Malaysia’s Mahathir, 93, praised for commitment to ASEAN meetings

November 16, 2018 - 11:52 AM
Mahathir Mohamad
Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an anti-kleptocracy rally in Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 14, 2017. (REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin/Files)

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, 93, has been praised by some Filipinos for declaring his commitment to attending important meetings at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Singapore.

The nonagenarian leader in an interview with Agence France Presse was asked about how he was able to commit to a busy schedule despite his age.

“I don’t know how I manage,” he replied.

“I always attend meetings. It’s my duty. If I can, I will. If I’m sick, I won’t,” he added.

He remarked that he “should have been dead by now” in an interview in early November 2018 where admitted that running a country at his age was exhausting for him.

Mohamad, currently the oldest elected head of state in the world, was seen at the leaders’ summit in Singapore warning against U.S and Chinese naval activities in the region and calling for intra-regional trade.

Some Filipinos praised the Malaysian leader for his commitment to the summit despite his age.

Some compared Mohamad with his Filipino counterpart President Rodrigo Duterte, who was questioned for skipping a number of meetings at the summit.

Duterte in interviews explained that he was skipping meetings to catch up on rest and sleep.

“Why? What’s wrong with my nap? I do not eat breakfast and I’m sure you ladies know that,” he said during interviews earlier at the summit. He said that while he had not had enough sleep, he had enough strength to finish the summit.

Health reasons for rest?

The 73-year-old president, who previously admitted to experiencing a number of health setbacks, is known for having taken extended periods of rest by going hands-off from his public duties.

In June 2017, Duterte was absent from the ceremonies for a number of holidays, prompting speculation that he was facing serious health complications.

Malacañang officials explained his absence by saying that he had been “taking some time off to rejuvenate” after spending 23 days traveling to supervise the administration of Martial Law in Mindanao that year.

Duterte’s domestic partner, Honeylet Avanceña attested to the president’s health after he admitted to his gastrointestinal problems.

“Nothing is wrong with him. He’s a health buff. He often has himself checked up because of his gastro condition. He is very industrious, more industrious than I am,” she said during an interview with ABS-CBN News that month.