Aide Dismisses Claims That M’sia Ex-PM Mahathir is in Critical Condition


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You’re probably already aware of how easily rumours can spread on social media nowadays.

If you keep up to date with Malaysian politicians, you may have seen claims on social media that former Malaysian prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is currently in critical condition.

As it turns out, that isn’t the case at all.

Dr Mahathir is Not in Critical Condition

On 19 February, a close aide of Dr Mahathir refuted claims made on social media that the 98-year-old was in critical condition.

In fact, he is conscious and is currently still in the Institut Jantung Negara (IJN), also known as the National Heart Institute in English. 

The aide added that the team will issue an update if there are any significant developments.

On 13 February, it was announced that Dr Mahathir would be taking a break after receiving treatment at IJN for an infection.

He was admitted on 26 January.

Notably, the infection has remained unspecified.

Although the aide could not reveal when Dr Mahathir would be discharged, he shared a photo of the former Malaysian prime minister sitting in a chair and reading the newspaper.

Image: Office of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Dr Mahathir’s Health History

Dr Mahathir was Malaysia’s prime minister from 1981 to 2003.

He became prime minister again in 2018 following a historic win. However, his government collapsed in 2020 due to infighting.

In recent years, he has been in and out of the hospital numerous times and suffered at least two heart attacks.

He has also undergone bypass surgeries.

In August 2023, Dr Mahathir was admitted to the IJN to be treated for an unspecified infection.

In December 2021 and January 2022, he was also hospitalised for several days to undergo medical checks.


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His health status was revealed during proceedings for his defamation suit against Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi last week.

His lawyer, Mr Mior Nor Haidir Suhaimi, told the court that Dr Mahathir had been hospitalised and submitted an application to postpone the proceedings.

Dr Mahathir claimed that 71-year-old Mr Zahid made false statements laced with defamation and malicious intent.

He allegedly said that Mr Zahid’s maliciousness exposed him to public hatred and dissatisfaction.

Potential Consequences of Normalising Death and Critical Condition Hoaxes

At this point, it isn’t uncommon to spot a death hoax or a critical condition hoax when scrolling through social media.


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Celebrities like Dwayne Johnson, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber are no strangers to such situations.

Of course, such hoaxes cause fans to panic, before the truth is unveiled.

However, the prevalence of such hoaxes may cause some unintended consequences on people’s perception of severe issues regarding death and ill health.

Ms Meghna Mukherjee, a psychotherapist from Noida, told The Economic Times that such hoaxes can create a culture of scepticism.

She asserted that, increasingly, people’s first reaction to death will not be shock and sadness but denial instead.

Furthermore, death and ill health are generally taboo topics that are uncomfortable to talk about.


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Thus, the prevalence of such hoaxes could make these topics even more difficult to discuss.

Moreover, mocking such serious topics may also be normalised.