Malaysia's former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has suffered what his son says was a mild heart attack Thursday morning and has been hospitalized in Kuala Lumpur. The 81-year old Mr. Mahathir governed Malaysia for 22 years before stepping down in 2003.
The combative and outspoken Mr. Mahathir has not taken easily to retirement. Credited with modernizing Malaysia and making it a global player, he has been on a crusade against his handpicked successor, Abdullah Badawi, accusing him of corruption, nepotism and economic mismanagement.
Professor Norani Othman, at the Institute of Malaysian and International Affairs in Kuala Lumpur, says Mr. Mahathir's campaign has tarnished his reputation as the country's elder statesman.
"It seems as he cannot still just resign and be in the backroom. And what he is doing is something that he himself wouldn't have put up with when he was prime minister," he said.
During his three-year tenure, Prime Minister Abdullah has been credited with allowing more freedom of expression than his predecessor about sensitive issues such as race and religion in multi-ethnic Malaysia.