Mahathir prevented from visiting Anwar

Dr Mahathir arriving yesterday afternoon at Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, where Anwar is recuperating after surgery on his right shoulder in November. He wanted to thank Anwar for consenting to his nomination as prime minister desig
Dr Mahathir arriving yesterday afternoon at Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, where Anwar is recuperating after surgery on his right shoulder in November. He wanted to thank Anwar for consenting to his nomination as prime minister designate for opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR • Prison authorities yesterday denied former premier Mahathir Mohamad permission to visit fellow opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in hospital.

Anwar is currently serving a five-year sentence for sodomy and is in hospital after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder in November. He is scheduled to be released from prison on June 8.

Tun Dr Mahathir said he wanted to thank Anwar for consenting to his nomination as opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan's prime minister designate. "Anwar has a long history with me, it is not easy to reach a consensus," he said. He also voiced his disappointment that he was not allowed to meet "a friend" despite living in a democratic country.

Anwar's daughter, Ms Nurul Izzah Anwar, described the decision to bar Dr Mahathir as arbitrary and uncalled for, considering politicians from ruling party Umno, such as Prime Minister Najib Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, were allowed to visit her father in November.

Ms Nurul Izzah greeted Dr Mahathir when he arrived at the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital at 4.15pm.

They then met Prison Department officials, including the Sungai Buloh Prison Director, to seek permission to visit Anwar. Approximately 35 minutes later, Dr Mahathir and Ms Nurul Izzah informed reporters that the authorities had rejected their request to meet the de-facto leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

Dr Mahathir's last known meeting with Anwar was on Sept 5, 2016, when the two met for the first time in 18 years. He had gone to the Kuala Lumpur High Court, where Anwar was attending a hearing. Anwar, a former deputy prime minister and finance minister, was sacked in 1998 by then Prime Minister Mahathir.

The men set aside their differences in 2016, when Dr Mahathir left Umno to form Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia after disagreements with Datuk Seri Najib over the funds misappropriation scandal at state-owned 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

SEE OPINION

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2018, with the headline 'Mahathir prevented from visiting Anwar'. Print Edition | Subscribe