KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi did not “malinger” when he failed to attend a scheduled court hearing yesterday following hospitalisation for an alleged fall, a physician told the High Court today.
During a subpoena hearing, Dr Mohd Shahir Anuar disagreed with the prosecution’s suggestion that Ahmad Zahid had “faked” his illness to avoid attending court hearing after complaining of severe “neck pain” following a fall at home last week, after they highlighted two of his official visits to the Istana Negara on August 19 and August 21 after the alleged incident.
He was subpoenaed to testify and to assist the court in ascertaining Ahmad Zahid’s present health condition.
Earlier, he told the court that Ahmad Zahid had rated a score of 10 — the worst possible pain — on the pain scale when he was admitted to the hospital on August 22, two days before he was scheduled to appear in court on August 24.
On August 19, Ahmad Zahid and other Barisan Nasional MPs had an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
On August 21, Ahmad Zahid was again present at the Istana Negara for the prime minister’s swearing-in ceremony.
During the inquiry, deputy public prosecutor Datuk Raja Rozela Raja Toran suggested to Dr Mohd Shahir that his patient was observed to be in no pain and had no difficulties in moving about as noted in the visits to Istana Negara after the fall on August 18.
Raja Rozela: I put it to you Dr, that he is actually malingering, pretending he is ill to escape from coming to court.
Because he has seen not just by one or two, I mean he has been seen by the nation basically that he is able to walk, he is able to sit, he is able to go around to the palace as usual, as normal.
I put it to you that as a fact that he complained and you are not able to identify the real extent of his pain, I put it to you he is actually malingering.
Dr Mohd Shahir: I disagree. As a doctor, you have to trust your patient. Of course, I have to make sure this is real pain that is why we do all the investigations.
Dr Mohd Shahir also said he was made aware that Ahmad Zahid was taking painkillers on both occasions.
Dr Mohd Shahir is a physician specialised in Anaesthesiology and Critical Care at Avisena Specialist Hospital in Shah Alam to which Ahmad Zahid is a regular patient of his since June 2020.
According to an admission letter made available to court, Dr Mohd Shahir testified that Ahmad Zahid had slipped in his bathroom and landed on his rear on August 18.
Upon hospital admission on August 22, Ahmad Zahid had complained of severe neck and thoracic (spine) pain that was exacerbated by a persisting cervical disc prolapse (slipped disc) he had previously operated on several years ago.
Dr Mohd Shahir said Ahmad Zahid then underwent a Perineural Injection Therapy (PIT) yesterday to alleviate the pain in his nerves near the spine which explained his absence in court.
PIT refers to a type of regenerative medicine treatment that injects a substance near the nerve to influence that nerve with the purpose of relieving or eliminating pain and increasing mobility.
Explaining further, he said the PIT was only conducted three days after Ahmad Zahid was admitted due to several underlying circumstances which were needed to stabilised prior to the procedure.
He said that he had to stabilise Ahmad Zahid’s sugar level as it was poorly controlled and that he was also on medication for Plavix — a blood thinner drug — for an underlying cardiac issue.
Justifying the need for delay, he said there was a high risk of paralysis or uncontrolled bleeding if he did not stabilise his patient prior to performing the PIT.
“It’s not my intention to delay the process of court justice,” he said.
Dr Mohd Shahir was also asked by trial judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah what would be the ideal recovery period to which he replied between four and six weeks, but agreed it was possible for Ahmad Zahid to attend court within two weeks through the prescription of painkillers.
Sequerah: In your view, would the patient be in a position to come to court on the September 6, just to sit down and of course after 30 to 45 minutes there’s a break of 10 to 15 minutes, would he be able to endure?
Dr Mohd Shahir: I would say too short Yang Arif, I would think four weeks.
Sequerah: He is just required to sit and say after an interval of 40 minutes he can take a break. He will not sit continuously. With painkillers, would he be able to do that?
Dr Mohd Shahir: With painkillers, most likely possible.
After Dr Mohd Shahir had given his testimony, Sequerah said pre-existing trial dates fixed for September 6 will be maintained and the hearing will resume, with the hope that Ahmad Zahid would have recuperated sufficiently.
Sequerah also said arrangements will be made to accommodate the accused’s medical condition based on the advice by Dr Mohd Shahir such as providing more conducive seating.
The High Court is scheduled to hear submissions at the end of prosecution from on September 6 to September 9.
In this trial, Ahmad Zahid ― who is a former home minister and currently the Umno president ― is facing 47 charges, namely 12 counts of criminal breach of trust in relation to charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds, 27 counts of money laundering, and eight counts of bribery charges.