KUALA LUMPUR - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad could not attend the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) roadshow in Tambun, Perak, on Sunday (Dec 3) night because he was down with a high fever and cough.
Doctors had advised the 92-year-old leader not to attend the event for the sake of his health.
"He is down with a high fever and cough. It has been going on for a week but he continues to attend events during the day," said his son Mukhriz Mahathir, who is Bersatu deputy president.
Although he was unable to be physically present at the roadshow, the leader of opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH) still managed to rally his supporters in a pre-recorded 10-minute video in which he delivered stinging attacks against his former protege Prime Minister Najib Razak.
"I am sorry for not being able to be there but my spirit is there," the former prime minister said while seated in a big chair.
"I know all of you have gathered here to listen to what PH has to say," he said.
Dr Mahathir then launched into the need for the people to remove Mr Najib from power so that the country could repair its stained reputation.
"The leader tries to bribe the people for support, and we need to change the leader so that we can again become an exemplery country where we are respected," he was quoted as saying by news website The Malaysian Insight.
Also present at the event was Bersatu's president and former deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Tambun is an Umno stronghold seat that has been held by Barisan Nasional-Umno candidate Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah since 1995.
Formerly the second finance minister, Husni announced his resignation in the middle of last year following a Cabinet reshuffle.
He also announced his resignation from all his posts, including Umno treasurer, BN treasurer-general, Perak Umno liaison committee deputy chairman, Perak BN deputy chairman, and Tambun Umno division chief. He remains a Umno party member.
The roadshow, according to The Malaysian Insight, would have been Dr Mahathir's first public appearance after the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) foreign exchange losses tabled its report in Parliament last week.
The report fingered Dr Mahathir, along with former finance minister Anwar Ibrahim and former BNM adviser Nor Mohamed Yakcop as the parties responsible for the central bank's losses, and for attempts to conceal those losses from the Cabinet and Parliament.
A police report was subsequently filed by the RCI secretary.