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Why Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a True Gentleman

GC revealed Tun Dr Mahathir's manners and values that embraced a gentleman ideal - a gentleman.

By GC Editor

Disclaimer: This post is not an endorsement of a political party or political cause. It is an analysis of manhood, and core values that makes a man.

9th May 2018 will forever be remembered as the day Malaysia has been liberated again. 

In a historic election upset in a country that has been governed by just one coalition for decades, a Malaysian opposition bloc led by the 93-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir swept to a majority in national parliamentary elections.

It was a stunning triumph that almost no one had predicted and ended the long hold on power of the Barisan Nasional (BN, National Front) coalition, which has ruled Malaysia since its birth as an independent country.

Which bring us the question, what gentleman qualities that Mahathir possess that enabled him to put such a strong scent on Malaysian modern history? 

The gentleman's framework - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad mastered all 4 core domains of manhood | Picture by GC

Lesson No 1. Noblesse Oblige (Community Leadership)

Why does Mahathir coming out of retirement risking his life for the people of his country so hopelessly corrupt and ungrateful?  

As long as Mahathir draws breath, he owes the people of his country his experience, service, even his life because he is ex-prime minister and lives by the code of conduct of an ideal aristocrat: noblesse oblige (nobility obliges it). That is to say, that because Mahathir has been blessed with experience, political finesse, resources and strategic acumen beyond ordinary men, he is bound by duty to use them in service of the people of his "domain", just as his father did as a teacher. 

Dr. Siti Hasmah added that Mahathir still comes home late these days and it is something she had feared when he decided to make a political comeback.

“It was not an easy decision for me to ‘give up’ my husband again to politics, especially when it means he has to take up an active role, running in the coming general election.
“Time and time I have questioned him if this is what he wants. He said, it is simple, and that he needs to do his duty, to serve the country.”

As leader your ability to persuade and building coalition are extremely important. Just look at how successfully Mahathir has brought people from various parties together who once not only criticized  him but also abhorred him. Amazingly, they all have accepted Mahathir as their leader.

The fact is a leader knows how to rise above the rest despite the differences because he has mastered the art of persuasion and respect partner's fundamental interests.

Lesson No 2. Dangerous Masculinity (Gentleman's Sport)

"A prince should therefore have no other aim or thought, nor take up any other thing for his study but war and it organization and discipline, for that is the only art that is necessary to one who commands." - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Niccolo Machiavelli - Italian diplomat and philosopher of the Renaissance period- stressed that the study of war (strategic planning / beating the competition) should be a prince's (ruler) main goal, for war is a ruler's only vital art. Knowledge of war is so vital that it not only keeps a ruler in power but can make a ruler out of private citizens. If a ruler become too refined to study this art, they lose their states.

Even in peacetime, a ruler must concentrate on war by exercises and by study. Horse riding is excellent exercise, because it strengthens the core body, improve self-control, mental focus and makes the prince (ruler) more familiar with the surrounding terrain. 

On top of that, despite his age, Mahathir shows little signs of aging. He points out his anti-aging secrets:

“I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t overeat. I eat just enough food to keep me going. There is a tendency for people over a certain age to become obese. They have a big stomach and to satisfy themselves, they drink and they overeat, which places a burden on their heart. I have been about 62-64 (kg) for years. I can wear my clothing made 30 years ago.”

Being 94, Dr. Mahathir is still behind the wheel driving about in his Porsche and still goes for horseback riding! 

Lesson No 3. Chivalry (Gentleman's Code of Chivalry) 

One thing that will have our respect is, a good gentleman who cherished a deeper connection with a woman and all his attention and focus is on her, not the other women. 

Tun Dr Siti Hasmah on his husband:-

"I’m very fortunate to have a husband like (Tun Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad). He’s always very calm and patient. And he is a very good listener. He claims that our teaching (as doctors) gives him that guidance. The key to a good husband and wife relationship is love and fresh air. [Laughs] Love and trust is very important. 

My husband always says when there is a conflict, negotiate, arbitrate before going to the international court. [Laughs] If you are at fault, apologise quickly and get over it.

Lesson No 4. Leader is Reader (High Culture)

Machiavelli on his "The Prince" book stressed that a prince (ruler) should also exercise his mind by reading the histories of great men and how they waged war, in order to imitate them. Great leaders have always tried to emulate the qualities of those worthy examples who preceded them. By studying their precepts in good times, a ruler will be ready when fortune changes.

A reader is not necessarily a leader but a leader is certainly an ardent reader. Why even at age 94, he speaks so eloquently and impactfully? It's because he reads a lot to keep himself abreast with all the necessary knowledge and information. Knowledge is power.

Perhaps because of lots of times he spent reading books, Mahathir seems to have a strategic intuition known as the "Napoleon's Glance" - Clausewitz calls it "coup d'oeil" meaning a stroke of the eye, or "glance." A sudden insight that shows you what course of action to take, it comes from knowledge of the past, drawing on what worked in other situations in a new combination that fits the problem at hand.

In Napoleon's Glance, we observe how important and decisive coup d'oeil is in determining Mahathir's victory in the Malaysian pre-and-post General Election, advancing past each of them on the chess board of power without getting himself checkmated.

Lesson No. 5. Elegance (Sartorial Prowess)

Even at age 94, Mahathir still dressed sharp and always on point in any occasion. During his tenure as Prime Minister in the 80’s and 90’s, he can be seen dressing western style — white shirt, dark tie, and well-fitted suit. 

When Mahathir isn’t in corporate suits, he can be see sporting traditional malay clothing — baju melayu, songkok, and samping. 

When Mahathir isn’t seen attending formal events, he can seen chilling and kickin’ it in semi-traditional clothes like his signature Nehru jacket. The Nehru jacket is a tailored coat with a mandarin collar, and with its front modelled on the Indian achkan or sherwani. 

At times when the Nehru jacket may seem dull or when Mahathir needs something more practical to visit villages, he can be seen wearing bush jackets.

Lesson No 6. One Vision One Goal (Knights of the Round)
Just like King Arthur and his fellow Knights of The Round - Mahathir rallied with his best available knights with one ultimate aim - the promise to liberate corruption.

It is evident, Mahathir has been single-minded and managed to gain public attention to what he says and does. His message is precise, clear and people centric, making his goal as the goal of the nation.


His speech to the rakyat on the night before the election moved the nation entirely, as he lamented he has "one last chance" to save Malaysia from the annihilation made by the previous government. Many peoples, including myself, broke into tears as he spoke straight to the core values to every Malaysian citizen. 

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