Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Dr. Mahathir Shows No Sign of Slowing Down at Age 87

On his 87th birthday, Dr Mahathir remains an omnipresent figure in and out of Malaysia.  Malaysia’s longest serving Prime Minister may have even upped the ante.

At the beginning of 2012 Mahathir was invited by the Financial Times to write an article for their Capitalism in Crisis Series.  His article entitled ‘West needs to go back to capitalist basics’ finds him on top form, dishing out sage words of advice to the western world.

“Europeans have to accept the days of Eurocentricism are practically over. Europe must look to the east as well for solutions,” he writes, ending the article with homage to his own ‘look east policy’.

In an interview with the BBC in February, the presenter Justin Rowlatt badgered him for a solution to the European financial crises.

In the course of a five minute interview he was asked repeatedly: “So what do you recommend? What should Europe do?  So what do you think we should do?  So what would you recommend that we do?  Okay. So coming back to Europe and Europe's predicaments, how difficult a situation do you think that Europe is in now?”

It seems that the shoe is well and truly on the other foot. Mahathir has lived long enough to see the world turned upside down from the turbulent days of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. 

To top it off Mahathir was recently named the recipient of the 2012 Rafik Hariri UN-Habitat Memorial award, recognizing leadership, statesmanship and good governance.  Mahathir will be honored in a ceremony in New York on September 28.

Within Malaysia Mahathir’s opinion is as sought after as ever, especially in the lead up to the upcoming general elections.  With quotes, articles and labels like ‘Mahathirism’ featured in the newspapers almost every day, you could be forgiven for thinking that Mahathir himself was running for election.

Mahathir’s embracing of technology, through the use of his blog, has made his views more accessible than ever, arguably more so than when he was Prime Minister. 

So whether he’s reiterating his regret in appointing Badawi as his successor, telling his daughter to be careful of what she says in the press, or lending his support for his son as potential candidate for MB of Kedah, he doesn’t have to rely on the mainstream media to get his message out.

It is unlikely that Mahathir will shy away from the limelight any time soon, not while he still resonates so strongly with the people of Malaysia.  There are no statues of Mahathir or streets named after him and there are no plans to commemorate him in this way; not while he remains very much a part of the nation he helped to build. 

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