PETALING JAYA: For 22 years, Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali never failed to accompany her husband to every official function when he was leading the government.
Fifteen years after leaving office, Siti Hasmah finds herself still keeping pace with him, running from one event to another.
“Back then, I was 55 and I had the energy to keep up with him. Now, we are in our 90s, we have to really watch our health,” she told reporters at the PKR headquarters.
Siti Hasmah said she and Dr Mahathir Mohamad now were more selective in attending events, as the general election prepares to reach fever pitch.
These days, Mahathir still comes home late, something she had feared when her husband decided to make a political comeback.
Mahathir, who turns 93 in July, is Pakatan Harapan’s prime ministerial candidate, and has been criss-crossing the nation in the run-up to the May 9 polls.
The former prime minister left office in 2003, and gave up his posts in Umno, the party he led for more than two decades.
But he later fell out with Prime Minister Najib Razak, and galvanised opposition leaders into forming a united alliance.
“It was not an easy decision for me to ‘give up’ my husband again to politics, especially when it means he has to take up an active role, running in the coming general election.
“Time and time I have questioned him if this is what he wants. He said, it is simple, and that he needs to do his duty, to serve the country.”
Siti Hasmah said she could empathise with the wives of other prominent politicians, including Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the wife of Anwar Ibrahim.
“We needed to play our role as wives. Our role is to see and hear the needs of the people,” she said.
She recalled the time when both their husbands were leading the government.
“Dr Azizah and I were members of Bakti (Welfare Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers or Badan Amal dan Kebajikan Tenaga Isteri-Isteri) back in the day.
“That was how we worked alongside our husbands and made sure we were in line with their political careers and were aware of what they were doing for the country,” she said.