CNN: The Prime Minister kindly gave us more than an hour of his time recently at the Finance Ministry in Putrajaya. I began by asking him how far he is willing to go in his anti-corruption drive, without fear, and without favor?
PM: That’s what I promised everybody, without fear, without favor and that is the case. If that has to be brought to the court, well, we will bring it to the court. But I have always said that it’s important we must make sure that justice is at all time be maintained.
CNN: How will you follow up with this anti-corruption campaign?
PM: We continue to remind civil servants people. This is a subject that I always talk about, it is also a subject my other colleagues in the cabinet talk about. We have now recently launched the national integrity plan. We have also set up the national institute for ethics. This institute and also the implementation of the national integrity plan, that will certainly do the follow up that is necessary for this.
CNN: What would make you satisfied? What would be something that makes you happy?
PM: I will be happy with certainly when the corruption index improve.
CNN: By how much?
PM: As much as we can.
Current: Asking the fox to guard the chicken coop.
'The man who failed his statistics paper to be the Financial Minister'
PM: I don’t know whether I was studious or not, I did study but did play around too. As a child, the paddy field was my playground. We go fish, we also catch fighting fish, looking for birds and it was for kampong people, the paddy field was our the play field for the children.
CNN: Prime Minister, you won a scholarship to read economics, yet you decided
to study Islamic studies?
PM: No, no, I tell you the truth. (CNN: okay, you tell me) I wanted to study economics but I failed my statistics paper. I fumbled my standard. The question was standard deviate, the paper was on statistics, I don’t know how I did it so bad, so I was not allowed to continue to do all my honors course in economics and I had to choose other subjects for which I was qualified. So I decided to choose Islamic Studies.
PM: Somehow at the time I was thinking of my grandfather. Because he has always wanted me to go for religious education, he wanted me to go to Mecca. Somehow at that time my father had another view, he said I must continue my English education, so that was what he wanted. My grandfather gave in, okay if that’s what you all want. So I went to English school, secondary English school, so forget going to Mecca for my religious education. So when I had to make a decision whether I would like to do honors degree course in Islamic studies and Malay studies too, so I thought Islamic studies would be good.
"I still command majority support"
CNN: And how did you make such a come back and win the trust of former Prime Minister Mahathir?
PM: Well, there are other aspects, I still command very good support in the party. I always go down, maintain contact with them. I have an office right in the city, I still receive many people who come to see me. If not for anything, just chit-chatting. And then we have lunch somewhere, that’s all. That’s was what office was for.
2 1/2 years later:
AB: No, no no I don't think it's political suicide. He has been saying a lot of things, I have decided to keep quiet and to go on doing what I want to do. And people want me to do what I want to do. And I have, I still command majority support today.
On the two (and the alleged third one) women in his life
CNN: I read that the two women in your life, your mother had said, correct me if I am wrong, you are very tight with money, you wife says if you lose your temper, it will snow in Malaysia, are these two ladies correct?
PM: Well, in a way. In a way they are right, but not too tight with money. I am quite a spendthrift but just being careful because my family was not rich, was not a rich family.
An explanation on realising his childhood dream with 'toys' now?
...We have very little to live on, I remember that, I cried because I wanted a new toy and my father couldn’t afford it. He didn’t say he didn’t have the money, but he persuaded me not to have it. But today perhaps my recollection is that maybe he didn’t have the money to buy the toys.
CNN: How old were you then?
PM: Big enough to remember. There are certain things that happen to you when you were small you still remember. And then there was another occasion that he took away my shoelace because his friend came to the house, somehow snap his shoelace. Naturally he need to buy shoelace, so my father conveniently took mine, give it to him.
CNN: And what did you say?!
PM: I didn’t say anything, I just cried!
The crying game, eh? I bet there are many more Malaysians who were crying after learning about his latest toys. ;)
On his children (which of course includes his in-laws)
CNN: As the world changes so fast, Prime Minister, what do you hope most for your children, your grandchildren and the next generations of Malaysians?
PM: I, talking about my children, of course I wanted them to succeed in life, they have to choose whatever job or occupation that they want, I will not try to influence. Religion has always been very important in our family, so I want them to be god fearing, I think it’s important.
Concerning for own children to 'succeed in life' is a norm. But perhaps 'too concerned' for your own children especially when you are the No.1 man in your country is something called 'cronyism'?