Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is suffering from dementia, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, his son-in-law.
Khairy, who is married to Abdullah’s daughter Nori, said his father-in-law could not remember the names of his wife, Jeanne Abdullah, and other family members.
“Many have been asking where Pak Lah is. Pak Lah has dementia. His condition is deteriorating,” he said, using the nickname by which Abdullah is popularly known.
He said that the former premier, who is 83, began showing signs of cognitive impairment shortly after retiring from politics in 2009 and has progressively worsened.
“He has reached the point where he is having trouble speaking and has trouble remembering the names of family members.
“I’ve never shared this (information) before. Many of you may wonder where the fifth prime minister of Malaysia is. Dementia is a… very cruel condition because the body is there, but the mind isn’t,” he said.
Abdullah served as the fifth Prime Minister from Oct 2003 until his resignation in 2009. He was also the former MP of Kepala Batas for seven terms, from 1979 until 2013.
“We are fortunate as we can provide him the necessary support and care by getting him a full-time nurse. Many families cannot afford that.”
Khairy said this was the reason he had proposed that a joint committee be formed with the Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry to look into providing care for dementia patients. He also stressed that these patients needed nothing less than full-time care.
He added that social care or community-level support could be improved for families that could not afford to hire full-time nurses.
“We can learn from other countries like the United Kingdom and Australia with advanced social care,” he said.