Even her own daughter teased her for flirting.
But 92-year-old Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali said she held hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin during photo ops because the leaders had visited her home and treated her “as their mother“, the Star reported.
President Putin visited her home in Kuala Lumpur “years ago”, Siti Hasmah – wife of Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad – told the audience at a cheque presentation ceremony at the Global doctor’s Hospital in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (Dec 4).
According to the Star, she described her house as “the smallest, with no fence, and not like other palaces.”
“He came to visit during the 10 years when we were sidelined,” she said, adding that Putin insisted on paying the courtesy call after Dr Mahathir met him at a hotel.
At the Asean Summit in Singapore last month, Dr Siti Hasmah again met Putin when they stayed in the same hotel.
“After shaking his hand and meeting him, of course we had to take pictures, right?” Dr Siti Hasmah told the audience. “I had to hold someone’s hand, so I held his.”
Look how honourable is one of the most powerful man on earth Vladimir Putin (Russian President) holding the hand of our beloved Mother Malaysia,Dr Siti Hasmah this afternoon in Singapore. *Incredible -Humility comes with Power,indeed.*🙏🙏🙏💞💞💞 pic.twitter.com/RDdTykU0At
— Najit Khan (@khan_najit) November 14, 2018
She added that she held Prime Minister Khan’s hand because he, too, had visited her “humble home”.
“Twice he came to Malaysia and twice he came to our home,” the Star quoted her as saying. “That’s the reason why (I held Khan and Putin’s hands). They treat me as their mother.”
She also said that during the most recent meeting, Khan had initially greeted her without shaking her hand. Puzzled, she asked Pakistan’s ambassador to Malaysia: “Doesn’t Mr Imran shake hands?”
The ambassador then told her that Khan might have been shy, and suggested Dr Siti Hasmah offer a handshake first. That was what led her to asking him if she could hold his hand, she said.
“He said ‘yes’, so can lah!” she said to a very amused audience.
Siti Hasmah also revealed that she has poor eyesight, and once mistakenly held the hand of a man near her while on an official visit to Tokyo, thinking it was her husband.
The casual sharing, which drew laughter from the audience, was recorded on video by The Star and published on YouTube.