PETALING JAYA: A lawyer today said the Prisons Department could have used its discretion to allow former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to visit PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim at the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital.
N Surendran, who is also Padang Serai MP, said there were no procedures laid down for such circumstances or scenario.
“You can make a formal request but there is nothing that prevents the prison authorities from authorising Mahathir’s visit once he is already there, especially when you take into consideration that various ministers, the prime minister and deputy prime minister had also visited Anwar in hospital.
“What was the reason for not granting this request?
“This is an elder statesman and former prime minister that is coming to visit Anwar.
“So, since it was in their discretion to allow the visit, why didn’t the prison authorities allow it?
“They didn’t allow it because they simply didn’t want to allow it and not because of the issue of needing a formal request.”
Surendran said the excuses given by the Prisons Department, including that the visit will be controversial, were “weak and conflicting”.
Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed had claimed Anwar was still a convict and anyone who wanted to visit him had to get prior permission from the Prisons Department.
“It is petty and objectionable for them not to allow the visit while giving different excuses on why they barred Mahathir from visiting Anwar.”
On Wednesday, a dejected Mahathir told reporters that he was informed by the prison authorities that they had received “orders from above” in declining his visit.
“I was told that the minister of home affairs has barred me from visiting Anwar.
“All I wanted to do was visit Anwar and thank him personally on Pakatan Harapan reaching a consensus to name me the prime minister candidate (in coming general election),” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also home minister, denied he had instructed the prisons authorities to stop the visit.