Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad suffered a "mild" heart attack yesterday, two weeks after vowing to carry on a bitter feud with his successor despite his advancing age. Doctors said he was stable.
Mahathir, 81, was admitted to the government's National Heart Institute early yesterday after suffering from a mild myocardial infarction, hospital spokeswoman Alawiyah Yussof said.
Family members said he suf-fered chest pain at about 4am and was rushed to hospital.
The sudden hospitalization is expected to put the brakes -- at least temporarily -- on a strident anti-government campaign Mahathir has been carrying on for the last one year against his handpicked successor, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Mahathir, who led Malaysia's modernization during the 22 years he was in office from 1981 to 2003, has accused Abdullah of corruption, nepotism and mis-managing the economy, charges the prime minister denies.
Abdullah was among the first to visit the hospital, but spent less than 15 minutes. He did not speak to reporters. Mokhzani Mahathir, one of Mahathir's three sons, told reporters that his father was sleeping when Abdullah came, and the two did not meet.
Abdullah "was just concerned about my father's well-being. He told the doctors to make sure that everything possible is being done," Mokhzani said.
He said his father is stable and currently under mild sedation, and doctors don't believe that any invasive procedure is needed.
"He is in a better shape than I am. He is as alert as you and I," he said.
Mahathir, who returned from a trip to New Zealand on Wednesday, was in a coronary care unit, and will be kept under observation for a week.
The International Herald Tribune newspaper reported earlier this week that Mahathir's doctors have told him about three blockages in his heart. It was the first public indication that the elder statesman was not well in recent years even though he has appeared robust and attended public functions regularly and traveled extensively.
"That's the life he loves to live," Mokhzani said. "That keeps him alive and motivated."
Mahathir had a coronary artery bypass surgery in 1989. He was admitted to the National Heart Institute last December, a hospital statement said without elaborating.
Despite his age, Mahathir said in an interview with the Associated Press on Oct. 26 that he would not give up his campaign against Abdullah.
Although he retired in a blaze of glory, he has become largely isolated in the ruling United Malays National Organization party during the past year because of his anti-government accusations, for which he has provided no real evidence.