KUALA LUMPUR: Prison authorities in Malaysia denied former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad from visiting jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim at a hospital on Wednesday (Jan 10).
The 92-year-old told reporters that the authorities had been given a directive not to allow him to meet Anwar, local media reported.
“I only wanted to see him (Anwar) to thank him for not objecting but in fact supporting the decision to name me as candidate (for the prime minister post)," said Mahathir, adding that he was disappointed at the failed visit.
On Sunday, Mahathir was announced as Pakatan Harapan's choice for interim prime minister should it win the upcoming elections.
“It is not easy for him to accept (the decision), to achieve consensus to approve me as the Pakatan man who should hold the post as prime minister," he added.
If the opposition wins, Mahathir will serve as prime minister until his former deputy Anwar Ibrahim is released from prison on Jun 8.
The Parti Pribumi Bersatu (PPBM) chairman arrived at Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital where he was welcomed by Anwar's eldest daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar, reported The Star.
However after meeting with the prison department officials and the Sungai Buloh prison director, Mahathir told reporters that his request to visit Anwar was rejected.
"As a candidate, I am disappointed that we live in a democratic country but I am not allowed to meet a friend," he said.
On his Twitter account, Mahathir said he wanted to express his gratitude to Anwar, an old friend who had sacrificed a lot.
According to Anwar's daughter, Mahathir had been planning to visit her father ever since he was hospitalised last November, but the meeting was delayed due to Mahathir's health and work schedule.
She said that they knew that there was a chance that Mahathir might not be allowed to visit her father but they tried "to work it out" with the authorities, reported The Star.
Nurul Izzah said on Facebook that it was "sad" that Mahathir was not allowed to see her father.
"It is a testament of what remains intact - a system that's broken and will allow for many more to be victimised," she said.