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Thursday 18 December 2008

Malaysia's former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the MPH Bookstore, Mid-Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur today

December 18, 2008
by Suzan Abrams
Malaysia: I flew in to Kuala Lumpur on Singapore Airlines. I love Changi Airport which reminds me of the Belfast City Airport for their top-class service, plush facilities and warm hospitality.. The Belfast City airport is a domestic airport in the heart of Northern Ireland which serves several regions in the United Kingdom. I actually have quite a few stories now on airports and quirky characters I've met about the place and somewhere, somehow, I shall have to stop a moment to write them all down.
Thought I'd come to the MPH Bookshop at Mid-Valley and found myself walking straight into a press conference with the limelight on Malaysia's former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and based on his new book on his blog, called Blogging to Unblock. It was just about to start so I was very fortunate . Also, that I had a good view.
How very handsome the former Prime Minister looked. How serene his face. And how well too, his wife appeared. They still made a ravishing couple.
Tun Dr. Mahathir allowed four questions to be asked of him at the conference and the humoured emcee himself broached one. Of course, there was a big crowd and plenty of press. Tun Dr. Mahathir said he would only answer questions on writing as he saw himself a writer and nothing at all on politics. Everyone laughed when he joked that whoever asked him about politics would be promptly arrested.
He was also asked about the possibility of publishing his memoirs, for which there was more sound banter.
Out of the five questions finally, one of them lay on censorship when Tun Dr. Mahathir's thoughts were sought on the importance of the internet over print. The former Prime Minister said that he could write anything and it all came up on screen with no difficulty whereas with press interviews, many of his answers were often edited or sometimes twisted to project certain things he never said.
He also talked about the importance of writing fairly when posting a blog entry and not to undermine people and gave an example to this effect like a blogger who may make threats saying he/she wanted to "kill someone".
What I found inspiring was when someone asked a question about Malaysian writers writing blogs on the internet and what advice he had, Mahathir replied that there was nothing like repeated writing. That the most important discipline was to keep writing and not to stop. The more often you penned out thoughts on your blog, the more skilled a writer you would eventually become, he said.