110kph.
Without the Penang Bridge, Penang would not be a successful semiconductor hub, let alone be a prosperous industrial state. (Back then, DAP used to loudly criticised the construction of the Penang Bridge as a waste of people’s money. Now they are the ones urging for speedier construction of the new Penang bridge. That’s how time has changed people’s mindset…)
As the Prime Minister, Dr M really walked the talk. As a mentioned in my previous postings, I used to bump into him on Sundays (with only one or two of his bodyguards), inspecting, inter alia, the cleanliness of KL city centre such as the Central Market (that was before KLCC came into being). He was always equipped with his pocket notebook and his pen. (I was told that the cabinet ministers used to tremble every time Dr M opened his pocket notebook, as it may be that their ministry will be the next subject of pointed discussion).
Dr M is still influential till this very day. His blog, chedet.com, had already reached 9.4 million hits since it started on 1 May 2008. (His first posting was at a wee hour of 1.27 am). Although some of the readers were sceptical, I know and I believe that all the articles were written by Dr M himself, and that he read most the comments posted on his blog.
Indeed, the list goes on and on, if we were to list how Dr M has changed our lives. (Remember that Peninsula used to be half an hour behind Sabah and Sarawak. Dr M introduced the so called “metric time” whereby Malaysian time was synchronised to GMT + 8 hours. Singapore had to follow suit. I thought that was a stroke of genius, as GMT+8 hours means that we are in the same time zone as Hong Kong, a well known financial centre at that time).
Truthfully, I was not privileged enough to be close to Dr M or to people who are close to him. I was not close enough to be picked as a corporate leader nor a chosen entrepreneur. I lived my whole professional life based purely on my own merits, which I have no regrets. I felt lucky and I am glad to have lived during Dr M’s tenure as the Prime Minister of Malaysia. He really made me as a better person, and a proud Malaysian.
Tun Dr Mahathir will always be a person that I look up too. He is a proud nationalist, a true leader, a gifted visionary, a strategic thinker, an eloquent orator, an elegant writer and an influential statesman.
And Tun’s journey continues on. I hope it will be not for months, but for many more years to come. I hope Tun will live at least until the ripe age of 100 years, so that he will be able to witness Malaysia that he partly developed beyond the year 2020.
Hail The Great Man.
HAPPY 1000TH MONTH’S BIRTHDAY DR M!
Sincerest prayers from Jurublog