Sat. May 21st, 2022

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has been admitted to hospital in Kuala Lumpur just a week after undergoing minor surgery.

A spokesman said the 96-year-old was taken to the heart ward at the National Heart Institute.

This is the third time that the man who was once the world’s oldest leader has been hospitalized in just over a month.

A large group of journalists were gathered outside the hospital waiting for updates.

His family issued a statement late Saturday saying he was in a stable condition and “responding well to treatment” after two days in hospital.

Dr. Mahathir, who remains an active politician as MP for Langkawi despite ending his second term as prime minister two years ago, underwent what was described as a successful, elective medical procedure last week.

A month earlier, he was hospitalized and discharged after six days in hospital when his doctors said they were satisfied with the results of examinations of his health.

Dr. Mahathir underwent two cardiac bypass surgeries in 1989 and 2007.

Mahathir Mohamad waves while surrounded by people.
Dr. Mahathir returned to power in 2018, a decade and a half after his first term as prime minister.(Reuters: Lai Seng Sin)

He served as the fourth and seventh prime minister of Malaysia for a total of 24 years – more than any other leader of the nation.

Dr. Mahathir took office for the second time in 2018 at the age of 92 and took over after scandal-plagued Najib Razak.

He had repeatedly called on his one-time protégé to resign because of the 1MDB corruption scandal as part of the Bersih (“pure” in Malaysian) movement, which promised to clean up Malaysian politics.

But his return to the role of prime minister lasted less than two years after his government collapsed due to strife, meaning a planned transfer to former deputy leader Anwar Ibrahim would never happen.

Paul Keating spoke during Question Time.
Paul Keating described his Malaysian counterpart as “stubborn” after the 1993 APEC summit.(National Archives of Australia via AAP)

After the setback, Dr. Mahathir a new ethnic Malaysian party in 2020 to oppose the new leadership.

During his first term as Prime Minister – between 1981 and 2003 – Dr. Mahathir famously along with then-Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating.

Mr. Keating called Dr. Mahathir “stubborn” after the latter boycotted the first APEC summit in the US city of Seattle.

Almost two decades later in his autobiography from 2011, Dr. Mahathir agrees that this was a fair description of him.

“When Keating called me stubborn, I was not angry – he just said I refused to fall in line with everyone else, and that description generally fits me pretty well … I do not always do what others do [and] most Malaysians like this side of me, “he wrote.

ABC / wires

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