TUN MAHATHIR MOHAMAD – Personal

Mahathir was born in Alor Setar, Kedah,[6] the youngest of nine children[7] of a schoolteacher and a housewife. His father, Mohamad Iskandar, was of Indian origin, being the son of a Malayalee Muslim (who migrated from Kerala) and a Malay mother, while Mahathir’s own mother, Wan Tampawan, was Malay.[8]

During World War II, he sold pisang goreng (banana fritters) and other snacks to supplement his family income during the Japanese occupation of Malaya. Mahathir attended a Malay vernacular school before continuing his education at the Sultan Abdul Hamid College in Alor Star. Mahathir then attended the King Edward VII Medical College (the predecessor of present-day National University of Singapore) in Singapore, where he edited a medical student magazine called The Cauldron; he also contributed to the The Straits Times newspaper pseudonymously under the nickname “Che Det”. Mahathir was also President of the Muslim Society in the college.[9] Upon graduation in 1953, Mahathir joined the then Malayan government service as a medical officer. He married Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali—a fellow doctor and former classmate in college—on 5 August 1956, and left government service in 1957 to set up his own private practice in Alor Star. Mahathir thrived in private practice, and allowed him to own by 1959 a Pontiac Catalina and employ an ethnic Chinese chauffeur (at the time, almost all chauffeurs in Malaysia were Malays, owing to the economic dominance of the ethnic Chinese).[10] Some critics have suggested this foreshadowed a later hallmark of Mahathir’s politics, which focused on the “cultivation of such emblems of power”.[11]

From his marriage with Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah binti Haji Mohamad Ali, they have seven children,[12] four sons and three daughters: Marina Mahathir, Mirzan Mahathir, Melinda Mahathir, Mokhzani Mahathir, Mukhriz Mahathir, Maizura Mahathir and Mazhar Mahathir. [13] Both Mukhriz and Mokhzani [14] are involved in business as well as in politics while their eldest daughter Marina is a prominent local writer and AIDS activist.[15]

He successfully underwent a heart bypass operation in 1989 at age 63.


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