PETALING JAYA: If you want to go into politics but have a soft heart, then you might as well forget the idea, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The former prime minister said if one wanted to be a politician, he must have a strong heart even if he is criticised, slandered, vilified and hated by the people.
This was Dr Mahathir’s advice after practically seing it all over more than half a century in the political playfield.
He also said those who wanted to be politicians must be ready to tweak their ideas and be open to changing their minds according to the situation.
“After joining politics, I found that not every idea will get 100% support from everyone, because there will be people who will not agree with what we do,” Dr Mahathir said in an interview with Astro Awani on Sunday (July 10) to mark his 97th birthday.
“For example, most people wanted a Penang Bridge but there were also those who rejected the idea, saying that the tolls would be expensive. I listened and accepted their views.
“But, at the same time, I thought having a bridge was good for connectivity between the island and the mainland, so I went ahead and some of those who had not supported it agreed with me in the end.
“As such, we should be ready to be criticised as politicians and can never count on having 100% support, because there will always be people who don’t agree,” Dr Mahathir added.
Saying he was immune to all types of criticism, slander and accusations thrown at him by political enemies, the elder statesman added that he was thankful that he never regarded it as a burden.
He said that was why he has always told those who slandered him as being wealthy to bring proof that he purportedly had accumulated riches beyond imagination when he was the prime minister, an accusation he said was without basis.
“It seems I am a billionaire with billions of ringgit in Switzerland, Taiwan. What proof do they have?
“I do not have such money as I lead a moderate life, not in a house like a palace, but people they still say I am rich.
“I don’t have money, only my pension,” he said, vehemently denying the accusations.
He said he found joy was to see the realisation of his projects such as the KL International Airport, the Petronas Twin Towers and the Penang Bridge.
“These are the things that make me happy, as we feel satisfied when what we planned becomes a reality.
“We know what was then and now as I lived in the 1980s and know how Malaysia was, poor, with no basic amenities, no bridges to cross rivers.”
Dr Mahathir said today we have highways from Bukit Kayu Hitam to Johor, which is a story of success.
“Roads were all narrow if one was to travel from Penang to Alor Setar it would take two hours, but today there are straight roads which cut down on the time.
“As such, I realise the development that began in a different generation and when the new generation came into being, all the amenities and facilities were already there for them to benefit from,” Dr Mahathir added.