Mahathir Mohamad shares an important piece of advice from his mother which he still follows to this day. He said: “She always told me not to overeat, and stop once you have had enough. This is a very hard thing to do, but if you are able to achieve it, it shows you have a disciplined mind.”
Mahathir’s mother is the reason he just became the world’s oldest leader
WILL SOON FLOURISH - Wilson Lee Flores (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2018 - 12:00am

A political earthquake just shook our neighbor Malaysia, with the incredible and stunning election win of 92-year-old Dr. Mahathir Mohamad returning him again to power on May 10, ending the uninterrupted 61-year political hold of the Umno party and in the process becoming the world’s oldest political leader. I and many Asians admire this iron-fisted, gutsy leader and one of the prized possessions in my library is an autographed copy of a book authored by Mahathir.

What are his secrets to longevity and robust good health?

Two years ago at age 90, Mahathir was speaker at the 22nd Future of Asia conference in Tokyo. He was asked his secrets to longevity and health. He replied: “One is, never overeat. My mother always told me that when the food tastes good, that’s the time you must stop eating.”

He added: “Later as a doctor, I realized why. When the food is good, you tend to overeat; and when you overeat, your stomach increases in size, and in order to stop your hunger, you eat more food. That is the problem the world is facing today with obesity: people are eating too much.”

Mahathir also said that people should continue to keep busy, do some work: “When you keep your mind and body active, I think it will be good for you.”

Dr. Mahathir’s late mother Wan Tempawan binti Wan Hanafi was from northeastern Malaysia’s Kedah state. She was a descendant of a long line of Kedah royal household courtiers and distantly related to that local royalty.

On March 22 this year, during the heat of the election campaign, Mahathir showed up at a forum discussing the issue of his age and ability to become prime minister for a second time and he again attributed his long life to his late mother’s seemingly simple but very important advice. 

Dr. Mahathir said: “I am healthy because I stay active, not just physically but also mentally. When many people get older, they want to sleep a lot, but they must resist this. The body reacts to your environment without you knowing it.”

Then Mahathir shared an important piece of advice from his mother which he still follows to this day. He said: “She always told me not to overeat, and stop once you have had enough. This is a very hard thing to do, but if you are able to achieve it, it shows you have a disciplined mind.”

Learn from Dr. Mahathir, listen to our mothers!

Attributing his long life and good health to his mother’s advice of not eating too much is a good reminder for us all: Do not to forget or shrug off the admonitions of our mothers regarding taking care of our health, discipline and life in general.

In my case, one advice from my late teacher mom to me and my younger sister was not to ever skip breakfast. Mom expounded: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so eat like a king at breakfast, eat like a businessman in a hurry at lunch and eat very simply like a pauper at dinner.” Wow! Listen to our mom’s wisdom. Be like Mahathir, listen to our mothers!

Another tip Mahathir’s mother gave him was to never overstay.

His mother explained that when visiting a friend, he might be busy, so do not wear out your welcome. Mahathir has applied this principle even to his illustrious political career, and this advice is also probably another reason for his long life since he had more time to relax and stay away from intense political pressures in recent years. Now, at age 92 and back in political power, Mahathir has already announced that he will govern for, at most, two years, meaning he’s again obeying his mom’s wise advice: Do not overstay.

In 2002, CNN’s Talk Asia host Lorraine Han interviewed Dr. Mahathir, and one of her questions was about this respected Asian strongman’s mom. She asked:  “What about your mother? Not too much is written about her. What did she teach you?”

Dr. Mahathir replied: “She has had great influence on me too on the need to be humble, on the need to be friendly with people, to try and accommodate and things like that. If I get into a quarrel my mother invariably blames me, never somebody else.”

Hahn followed up with this comment: “It was like a balance between a very strict father and a very understanding mother.” The strong-willed and legendary leader of Malaysia said: “I was much closer to her.”

To Dr. Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, to the Philippines’ most well-known mama’s boy President Rody “Digong” Roa Duterte, and to all of us: Remember and continue to obey your mother’s wise advice!


Email or Follow @wilsonleeflores on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, read my blog Buy also Philstar’s Filipino-language tabloid Pilipino Star Ngayon every Friday for my column “Kuwentong Panadero.”

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