Former Malaysian PM Mahathir in hospital after testing positive for Covid-19

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been admitted to the National Heart Institute for observation for the next few days. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

KUALA LUMPUR - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, 97, has tested positive for Covid-19, his office said on Wednesday.

He has been admitted to the National Heart Institute for observation for the next few days as advised by the medical team, it added.

Tun Dr Mahathir, who has a history of heart problems, underwent an elective medical procedure on Jan 8 this year and was readmitted to the hospital later that month for treatment. He was discharged in February.

He revealed in March that he thought he was not going to make it.

“To me, it is a miracle. I didn’t expect to live, I expected that I would die because I am old and also suffering from serious diseases affecting... my heart.

“When the heart is weak, it affects the lungs and when the lungs are weak, this affects the kidney and so on.

“But somehow, the doctors turned me around and eventually I was discharged and am quite well - not 100 per cent, but enough for me to continue with the little work that I have to do,” he said during an appreciation ceremony for the medical experts and staff who had treated him.

The country’s longest-serving prime minister, who held the top post for a total of 24 years, is still an active MP and has hurled potshots at jailed former premier Najib Razak.

He criticised Najib, who began serving a 12-year jail sentence on Aug 23 for graft linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal, for not accepting that he had been found guilty by the Malaysian courts.

“Dozens of witnesses gave information about Najib’s wrongdoing. Documents and other evidence were exhibited. The judge wrote 800 pages about information revealed by witnesses, the evidence, and the results of the investigation,” Dr Mahathir said in a statement on Aug 30.

“The only truth is the denial made by Najib, by his children and his lawyer. Nine judges, three courts, four years of trial were all wrong,” he added sarcastically.

Najib has been jailed for embezzling RM42 million (S$13 million) belonging to 1MDB subsidiary SRC International and faces four other trials.

Having served two stints as premier, Dr Mahathir has said in the past that he is not interested in becoming prime minister for a third time.

He has had several coronary bypass operations, suffered three heart attacks and had a pacemaker implanted.

Earlier this year, he told reporters he would not contest again due to poor health and age.

“These people get very upset if I say I’m not contesting,” he said, referring to his party. “So if I’m healthy enough - if they still want me - I cannot deny them, even if it kills me.”

On Aug 4, he announced at a news conference the formation of a new coalition comprising Malay-based parties, non-governmental organisations, academics and professionals.

The Gerakan Tanah Air coalition includes his party Pejuang, the National Indian Muslim Alliance Party, Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia and Parti Barisan Jemaah Islamiah Se-Malaysia.

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