Also, wise words from the nonagenarian on keeping the brain sharp!

Props to Neelofa for putting to good use her fame, fashion label and social media presence to spread positivity!

Since the Restricted Movement Order (RMO) took effect a week ago, the celeb-preneur has busied herself with Live convos featuring big names the likes of Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza and former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad.


The much-anticipated Live session that was streamed on Instagram (@neelofa) saw 15,000 followers glued to their screens as Neelofa chatted with Tun M @chedetofficial.

Check out the highlights of their conversation here:

Tun, what do you do to keep your mind agile?

“You need to stay active. Don’t feel like you always need to lie down when you feel just a little bit tired. Stay active, read a lot, and make full use of your five senses so you don’t lose your alertness. Utilise what you have been blessed with.”

Which book has impacted your life the most?

“I’m one who can’t still. I need to read all the time – newspapers, magazines, even novels. When I read, I don’t feel like time is passing too slowly. I especially enjoy reading books on history. Right now, I’m reading a book about the Mongolian empire, which has links to our nation’s history. What happened in Mongolia has impacted our country. This is why we need take an interest in the histories of Asian and ASEAN countries. In school, I spent much time studying European history. Now I want to take time to get to know Asia’s history.”

How does one form a reading habit?

“When you read an interesting novel, you sometimes feel so engrossed, you don’t want to put it down. Even when it’s time for bed, you want to keep reading because you can’t wait to find out what happens next in the plot. When an author is in the process of writer a chapter, they know what will happen next, and they know just how to keep you hooked on the story. If you want to develop a reading habit, start with novels, then move on to history books and those of other genres. Don’t just focus on facts; see the bigger picture, the story behind. This will spark your interest to read. When I’m gifted a book, sometimes I finish reading it within a day and I read it over and over again.”

Who inspires you?

“My eyes are trained on the Prophet Muhammad SAW who was able to lift an ignorant race to become an enlightened people who built one of the world’s greatest civilisations. This, I feel, is truly inspiring. There are other renowed historical figures such as the Russian Tsar who brought progress to the country. These people inspire me and have influenced my thinking.”

 A golden advice everyone should take heed of?

“Listen to your mother’s advice: don’t take up too much of other people’s time and don’t overstay your welcome. I’ve been PM for 21 years, so I need to listen to my mother and step down, so people don’t get tired of me.”

Tun, we hear that you carry a notebook with you everywhere you go.

“I always have a notebook with me because I can’t rely on my memory. Everything I see and read that sparks my interest, I put it down in the notebook. I jot down words I’ve come across that I want to remember. This was very useful during my years of service as PM. It helped me remember things when I needed to brief the ministers.”

What’s your advice on how to stay calm in the face of adversity?

“When we look back, we recall the many difficult times we’ve had to go through, but we also remember that there was always a solution to be found. Don’t overthink things to the point of losing your appetite, because problems don’t get resolved that way. It’s better to stay calm and work towards finding a solution. In time, all problems can be solved.”

Malaysia has gone through many ups and downs over the decades – we’ve weathered financial crises and now we have a pandemic. What does our nation need to do now in order to rise up again after COVID-19?

“We need to be disciplined and have self-control. If we don’t keep our desires in check, we end up doing things that are detrimental to ourselves. Control your desires and emotions, and you’ll be able to follow the government’s order stay at home. The current situation will take a longer time to be resolved if we don’t exercise self-control.”

There is still a small group of people – five per cent – who refuse to stay at home and they could be the ones who have a high risk of spreading the virus. Given the chance, what would you say to these people?

“I would ask them to follow orders, or else they’d be infected by others. If you’re infected, you’ll infect other people – and their families. Because of your selfish behaviour, others have to suffer and face hardship. So please follow the order for the sake of yourself, your family and the country.”

What’s your advice for entrepreneurs whose livelihood is affected by the RMO?

“These days, lots of businesses can be done online. We buy and sell online, and then a courier service picks up the goods and delivers it to the customer. You may be unfamiliar with online trading and it may be an inconvenience at first, but this is a good time to adjust the way you work in order to keep on making a living.”

My team and I are realise that during the trying times, we need more creative in finding business solutions. What’s your advice on managing finances?

“During tough times when our income is affected, we need to tighten our belts. Delay or forgo unnecessary expenses and focus on what’s most important, such as putting food on the table.

“Technological advancement has made communication so much easier now. Video conferencing lets you discuss and collaborate with business partners easily. What couldn’t be done in the past is now possible, because communication channels have improved by leaps and bounds. Problems can be discussed and resolved because we have the means to facilitate communication.”

 Do you have suggestions on how to guard ourselves from COVID-19?

“Going into self-quarantine is one method. There are other ways, too, such as washing your hands and maintaining a high level of personal hygiene. Stay active and exercise even though you’re at home. I have stationary bicycle and a treadmill at home and I try to get a little exercise.

“It’s important to work your muscles because when you have a limb that is not used regularly, it becomes weak. For instance, if you spend too much time sleeping, you’ll find yourself with weak knees and then you feel wobbly when you get up and walk. So stay active physically and keep your mind alert. Read, write, and participate in discussions.”

Based on your observations, Tun, how are the youths of today different in their mindset and goals?

“When I was young, poverty was widespread. There weren’t many jobs available and there were few foreigners in our midst. As humans, we are very much influenced by our environs. It’s pretty much the same for the youths of today; their worldview is influenced by their surroundings. They expect to be given freedom, but bear in mind that freedom given to children is a fairly new concept. In the past, parents had full control of their children’s lives.

“If young people take time to read up on what life was like in the past, they’ll know and understand how things change through the passage of time – for better or worse.”

What would you like to indulge in, if you’re weren’t a VIP?

I’ve always lived a normal life, even as PM. I shopped at the market, I drank coffee and ate at roadside stalls. When I became TPM, I suddenly found myself restricted from doing things on my own. I disagreed with that. I missed the days when I lived with friendly neighbours and had many friends. That’s is more important to me.

 What’s your message to the frontliners?

“First of all, let’s be grateful. Things are not looking good, but there are countries that are doing far worse. Look at Italy, 60 million human beings have been placed under lockdown. In India, 1.4 billion people are confined to their homes. We are only restricting movement; we can still leave the house to take care of important matters. The frontliners have shown great dedication to their work. Although they have the highest risk of being infected, they continue to provide care to the public.

“Thanks be to God that the people of Malaysia have always been protected from natural disasters. We were spared from the onslaught of a tornado from Indian Ocean which was blocked by the Sumatera islands. Acheh bore the brunt of the 2004 tsunami’s devastating force, while the Philippines is struck by typhoons up to 10 times a year. We have no volcanos, no earthquakes. It’s such a blessing to live in Malaysia.”

 Do you have a message for me?

“For as long as I’ve served as PM, I’ve seen how hard the Malay people have worked to supplement their income. The problem lies in the unhealthy wealth gap among the races. To get ahead, we need to upgrade ourselves and find new ways to generate income. We need to stop finding the easy way out of situations or rely on others for opportunities. If we work hard, we can succeed like other people. I hope your business will continue to thrive even during this difficult time.

Translated from Majalah Jelita
Images taken from Tun Mahathir’s Youtube channel