Robert Mugabe is likely to find Malaysia's doors closed to him should he attempt to flee there into exile, a Foreign Ministry official said yesterday. Rumours have been swirling around Zimbabwe and on the internet suggesting the embattled president was eyeing Malaysia as a possible refuge. He enjoys a close friendship with former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who yesterday urged the government to welcome Mr Mugabe, a frequent visitor to the country. 'Mugabe has not applied for asylum,' a senior ministry official said. 'Like other people he can visit Malaysia and stay, depending on what kind of visa is given. But he is not here now.' The official said that even if Mr Mugabe did apply for asylum it 'won't be entertained'. Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday flatly denied reports that the African leader had already arrived Mr Mugabe, denied a visa by many western countries, has also attended third-world conferences in Malaysia, mostly organised by Dr Mahathir. The pair shared similar anti-western views, and became close friends and supported each at international forums. Both are 83 and came to power about the same time in the mid-1980s. But since Dr Mahathir retired in October 2003, Mr Mugabe has been given the official cold shoulder by the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi. He most recently visited Malaysia late last year. Sources said he had asked for financial help to lessen the burden of runaway inflation gripping his country, but was rebuffed. In 2004, Dr Mahathir sparked a national outcry after he sent a gift of US$40,000 worth of rare Malaysian timber to panel Mr Mugabe's new mansion in Harare. The house is reportedly worth US$9 million. Dr Mahathir consulted neither the cabinet nor parliament about the controversial use of public funds. He said the gift was to promote the Malaysian timber industry. Reports have regularly surfaced in Malaysia and abroad that Mr Mugabe has stashed cash in local banks and owns a house on Langkawi, the resort island in northern Malaysia that Dr Mahathir turned into a duty-free haven and playground for the world's rich and powerful. But such claims could not be verified because the island's upscale properties are mainly held in the name of international agencies. Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang urged the government not to give Mr Mugabe asylum. 'He should stay home and face the consequences of his disastrous rule that has brought great hardship to his people,' he said. 'We hope Mugabe's personal relationship with Dr Mahathir does not extend to Mr Abdullah, and that public funds are not used to protect and aid Mugabe.'