September 2, 2007 / 2:39 PM / 11 years ago

Malaysia ex-PM Mahathir set for heart surgery - son

Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad arrives for a dialogue session during Langkawi International Dialogue 2007 on island of Langkawi in this August 6, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, 82, is set to undergo heart surgery this week after suffering two heart attacks over the past year, his son Mokhzani Mahathir said on Sunday.

The country’s longest-serving premier, who ruled for 22 years before standing down in late 2003, admitted himself to a specialist cardiac hospital in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday in preparation for his second bypass operation, Mokhzani said.

“It’s on Tuesday. It’s a bypass. That’s the schedule,” he told Reuters by phone, but declined to give more details.

Mahathir’s health is closely watched because he remains an influential political figure, even though he has recently fallen out with his hand-chosen successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, over policy changes made since Mahathir retired.

Despite Mahathir’s criticisms, Abdullah pays public homage to the political legacy of his predecessor and political experts say he is careful not to reverse too many of Mahathir’s policies to avoid more confrontations with his predecessor.

Mahathir has a long history of heart trouble and had bypass surgery in 1989. He suffered heart attacks in November last year and last May, but has appeared well in recent weeks.

He took part in celebrations last Friday to mark Malaysia’s 50th anniversary of independence, looking tanned and relaxed as he watched the festivities from a VIP podium.

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