Mahathir in first Clubhouse room: I was less free as M’sia’s 7th PM than the 4th

The number of listeners in his room rose from 1,400 to 2,300 during the course of the conversation.

Kayla Wong | March 03, 2021, 05:09 PM

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Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is on Clubhouse, the Apple-only audio-chat app.

His first conversation room, which started at 11:30am on Mar. 3, was titled, "Tun Dr M. The Doctor is Finally in The House".

Screenshot via Clubhouse

The number of people listening in on the dialogue rose from 1,400 to 2,300 over the duration he was talking.

During the conversation, which lasted for slightly more than one hour, the 95-year-old took questions from both the moderator and the audience.

Mahathir, who uses the handle @chedetofficial on Clubhouse, currently has more than 3,000 followers.

Declaration of emergency was politically motivated

When asked where he thinks Malaysia is heading to with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mahathir cast doubt on the intentions behind the declaration of emergency, repeating an opinion he had expressed multiple times.

"Actually, the emergency is not because of Covid-19, it is because of the political situation," he said.

He added that when Prime Minister Muhyiddin asked the Malaysian King for emergency to be declared, it was to "save him from being ousted than to save the country from Covid".

He further said the country could handle the pandemic under ordinary laws without the need for a state of emergency, adding that there is "no opposition" against actions taken by the government to manage the spread of the virus.

Mahathir also repeated his belief that Muhyiddin does not have majority support in parliament needed for him to remain as prime minister.

In response to such a criticism that was also repeated by other opposition figures, including opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, former prime minister Najib Razak and former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq, Muhyiddin denied the allegation that he was using the pandemic as a cover to ward off political challenges.

He also promised that elections will be held once the emergency is over, which is set to end on Aug. 1.

In addition, when asked who he thinks would make a good prime minister, while Mahathir did not name anyone, he said such a person should be able to "bring people together again" as Malaysia "can't afford to have a weak government".

The prime minister could not do much if he is concerned about retaining his position, he said.

On the other hand, he said that while some people might not be happy with a strong government in power, the government could at least be trusted to carry out its duties.

A weak government can't make decisions except declaring emergency, he asserted.

Thought he was too old to continue leading the country

Mahathir, who served as Malaysia's fourth and seventh prime minister, also commented on the difference between the two times when he was in office.

He said when he served as the seventh prime minister, he did not have as much freedom as compared to his previous term as the fourth prime minister as he had to make sure that all the parties in the Pakatan Harapan coalition supported him in his decisions.

He later said when he first stepped down as prime minister in 2003 after 22 years as leader of then-ruling coalition Barisan Nasional, it was because he simply thought at that time that he was too old.

Leaders must be "conversant" with technology

Mahathir also opined that without being "conversant with modern technology", leaders will "not be able to lead" as they do not know the potential that technology has to offer.

"When I realised the ease of getting information, during the time we call the Information Age, I realised that we can do a lot of things, but you need to have some imagination," he said.

He added that with his background as prime minister for "a long time", he made use of his past experience to try and figure out what can be done with "this new technology".

He said this explains the multimedia super corridor (MSC) initiative launched in 1996 to transform Malaysia into a knowledge-based economy.

Top image via Mahathir Mohamad/Facebook & Clubhouse