pic by BERNAMA
PRIME Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) celebrated his birthday yesterday in a way that many Malaysians have come to describe as “typical Tun”: Hard at work.
By 8.10am, Malaysia’s seventh PM was all smiles as he arrived at the Parliament complex, clad in a simple black suit with blue-striped tie.
It is no wonder that at 94, Dr Mahathir is the world’s oldest democratically elected leader.
Excitement was in the air for the officers, politicians and the media at the Dewan Rakyat as they waited for his appearance. All present at the House of Parliament tried to keep their cool, but the pride was visible on their faces. It may be a personal milestone, but it is one that the nation is proud of.
There were no cakes or expensive cards at offer, just honest well wishes from bystanders as Dr Mahathir made his way into the Dewan Rakyat.
The august House commenced after the morning bell at 10am, with Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof wishing the PM a special birthday message.
“On behalf of all members of Parliament, we would like to wish the PM a happy birthday. We pray that he will be given longevity, good health, wisdom and guidance in leading the nation towards peace and prosperity. Your perseverance at this age is exemplary for all to follow,” he said.
The message was well-received by Dr Mahathir and all MPs present, who gave him a rousing applause.
The Langkawi MP then stood to take the first question of the day, nothing less of course than on ailing national carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd. But you can read about that elsewhere.
Upon answering the question, Dr Mahathir left the hall to chair a meeting with Opposition leaders on the “Undi18” bill which aims to lower the voting age from 21 to 18.
The meeting was also held with representatives from Election Commission and Election Reform Committee.
Among those in attendance were Attorney General Tommy Thomas, Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong from MCA, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri from Umno and Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof from Gabungan Parti Sarawak.
It seemed that both sides of the political divide had reached an agreement to unanimously vote for the bill later this month.
After the short briefing, the nonagenarian had a meeting with the press. Always ready to answer questions from every direction, Dr Mahathir was asked to give a birthday message to which he cheekily answered: “My (official) birthday is in December. I am still 93.”
In a sudden burst after the news conference, journalists sang Dr Mahathir a happy birthday tune at the Parliament lobby — something that has probably gone viral at least within the media fraternity.