Malaysian are waiting for celebration of independent‘s day for 50 years that is just around the corner on 31 August this month. As a Malaysian people further born in this lucky country, I’m very appreciate for everything especially our national heroes who are struggle by fighting with the enemy such as Portugese, Belanda, Japan, and Europe. The forth prime minister of Malaysia is Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, since 10 July 1981 until 2003.
He was born in Alor Star, the capital of the northern state of Kedah, Dr Mahathir said in his autobiography that he had Indian ancestry (from his father), with its origins tracing back to Kerala in India, while his mother was a Kedah-born Malay. During World War II, he sold pisang goreng (banana fritters) to supplement his family income in the Japanese occupation of Malaya. His first attended a Malay vernacular school before continuing his education at the Sultan Abdul Hamid College in Alor Star. Mahathir then attended the King Edward VII Medical College in Singapore, where he edited a medical student magazine called The Cauldron; he also contributed to the The Straits Times newspaper anonymously under the nickname "Che Det". Mahathir was also President of the Muslim Society in the college. He married Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, a former classmate in college on 5 August , 1956, and left the government service in 1957 to set up his own practice in Alor Star.
In 1969, while in the political wilderness, Mahathir wrote his book, "The Malay Dilemma" in which he sought to explain the causes of the 13 May Incident in Kuala Lumpur and the reasons for the Malays' lack of economic progress within their own country. He then proposed a politico-economic solution in the form of "constructive protection", worked out after careful consideration of the effects of heredity and environmental factors on the Malay race. The book, published in 1970, was promptly banned by the Tunku Abdul Rahman government. However, some of the proposals in this book had been used by Tun Abdul Razak, the second Prime Minister, in his "New Economic Policy" (N.E.P.) that was principally geared towards affirmative action economic programs to address the nation's economic disparity between the Malays and the non-Malays. The ban on his book was eventually lifted after Mahathir became Prime Minister in 1981.
Mahathir rejoined UMNO on 7 March 1972, and was appointed as Senator in 1973. He relinquished the senatorship post in 1974 in order to contest in the general elections where he was returned unopposed in the constituency of Kubang Pasu, and was appointed as the Minister of Education. In 1975, he became one of the three vice-presidents of U.M.N.O., after winning the seat by 47 votes. Tun Hussein Onn appointed Mahathir as Deputy Prime Minister on 15 September 1978, and in a Cabinet reshuffle, appointed him concurrently as the Minister of Trade and Industry.
Mahathir became the Prime Minister of Malaysia on 10 July 1981 when Tun Hussein Onn stepped down due to health reasons. After 22 years in office, Mahathir retired on 31 October , 2003, making him one of Asia's longest-serving political leaders. Upon his retirement on 31 October 2003, Mahathir was awarded a "Tun"-ship, Malaysia's highest civilian honour.
During his term in office, Mahathir turned Malaysia into a regional high-tech manufacturing, financial, and telecommunications hub through his economic policies based on corporate nationalism, known as the various "Malaysia Plans" which set out the government middle-term objectives. These policies with strong Keynesian tendency remained in effect almost to the end of his tenure in office. His pet projects have included Perwaja Steel, an attempt to emulate South Korea and Japan, the Proton car company, and Astro, a satellite television service. Mahathir is credited with spearheading the phenomenal growth of the Malaysian economy, now one of the largest and most powerful in South East Asia. Growth between 1988 and 1997 averaged over ten percent and living standards rose twentyfold, with poverty almost eradicated and social indicators such as literacy levels and infant mortality rates becoming on par with developed countries.
During this period, Mahathir embarked on various large scale national projects, such as the North-South Expressway, which has cut transport times in half on the west coast of Malaysia, the Multimedia Super Corridor, a flagship project based on Silicon Valley designed to enable Malaysia's foray into information technology (it includes Malaysia's new administrative capital Putrajaya), Port of Tanjung Pelepas, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang, and the adjacent Sepang Formula One circuit, the Bakun Dam, meant to supply all of the electricity needs of the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak and which has enough capacity to enable exportation of power to Brunei; the project has since run into various difficulties and controversies, leading to at first, its cancellation and then its revival as a greatly scaled down project, Olympic-class stadium in Bukit Jalil, and the Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world, and the world's tallest buildings from 1997 to 2003, that have become a symbol of modern Malaysia
While such projects have their benefits, corresponding high costs have made some Malaysians reluctant to engage in more of such ventures, believing that the money can be better spent on other areas of development. On the other hand, Mahathir has always argued that such projects yield a direct return to the economy, apart from just serving the national pride, as government spending in turn creates jobs along with other multiplier effects. Mahathir has also been criticised for the failures and inefficiency of some of his pet projects. Perwaja Steel eventually failed and had to be rescued by a corporate white knight. Its chairman, Eric Chia, faced charges of corruption in 2004. Proton eventually had to be bought by Petronas when its parent DRB-HICOM found itself over-extended. Astro enjoyed a monopoly on pay television services in Malaysia until 2005 when it ended with the granting of a licence to rival MiTV.
In 1975, Mahathir was appointed Minister of Education. He had always believed in the need for "education for the masses", with greater emphasis on maths and science, at high school level, in order to achieve his dream of a developed Malaysia. He continued to strongly promote his agenda of quantity-and-quality higher education during his term as prime minister. In those days, English, Chinese and Tamil-medium schools were fully run by private and missionary organizations. Students from these school sat for the respective overseas examinations set by the board of school committees and associations. For instance, Overseas Cambridge School Certificate (OSC) was set for English schools. Under the former Prime Minister's order, he drafted the KBSM syllabus in order to make Malay a compulsory subject to be taught in all subjects in these schools. Overseas examinations were subsequently abolished one after another throughout the years. Schools which converted to the national type received heavy fundings from the government. Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Rendah Pelajaran (SRP) were fully introduced as national examinations.
In order to cater for the lower income indigenous population, boarding schools were promoted and constructed. Through government scholarships, tens of thousands of students were sent yearly to universities in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, western-type countries that Mahathir aspired to achieve par development with. Middle- and higher-income groups from non-Bumputera Malaysians who were unable to get a place in the local universities, due to the restrictive quota system and limited government scholarships, also independently sent their children to these universities. This has led Malaysia to have the third largest number of students going to western-type countries to pursue higher education, after China and India. Till today, education is a major source of Malaysia's expenditure, something that the current administration is trying to remedy. After years of sending students abroad, Malaysian post-graduate and industrial research and development has still not shown any notable progress.
In 1980, education quota was introduced as part of the National Economic Policy. Mahathir who became the acting prime minister, introduced the quota system to all economic sectors in Malaysia including the education system, whereby a designated percentage of undergraduate seats of higher institutions were reserved for Bumiputra (natives) citizens. This has led to a large number of highly competitive non-bumiputra applicants being unable to secure admission to institutions of higher learning. These applicants resort to the neighbouring or foreign countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada and the western countries mentioned above.
Towards his later years, Mahathir promoted the liberalization of university start-ups, leading to branch campuses being built or the formation of permanent tie-ups with some of the most prestigious universities in the world. Amongst others, these led to the construction of The University of Nottingham in Malaysia (in partnership with the University of Nottingham, U.K), Malaysia University of Science and Technology (M.U.S.T.), in partnership with M.I.T. (U.S.) and Motorola), Monash University Malaysia (in partnership with Monash University, Australia) and Curtin University of Technology, Sarawak Campus (in partnership with Curtin University of Technology, Australia)
Private companies with a long running history in Malaysia like Intel and AMD were also encouraged to set up, and run partnerships and/or higher education centres and centres of excellence.
In 2003, after more than 20 years in post, he commented that non-bumiputra students excel far ahead of bumiputra students in academic qualifications. He soon introduced meritocracy by gradually lowering down the quota percentage reserved each year for the intake of bumiputra applicants in higher institutions to encourage fair competitions. In the year before his retirement, he attempted to remedy this problem by announcing that Mathematics and Science subjects must be taught in English in all primary and secondary schools. As a result of this rapid transition, the new school textbooks contain numerous typographical errors, and school teachers who are not fluent in English suffer difficulties in their teachings. This also subsequently caused some resentment among the Chinese education community and the hard-line Malays.
Today, all of his efforts and achievements have made Malaysia among one of the most successful country in developing human resources and infrastructural comodity besides gathering unity among the three main races in malaysia after the British Colonial Era.This is why I make Tun Dr Mahathir as my source of inspiration and the most influential person in my life.
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