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Malaysia’s antisemitic ex-PM hospitalized but stable, says daughter

96-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, once the world’s oldest ruler, returns to hospital for third time in over a month due to apparent cardiac issues

Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, wearing a face mask, waves as he leaves the National Palace after meeting with the king in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File)
Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, wearing a face mask, waves as he leaves the National Palace after meeting with the king in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad was hospitalized for the third time in just over a month but his condition is stable, his daughter said Saturday.

The 96-year-old two-time former premier, once the world’s oldest leader, was admitted to the National Heart Institute on Thursday and was responding well to treatment, Marina Mahathir said in a statement.

“His condition is now stable,” she said, urging Malaysians to pray for his swift recovery.

Mahathir underwent an elective medical procedure at the same hospital on January 7 and was discharged six days later. Last month, he was admitted for a full medical checkup and observation.

He has had two coronary bypass surgeries but was still robust and sharp-witted. He led the opposition to a historic election victory in 2018 that was hailed for ousting a corrupt government in the first peaceful transfer of power since Malaysia’s independence in 1957.

Mahathir became the world’s oldest leader at 92 for a second stint but that triumph lasted only 22 months as his government collapsed due to infighting. But that didn’t stop him, and Mahathir formed a new ethnic Malay party in 2020 to oppose the new leadership.

Media gather outside National Heart Center as former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad was said to have been brought to the Cardiac Care unit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Mahathir, who has called himself a proud antisemite, has come under fire on more than one occasion for comments he has made about Jews.

In June 2016, he claimed that “the Jews are ruling the world by proxy” and that “America is very much under Jewish influence.”

In September 2018, he told students at Columbia University in New York City: “Why is it that I can’t say something against the Jews, when a lot of people say nasty things about me, about Malaysia? I didn’t protest, I didn’t demonstrate.”

He has called Jews “hook-nosed” — subsequently defending that remark — questioned the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, and banned “Schindler’s List” in 1994, rejecting it as “Zionist propaganda.” He once said he was “glad to be labeled anti-Semitic.”

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