Significant Comeback at a Significant Age : Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

by Anida binti Mohd. Tahrim

Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad is a figure who was born on July 10, 1925. Happily married to Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah binti Haji Mohamad Ali, Tun Dr. Mahathir was a Prime Minister of Malaysia for a period of 22 years from 1981 to 2003, administrating Malaysia as the longest serving Prime Minister before the recent comeback. Tun Dr. Mahathir who was born and raised in Alor Setar, Kedah became a medical doctor and started his political career in 1946. In 1976, Tun Dr. Mahathir rose as the Deputy Prime Minister, and in 1981 Tun sworn as the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Tun Dr. Mahathir however plunged a bombshell in the midst of the three days national conference of United Malays National Organization (UMNO) by announcing his resignation on June 22, 2002. This article will discuss various perspectives and angles on how the international media approached and evaluated this significant prolific individual, not to mention the success that he has brought to the opposition parties for winning the recent GE-14, but the opportunity to get to know also who is Tun Dr. Mahathir from their eyes of international media.

In 2015, Post Magazine, a British magazine which first published in 1840 posted a write up with a headline of “Why Mahathir Mohamad Can’t Keep Out of Malaysian Politics”. The article highlighted on how Tun Dr. Mahathir adapted to the life of an ordinary person the moment he stepped down on October 30, 2003. Tun Dr. Mahathir spoke to the writer, Chris Wright on June 20, 2015, 12 years after he has resigned as a Prime Minister that it was very unsettling for him to move away from a position of power to being just an ordinary person. Tun Dr. Mahathir even thought it was a good timing for him to relax and write his memoirs. Jokingly shared that he should retire and not to interfere in any political matters, knowing that policy is not implemented correctly triggered him to have his say. The discussion also led to a query on Tun Dr. Mahathir’s view on the freedom of the press. Chris Wright quoted Tun Dr. Mahathir explaining that there is no such thing as an absolute freedom of the press, not even in the most advanced countries in the world. Tun Dr. Mahathir emphasized that ‘there are things you just don’t say’ as it may destabilize the environment of a nation that has three races and 29 different tribes.

Due to the long tenure as a politician, his observation continues on any matter involving Malaysia political scene. The significance of his age has always been a part of news and media headline. Based on the article published by Mail Online on the 8th January 2018, with a headline of ‘Malaysia’s Mahathir, 92, Eyes Comeback in Opposition He Once Crushed’, Tun Dr. Mahathir was stated as a leader who is helming the opposition party that he used to opposed to when he was in power. Mail Online or also known as is the website of the Daily Mail, a newspaper in the United Kingdom also wrote that Tun Dr. Mahathir is seen as the oldest leader who will be back to his post as a Prime Minister if his coalition party wins in the general election. In related to the success of the opposition party winning GE-14 headed together by Tun Dr. Mahathir, Bloomberg, a private media company headquartered in New York wrote an article with a headline of ‘Mahathir Wins in Historic Malaysia Power Shift’ highlighted that his objective is not to seek revenge but to reinstate the rule of law. Bloomberg also quoted a statement by Bridget Welsh, a political scientist at John Cabot University in Rome who specializes in Southeast Asia stating that the situation occurred is considered as Malaysian tsunami across the board and the country with Tun Dr. Mahathir as the game changer. BBC News through a news article on 7th May 2018 with the headline ‘Malaysia Elections: Could Mahathir Mohamad Make a Comeback?’ started the article with a description of a video where Tun Dr. Mahathir was looking in the eyes of a young Malay girl explaining that he is already old and has little time left to rebuild Malaysia, perhaps because of the mistakes that he has made in the past.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, a figura who is going strong at 92


With the victory of the historic GE-14, news of Tun Dr. Mahathir sworn as the latest Malaysia Prime Minister was published by many international media, highlighting his shocking comeback at his remarkable age, sworn based on a stunning result and the impact that he will implement as the latest Prime Minister. Financial Times on May 10, 2018 published an article with the headline of ‘Mahathir Sworn in as Malaysian Premier After Stunning Poll Win’, while Al Jazeera came out with a straight forward headline which was ‘Mohamad Mahathir Sworn in as New Leader of Malaysia’. The Telegraph concluded the ceremony by emphasizing Tun Dr. Mahathir’s age as the highlight of their headline, ‘Mahathir Mohamad, 92, sworn in as World’s Oldest Elected Leader After Shock Win in Malaysia’, while The Wall Street of Journal instilled an impact of foreign investment in Malaysia by sharing a headline ‘Malaysia’s Mahathir Sworn In, Signals Tougher Line on China’.


Tun Mahathir sworn in as Malaysia’s 7th Prime Minister










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