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March 23, 2019

Malaysian PM Mahathir has 73-year long political career


March 23, 2019

LAHORE: Due to turn 94 on July 10, the incumbent Malaysian Premier, Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, has a political career spanning 73 years, which is seven years more than his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan’s age, research shows.

Known for its mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European cultural influences, Malaysia had achieved independence on August 31, 1957, some 10 years after Pakistan did, but has a higher Nominal GDP of $347.29 billion and had registered exports of $ 242.9 in 2018, according to January 30, 2019 data released by Chinese news agency “Xinhua.”

Malaysian also has a relatively healthier Purchasing Power Parity GDP of $999.83 billion, as compared to Pakistan’s figure of $1.060 trillion, although the Malaysian population is only 31.62 million as against Pakistan’s 212 million.

While Pakistan’s Nominal GDP rests at only $305 billion its exports are reeling around the $24 billion mark at present, speaking volumes of how Malaysia has excelled on the economic front despite possessing a labour force of only 15 million, as compared to Pakistan’s 57.2 million, according to data produced by the CIA World Factbook.

Pakistan has one of the largest labour and manpower resources in the world, due to its large population, which is the sixth largest in the world. In January 2019, Malaysia had unveiled an ambitious five-year plan to clamp down on corruption in government, months after a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal had brought down the previous administration led by the country's ousted Prime Minister, Najib Razak.

Najib had lost the 2018 ballot exercise amid widespread public disgust over allegations that about $4.5billion has been stolen from a state fund (1MDB) set up by him. The American authorities, according to German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), said more than $4.5 billion or 3.9 billion Euros was misappropriated from the 1MDB state fund, with more than 500 million Euros diverted into Najib's personal bank accounts

Najib Razak, his wife Rosma Mansor and several high-ranking officials running the previous Malaysian government are now facing dozens of criminal charges related to the state fund and other public entities.

A January 29, 2019 report of the “Al-Jazeera” had mentioned: “In July last year, Malaysian police seized designer handbags, luxury watches, jewellery and cash estimated at $273million from high-end properties linked to the former prime minister. It took three days, six cash counting machines and 22 officials from the central bank to count the cash, the then head of Malaysia's commercial crime division, Amar Singh, said at the time. The Malaysian government has also filed criminal charges against the US investment bank Goldman Sachs over 1MDB.”

In October 2018, as the Deutsche Welle had reported, Najib Razak’s Deputy Premier, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, was handcuffed in a probe centered on a family-run charity. In November 2018, Musa Aman, a former chief minister of the Malaysian state of Sabah, was accused of accepting bribes worth US$63 million in connection with timber concessions

Dr. Mahathir, the world’s oldest sitting state leader, had previously served as Malaysia’s Prime minister from 1981 until his retirement in 2003. In fact, in 2003, he was already the world's longest-serving elected leader.

Mahathir had helped Malaysia undergo rapid modernization and economic growth during his first term as Malaysian head of government. According to a renowned Malaysian media house “The Straits Times," during Mahathir's first tenure as prime minister, Malaysia had experienced a period of rapid modernization and economic growth.

He is known for detaining political adversaries and religious figures too. He had sacked his own Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in 1998, and consequently jailed him in April 1999 on charges of corruption and sodomy.

Anwar Ibrahim began a five-year prison sentence in 2015, after a second sodomy conviction was upheld. Human rights groups again called the conviction politically motivated. However, he received a royal pardon from the Malaysian Monarch. Interestingly, Anwar’s wife Azizah binti Wan Ismail, is currently Dr. Mahathir’s Deputy Premier.

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