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Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said hard work and a good moral compass would determine one’s success in life.
“The success of an individual, a race or a nation depends on the values they hold on to. If they are hardworking, trustworthy and would feel ashamed if they failed, then they will be successful,” he said.
Dr Mahathir, 94, said after he graduated with a medical degree from Singapore, he entered the public service as a medical officer, earning only RM400 a month, before it was raised to RM770 following a promotion.
“I did not make my salary a priority. For me, it does not matter how big your salary is because what matters is your spirit to work. If you have that spirit, you will work better. If you are salary-motivated, your work performance will depend on how much money you get,” he said.
He said when he was young, he was determined to ensure his and his family’s survival and did not hesitate to take any job offer without paying too much attention to the salary.
Speaking to Hot FM radio deejays – Fizie, Shuib and Syuk – in the Geng Pagi Hot segment this morning, he said life is full of adversity and struggle.
Having to face it all at a young age has helped build the resilience of the Prime Minister and made him what he is today – a statesman with strong willpower to face any challenge.
He told the radio channel that during the Japanese occupation of Malaya, his family lost their source of income and he had to turn himself into a petty trader at Pekan Rabu.
“Actually, my first job was selling fried banana and other sellable stuff at Pekan Rabu. During the Japanese occupation in 1943 and 1944, we were poor and had no job. I was not a doctor then.
“My family did not have any income because most civil servants were laid off. My brother’s service was terminated, my father did not get his pension. So, I had to work,” he said.
He narrated how he was once bullied by a friend after he sold three balloons he bought for two sen at school for one sen each. He had to spend the one sen he earned on the friend.
“I bought three balloons for two sen. I sold it back at one sen each and made one sen profit. A ‘friend’ took me to the school canteen and I ‘had to’ buy a plate of rice for him. I was really scared of him. So yes, I was bullied once,” he said.
He also spoke of his love of driving which began when he owned a convertible car during his college years in Singapore. -/TISG