Finally; after 3 months concentrating on my 4th semester of Master’s Degree and my Project Research entitled – “Malaysian Moslems’ Perception Towards Cadbury’s Image Repair & Its Halal Image”; – I have time to read this book AND I have officially finished reading Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s memoirs entitled “A Doctor In The House : The Memoirs of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad”!! I have taken hiatus every now and then as my focus was on the above-mentioned but now since I have already completed my 1st draft of Project Research, I squeezed time to read the book and managed to finish it.
His writings inspire me. I want to become a New Malaysian Moslem. With new vision and new paradigm shift. For the betterment of myself and my Ummah. Insya ALLAH.
This is the second book penned by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that I read. The first one was the controversial “The Malay Dilemma” on 29th June 2015 (REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/a-sine-qua-non-for-the-malays-a-paradigm-shifting-disclosure-tun-dr-mahathir-mohamads-1970-the-malay-dilemma/) which I found as paradigm-shifting writing as well as generating constructive cognition (at least for me, though).
For me, this book projects more intimacy in comparison to his other writings – after all, this is memoirs, no? Whether you love him or loathe him, it is a fact that everyone wants to know things swirling in his mind. This is the man who is touted as Malaysia’s Father of Modernization. Under his helm, Malaysia experienced rapid changes within 22 years of his tenure. This is the man who ignited :-
As 1990s child, I remember vividly the Vision 2020 lauded by the media, to gear up the Rakyat to embrace the vision. It was fantastic to visualize that by the year 2020, there would be flying cars, anti-gravity shoes, etc. I remember such visions illustrated in a comic called KAWAN. Illogical as it may sounded; that modernisation was the aspiration that Tun Dr. Mahathir wanted for us.
Malaysia was doing well before 1997. You can see that the graph increased. And Vision 2020 was possible. And suddenly George Soros meddled with 1997 crisis! So, how could Tun Dr. Mahathir not furious??? We were SO CLOSE to achieve the vision!
- Vision 2020 – a 30 years strategic plan was unleashed in 1991 in order to establish Malaysia as a modern country. In order to achieve that, the people’s annual per capita income would be USD16,000 & to reach that, Malaysia must project growth at 7% per annum within the period of 30 years. Unfortunately, the 1997’s economic meltdown manned by George Soros hindered Malaysia’s dream ;
- PETRONAS Twin Tower KLCC – Tun Dr. Mahathir monitored the progress of the construction religiously and suggested that the initially-planned tallest building in Southeast Asia to be added a few more floors and spires that would eventually beat the height of Sears Tower in Chicago, US. Apart from the twin towers, landscaping plans such as 1.3 km jogging track, fountains, children’s pool, ornamental water features, a mosque, Petrosains Centre and Philharmonic Hall (which he hoped would be a level of cultural advancement for Malaysians) ;
- Putrajaya – Within 3 years, the completion of Malaysia’s administration capital was met along with landscaping planning consists construction of a lake from several numbers of rivulets. This was expected to materialize within 3 years but in the end, it only took 2 months to complete. This was not built for a leader’s vanity but to express the pride of Malaysians. America has the The Capitol and Malaysia has Putrajaya ;
- Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) & Cyberjaya – Tedious and meticulous ensemble of technology expertise were gathered in order to materialize the hub for technology in Malaysia but unfortunately was put into hindrance by the succeeding administrators ;
- Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) & ERL – A new airport was needed as Subang Airport could no longer hold the hectic air traffic as in 1990s, passenger traffic had reached 10 million a year. Although Sepang in 50 km away from city centre but it was a good prospect for the next 100 years. Within 4 years, the airport which cost RM9 billion which was far economical-cost than Hong Kong’s International Airport (RM72 billion) able to manage 23 million passengers annually ;
- Commonwealth Games 1998 – Within 6 years since the winning of right in Barcelona, Spain 1992; Tun Dr. Mahathir took personal interest to monitor the projects of sport villages and new Games complex as he was :-
“….. worried that we could not complete the work on time, so I went to the worksites often and asked for progress reports. I knew that if I didn’t and, for example, supplies of a particular building material ran short, the project people would simply wait, pleading that they could not go on. Delay and inactivity do not bother some people. So sometimes you have to push.”
I was in Form 2 (1998) when Commonwealth Games Kuala Lumpur was held. As I was in Penang, I never had the opportunity to be in the Bukit Jalil Stadium. But I was immensely proud seeing Malaysians putting up such magnificent display in the eyes of the world. Malaysians were so unified during that time, under the administration of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. I miss those days.
– and many more! This is the man who never shied away to express his thoughts, although as provocative as that may sound and definitely a go-getter. Of course in this memoirs, Tun Dr. Mahathir also explained about some controversial issues such as :-
- Political nepotism and cronyism claims ;
- Ops Lalang with subversive activities ;
- The reduction of the Sultan’s supreme immunity due to the incident where an unnamed Sultan (but we all know it was Sultan of Johor) reportedly slapped & assaulted Malaysian Hockey Federation coach named David Gomez. It was a very delicate matter and Tun Dr. Mahathir himself did not want to create animosity with the royalties but as the Prime Minister, he had to stand up for the Rakyat :-
“I and my Cabinet colleagues felt this was not right. It is true that the Rulers had immunity before the law but it was assumed that they would not abuse this privilege. People would not be comfortable if they could be assaulted by the Rulers with impunity. I was not keen to have another contretemps with the Rulers but I felt it was my duty to ensure the citizens of this country were protected by the law.”
- The infamous relationship with ex-Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim which served Tun Dr. Mahathir a reputation for being “a dictator who fired his deputy” by the biased international media. In this memoir, he dished everything from his own perspectives – he was informed by IGP Tun Hanif 4 years before the circulation of the book “50 Dalil Kenapa Anwar Ibrahim Tidak Boleh menjadi Perdana Menteri” on Datuk Seri Anwar’s alleged homosexual activities – but Tun Dr. Mahathir ignored. And then came Ummi Hafilda, etc. And the new IGP, Tan Sir Abdul Rahim Noor also presented new information on the homosexual activities. All these put doubts to his original plan to groom Datuk Seri Anwar as his successor as he was already planned to step down in 1997:-
“I called all the UMNO Menteri Besar, Chief Ministers and state heads to Sri Perdana for a meeting and asked the police to make the witnesses I had interviewed available. I then asked them what action I should take. If I hid the evidence and allowed Anwar to continue in office, his behaviour might be uncovered and used to blackmail him. He would always be vulnerable, and by extension, so would Malaysia.”
The saga was nice to read as it explores and entails juicier parts of which the Rakyat never heard before from a perspective of one of players of the case. I guess y’all have to read on your own to figure out (don’t worry, there is also a Bahasa Malaysia version!). But I like this statement written by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on page 698 :-
“Anwar should have been the Prime Minister of Malaysia today. But if he is not, it is because of his own actions. He left me no choice but to remove him and I did what I thought was best for the country. I may have made many mistakes, but removing Anwar was not one of them.”
I adore him. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was a commoner and a son of a teacher. Unlike his predecessor who were royalties and born into nobble families as well as political dynasties, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was a simple Rakyat who experienced the hardship just like us. He sold things during the Japanese occupation to afford simple life and he studied hard when he was given the chance.
With Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader. Malaysia never shy to show support to Palestine under the Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.
He also wrote about his initial fascination with the Western cultures just like any other naive Malay children – seeing the Caucasian cowboys captured the Red Indians. Besides, he even had sympathy seeing the wives of British expatriates came to school to collect donations as he was “proud to be part of British Empire” to fund the British for World War II. His teachers even told him that Malaya had no history at all (nothing about Melaka, etc) and mysteriously became British Malaya and only learned the history of British Empire such as Wars of the Roses, the Seven Years’ War, the Kings and Queens of England, etc. But he became an adult and saw the Malays fought for Malayan Union that he was “awaken abruptly” from his bogus infatuation.
Despite the antagonistic political stance between the two, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad still paid respect to late Lee Kuan Yew at the latter’s funeral. It shows that he bear no ill will and a true Malaysian Moslem’s modesty.
I have to say that this private reminiscence that he wrote really touched me because he admitted his fragility and naivety which were opposite towards his stoic politician persona. I also love the fact that he exhibited rawness in his writing – the feeling of anxiety, fear, excitement, pride – which were emotionally-charged and knowing him as a stern charismatic leader, he rarely displayed emotion except when he talked about Malays.
With President Nelson Mandela.
On whole, I am really glad that I chose to buy this book and make the use of my Baucar 1 Malaysia that I got for my Master’s Degree! For me, “A Malay Dilemma” and “A Doctor In The House” are books that mould my paradigm shift. I want to become a better Malay. I want to emancipate myself from the secured cocoon. I want to connect myself with the wilderness of the world. I want to be able to path my own ways despite besmirching naysayers and be a “contratrian” like Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (remember the RM3.80 pegging of ringgit against US Dollar?). Insya ALLAH, God bless.
From a humble beginning, this commoner who climbed the social status hierarchy on his own via the education he got; eventually champions matters regarding his race, religion and Motherland. An inspiration for me, Che’ Det.