Mahathir's Administration

Dr M’s Pocket Notebook Make Ministers Do Their Homework

At Cabinet meetings chaired by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the younger ministers often experience feelings of shock and awe.

Known for his sharp mind and wit, the PM also displays a remarkable grasp of issues, big and small. From global issues, to the little everyday details of our cities that Mahathir sees.

Free Malaysia Today writes that Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said most of the Cabinet members are amazed at how the prime minister at his age could still be on top of things, from small issues to big ones concerning the world and the economy.

Every meeting, the Prime Minister is said to begin with a preface session, where he talks about all matters local and global.

The news portal reports that Saifuddin said during the meeting which could last between 60 and 90 minutes, ministers are kept anxious and on their toes by one little thing: a pocket notebook the PM carries in his pocket.

According to Saifuddin, the notebook contained Mahathir’s observations on his surroundings and all matters.

“He would take this book out of his pocket and he will talk about all and sundry.

“For instance, he would read out: ‘I was driving along the Putrajaya Bridge and there was one street lamp with this particular serial number that was not lit up. And then at one junction, there is a garbage bin loaded with rubbish, but uncollected. I also saw a spotlight at the (Putrajaya) lake, which was supposed to be lit up to beautify the lake, but was not lit up’.”

The minister said that Mahathir would then look up and ask, “Which minister is responsible?”

“Then we would all look at the federal territories minister, and put him in a spot. Our PM is one that micromanages,” Saifuddin laughs.

While the minister himself is not typically put on the spot, he always makes sure to do his homework, and to be briefed adequately by the officials in the ministry.

He said he could remember the average prices of the top 10 goods purchased by Malaysians.

“Ultimately, as a result of this, we have become more prepared and confident when attending Cabinet meetings. We have become better.”

Dr. M has often sparked curiosity about his ability to stay sharp and healthy.

Bloomberg has reported that Mahathir says his routine includes waking up everyday at 6.30, walking, pumping iron, cycling, and horse riding. To keep the mind sharp, he says: “Read and write. Exercise your brain.”

The NST reports that yesterday, at the Second Annual Bloomberg Business Forum where Dr Mahathir, was a panellist along with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the Moderator Fareed Zakaria couldn’t resist asking Mahathir about his secret to keeping healthy at 93 years of age.

“I don’t really know, but I do keep to a strict diet. I don’t overeat. I do a little exercise, and I have six hours of sleep,” he said.