Nov 20, 2006

Dr M Says He Feels Okay, Saddened By Khir Johari's Demise

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 20 (Bernama) -- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was discharged from the National Heart Institute on Nov 14, said today he is feeling fine and will not exert himself too much on doctors' instruction.

"I feel all right but the doctors asked me to take it easy," he told Bernama at his office at the Perdana Leadership Foundation of which he is the chairman, here.

The former prime minister suffered a mild heart attack on Nov 9 and was hospitalised at the heart centre before being discharged five days later. It prompted him to forgo his appearance at the Umno General Assembly 2006 last week.

Dr Mahathir said he had cancelled several overseas trips, including the ones to India and Japan.

He could not make it to India to receive the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice, sending instead his son, Datuk Mukhriz to pick up the award on his behalf at a ceremony in Mumbai yesterday.

Dr Mahathir said he came to the foundation because he was feeling bored resting at home. Doctors had advised him to rest before gradually increasing his daily physical activities.

"I have been trying to do some writing at home. Now I do the writing here," said the former prime minister who helmed the country for 22 years before stepping down in 2003.

"I hope not to meet people although there have been requests," he added.

A group of pupils from Sekolah Kebangsaan Permas Jaya, Johor Baharu, visiting the foundation during the current school holidays, were thrilled at the opportunity to greet and take pictures with Dr Mahathir as he was about to leave the foundation.

Dr Mahathir also said he was saddened by the passing of one of Malaysia's founding fathers and the first education minister, Tan Sri Mohamed Khir Johari, 83, following a heart attack yesterday.

"I am really saddened by his passing because I had known him for a very long time, from the time he was a teacher in my school," he said.

Dr Mahathir said one of the fondest memories he had of Mohamed Khir was that he had in fact borrowed the latter's car on his wedding day in 1956 to get to the bride's (Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamed Ali) house.

"I had no car so I borrowed his," he said, describing Mohamed Khir as a very friendly and jovial character.

"He liked to tell jokes and people naturally liked him," Dr Mahathir said of the elderly statesman who was buried at the Warriors Mausoleum in Kuala Lumpur.

He said they were together in Saberkas (Sayang Akan Bangsa Ertinya Korban Apa Segala), a Malay Nationalist Movement created during the Japanese Occupation to campaign for independence.

"Very early he showed a great deal of interest in politics, concerning of course mainly about the fate of the Malays," he said.

He reminisced about their days together during the early days of the struggle against the Malayan Union.

Dr Mahathir had this to say when asked about Mohamed Khir's greatest contribution to the country: "The early awakening of Malay interest in politics. He was a kind of pioneer in terms of Malay politics."

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