ANKARA, July 25 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was awarded with the Turkish Order of the Republic, making him the first South-east Asian leader to receive the honour.
The Order, the second highest award in Turkey after the Order of the State, was delivered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a ceremony during the official visit to the Presidential Complex here this evening.
It is awarded to foreign dignitaries who have ensured the development of friendly relations with the country.
The last recipient of the Order was then crown prince of Saudi Arabia Muhammad bin Nayef in 2016.
“I never planned to be a prime minister. But it is such that I became a prime minister for 22 years,” Dr Mahathir said in his speech after receiving the honour.
“I was just doing what any prime minister would do,” he added, saying that he did not count on what he did to be counted as “unusual” or merited recognition.
He also pointed out the Turkish lineage of two past Umno leaders as proof of the historical ties between Malaysia and Turkey.
The mother of Umno founder, Datuk Onn Jaafar, and subsequently the grandmother of his son Tun Hussein Onn, who was the prime minister preceding Dr Mahathir, was of Circassian descent and came from Turkey.