Dr M’s dinner date with Mat Sabu stirs excitement among neighbours

Former premier Dr Mahathir and Dr Siti Hasmah turn up at Mat Sabu’s house where they sample his home-cooked dishes and talk about their families.

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Dr Mahathir arriving at Mat Sabu’s house in Section 19, Shah Alam.

SHAH ALAM: The neighbourhood where Mohamad Sabu lives saw a minor commotion last night when several police squad cars pulled up in front of the Amanah president’s house.

Neighbours wondered whether the outspoken opposition leader had, once again, landed himself in trouble with the authorities.

The tension, however, soon turned to merriment when onlookers realised the security detail was there to accompany former prime minister and Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Dr Siti Hasmah Ali, who were visiting Mat Sabu, his popular moniker, and his family.

Amanah and Mahathir’s party PPBM are members of PH, which also includes PKR and DAP.

And as usual when playing host to his guests, Mat Sabu donned an apron – suitably dyed in Amanah’s orange colour – and turned cook.

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Mat Sabu dishing up one of his favourites for the visit by Dr Mahathir and his wife to his house (Foto Tarmizi Mohd Jam)

His range of dishes was modest – mutton rice, salad, fried mutton nampla, curry chicken and fried salted fish, he told FMT in relating the visit by Mahathir, his one-time nemesis who sent him into detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) when they were in Umno and PAS, respectively.

Mat Sabu said the visit was suggested by Abdul Malik Mydin, the Penang-born swimmer who became the first man from Southeast Asia to swim across the English Channel in 2003.

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He told Malik his terrace house was too small and unsuitable to host a leader like Mahathir.

“I said my house was small. If we eat there, I will cook as I don’t have the money to cater.”

Malik responded that it was not a problem, so Mat Sabu and his family began their preparations for the visit without letting the public know of it.

Mat Sabu said that only he, his family members, and a close friend were in the house to receive Mahathir and Siti Hasmah.

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Dr Mahathir and Dr Siti Hasmah getting ready for the dinner with Mat Sabu and his family members. (Foto Tarmizi Mohd Jam)

He noted, however, that last night was not the first time the police came to his house.

“Perhaps my neighbours thought I was going to be arrested again,” said an amused Mat Sabu, who was detained twice under the ISA during Mahathir’s administration.

“When the neighbours found that Tun was here, they gathered outside the house to take pictures. I called them inside to take their pictures. It was then that my political secretary quipped that my dinner with Mahathir could no longer be kept secret,” he laughed.

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Neighbours of Mat Sabu surrounding Dr Mahathir and Dr Siti Hasmah on their arrival at Mat Sabu’s house.

Mat Sabu said Mahathir spent two hours in his house, and they talked mostly about their families and very little on politics.

“I told Dr Mahathir that the house was bought for RM90,000 during my time in detention. I also introduced to him my son who was born during my detention,” he added.

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Mat Sabu, 62, had represented PAS as the MP for Nilam Puri, Kubang Kerian and Kuala Kedah during Mahathir’s premiership.

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Pun begitu pada peringkat awal selepas pasca kemerdekaan Malaysia, kerajaan tidak memberi penekanan kepada sektor pelancongan. Kerajaan pada ketika itu lebih memberi tumpuan kepada pembangunan infrastruktur negara dan melawan ancaman komunis. Selain itu, penyebab ancaman dari luar seperti konfrantasi dengan Indonesia turut menjejaskan fokus kerajaan pada ketika itu. Ia serta merta melambatkan pekembangan sektor pelancongan di Malaysia.

Pada era masa 1960, sektor pelancongan masih belum memainkan peranan yang penting terhadap perkembangan ekonomi Malaysia. Kerajaan pada ketika itu memberi tumpuan kepada sektor hasil bumi seperti bijih timah dan getah. Sektor hasil alam tersebut telah memberikan sebanyak 45% kepada keluaran Negara kasar (KNK) pada tahun 70-an.