Dr M tempts fate with memoirs, welcomes any lawsuit
By Melissa Chi March 08, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 — For a man who took more than eight years to carefully write his memoir, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad seemed nonchalant about possible lawsuits — against his version of historical events or about protégé-turned-nemesis, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
A crowd of some 1,000 flocked outside the MPH bookshop in the Mid Valley Megamall today to witness the launch of one of Malaysia’s most anticipated, but barely publicised memoir by the former prime minister who retired in 2003. The 844-page hardcover book is available at RM100 a copy.
“When I was writing, I tried to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings but I had to write the truth and I think there will be people who will be upset.
“So I accept, if sue, sue lah,” he told reporters after the launch.
Among those who at the launch were his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Ali, his children, former national police chief Tun Hanif Omar and his lawyer, Datuk V.K Lingam who was accused of arranging judicial appointments when Dr Mahathir was in power from 1981 to 2003.
The 85-year-old admitted that it is important to him that his book sells, and that people read it, explaining the low-profile publicity of such a widely anticipated book.
Dr Mahathir signing autographs for the first 50 buyers of his memoir.— Picture by Choo Choy May
“We fear that somebody might prevent the book from being sold and take an injunction against it. So, there was absolute fear, I was actually trembling,” Dr Mahathir said with his trade-mark sarcasm, triggering giggles from the crowd.
He said thankfully, there is no litigation so far, but if there is, “I’ll have to face it”.
The country’s longest-serving prime minister also talked about the challenges faced, and how people must always pick themselves up when they fall, and move on.
“Many times, there were many challenges; both my politicians against me, and also international actions against the country and we could have fallen, we could have suffered terribly but we were determined that whatever happens, we must fight, and win and be able to stand up again.
“That’s my guiding principle in life that I will not, if I’m thrown down, I’ll just try to get up,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also devoted one whole chapter to his former deputy, but said that he didn’t expect Anwar to have react positively.
“I’m quite sure he has nothing good to say about me, about my book, about what I did, in fact he actually claims what I did was actually done by him,” he said, referring to claims about the setting up of the Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA).
“He’s claiming credit for everything but he can claim, I don’t mind,” the veteran politician said, shrugging it off.
The fans who were at the launch had asked Dr Mahathir the biggest lesson to be learned from his memoir.
“I write because it is my memoir, it is my story from before, up till now, the past 85 years, so there are some incidents that were lessons learned, there are others that everybody needs to avoid,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also mentioned that he might come up with a “renewed” version of the Malay Dilemma, written in 1970, 11 years before he became the prime minister.
“Part of the Malay dilemma has been solved now they are better off, some of them had become rich but the dilemma is that they abuse the wealth that they have,” he said, without indulging further details.
When asked how he came up with the title, he joked that he had considered many, among them, Mahathir, the Napoleon, Mahathir, the Great, and even, Mahathir, the magnificent.
“I thought that perhaps I should describe myself for what I am. Basically I’m a doctor, if i had to look after the health of the nation, I’m still the doctor.
“That’s all I am, and I will always remain a doctor,” Dr Mahathir said.
As of this evening, MPH representatives said that more than 500 books were sold in the Mid Valley branch alone, and they anticipate about 5,000 to be sold by the end of its first day, nationwide.
The book is also available for sale online, globally, through MPH.