In new book, ‘sleeping’ Pak Lah says Dr M knew of condition

(MM) – In a soon-to-be-released book entitled “Awakening”, former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi reveals that predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad knew of his sleep apnoea problem but still went on to accuse him of sleeping on the job.

“I did tell Mahathir of my condition so for him to say I doze off because I am not interested in the job is most unkind,” read an excerpt of the book reproduced by new portal Malaysiakini today.

“He knew the problem and yet he chose to say all these things.”

Images of Abdullah (picture), affectionately called “Pak Lah”, apparently dozing in meetings and other events were distributed across the internet during his tenure. These coincided with worsening economic conditions in the country, leading to accusations he was letting the country slip out of control.

The allegations also forced Abdullah to come out and defend himself then, saying in an interview with Chinese-language daily Nanyang Siang Pau that he was “no sleeping PM”.

Although handpicked by Dr Mahathir to be his successor, Abdullah came under incessant attack from the nation’s longest-serving prime minister and ultimately was forced to relinquish his presidency of Umno and position as prime minister to Datuk Seri Najib Razak in April 2009, after leading Barisan Nasional (BN) to its then-worst electoral showing in Election 2008.

In the coming book, Abdullah repeats his previous revelation of suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea, a disorder that may cause snoring and nocturnal sleep deprivation leading to daytime drowsiness in sufferers.

“My late wife, staffers and close associates pointed out to me that I had a tendency to doze off. I then consulted a good friend of mine, Dr Balvinder of Putrajaya Hospital who then suggested they do a sleep study on me,” Abdullah says in the book.

Abdullah previously said he has since undergone surgery to correct the issue and no longer suffers from the condition.

“Awakening” is due to be launched by Pak Lah later this month.

“Awakening”, jointly edited by political analysts Bridget Welsh and James Chin, is due to be launched by Pak Lah later this month.

Abdullah, 73, was prime minister from 2003 until 2009 after having served as Dr Mahathir’s deputy beginning in 1999.

He was the member of parliament for Kepala Batas from 1978 until Election 2013, when he made way for current MP Datuk Reezal Merican Naina Merican.

He is also the father in law of Youth and Sports Minister and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.