As the fourth and most dynamic Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad will indelible impression on the sands of Malaysia for many years to come. He held the post for 22 years from 1981 to 2003, making him Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, and one of the longest-serving leaders in Asia. Born on 20th December, 1925 in Alor Setar, Dr. Mahathir is the son of a teacher. He is the youngest of nine children of a school teacher and a housewife. His father, Mohamad Iskandar, was of Indian descent, being the son of a Muslim and a Malay mother, while Mahathir’s own mother, Datin Wan Tempawan Wan Hanafi, was Malay. He is married to Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah binti Haji Mohamad Ali, they have seven children, four sons and three daughters. From an early age, Tun Mahathir had the importance of education drummed into him by his father, who was also a strict disciplinarian. After his early education at the Maktab Sultan Abdul Hamid in Alor Setar, he enrolled at the King Edward VII College of Medicine in the University of Singapore.
Armed with a MBBS degree in medicine, he set up his own clinic, the Maha Clinic in Alor Setar. As a doctor, Tun Mahathir came into close contact with people from variety of social strata and enjoyed a close rapport with them. He understood their problems. Thus, when he was thrust into the politic limelight, he strove to fulfil the needs of the people. Realizing that government-owned enterprises are neither efficient nor profitable, he initiated the privation policy in 1983. This had immediate effect of cutting down bureaucratic ineptitude and operational cost while at the same time generating more revenue. With collapse of the prices of agricultural commodities in the eighties, Tun Mahathir decided that it was time to shift the nation’s focus to more profitable areas. Thus, he started the industrialization programme. Reputed as the country’s top salesman, he showcased Malaysia to investors abroad in a bid to woo them. As a result of the heavy industrialization drive, major projects like national car project or PROTON and the steel company, PERWAJA, together with other mega project were launched one after another. Next, realizing that industrialization would require a good infrastructure, he set about improving it.
The Mahathir era saw a successful completion of the North-South Highway, the East-West Highway, the Multimedia Super Corridor, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang and many more. An astute politician, he charted the growth of the country’s progress from the day he took office. He envisages that Malaysia can only attain the status of a fully developed country if it becomes an industrialization one and this ambition has been his main agenda during his tenure. With this in mind, he announced Vision 2020, his most ambitious vision. Frank and outspoken by nature, Tun Mahathir speak without fear nor favour. This has been the hallmark of thus much respected statesman. The inefficiency of local and international organizations has always come under his scrutiny and critism. It has been almost two decades since Tun Mahathir took over reins of the government. It has undoubtedly been the golden era for Malaysia with many notable achievements.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is one of Asia’s major aviation hubs and is a destination in itself. It is located at the top of the southern corridor of Peninsular Malaysia, bordering the states of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. It is situated in the Sepang district, approximately 50 km from the capital city, Kuala Lumpur. This RM 9 billion airport was opened by his majesty, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Jaafar on June 27, 1998. The airport which covers 10 000 hectares of land took less than 5 years to build. It has a capacity to handle 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of cargo annually. Despite its mammoth size, it is user-friendly and as our former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad pointed out, it is not just an airport but a piece of art delicates to beauty as well as the environment. It is often described as the “airport in the forest, forest in the airport” because it is a futuristic structure set in rainforest landscaping.