Former M’sia PM Mahathir ‘barred’ from visiting frenemy Anwar in hospital
Najib and Zahid can visit, but Mahathir cannot.
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Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is gearing up for a tough election campaign, after his nomination as the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition’s candidate for Prime Minister.
But he can’t even meet up with one of his key allies face to face.
On Jan. 10, Mahathir was barred from visiting his friend-turned-foe-turned-friend again, former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim at the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
Anwar is still serving a jail term on sodomy charges, but he was allowed to visit the hospital to undergo keyhole surgery in Nov. 2017.
Orders from the top
Speaking to reporters at the hospital, Mahathir said that hospital officials told him they received instructions “from the top” not to allow him in. He opined:
“Which means (it’s the) Home Minister (who decided) that I am not allowed to visit Anwar.”
“I am sad because our country is a democratic country, and this kind of thing has never happened during my time. Even when I was told that I was a dictator, never had I barred anyone.”
Mahathir’s ban, if it indeed was a ban, comes after both PM Najib Razak and DPM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi visited Anwar in hospital back in Nov. 2017.
Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed confirmed to Malaysia Insight that the orders not to permit Dr Mahathir to visit Anwar today came from the Prisons Department.
In spite of Anwar’s daughter, Nurul Izzah’s complaints about the lack of consistency, he said:
“Dr Mahathir has no official reason to visit him. A convict is not a free man. His (Anwar) life is controlled by the Prisons Department. No one is allowed to meet him other than the family,”
Let bygones be bygones
Mahathir said that he had come to the hospital to thank Anwar for not opposing his nomination as the PH’s Prime Ministerial candidate:
“I just wanted to visit and thank him for not objecting the decision in appointing me as the PH candidate for prime minister…
Of course, Anwar has a long history of confrontation with me and it’s not easy for him to accept the consensus to approve me as the next prime minister should PH win in the coming general election. It is a big thing.”
Still, if the PH does manage to win, Secretary General Saifuddin Abdullah has said that they would seek a Royal Pardon for Anwar so that he can be released from prison and involve himself in government affairs once more.
Assuming that comes to pass, Mahathir might even step down early to make way for Anwar as the next Prime Minister. If he agrees.
There are still many twists and turns on the road to Malaysia’s GE 14.
Top image by MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images.