KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Harapan’s prime ministerial candidate Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrived at the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital for his highly anticipated meeting with his former nemesis-turned-partner Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim – only to be told that he was barred from meeting the PKR de facto leader.
Dr Mahathir, the Parti Pribumi Bersatu chairman, arrived with Pribumi Youth chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman at the hospital where Anwar is receiving treatment but they were turned away by prison officials, apparently after a last-minute order.
Dr Mahathir, Syed Saddiq and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar were seen speaking to prison officials at the hospital for about 30 minutes with approximately 30 prison guards surrounding them.
According to Nurul Izzah, the highest Prison Department officials, including the Sungai Buloh Prison director, denied their request.
She said the decision to bar Dr Mahathir was arbitrary and uncalled for as Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had been allowed to meet Anwar in Hopital Kuala Lumpur in November.
A visibly disappointed Dr Mahathir, 92, told reporters the prison authorities had been instructed by the Home Ministry to bar him from seeing Anwar.
He said he had wanted to thank Anwar for Pakatan Harapan’s consensus on his nomination as the Opposition coalition’s Prime Minister designate.
“I just wanted to thank him (for supporting me). Anwar has a long history with me. It is not easy to reach a consensus,” he said.
“I am disappointed that we live in a democratic country where I am not allowed to meet a friend,” he said.
Nurul Izzah said Dr Mahathir had been planning to visit Anwar since the latter was hospitalised, but the meeting was delayed due to Dr Mahathir’s health and busy work schedule.
“His request to our family to visit Anwar came days after Anwar underwent the surgery and was placed in Hospital Kuala Lumpur.
“His intention to visit is a kind gesture that we accept, just as we accepted Najib’s gesture of coming to visit my father with his wife,” she said.
Dr Mahathir’s last known meeting with Anwar was on Sept 5, 2016, when the two met for the first time in 18 years.
Just three days ago, the Pribumi chairman was formally announced as the coalition’s prime ministerial candidate with Anwar’s wife, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, named as the deputy prime minister designate if the Opposition wins in the 14th general election.
Anwar is currently serving a five-year sentence at the Sungai Buloh Prison for his second sodomy charge and is scheduled to be released on June 8.
He is in the hospital receiving treatment following a surgery on his right shoulder on Nov 12 last year, after suffering a severe injury due to an accident while travelling in a Prison Department vehicle.