Photo Credit: Termasuk Malaysia
Oriental Daily News, March 17, 2017
During his official visit to North Korea that year, Dr. Mahathir was the Deputy
Prime Minister. His wife Dr. Siti Hasmah wrote in her autobiography MY NAME
IS HASMAH (Kuala Lumpur: KarangKraf: 2016) that the delegation was made up
of local investors.
Nonetheless, obviously DR. Siti Hasmah would never forget the experience of
this trip. Upon arrival at a large guest house, as she was unpacked there was a
knock on the door, the same woman who brought them to the guest house was
accompanied by a gentleman in a white coat, “Madam, we would very much like
to examine His Excellency.”
After knowing about this, Mahathir was much perplexed, he turndown the offer
politely: “Tell them ‘thank you very much’ and say that I’m in good health.”
Well, sandwiched between two thoughts and two sets of ideas in the process of
negotiation, Dr. Siti Hasmah was caught in a dilemma.
Differences in Hospitality
“”Our North Korea Great Leader instructed us to examine His Excellency.”
On hearing this, Dr. Siti Hasmah had no choice but to go back to Mahathir who
was having his shower. “I think you better come out because the (North Korea)
Great Leader wants you to be examined to make sure you are in good health.”
The guest from afar, the number two leader from Malaysia had to submit to the
host, laying down on the bed and let the man in the white coat examine him.
Dr. Siti Hasmah later learnt that he was one of the most eminent professors of
medicine in the country. Nevertheless, she was embarrassed and thought that
fortunately she was not the honoured guest.
Little did she expect that the woman official then looked at her and said: “You are
Meanwhile, downstairs where Malaysian officials were staying, everyone was
being examined by the doctor. Why? Dr. Siti Hasmah said apparently they just
wanted to make sure the guests of the North Korea Great Leader were all OK.
No matter what, it can be seen that the culture of one country is different from
another. The way they treated their guests is also different from us which is
beyond our imagination.
However, from this observation we know that the leader was caring and health
was his priority. Of course, what was his real intention behind the move is up to
the readers to guess.