It wouldn't be wrong to say that he is the only Prime Minister I know. As a rookie reporter in Penang, I covered Tunku Abdul Rahman briefly. He was already in poor health then and we had difficulties communicating. I was just too young for him to take seriously.
But I covered Dr Mahathir Mohamad for most of his 22 years as PM. I travelled with him overseas, often to places we could only dreamed of. On these trips, Rocky Bru was often my travelling mate. But Dr M was a serious man. He had little love for idle chats. The generation gap didn't help either.
In 1987, he shut down The Star and for five months I was out of job. He jailed his opponents under the ISA. As he talked about democracy and press freedom, he would probably be dismissed cynically. He never was a democrat.
But many of us never held that against him. He was a good leader and certainly he instilled confidence in Malaysians although the "Malaysia Boleh" spirit went too far as times. As Malaysians, we held our heads high and in some strange cities we went to, people stopped us and asked us about Dr Mahathir. The Twin Towers, too, of course.
He spoke up for the Third World and awed Asians, Africans and South Americans.
But under his leadership, the judiciary was stained. Judges were sacked and Anwar was jailed. Money politics made its mark in Ummo and corruption worsened.
He gave The Star his first interview only after he stepped down. He never liked the newspaper for some strange reasons.
Later, when I wrote that he did not do much to fight corruption during his 22 years in office, he blew his top. I was with Malaysiakini editor Steven Gan attending a press forum in South Korea when Dr M called a press conference in KL to criticise me. The Cheras Umno chief called for my sacking at the Umno general assembly.
But after over two decades in journalism, being criticised by politicians and readers have become part of the job.
Nothing has really changed. Today, it was vintage Dr M speaking in the BBC "Hardtalk" programme. The man has been consistent, that's all. At the end of the day, you either love him or loathe him. For many Malaysians, it's a bit of both.