TUN MAHATHIR MOHAMAD – Political career

In the third general election of 1964, Mahathir was elected Member of Parliament for Kota Setar Selatan[16] defeating the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party‘s (PAS) candidate with a 60.2% majority. He lost the seat in the following general election in 1969 by a mere 989 votes to PAS’s candidate, Haji Yusoff Rawa.[17]

Following the race riots of 13 May 1969, Mahathir was sacked from the UMNO Supreme Council on 12 July, following his widespread distribution to the public of his letter to Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Prime Minister at that time. In his letter, he had criticised the manner in which Tunku Abdul Rahman had handled the country’s administration which was believed to favour the ethnic Chinese. Dr. Mahathir was subsequently relieved of his party membership on 26 September.[17]

While in the political wilderness, Mahathir wrote his book, “The Malay Dilemma”[17] in which he sought to explain the causes of the 13 May Incident in Kuala Lumpur and the reasons for the Malays’ lack of economic progress within their own country. He then proposed a politico-economic solution in the form of “constructive protection”, worked out after careful consideration of the effects of heredity and environmental factors on the Malay race. The book, published in 1970, was promptly banned by the Tunku Abdul Rahman government.[17] However, some of the proposals in this book had been used by Tun Abdul Razak, Tunku Abdul Rahman’s successor, in his “New Economic Policy” (NEP) that was principally geared towards affirmative action economic programs to address the nation’s economic disparity between the Malays and the non-Malays. The ban on his book was eventually lifted after Mahathir became Prime Minister in 1981.[17]

Mahathir rejoined UMNO on 7 March 1972, and was appointed as Senator in 1973. He relinquished the senatorship post in 1974 in order to contest in the general elections where he was returned unopposed in the constituency of Kubang Pasu, and was appointed as the Minister of Education.[17] In 1975, he became one of the three vice-presidents of UMNO, after winning the seat by 47 votes. Tun Hussein Onn appointed Mahathir as Deputy Prime Minister on 15 September 1978, and in a Cabinet reshuffle, appointed him concurrently as the Minister of Trade and Industry.

Mahathir had announced that he has resigned from UMNO, the backbone of the ruling party, the Barisan National on 19 May 2008 which coincides with the Wesak Day celebration.


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