HE had long retired as prime minister long before youth in Langkawi even knew who he was.
But to those The Malaysian Insight spoke to, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s influence among Langkawi youth below the age of 30 is still very strong.
They may not know him personally or were around when he was prime minister, but many have learnt about the 92-year-old’s contributions from history books and stories told by their parents.
And they are impressed.
“I have read a lot about Dr Mahathir’s achievements in history books.
“Many of my friends still have high respect for Dr Mahathir even though we were all young back when he was prime minister.
“If Dr Mahathir contests here in the next election, I believe that he will get a lot of support,” she told The Malaysian Insight.
She also pointed out to the development brought to Langkawi by Dr Mahathir, who is now chairman of the opposition coalition.
Langkawi was given duty-free status in 1987, when Dr Mahathir was prime minister. Dr Mahathir had also served as a doctor in Langkawi after graduating from the University of Malaya in Singapore.
The single parliamentary and two state assembly seats in Langkawi are currently held by Umno and have never fallen to the opposition.
On the current federal government, Farah, who is working part-time during her semester break, admitted she was “disturbed”.
“There are many stories that I have heard about 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), the wasteful expenditures and many other issues,” she said without elaborating.
Another staunch Dr Mahathir supporter, who only wants to be know as Ima, 26, said her friends joined Dr Mahathir’s new party, Bersatu, simply because he was leading it.
She said Dr Mahathir’s contributions were not only remembered by the older generation but also by youth who had seen how Malaysia was transformed into a more developed country during his tenure.
“I can’t accept that people had thrown shoes and chairs at Dr Mahathir. If they don’t agree with what he is saying, than at least have some respect for him,” she said referring to the fracas at the “Nothing To Hide 2.0” forum last week.
Ima said elderly family members told her Langkawi was just a fishing village before Dr Mahathir developed the area.
Malaysia’s father of modernisation
For Aidil Azhar, 21, who works at Cenang Mall, Dr Mahathir will always be seen as the father of modernisation.
“Who can deny Dr Mahathir’s contributions? Look at KLCC and KLIA, who has done all of that?” he asked.
Aidil said he had yet to see any development to Langkawi by Najib’s government.
Prime Minister Najib Razak visited Langkawi yesterday to officiate the Umno division meeting and attend a community programme with the people.
He had also launched two low-cost housing projects in Kuah and Ayer Hangat, worth RM247 million, and the RM9.16 million Kampung Chenang fishermen’s jetty.
Guests at the event were treated to a lucky draw, where the prizes up for grabs included a car, motorcycles, bicycles and electric appliances.
During his speech at the division meeting Najib urged Umno members not to be swayed by any individual.
“We have succeeded, because of what? Because we are the government and we don’t rely on individuals,” he had said, in reference to Dr Mahathir.