White, no sugar: Dr M on how he takes his morning coffee and what keeps him up at night

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has revealed how he starts his mornings, including with a zero-sugar cuppa, and also what he thinks about at night. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has revealed how he starts his mornings, including with a zero-sugar cuppa, and also what he thinks about at night. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has revealed how he starts his mornings, including with a zero-sugar cuppa, and also what he thinks about at night.

In an interview with national carrier Malaysia Airlines’ inflight magazine Going Places, the 94-year-old prime minister shared his healthy lifestyle, including a lean breakfast meal.

“I get up for prayers in the morning at about 6.30am or so, then I have my bath, and after that, I have my breakfast.

“I eat one slice of bread. Sometimes with cheese, sometimes I dip it into curry,” he told the magazine in the interview published today.

As for his first drink of the day, Dr Mahathir said he has a cup of 2-in-1 instant coffee that has “no sugar”.

“I have coffee. I drink coffee before 1pm because any coffee after that, I cannot sleep. So in the morning, I want to be awake,” he said.

When asked if his zero-sugar cup of coffee is the secret to his youthfulness, Dr Mahathir bluntly advised against a sugary lifestyle: “Sugar is bad for everybody. Whether you are young or old, you should consume less sugar and less carbohydrates too”.

Admired for being the oldest elected world leader currently, Dr Mahathir said the secret to keeping one’s mind sharp is to “use it”, noting that some may instead want to lie down and sleep because they are old and feel tired.

“That’s when they don’t use their brain because they don’t think, they don’t read, they don’t write, they don’t argue, and they don’t talk. Like all things, even your muscles, if you don’t use, it becomes flabby.

“If you always read, converse with others, then the mind is active. When it is active, it will be able to store all the information and you can recall. But if you don’t, then of course you cannot recall, for instance, words,” he was quoted saying in the magazine.

While Dr Mahathir takes care to not drink coffee beyond 1pm, he is sometimes kept awake by matters that he worries about.

“Sometimes it takes some time to fall asleep because I’m thinking about how I can resolve them.

“Or if I have to make a speech the next day, I have to think of what I want to say,” explained Dr Mahathir, who was pulled out from retirement from politics to lead Malaysia again in a campaign to vote out the Barisan Nasional coalition.

In the interview, Dr Mahathir candidly said he loves to work, adding that “work” is his most over-used word.

“I can’t live without food. And I cannot be idle. I need to do something, keep myself occupied,” he said when asked what he can’t live without.

In the Going Places interview, Dr Mahathir said he dislikes “people who do not work hard” the most, and picked “honesty” as his most well-liked quality in individuals.

While Dr Mahathir is known for his strong work ethic, he shared something that he believes others do not know: “I like to be alone, but my profession forces me to be with people. It (being the prime minister) is not something I like to do, but I need to do.”

Back in May, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali revealed that Dr Mahathir has now changed his daily work hours from 8am to 5pm during his previous 22-year term as prime minister to an extended period now of 8.30am to 6pm.

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