PETALING JAYA: Marina Mahathir, the eldest daughter of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, says she is finally “in sync” with her father on many issues despite her previous disagreements with the government, some of which occurred during Mahathir’s 22-year rule.
These issues include the urgent need to fight corruption, Mahathir’s new alliance with his former deputy Anwar Ibrahim and his change of heart about street rallies.
In an interview with Channel NewsAsia, Marina said she had strongly empathised with Anwar’s daughters following his imprisonment in 1998.
“My daughter went to school with one of Anwar’s daughters. They’re the same age and she talked about how his daughter came to school right after it happened and sat at the back of the room and just cried the whole day. It’s all these human things.”
Marina said her emotions had stemmed from her own childhood memory of her father’s expulsion from Umno in 1969.
“I was 11 and I didn’t understand what expelled meant. I thought it meant he was going to jail. I was very upset. I was really shaken. It was why I empathised a lot with Anwar’s daughters when that happened to him in 1998. I knew what it felt like at 11 years old to have this thing you don’t understand happen,” she added.
But despite her father’s past differences with Anwar, she said, they were were now trying to be “expedient” to clean up Malaysia and rid it of corrupt people.
“That’s a good thing and you need alliances to do that. Nobody can do it on their own.”
She said she believed Mahathir had his reasons for his actions in 1998, and that although he may have been wrong, he was now also acknowledging his mistakes.
“He’s also seeing the cumulative effects of it which is, I think at his age and having been through all that, quite something.”
The prominent social activist also welcomed her father’s change of mind on public gatherings, something he had strongly opposed as prime minister.
“(He) found that it was nothing like what he thought, and that’s why he was there at the Bersih 5 rally. So he’s changing his mind on a lot of things, and I think that’s great,” she added.
Despite her disagreements with her father on some issues, Marina said they had always remained close.
“My father and I never really had a problem and we never let our differences affect our relationship.”
And although she voiced her disagreements on many occasions, she said she was never told to stop talking.
“I know people went to my dad and said ‘Why is Marina saying all these things?’ and he just shrugged.”
Now, she said, her father was doing his best to tackle issues which he felt were destructive to the country.
“He’s helped build Malaysia and he’s seeing it destroyed. He feels he just can’t sit by and do nothing.
“On the other hand, of course, he is 92… We understand why he wants to do it (but) we spend a lot more time worrying about his health.”
Last month, Mahathir was admitted to the National Heart Institute (IJN) for a chest infection.
It was the second time in 19 months that the PPBM chairman had been warded there for chest infection. The last time he was admitted for treatment and observation was in August 2016.
Mahathir underwent coronary bypass surgery in 1989. He had another heart bypass surgery in 2007.
In 2013, Mahathir was also admitted for 10 days over a chest infection.
Mahathir, who turns 93 in July, is Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) candidate for prime minister.
Under the PH agreement, Mahathir will serve in the post until Anwar, who has been imprisoned for sodomy, receives a royal pardon and becomes eligible to take over.