PUTRAJAYA: Firing back responses to questions from his perch on a sofa in his palatial office at Putrajaya, Dr Mahathir Mohamad today told Reuters that he did not feel tired despite his age because he was satisfied by his work.
“I try to do some minor exercise, but mainly I keep my weight stable,” the 94-year-old said.
“I’ve been 62kg for the past 30 or 40 years, it doesn’t change. I don’t eat very much, and I don’t eat… when food tastes nice. I don’t overeat.”
As well as planning to be the first leader in the world to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit twice, Mahathir has been pushing to cement his legacy as a leader in the Muslim world.
A summit in Kuala Lumpur next week would bring leaders from Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and other Muslim countries, officials said. Mahathir said the meeting would look into situations where Muslims were being oppressed.
That would include allegations of rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region, Mahathir said, while adding prospects for action by the Muslim world were limited.
“Taking a stand is one thing, doing something that can improve this situation is another thing. You take a stand which may well result in more pressures being applied and it is not going to do us any good,” he said.
“The Muslim world cannot challenge anybody. We are very weak. Anybody can manipulate us, they can even make us fight each other. That’s how we are.”
Mahathir has in the past said that China was too powerful to challenge over the accusations in Xinjiang, which China denies.
He has not spared fellow Southeast Asian nation Myanmar from criticism over treatment of Rohingya Muslims after more than 700,000 were driven into Bangladesh by a military crackdown in 2017.
With Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi set to defend Myanmar against accusations at the World Court in The Hague this week, Mahathir said he hoped that abuses would be recognised and accepted.
“We hope that they will be able to explain and accept the fact that there has been genocide carried out,” he said.
“We hope that they will respond in one way or another to international opinion.”