Neelofa interviews Tun Dr Mahathir: 5 things we learned

Neelofa's online chat session on March 26 featured the former prime minister. Photo: Instagram

Popular TV host-entrepreneur Neelofa is making the most out of the movement control order (MCO), kickstarting an online interview segment.

Called #BerseoranganBersama, the interviews are held via Instagram Live with influential local personalities like Nora Danish, Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza as well as Indonesian singer Rossa.

On March 26, the 31-year-old caught up with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Here's five interesting things we learned from Neelofa's 30-minute chat with Dr M.

1. Dr M is just like us

Being a public figure of any sort means having a lot of eyeballs on you all the time, what more a two-time prime minister. Neelofa asks what is one thing he wished he could do if he was just like one of us:

" When I was first made deputy prime minister, there were officers who told me not to go out to shop anymore. They told me they will bring things over to my house and I will choose them. I told them no. I want to live like an ordinary man. This is who I am. I love having neighbours and being friendly with everyone.

"So I like to do ordinary things. I buy my groceries at the supermarket or drink coffee from a roadside stall. That's how I grew up, and that's how I always want it to be."

2. The best advice he got came from his mother

"She said, 'if you go anywhere, don't stay too long because people have work to do, and you may be bothering them.' In other words, don't overstay your welcome.

"So when I was a prime minister for 21 years, I thought I should follow my mum's advice - I should leave so people don't get bored with me."

3. He is currently reading up on Asian history

"I used to read a lot on European history. Now I'd like to read up on Asian history. I'm currently reading about the Monggol empire."

"If you want to develop a reading habit, start with story books. Novels are very interesting. Some of them it's hard to even put down because they have cliffhangers at the end of every chapter.

"That's how I got hooked on reading as a kid. When I got a book as a gift, I would finish it within a day.

4. He hopes young people will draw from the past

"We are a product of our environment. When I was born 90 years ago, it's not like how it is now. Poverty was everywhere. There were not many jobs. Young people today may think what we have now is something we've always had. But actually there's been a lot of advancement.

"Back then we only have congkak as a form of entertainment. Now we have TV and mobile phones. So this is a new environment. Now how does this new environment influence you?"

"If you read about how things were back then, you can compare the difference yourself, and ask yourself what's good or what's bad for yourself."

5. Why he always carries a small notebook around

"You can't trust your memory. We all forget easily. So whatever I see that's interesting, I'll note it down. So this book contains all the things I've come across through my discussions with people or through my readings. It serves as a guide.

"When I was prime minister, I use the book to remind myself about the things I need to say to my cabinet ministers and what they need to do."

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