Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad opened the country to foreign investment, reformed taxation, reduced trade barriers, the privatisation of numerous state-owed enterprise, besides creating a world-class physical infrastructure. He also sought to bridge Malaysia’s ethnic divides by increasing general prosperity. In 1991, he launched the New Development Policy, which emphasised industrial and commercial development and the elimination of poverty. Under Tun Dr. Mahathir’s leadership, Malaysia developed into one of the most prosperous and dynamic economies in Southeast Asia, with a burgeoning industrial sector, an expanding middle class and enhanced quality of life. Malaysia also played a more active role in the international arena, acting as the voice for developing nations in Asia and Africa. Always with one eye on the future, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad unveiled Vision 2020 in 1991, a blueprint for Malaysia’s journey to becoming a developed economy and a mature democracy by the year 2020.
Born on 20 December 1925 in Alor Setar, the capital of the State of Kedah, Tun Dr. Mahathir did his early and secondary education in his home town. In 1947, he gained admission into the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore.
Upon graduation, he joined the Malaysian government service as a Medical Officer. He left in 1957 to set up his own practice in Alor Setar.
Tun Dr. Mahathir has been active in politics since 1945. He has been a member of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) since its inception in 1946.
He was first elected as a Member of Parliament following the General Elections in 1964. However, he lost his seat in the subsequent General Election in 1969. Owing to his keen interest in the country's education, he was appointed Chairman of the first Higher Education Council in 1968, Member of the Higher Education Advisory Council in 1972, Member of the University Court and University of Malaya Council, and Chairman of the National University Council in 1974.
In 1973, Tun Dr. Mahathir was appointed a Senator. He relinquished this post in order to contest in the 1974 General Elections where he was returned unopposed. Following the elections, Tun Dr. Mahathir was appointed the Minister of Education.
In 1976, Tun Dr. Mahathir was made Deputy Prime Minister in addition to his Education portfolio. In a Cabinet reshuffle two years later, he relinquished the Education portfolio for that of Trade and Industry. As Minister of Trade and Industry, he led several investment promotion missions overseas. Tun Dr. Mahathir was elected as one of the three Vice Presidents of UMNO in 1975. In 1978, he won the Deputy President seat and in 1981, he was appointed President of the party. He was returned unopposed as President in 1984.
In the 1987 party elections, Tun Dr. Mahathir defeated his challenger to retain the Presidency and in 1990 and 1993, he was again returned unopposed as party President. Under his leadership, the ruling party Barisan Nasional (National Front) won landslide victories in the 1982, 1986, 1990, 1995 and 1999 General Elections.
Tun Dr. Mahathir is married to a doctor, Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah bt Mohd Ali, and they have seven children (Marina, Mirzan, Melinda, Mokhzani, Mukhriz, Maizura and Mazhar), eighteen grandchildren and one great granddaughter.
Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad became the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia on 16 July 1981 and stepped down as Prime Minister on October 31st 2003.
Writing is one of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's passions. He started writing while in school. In the 1940s and '50s, under the pen name "Che Det", he actively wrote articles on Malay politics and economic issues, which were published in The Sunday Times. He continued writing throughout his career, and one of his most famous treatises, The Malay Dilemma (1970), influenced policy and policy makers in the aftermath of the 1969 racial riots.
Tun Dr. Mahathir is also an avid horse rider and enjoys reading fiction. "I read a lot of novels, stories written by well-known authors like Wilbur Smith and Ken Follet. It's a way of avoiding heavy books". Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad actively blogs on www.chedet.cc.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's marriage with Tun Dr Siti Hasmah has blessed them with seven children; Marina, Mirzan, Melinda, Mokhzani, Mukhriz, Maizura and Mazhar.
A more elaborate biography presented in an interactive timeline is available here: http://www.perdana.org.my/pms-of-malaysia/visual-timeline
You can also download an infographic version of our former Prime Minister's biography here: http://www.perdana.org.my/pms-of-malaysia/biography-infographics