PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohammad has revealed his secret to being happily married to his soulmate Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali for the past 62 years.
The prime minister said tolerance, as well as the need to consider the feelings and the future of their children, was the most important factor and key to their relationship which many Malaysians admire.
In an exclusive interview with The Third Age Media Association and Bernama News Channel (BNC) recently at Perdana Leadership Foundation here, Mahathir said that no one would be able to change their partner, hence tolerance is needed for a healthy and balanced relationship.
Mahathir blushingly recalled the time spent with Siti Hasmah during his younger years and how it helped him become successful.
“Well, my wife always says that behind every successful man, there is a wife, not just a woman. She objects to that,” said the 93-year-old.
“At first of course, when we were young, we have differences, tension and all that. But as you grow older you realise that you cannot change your partner very much and she cannot change me very much and we learn to accept that this is what the person is like,” he said.
He said that as he spent most of his time in politics, Siti Hasmah had accompanied him on most occasions even though she was not involved in politics.
“And if I have to leave her because I have some work, she accepts that. On the other hand, I will tolerate her… I think there is a need to be tolerant,” he said.
Mahathir also stressed that there was a need to consider the feelings of the children who would be affected when parents break up and re-marry.
“The children will never have a good life. So you need to show concern for your children,” he said.
The couple met at the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore (now part of National University of Singapore) in 1947 and married in 1956.
Mahathir’s first tenure as prime minister was from 1981 to 2003, becoming Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, before making a comeback after the 14th general election in May this year.