Mahathir Mohamad, the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia, has been hospitalized due to a lung infection. The ailing 88-year-old has been suffering from increasing health problems in recent years, but still remains heavily involved in politics. Mahathir has served the longest as Prime Minister in Malaysia’s short history, but had to retire when it became clear that he was slowly losing power.

Mahathir Mohamad

Mahathir pledged to stay out of politics

Following his retirement, Mahathir pledged to stay out of politics, however, he came into disagreement with his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi over numerous issues. Following this, Mahathir become a vocal critic of the government, drawing the support and ire many Malaysians. Over the last several years Mahathir has been increasingly vocal and critical of the government, including both his own UMNO party and the opposition.

Mahathir has suffered three heart attacks

Mahathir has suffered at least three heart attacks. His first heart attack occurred all the way back in 1989. In 2007 he was forced to have bypass surgery after suffering two heart attacks within two years. He then suffered a chest infection following the surgery. In 2010, he suffered another serious chest infection. Now he has been hospitalized after suffering yet another chest infection.

Since retiring, Mahathir has lost a considerable amount of his influence. Many critics now blame Mahathir’s policies for the middle income trap now being faced by Malaysia. While Malaysia’s economy has recorded strong growth in recent years, it relies on shrinking oil revenue and heavy government involvement in the economy. Malaysia also has one of the largest and most inefficient civil services in the world.

Mahathir tried to exert his influence in the recent elections, but his opinions and views seemed to have little input. He remains a controversial figure, with many Malaysians believing that he stole billions of dollars from the government during his time in office. Some believe that he could be worth as much as 44.5 billion dollars. He remains as a senior advisory for many large Malaysian companies and organizations.

Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz, has become a rising figure within the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. That being said, Mahathir was unable to remove Prime Minister Najib Razak from power, while Barisan Nasional itself continues to decline. Mukhriz himself lost a bid to become UMNO’s vice president. Mahathir and his son are both known for their strong support for the Malay community, affirmative action, and heavy government involvement in the economy.

Anwar Ibrahim has wished Mahathir a speedy recovery

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has wished Mahathir a speedy recovery, despite the tense relations between the two public leaders. Anwar was once Mahathir’s deputy, but later flipped to the opposition and became a vocal critic of both Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional party that kept him in power. Mahathir would later have Anwar arrested and jailed for several years on politically motivated charges.