A 93-YEAR WAY OF MANAGING THINGS: Putrajaya

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (C) is welcomed upon his arrival at the international conference “The Future of Asia” in Tokyo on June 11, 2018. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

Management is a fascinating topic, the world over.  Malaysia’s new prime minister, Mahathir Mohammed, at aged 93, has recently returned for a second term, 15 years after retiring the first time.

Mahathir is known for his micromanagement of just about everything in Malaysia during his first 22-year term.  The construction in Kuala Lampur of the Petronas Twin Towers, among the world’s tallest buildings, was completed during his first term, and he also ordered the country’s engineers to build a national car.  And, then, there was the construction of Putrajaya, a magnificent city that he carved out of jungle in the 1980s as the center of the country’s government and an alternative to Kuala Lampur’s congestion.  Things have changed little for Mahathir since his first term – he has lost none of his appetite for the minutiae of government and continues to be proud of picking fights.  “I had a big quarrel with the previous prime minister,” he’s reported as saying in a recent WSJ piece. “So, all the time, my brain was actively thinking about ways and means to change the government.  It’s good for older people to read, to write, and also to quarrel.  It exercises your brain.”  With Mahathir back in charge, things are likely to change.  Putrajaya is expected to finally become the city that he had planned:  “I wanted to build a boulevard like the Champs-Elysees in Paris, with side roads and lots of shops – people would go to and fro walking and having coffee in cafes and all that. But the bureaucrats have no interest in being out and about.”  Putrajaya, therefore, has not materialized as Mahathir had planned and is considered somewhat of a backwater city, although the hub of government.  But who’s to say that Mahathir can’t accomplish these changes is his new term?  Apparently more shops are opening, building on the promise of his being back in charge, and intent on making things happen.  Here’s to the 93-year-old managers who possess grit and gusto.

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