Saying he’s not long for the world, Dr M insists he doesn’t care how he will be remembered

For now, Mahathir says he simply wants respite. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
For now, Mahathir says he simply wants respite. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he is not concerned about how history will remember him, insisting he only cared about the interests of the Malay community and ridding the country of kleptocracy.

The 94-year-old former prime minister told Sinar Harian in an interview that his personal image was never a priority and cited his age as the reason.

“Before long, I will be gone. Who knows when. Maybe in a year, a month, maybe three years. I am uncertain.

“Sometimes, even the seemingly healthy can collapse. So, while I still can, it is my duty to correct the situation for the Malays,” he said.

Saying he has never craved personal glory, he recalled that one of his first instructions when he became the education minister in 1974 was to prevent his name from being immortalised in schools.

When he became the PM, he said he ordered the destruction of all flags that bore the name of the prime minister.

“I don’t care about myself, I am unimportant as ultimately, we must leave this world. Whether they remember me or not, it’s up to them,” he said.

He also insisted it did not matter that he was no longer the prime minister as he would help the Malay community in any way he could.

When asked if he could lead yet another campaign to force what would be third prime minister from office, he said he preferred to see how matters developed.

“If there is a possibility that it (kleptocracy) occurs, I would be forced to play a minor role if this is what the public wants,” he said in his usual deflective manner.

When asked why he still appeared jovial despite his circumstances, the former prime minister said he has much more time to enjoy himself now that he was no longer in office.

Saying he used to put in 18-hour days as the PM, Dr Mahathir told Sinar Harian he could now work when he liked.

However, he insisted that he was still concerned about the nation.

On what he wished for now, he said he simply wanted respite.

“I want to rest... I want to rest,” he said but added he was not averse to being consulted by those he entrusted to restore the Malay economy.

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