PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today acknowledged that leaders in the Pakatan Harapan government need time to make a mindset adjustment as many had been in opposition for over six decades.
"When they became government, their old characteristics (of being the opposition) still emerged and influenced their way of thinking.
"But, in a short time, (they) have had to make an adjustment. Now, they have realised that they are the government," he said at the 2018 Perdana Fellowship Programme.
Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, as well as other Cabinet ministers including Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is back at work after a one month-long sick leave.
The Perdana Fellowship programme offers selected young Malaysians rare insights on how a country is governed and the government's inner workings.
The prime minister today told the 60 young Malaysians who were chosen for the programme that they must be ready for the future, adding that the young could learn from experienced ones.
He said that Fellowship participants would be prepped to be future leaders, whether or not they end up as government leaders or in the opposition.
"If you are not government (leaders), you would still need to know how to be a good opposition and how to oppose. For the ones who become government leaders, you (must) know how to act," he said.
Dr Mahathir said the old, including himself, would one day make way for young leaders.
The floor erupted into laughter when the prime minister made a tongue-in-cheek comment that some leaders might find it hard to let go of a position after holding on to their post for a long time and at such a young age.
"We must be ready for the future. This programme will allow the young generation to learn the ropes of being in government," Dr Mahathir said.
He also told the participants that they do not have to be "old" to become a minister in the government, citing the youngest Cabinet minister, 25-year-old Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman as an example.
Dr Mahathir also stressed the need to have the right characteristics to become good leaders.
"Anyone can become a leader under the democratic system. But, if a bad person becomes a leader, the system will become bad too.
"It is not the (democratic) system that is important. It is more (about the) leaders having the right characteristics," said the prime minister. -- Reporting by Azura Abas, Hashini Kavishtri Kannan, Irwan Shafrizan Ismail, Zanariah Abd Mutalib © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd