PUTRAJAYA — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the oldest elected leader in the world, has spilled the beans on his secret to being happily married to his soulmate Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali for the past 62 years.
He said tolerance, as well as the need to consider the feelings and future of the children, was the most important factor and key to their relationship admired by most Malaysians.
In an exclusive interview with The Third Age Media Association and Bernama News Channel (BNC) at Perdana Leadership Foundation here, Dr Mahathir said no one would be able to change their partner, hence the need for tolerance to have a healthy and balanced relationship.
With a blush and a smile, he reiterated his younger years being with Dr Siti Hasmah, the backbone to his success.
“Well, my wife always says that behind every successful man, there is a wife, not just a woman. She objects to that,” said the 93-year-old premier.
“At first of course, when we were young, we had differences, tensions and all that. But as you grow older, you realise that you cannot change your partner very much and she cannot change me very much and we learn to accept that this is what the person is like,” he said.
He said that as he spent most of his time in politics, Dr Siti Hasmah had accompanied him on most occasions even though she was not involved in politics.
“And if I have to leave her because I have some work, she tolerates that. On the other hand, I will tolerate her … I think there is a need to be tolerant,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also stressed that there was a need to consider the feelings of the children as it would be a disaster for the family when parents break up and remarry.
“The children will never have a good life. So you need to show concern for your children,” he said.
The couple met at the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore (now part of National University of Singapore) in 1947 and got married in 1956.
The full interview with Dr Mahathir, held in conjunction with the Ageing, Learning and Technology: Enriching Lives Connecting Communities Conference 2018 on Oct 9, was aired over BNC on Saturday and will be repeated at 5pm today, noon and 5pm on Saturday, 5pm on Sunday, 9am on Sept 29 and 5pm on Sept 30.
BNC airs over Astro 502, Unifi TV 631 and MYTV 121 and can be viewed on the website, www.bernama.com, Facebook and on YouTube. — Bernama