Ex-Malaysian leader Mahathir, 97, hospitalized with COVID-19

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, 97, was hospitalized on Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19, his office said.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, 97, was hospitalized on Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19, his office said.

“Mahathir was admitted to the National Heart Institute for observation for a few days as advised by the medical team,” he said in a statement. He did not provide further details about his condition.

Mahathir, who served as Malaysia’s prime minister for two different periods, was once the world’s longest-serving leader. He’s had two heart bypass surgeries, but remains tough and quick-witted. He was admitted to the same hospital several times earlier this year.

Mahathir later said he was hospitalized after experiencing shortness of breath due to a shortage of red blood cells. He later had a pacemaker implanted, but contracted an infection during the operation. He said he thought he was dying at the time, but somehow recovered.

Mahathir first ruled Malaysia for 22 years until his retirement in 2003. Fueled by anger over government corruption, he led the opposition to a historic election victory in 2018 that toppled the ruling party 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 only lasted 22 months as his government collapsed due to defections. Mahathir has formed a new ethnic Malay party in 2020 and a Malay alliance this year to contest elections due next year.

Mahathir said in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month that he planned to challenge the polls “If I’m strong enough, if I’m healthy enough, if they want me to challenge, I’ll challenge .”

The Associated Press

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