Most Malaysians of my generation would remember Tun Dr Mahathir throughout their childhood as the Prime Minister of Malaysia. But things are a little bit different for me. Thanks to my elder sister, I remember Tun Dr Mahathir throughout my childhood as my grandfather, or Tok Ayah. I could not understand her motive, but whenever Tun Mahathir came up on TV or the newspaper, she would say to me ''Opie, tengok ni, Tok Ayah masuk TV!''. As a child 4 or 5 years of age, of course I would believe in anything she said. So I believe that I have 3 Tok Ayahs. One is Tok Ayah kampung who lives in Batu Pahat, another one is Tok Ayah PJ who lives in Petaling Jaya, and the last one is Tok Ayah the Prime Minister. My delusion that the Prime Minister is actually my grandfather was so strong that one day me and my family went to a 'Disney on Ice' show premiere in Kuala Lumpur. Tun Mahathir was there with Tun Siti Hasmah. At the end of the show we had a chance to shake his hands, and I went to him and said 'Hi Tok Ayah!'. I could not remember the expression on his face at that time but it must have been a surprised one.
The delusion weans off as I grew older, I no longer look up as him as my grandfather, but I still look up at him as my inspiration. I could not believe that after 20 years, I get to speak to him again at an event held by my University. Tun Mahathir is a much older man now. Even early in his speech he seems to fumble with words, forgetting some of the things he wanted to say, but as his speech goes on, he speaks as well as he spoke 20 years ago. I fully took this chance to ask him a question, in an effort have a form of conversation with him. I asked a friend to record the video, and I shall put it here to preserve the memory:
Both ardent fans of him and his political enemies seems to agree that he has done a lot for the country. I was inspired by what he said in his speech, that he does everything for the love of the nation, he could not bare people looking down on his nation, and he feels humiliated that during his time the country were always under the rule of another. His love for the nation is above everything else. I have read a few of his autobiographies, the most prominent of course being his own memoir 'A Doctor in the House'. I was inspired when he said that his training as a medical doctor contributes much to his way of thinking when he solves problems as a Prime Minister. He admits that doctors has a systematic approach to solving problems, and that approach can be used not only to treat patients but to treat political, economic and social problems. At the age of 87, it is amazing that he can still be active writing, giving speeches and attending events. I am sure that when he looks back to his past life, he can be proud that he has changed the lives of many for the better. That is the life I want to live. To serve, to change people's lives, to be remembered, to leave a legend. I know it will be hard, but we have only 2 choices: either to tip-toe through life, avoiding getting bruised and die without a trace, or we can live a life full of ups and downs, filled with challenges...and be remembered long after we are dead and gone.Tun Dr Mahathir lived a legendary life, and I will always remember him as THE Prime Minister, and my imaginary childhood grandfather :)
|Me and Tun Dr Mahathir after book signing|