Ex-Malaysia PM Mahathir, 96, hospitalized at heart institute

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, 96, was hospitalized for the third time in just over a month, his spokesperson said Saturday, sparking concerns over his health.

The two-time former premier, once the world's oldest leader, has been admitted at the cardiac care unit of the National Heart Institute, said the spokesperson, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case. He said a statement will be issued later Saturday.

A large group of reporters were gathered outside the hospital waiting for updates.

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, Saturday, Jan 22, 2022. (AP PhotoVincent Thian)

Mahathir underwent an elective medical procedure at the same hospital on Jan. 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.