LANGKAWI: Nobody loved Langkawi more than Dr Mahathir Mohamad, according to former finance minister Daim Zainuddin.
He said this was evident from the attention given by the former prime minister to the island, and his belief that the island could truly be developed.
“When Mahathir was the prime minister, he said, ‘we must break the curse of Mahsuri. Mahsuri said seven generations will be destroyed. Padang jarak padang terkukur.’
“He said ‘don’t believe such things. We can bring development to Langkawi’.
“That was how much he loved Langkawi,” he said at a forum entitled ‘Langkawi…pasca Mahathir’ held here yesterday evening and moderated by former newspaper editor Abdul Kadir Jasin.
Dr Mahathir, who was prime minister from 1981-2003, is now Pakatan Harapan chairman and seeks election as MP for Langkawi.
Daim, who served as finance minister under Mahathir, said the former premier had sought to declare Langkawi as a duty-free zone, established the Langkawi Development Authority, and was responsible for the construction of the Kuah jetty and for the opening of ferry services from Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis and Penang.
“Under his administration, the Langkawi International Airport was also built. You see, all these came about because of Mahathir. Others just talk, like the one who promised to give RM1.3 billion. “The one who truly carried out development was Mahathir,” he said.
Daim did not name “the one who promised RM1.3 billion” but the figure is the sum of allocations announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak recently for five infrastructure projects on the island.
Daim shared his own experience of coming to Langkawi for a holiday in 1950.
Back then, one had to take a boat from either Kuala Perlis or Alor Setar to get to the island. On arrival, there was not much to do, except to watch movies at the cinema. “In those days, there were no roads nor cars. People moved about on bicycles,” he said.
Mahathir was the first doctor to be stationed on the island at a government clinic in the 1950s. He had also served at the Penang and Alor Star hospitals and clinics in Langkawi, Jitra and Perlis.
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