137 Facts About Mahathir Mohamad


Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad is a Malaysian politician, author, and physician who served as the fourth and seventh prime minister of Malaysia.

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Mahathir Mohamad held office from July 1981 to October 2003 and later from May 2018 to March 2020 for a cumulative total of 24 years, making him the country's longest-serving prime minister.

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Mahathir Mohamad has served as a member of parliament for Langkawi since May 2018, Kubang Pasu from August 1974 to March 2004, and Kota Setar Selatan from April 1964 to May 1969.

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Mahathir Mohamad became active in the United Malays National Organisation before entering the Parliament of Malaysia in 1964.

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Mahathir Mohamad served one term before losing his seat, subsequently falling out with Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman and being expelled from UMNO.

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Mahathir Mohamad wrote The Malay Dilemma during this period, which formed the basis of future ethnic Malay affirmative action policies in the country.

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Mahathir Mohamad was a dominant political figure, winning five consecutive general elections and fending off a series of rivals for UMNO's leadership.

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Mahathir Mohamad continued pro-bumiputera affirmative action policies, but in the 1990s introduced the Bangsa Malaysia policy that saw some political liberalisation.

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Mahathir Mohamad used the controversial Internal Security Act to detain activists, non-mainstream religious figures, and political opponents in 1987 Operation Lalang and later his own Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, whom he fired in 1998.

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Mahathir Mohamad was the Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition candidate for prime minister in the 2018 general election, which they won.

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Mahathir Mohamad became the first Malaysian prime minister not to represent the Barisan Nasional coalition, and the first prime minister to serve non-consecutive terms, or as a member of two different parties.

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Mahathir Mohamad left BERSATU in protest of its new coalition with UMNO, and formed the new Homeland Fighters Party later the same year.

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Mahathir Mohamad was born at his parents' home in a poor neighbourhood at Lorong Kilang Ais, Alor Setar, the capital of the Malay sultanate of Kedah, which was then a British protectorate, on 10 July 1925.

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Mahathir Mohamad's mother, Wan Tempawan Wan Hanapi, was a Malay of Kedah.

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Mahathir Mohamad's father, Mohamad Iskandar, was a Penang Malay of Malay and Indian descent.

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Mahathir Mohamad was the principal of an English-medium secondary school, whose lower-middle-class status meant his daughters were unable to enroll in a secondary school; while Wan Tempawan had only distant relations to members of Kedah's royalty.

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Mahathir Mohamad won a position in a selective English medium secondary school, having become fluent in English well ahead of his primary school peers.

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Mahathir Mohamad was the town's first Malay physician and a successful one.

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Mahathir Mohamad built a large house, invested in various businesses, and employed a Chinese man to chauffeur him in his Pontiac Catalina .

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Mahathir Mohamad had been politically active since the end of Malaya's Japanese occupation when he joined protests against citizenship granting to non-Malays under the short-lived Malayan Union.

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Mahathir Mohamad later argued for affirmative action for Malays at medical college.

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The relationship between the two Kedahans had been strained since Mahathir Mohamad had criticised Tunku Abdul Rahman's agreement to retain British and Commonwealth forces in Malaya after independence.

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For Mahathir Mohamad, this was a significant enough slight to delay his entry into national politics in protest.

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Mahathir Mohamad attributed the loss of his seat to ethnic Chinese voters switching support from UMNO to PAS .

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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 Mohamad saw as the characteristics of avoiding hard work and failing to "appreciate the real value of money and property".

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The ban was only lifted after Mahathir Mohamad became prime minister in 1981; he thus served as a minister and deputy prime minister while being the author of a banned book.

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Mahathir Mohamad 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.

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Mahathir Mohamad returned to the House of Representatives, winning the Kedah-based seat of Kubang Pasu unopposed in the 1974 election.

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Mahathir Mohamad 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.

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Mahathir Mohamad'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.

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Hussein and Mahathir Mohamad were not close allies, and Hussein knew Mahathir Mohamad's choice would displease Abdul Rahman, still alive and revered as the father of Malaysia's independence.

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The appointment meant that Mahathir Mohamad was the anointed successor to the prime ministership.

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Mahathir Mohamad was sworn in as prime minister on 16 July 1981, at the age of 56.

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Mahathir Mohamad appointed his close ally, Musa Hitam, as deputy prime minister.

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Mahathir Mohamad exercised caution in his first two years in power, consolidating UMNO's leadership and, with victory in the 1982 general election, the government.

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In 1983, Mahathir Mohamad commenced the first of a number of battles he would have with Malaysia's royalty during his premiership.

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Mahathir Mohamad tried to pre-emptively limit the power that the new Agong could wield over his government, introducing to parliament amendments to the Constitution to deem the Agong to assent to any bill that had not been assented within 15 days of passage by Parliament.

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Mahathir Mohamad actively pursued privatisation of government enterprises from the early 1980s, both for the liberal economic reasons it was being pursued by contemporaries such as Margaret Thatcher, and because he felt that combined with affirmative action for the Bumiputera it could provide economic opportunities for Bumiputera businesses.

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Mahathir Mohamad's government privatised airlines, utilities and telecommunication firms, accelerating to a rate of about 50 privatisations a year by the mid-1990s.

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Mahathir Mohamad oversaw the establishment of the car manufacturer Proton as a joint venture between the Malaysian government and Mitsubishi.

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Mahathir Mohamad tried to appeal to religious voters by establishing Islamic institutions such as the International Islamic University of Malaysia which could promote Islamic education under the government's oversight.

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Mahathir Mohamad attracted Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement, to join UMNO.

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In some cases, Mahathir Mohamad's government employed repression against more extreme exponents of Islamism.

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Mahathir Mohamad comprehensively defeated PAS at the polls in 1986, winning 83 seats of the 84 seats it contested, leaving PAS with just one MP.

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Razaleigh's career had gone backwards under Mahathir Mohamad, being demoted from the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

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Mahathir Mohamad was re-elected by a narrow margin, receiving the votes of 761 party delegates to Razaleigh's 718.

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Mahathir Mohamad responded by purging seven Team B supporters from his ministry.

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Mahathir Mohamad then suspended Salleh for "gross misbehaviour and conduct", ostensibly because the letter was a breach of protocol.

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Mahathir Mohamad later declared that it was only used to lock up people accused of riots, unlawful assembly, terrorism and those who have murdered police officers.

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Mahathir Mohamad argued that the detentions were necessary to prevent a repeat of the 1969 race riots.

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Mahathir Mohamad suffered a heart attack in early 1989, but recovered to lead Barisan Nasional to victory in the 1990 election.

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Mahathir Mohamad introduced the Bangsa Malaysia policy, which aimed to facilitate greater representation of non-Malay ethnicities in Malaysia.

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Mahathir Mohamad's government cut corporate taxes and liberalised financial regulations to attract foreign investment.

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Mahathir Mohamad initiated a series of major infrastructure projects in the 1990s.

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The 1997 Southeast Asian haze, the worst haze event in history caused by Indonesian forest fires, was a major air pollution crisis for the country; Mahathir Mohamad launched a cross-border firefighting operation in response.

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In 1998, in a controversial approach, Mahathir Mohamad reversed this policy course in defiance of the IMF and his own deputy, Anwar.

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Mahathir Mohamad increased government spending and fixed the ringgit to the US dollar.

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Amidst the economic events of 1998, Mahathir Mohamad had dismissed Anwar as finance minister and deputy prime minister.

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The federal parliament unanimously censured Iskandar, and Mahathir Mohamad leapt at the opportunity to remove the constitutional immunity of the sultans from civil and criminal suits.

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Anwar began to distance himself from Mahathir Mohamad, overtly promoting his superior religious credentials and appearing to suggest he favoured loosening the restrictions on civil liberties that had become a hallmark of Mahathir Mohamad's premiership.

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However, Mahathir Mohamad continued to back Anwar as his successor until their relationship collapsed dramatically during the Asian financial crisis, with Mahathir Mohamad abandoning the tight monetary and fiscal policies urged by the IMF.

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Mahathir Mohamad was found guilty in April 1999 and sentenced to six years in prison.

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Mahathir Mohamad subsequently fixed his retirement for October 2003, giving him time to ensure an orderly and uncontroversial transition to his anointed successor, Abdullah Badawi.

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Mahathir Mohamad particularly criticised what he believed were the double standards of Western nations.

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Mahathir Mohamad said that in Asia, the society's interests are more important than an individual's interests.

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Mahathir Mohamad added that Asians need economic growth more than civil liberties.

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Mahathir Mohamad studied at the university's predecessor, The King Edward VII College of Medicine between 1947 and 1953.

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On Lee Kuan Yew's death in March 2015, Mahathir Mohamad wrote an entry on his blog entitled "Kuan Yew and I".

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Mahathir Mohamad said that he often disagreed with the veteran Singaporean leader but bore him no enmity for the differences of opinion on what was good for the newborn nation to thrive.

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Mahathir Mohamad wrote that with Lee's death, ASEAN had lost the strong leadership of both Lee as well as President Suharto of Indonesia, who had died earlier in 2008.

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Mahathir Mohamad told the media that Singaporeans must value Lee Kuan Yew's contributions because he industrialised Singapore.

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In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mahathir Mohamad has been noted as a particularly significant ally of that nation.

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Mahathir Mohamad was influential in the establishment of an OIC summit in Karachi in 1993 to discuss the need for weapons for Bosnia during the Bosnian War.

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Mahathir Mohamad opened the bridge of the Malaysian-Bosnian and Herzegovinian friendship in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

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On his retirement, Mahathir Mohamad was named a Grand Commander of the Order of the Defender of the Realm, allowing him to adopt the title of "Tun".

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Mahathir Mohamad pledged to leave politics "completely", rejecting an emeritus role in Abdullah's cabinet.

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Mahathir Mohamad was the CEO and Chairman, and hence a senior adviser, for many flagship Malaysian companies such as Proton, Perdana Leadership Foundation and Malaysia's government-owned oil and gas company Petronas.

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Mahathir Mohamad criticised the awarding of import permits for foreign cars, which he claimed were causing Proton's domestic sales to suffer, and attacked Abdullah for cancelling the construction of a second causeway between Malaysia and Singapore.

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Mahathir Mohamad complained that his views were not getting sufficient airing by the Malaysian press, the freedom of which he had curtailed while prime minister: he had been named one of the "Ten Worst Enemies of the Press" by the Committee to Protect Journalists for his restrictions on newspapers and occasional imprisonment of journalists.

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Mahathir Mohamad turned to the blogosphere in response, writing a column for Malaysiakini, an online media news website, and starting his own blog.

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Mahathir Mohamad unsuccessfully sought election from his local party division to be a delegate to UMNO's general assembly in 2006, where he planned to initiate a revolt against Abdullah's leadership of the party.

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Mahathir Mohamad established the Kuala Lumpur Initiative to Criminalise War Forum in an effort to end war globally, as well as the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission to investigate the activities of the United States, Israel and its allies in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

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Mahathir Mohamad repeatedly called for Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad corruption scandal.

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In 2016, Mahathir Mohamad ignited several protests that culminated in the Malaysian Citizens' Declaration by himself with the help of Pakatan Harapan and NGOs to oust Najib.

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Mahathir Mohamad left UMNO in 2016, forming the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia .

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Mahathir Mohamad was proposed as a possible chairman and prime ministerial candidate of Pakatan Harapan.

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On 14 October 2017, referencing the 1MDB scandal, Mahathir Mohamad said of Najib Razak; "a prime minister who came from 'Bugis pirates' is leading Malaysia".

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Mahathir Mohamad remarked, "go back to Sulawesi", which aroused discontent from the Bugis descendants in Malaysia and Indonesia, who protested against him.

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On 8 January 2018, Mahathir Mohamad was announced as the Pakatan Harapan opposition alliance's prime ministerial candidate for the election to be held on 9 May 2018, seeking to oust his former ally Najib.

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Nevertheless, the National Palace of Malaysia had promptly issued a royal statement, confirming Mahathir Mohamad will be sworn in as the prime minister at 9:30 pm, on the same day, and had strongly refuted any claims of delaying the appointment.

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Mahathir Mohamad became the world's oldest serving state leader, and the first Malaysian prime minister not to represent UMNO.

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Mahathir Mohamad told the press that Najib Razak would face consequences if found guilty of wrongdoing.

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Mahathir Mohamad instructed the Department of Immigration bar Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor from leaving the country after they attempted to fly to Indonesia.

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Mahathir Mohamad formed his seventh cabinet of 29 ministers in June 2018.

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Mahathir Mohamad abolished the unpopular Goods and Services Tax, reducing it from six to zero per cent.

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Mahathir Mohamad vowed to cut fiscal spending by firing thousands of civil servants, cancelling an expensive Kuala Lumpur–Singapore high-speed rail link and cutting back on large infrastructure projects initiated under Najib.

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On 20 June 2018, Mahathir Mohamad met the father of murdered Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu and agreed that the case of her murder should be reopened.

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Mahathir Mohamad announced the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 in October 2019, which set out to increase the incomes all ethnic groups, to increase focus on the technology sector and for Malaysia to become a high income country by 2030.

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Early in his second tenure, Mahathir Mohamad visited Japan and Indonesia to reaffirm good relations, and reignited a water dispute with Singapore.

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Mahathir Mohamad condemned the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 and the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by the United States in 2020.

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Mahathir Mohamad refused to extradite Zakir Naik, an Indian Islamic preacher who was accused of money laundering by Indian authorities.

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Mahathir Mohamad extradited Turkish national Arif Komis and his family, who were holding UNHCR refugee cards, in August 2019.

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Mahathir Mohamad received an honorary doctorate from Qatar University in December 2019.

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Mahathir Mohamad said "the world should not treat North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with skepticism and instead learn from his new attitude towards bringing about peace".

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Mahathir Mohamad stood by the decision, saying that Israel is "a criminal nation which does not obey international laws" and stressed that two countries would not establish ties.

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Mahathir Mohamad's administration was committed to retaining good relations with China, but promised to review all Belt and Road Initiative projects in Malaysia that were initiated by the previous government.

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Mahathir Mohamad characterised these as "unequal treaties", and the government suspended work on the East Coast Rail Link and continued it after terms had been renegotiated.

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In 2019, Mahathir Mohamad said he is in the opinion that Carrie Lam should resign as the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, fearing a repeat of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

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Mahathir Mohamad added that Lam already knew "the consequences of rejecting [the extradition] law" as she was in a dilemma when she has to obey her Mainland masters.

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On 13 February 2020, Mahathir Mohamad communicated his solidarity with Chinese President Xi Jinping as China responded to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Mahathir Mohamad felt that Anwar would be unable to command a parliamentary majority.

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Opposition party members Muhyiddin Yassin and Azmin Ali had approached Mahathir Mohamad about forming one, but Mahathir Mohamad declined, refusing to work with any UMNO leaders over ongoing corruption trials.

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Mahathir Mohamad submitted his resignation to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Abdullah of Pahang on 24 February 2020, refusing to work with UMNO leaders in a new government.

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Mahathir Mohamad challenged this, but his attempts to contact the Agong to seek legitimacy for his support were not answered.

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Mahathir Mohamad left the Prime Minister's office an hour before Muhyiddin was sworn in.

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In May 2021, Mahathir Mohamad expressed hope that incoming President Joe Biden would be able to repair the United States' relationship with China, after his predecessor Donald Trump's aggressive approach toward the Xi Jinping administration soured diplomatic ties.

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Mahathir Mohamad said countries in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, should be careful not to enrage China lest they trigger a heavy global economic backlash.

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On 9 March 2022, Mahathir Mohamad confirmed he would not be contesting or defending his Langkawi parliamentary seat in the next general election.

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On 29 June 2022, Mahathir Mohamad said that he may defend his Langkawi parliamentary seat in the next general election if there are no suitable candidates for his Parti Pejuan Tanah Air .

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In June 2022, at an event organised by several non-government organisations titled Aku Melayu: Survival Bermula, Mahathir Mohamad made irrendentist comments by stating that Singapore and the Riau Islands of Indonesia was once owned by Johor and the state of Johor should attempt to have them returned to the state and Malaysia.

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Mahathir Mohamad elaborated that if this happened, he would only serve in the position for a year.

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Mahathir Mohamad stated that he did want to give people impression that he founded GTA merely to become the prime minister again and voiced that his only interest is to form the policies that benefit the Malays through a government that loves the people, country and religion.

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However, his statement met heavy criticisms from BN chairman and UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who shared his opinions that Mahathir Mohamad, based on his performance as the 7th prime minister, was unfit to become the prime minister again.

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Mahathir Mohamad then hit out at Mahathir after the latter criticised the handling of economy by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and the lack of economic experts in the administration of Ismail Sabri despite the fact that the ministers handling the economy were in his cabinet before, the Seventh Mahathir cabinet which means the PH administration that lasted from 2018 to 2020.

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Mahathir Mohamad named the ministers, who are Chairman of the National Recovery Council and another former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Senior Minister of Economic Cluster and Minister of International Trade and Industry Azmin Ali and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Economic Affairs Mustapa Mohamed.

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Mahathir Mohamad accused Mahathir of yearning to be the prime minister again but having failed as prime minister when he had been given the opportunity to serve in the position.

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Strident critic of Israel, Mahathir Mohamad has been accused of antisemitism since at least as far back as in The Malay Dilemma in which he wrote that "Jews are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively".

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Mahathir Mohamad's tweet was later labeled by Twitter for "glorifying violence".

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Mahathir Mohamad was criticized for stoking tensions and hatred by the former Australian ambassador to France Brendan Berne, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, and French secretary of state for digital affairs Cedric O; the latter of whom called for the suspension of Mahathir Mohamad's Twitter account.

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Malaysian cleric and politician Fathul Bari Mat Jahya condemned Mahathir Mohamad's remarks, calling them "reprehensible tribalism" and declaring that they contradicted Islamic teachings.

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Mahathir Mohamad urged Mahathir to take heart the lesson behind the Christchurch mosque shootings.

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Mahathir Mohamad underwent a heart bypass operation in 2007, following two heart attacks over the previous two years.

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Mahathir Mohamad had undergone the same operation after his heart attack in 1989.

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Mahathir Mohamad was hospitalised for treatment of another chest infection in 2010.

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On 16 December 2021, Mahathir Mohamad has been admitted to the Institut Jantung Negara for a medical check-up.

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On 7 January 2022, Mahathir Mohamad underwent an unspecified elective medical procedure at the Malaysian National Heart Institute and was discharged six days later.

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Mahathir Mohamad was readmitted to the IJN in late January 2022 and placed in the coronary care unit.

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