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Malaysia’s ex-PM Mahathir Mohamad in hospital with chest infection

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 February, 2018, 5:32pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 February, 2018, 10:17pm

Malaysia’s veteran former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has been picked to lead an opposition bid for election victory, has been admitted to hospital with a chest infection, authorities said on Saturday.

“Currently, Dr Mahathir is being treated in a general ward for chest infection following a bout of cough,” the National Heart Institute said.

The 92-year-old, who has joined forces with his former protégé-turned-nemesis Anwar Ibrahim in an attempt to topple scandal-tainted Prime Minister Najib Razak, “is being treated in the general ward for chest infection following a bout of cough”, the National Heart Institute said in a statement.

He was admitted on Friday night and will stay for several days for treatment and observation, the hospital said.

His eldest daughter, Marina Mahathir, tweeted a photograph of her with her father that was taken in hospital. They were seated on a sofa smiling for the camera.

“Went to visit dad this morning. He’s good, just needs some rest. He’ll soon be back to kick some butts again soon,” she wrote.

In recent weeks, Mahathir has been criss-crossing the country to strengthen support for the opposition with polls fast approaching.

Political analysts say with Anwar, the country’s most popular opposition leader and currently in jail, Mahathir is regarded as the biggest threat for Najib, who must call an election by August but is facing a massive corruption scandal over the sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

Mahathir, who during his 22-year tenure as prime minister earned the reputation of being an authoritarian, could emerge as the world’s oldest leader if the opposition wins.

But political observers say it will be a tough battle to oust Najib’s Barisan Nasional which has been in power since independence in 1957 because the opposition is split.

In civil lawsuits, the US Justice Department has alleged that about US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from the 1MDB fund founded by Najib. Both 1MDB and Najib have denied any wrongdoing.

Mahathir has had many health scares in the past.

He had his first heart bypass in 1989, and in 2007 underwent another heart procedure. But despite his heart problems, he is still very energetic and alert and looks young for his age.

Agence France-Presse, Kyodo