Mahathir contributions for Langkawi that made his name synonymous with the island


People always associate Langkawi with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The island gained the public attention after Tun M was rumoured to be contesting in Langkawi. People often said that Mahathir provide a huge contribution for Langkawi, particularly in terms of development. So, what did he actually contributed for the island?


Tun Mahathir visited Langkawi when he was 25 years old with his friends for a short getaway. He fell in love with the island immediately. In 1981, Tun Dr Mahathir was appointed as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, succeeding Tun Hussein Onn. Tun M did not forget about the island that he had fall in love with during his younger days.


So, the former Malaysia Prime Minister announced that the island will be a duty-free zone in 1987. The initiative was to encourage trade. Since then, Langkawi was consistently developed into an international tourist hotspot.


Besides, to fulfil his dream of making foreigner fall in love with the island, he granted autonomy to a small tourism-related division of Ministry of Trade and Industry, establishing a dedicated Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism to encourage tourism. As a result, the number of Langkawi visitors quadrupled within one year.


To provide a convenient access to the island, he upgraded the existing jetty. In addition, the small landing strip for planes which only capable of handling 20 passengers a day was replaced with a modern international airport.


Not only these means of transport draw tourists to the island, but it also benefited the locals to travel to the mainland Kedah.


Moreover, he established the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA). The agency reported directly to the Ministry of Finance. Consequently, the island no longer need to compete for funds with other projects in the state of Kedah.


With the support of federal government, Langkawi experienced a rapid infrastructure development. In a climate conducive to local and foreign investment, the first resorts began to emerge. Quickly running at peak capacity due to major events Langkawi hosted, Prime Ministers and Presidents from all over the world came to sign the ‘Langkawi Declaration of Environment’ at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).


Following, Mahathir encouraged a series of event to boost the tourism industry of Langkawi. Under Mahathir’s reign, he initiated annual and biennial events that are exclusively based in Langkawi. To name a few, Le Tour de Langkawi, Royal Langkawi International Regatta and Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition. These initiatives boosted more tourists to travel to the island.


Langkawi development was rapid, and it only happened because of Tun Mahathir support. After he retired from the Prime Minister position in the government, his heart was still with this lovely island he created. Tun Mahathir was actually chairing the LADA until the recent political turmoil. Claiming for a greater good of the nation, he resigned as the advisory of LADA. Will Tun Dr Mahathir past contributions on the island secure the Langkawi MP seat for him?