I sold ‘pisang goreng’, Dr M says on qualification for prime ministership

Former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad delivers his speech at The Cooler Lumpur Festival in Kuala Lumpur. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad delivers his speech at The Cooler Lumpur Festival in Kuala Lumpur. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 -- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that there were no basic qualifications to become a prime minister, pointing out that he used to fry and sell banana fritters.

The country’s longest-serving prime minister who trained as a doctor, said even an “office boy” needs an SPM qualification, while politicians have the “easiest job” as they are not required to have any academic qualifications.

“I qualify in the science of frying banana fritters,” Dr Mahathir said in a speech at the Cooler Lumpur Festival here.

“That’s what we ate during the war. I used to fry and sell them,” he added.

Dr Mahathir also said when he learned about currency trading and how no actual cash is involved in transactions but traders were making money, a thought crossed his mind: “I should cease being prime minister and go into currency trading”.

He said currency trading caused the Malaysian ringgit to depreciate and he decided to peg the ringgit to the US dollar when he was in office then.

“That stopped currency trading, and the economy recovered. Of course this is not conventional wisdom. Not the right thing to do. I was called a pariah,” he said.

He also said the exchange rate should be fixed, even as the ringgit recently hit a nine-year low against the US dollar.

Dr Mahathir was reported by The Star daily as saying on Wednesday that the ringgit should be pegged again to keep it stable.

However, he suggested that Malaysia return to the gold standard instead of fixing the local currency against the US dollar or other major currencies.

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