Mahathir's quotes


Described by others


Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

Famous for being an outspoken politician and a defender of ‘Asian values’, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. He is known as Malaysia’s  ‘Bapa Pembangunan’ (Father of Development) or ‘Dr M’. Throughout the years in politics, he has been labeled a visionary, dictator, modernizer and anti-Western.

The following are extracts from his speeches, interviews, and writings.

“If innocent people who died in the attack on Afghanistan and those who have been dying from lack of food and medical care in Iraq are considered collaterals, are the 3,000 who died in New York and the 200 in Bali also just collaterals whose deaths are necessary for operations to succeed? “
Mahathir Mohamad, March 2003.

“There is a tendency among the people in the West that when you criticize an idea coming from the West, it is because you are anti-Western and, therefore, Western people should not have anything to do with us. Their businesses shouldn't invest in our countries because we are being anti-Western. But we criticize ideas. If the ideas are good and they come from the West, we will support them, because it's not a question of being anti-Western but a question of being against certain ideas coming out of the West. It should not be assumed that it is because we are anti-Western. Anybody at all who criticizes the West is considered anti-Western. But we are criticizing the ideas, not the West.” - An Interview in 2007.

"The Muslims, we are pictured as terrorists, unreasonable people, unable to administer our countries, unable to develop our countries. That is the picture that is being given."
- Interview with Bangkok Post in 2003.

“To be very crude, the fate of the Muslims today is of their own making…the result is that more Muslims are killed by brother Muslims than by the infidel enemies of Islam.” (Welsh ed., 2004)

“Disunited, confused about Islam, fighting each other for power and lacking in essential knowledge and skills... Muslims today have reached the lowest point of their development.”
- January 2003

We also know that not all non-Muslims are against us. Some are well-disposed towards us…even among the Jews there are many who do not approve of what the Israelis are doing.”
- Mahathir's speech during the 10th Organization of Islamic Conference Summit in Malaysia in 2003 (Welsh ed., 2004)

“certain areas in the world, without natives or settlers, which are not covered by any international agreement. It is now time that the U.N. focus its attention on these areas, the largest of which is the continent of Antartica…These uninhabited lands do not legally belong to the discoverers in as much as colonial terrirories do not belong to the colonial powers. Like the seas and the sea-beds, these uninhabited lands belong to the international community.”
- Mahathir's speech during the 37th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1982. [Somun 181]


Mahathir, described by others:

“Philosophically, Mahathir has always been something of an idealist who believes that attitudes, value systems and ethics are what makes and shapes races and nations. In practice, he has been a determined economist, almost an economic determinist, for whom politics or psychology or ideology led nowhere without economics.”
- Khoo, Paradoxes of Mahathirism, p.329-330

“Despite my differences with him, I made more progress solving bilateral problems with Mahathir in the nine years he was Prime Minister from 1981 to 1990, when I stepped down, than in the previous 12 years.... He had the decisiveness and political support to override grassroots prejudices to advance his country’s interest. He had the courage to say in public that a female doctor using (only) a pencil to examine a male patient (which the Muslim religious leaders wanted0 was not the way to treat patients. He had educated the younger Malays, opened up their minds with the vision of a future based on science and technology, especially computers and the Internet, which his MSC (Multimedia Super Corridor) symbolized. The majority of all the Malays and all the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia want this future, not a return to fundamentalist Muslim practices based on syariah law.”
- Kuan Yew, Lee (first Prime Minister of Singapore) wrote in his book, From Third World to First. [Somun, 253]

“Mahathir thinks in terms of decades into the future, and in terms of a Malaysian society n which the races stop looking inwards with prejudice but rather outwards with pride.”
- K. Das [Somun, 235]

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Last Updated Wednesday, April 13, 2009   Contact me at teh20y@mtholyoke.edu
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