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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun
Mahathir Mohamad
In office
16 July 1981 – 31 October 2003
Monarch
Preceded by
Succeeded by
In office
5 March 1976 – 16 July 1981
Monarch
Prime Minister
Preceded by
Succeeded by
In office
20 February 2003 – 31 October 2003
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Personal details
Born
10 July 1925 (1925-07-10) (age 86)
Alor Star, British Malaya
(now Malaysia)
Political party
Spouse(s)
Children
Marina
Mirzan
Melinda
Mokhzani
Mukhriz
Maizura
Mazhar
Profession
Physician
Religion
Sunni Islam
Signature


Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad (pronounced [maˈhadɪr bɪn moˈhamat]). (born 10 July 1925) is a Malaysian politician who 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, before falling out with the then Prime Minister, 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 Onn.
During Mahathir's tenure as Prime Minister, Malaysia experienced rapid modernisation and economic growth, and his government initiated a series of bold infrastructure projects. He was a dominant political figure, winning five consecutive general elections and seeing off all of his 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 also deployed the controversial Internal Security Act to detain activists, non-mainstream religious figures, and political opponents including his sacked deputy, Anwar Ibrahim. Mahathir's record of curbing civil liberties and his antagonism to western diplomatic interests and economic policy made his relationships with the likes of the US, Britain and Australia difficult. As Prime Minister, he was an advocate of third-world development and a prominent international activist for causes such as the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and the interests of Bosnians in the 1990s Balkans conflict.
He remains an active political figure in his retirement, having become a strident critic of his handpicked successor, Abdullah Badawi, and actively supporting Abdullah's replacement by Najib Razak.
 
Childhood and medical career
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.[1][N 1] His father, Mohamad, was of mixed Malay and Malayali descent; his mother, Wan Tempawan, was Malay. Mahathir's non-Malay ancestry is a feature shared by Malaysia's six prime ministers. But another aspect of Mahathir's birth set him apart from the other five: he was not born into the aristocracy or a prominent religious or political family.[2][N 2] Mohamad was a school principal whose low socio-economic status meant his daughters were unable to enrol in secondary school, while Wan Tempawan had only distant relations to members of Kedah's royalty. Both had been married previously; Mahathir was born with six half-siblings and two full-siblings.[3]
The secondary school attended by Mahathir and founded by his father; now the Sultan Abdul Hamid College[5]
Mahathir was a hard-working school 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 medium secondary school, having become fluent in English well ahead of his primary school peers.[6] With schools closed during the Japanese occupation of Malaya in World War II, he went into small business, first selling coffee and later pisang goreng (banana fritters) and other snacks.[1] 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.[7] In college he met his future wife, Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, a fellow medical student. After Mahathir graduated, he worked as a doctor in government service before marrying Siti Hasmah in 1956 and returning to Alor Setar the following year to set up his own practice. He was the town's first Malay doctor, and a successful one. He built a large house, invested in various businesses, and employed a Chinese man to chauffeur him in his Pontiac Catalina (most chauffeurs at the time were Malay).[8][9] He and Siti Hasmah had their first child, Marina, in 1957, before conceiving three others and adopting three more over the following 28 years.[10] 

Early political career
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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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 Setar-based seat of Kota Setar Selatan.[14]
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.[14][15] 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).[16] 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).[17] 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.[18] By the end of the year, Mahathir had been sacked from UMNO's Supreme Council and expelled from the party; Abdul Rahman had to be persuaded not to have him arrested.[16][17]
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".[19] 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.[16][20] 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 1970.[21]

Return to politics and ascent to premiership
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.[22] 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 Kedah-based seat of Kubang Pasu unopposed in the 1974 election.[16] 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.[23] 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.[24]
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 vice-presidency, 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.[25][26]
Mahathir is regarded has having been a successful Minister for Education and then Minister for Trade and Industry (1978–1981).[21] 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.[27] He spent much of his time in the ministry promoting Malaysia through overseas visits.[24] However, Mahathir was not an influential Deputy Prime Minister. Hussein was a cautious Prime Minister 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.[28]

Prime Minister

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