Mahathir expresses sadness in blog post titled “Kuan Yew and I”
Former Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr. Mahathir Mohamed has paid tribute to Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew in a 13-pointer blog post published today (27 March).
“I cannot say I was a close friend”
Mahathir acknowledged that the relations between him and the late Lee were not the best.
In an interview with the New York Times in 2010, Lee said that if Malaysia had implemented multiracial policies like how Singapore did, there would not be a “polarised Malaysia”. Mahathir was obviously pissed and wrote a reply on his blog. One of the points he raised was that Singapore was not truly a “multi-racial” society, if the Chinese made up 75% of our population and yet controlled 95% of the economy.
Despite their differences, Mahathir still felt sad at Lee’s demise. He said that there “was no enmity, only differences in our views of what was good for the newborn nation.” This was after Singapore had joined Malaysia.
Apart from agreeing that Singapore and Malaysia time should “be advanced by half an hour”, they both did not agree much on other issues.
The goodness of Lee
Despite these differences in political ideologies and the multiple disagreements, Mahathir also wrote of Lee’s kindness. He related how he had a heart attack in 1989 and required an open heart surgery. Lee called up his wife to ask if the surgery could be delayed so as to allow for the best heart surgeon to perform the operation instead.
Mahathir’s ending words
“Now Kuan Yew is no more. His passage marks the end of the period when those who fought for independence lead their countries and knew the value of independence. Asean lost a strong leadership after President Suharto and Lee Kuan Yew.”
If a political foe that you have never seen eye-to-eye with says that you are a strong leader, then you must indeed be one.