Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today he had not instructed the Prisons authorities to stop Dr Mahathir Mohamad from seeing Anwar Ibrahim at the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
He said such visits required a prior application and the approval was subject to the discretion of the Prisons authorities.
“I do not interfere in operational matters. It (the prohibition) was not a ministerial order. The authority rests with him (Sungai Buloh Prisons director),” he said at a press conference after attending the monthly assembly of the Home Ministry.
Mahathir, who is opposition Pakatan Harapan chairperson and Bersatu chairperson, was reportedly disallowed from seeing Anwar after he went to the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital where Anwar is recuperating from a surgery he underwent in November.
Anwar, 71, is serving a five-year jail term at the Sungai Buloh prison after the Federal Court upheld a Court of Appeal ruling that reversed his acquittal on a sodomy charge. He is due for early release on June 8 due to good behaviour.
Prisons Department director-general Zulkifli Omar said the department and the Sungai Buloh Prison had not received any official application from Mahathir to visit Anwar at the hospital.
He said special visits between prisoners and certain people were considered based on the Prisons Act 1995, Prisons Regulations 2000 and a permanent order of the commissioner-general of Prisons.
“Every application for the purpose of a meeting will be considered based on the premise of urgency and importance. The matter will be considered by the officer in charge (director) of a prison.
“In terms of jurisdiction, we will look into the concern of the prisons authorities, whether such visits can trigger a controversy, post a security threat and become a distasteful viral,” he said.
He also said that consent should be obtained from the prisoner concerned on whether he or she welcomed such visits or otherwise.
Zulkifli said Anwar’s family members were given priority in visiting him at the hospital.