PORT DICKSON: Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan was calm and collected as he sat outside the Port Dickson by-election nomination centre on Saturday (Sep 29) morning.
He was just metres away from Parti Keadilan Rakyat president-elect Anwar Ibrahim, the man Saiful accused of sodomising him in 2008 when he served as Anwar’s personal aide.
“I can’t wait to see him inside (the nomination centre). It’s been a long time since I met him,” said Saiful.
Following Saiful’s allegations a decade ago, Anwar was imprisoned in 2015 and was unable to contest in the general election in May.
However, he was released from jail in May 2018, when he was pardoned by Malaysia’s Yang di Pertuan Agung days after the Pakatan Harapan coalition led by Mahathir Mohamad won the general election.
When pressed by reporters on why he wanted to contest the Port Dickson seat, Saiful said that he would not bring up their past controversies in his campaign.
“This is not about vengeance, this is not about revenge. This is purely me entering the democratic process in Malaysia,” said Saiful.
The 33-year-old added that he wanted to run in Port Dickson because it used to be his “playground” as a child.
“I want to be in parliament. When I was a child, PD used to be the place for me. Of course I love PD, that’s why I am contesting for the seat,” said Saiful.
SAIFUL WAS MALICIOUS IN THE PAST: ANWAR
Inside the nomination centre - the Port Dickson Municipal Council building - Anwar and Saiful exchanged a brief handshake as they each submitted their documents.
The situation became slightly tense when, while waiting for the official announcement, Saiful took a seat beside Anwar at one of the round tables for candidates.
Anwar and Saiful exchanged a few brief words before the former stood up and sat at the front of the hall.
When the candidates were officially announced, Saiful’s name was met with a loud ring of boos from Anwar’s supporters outside the nomination centre.
When asked about this during his press conference afterwards, Anwar said: “I will advise them of course but you can also appreciate the malicious effort on his (Saiful’s) part in the past.
“It’s easier to say for me to forgive and move on but I think you also have to appreciate the concern from many who are deeply hurt and suffered in the process,” he added.
PKR INCUMBENT BETRAYED TRUST OF LOCALS: STEVIE CHAN
Speaking to Channel NewsAsia after the nominations were announced, independent candidate Stevie Chan said that the incumbent Member of Parliament for Port Dickson, PKR's Danyal Balagopal Abdullah, should never have had to make way for Anwar.
Danyal, a retired navy Rear Admiral, resigned in September to pave the way for Anwar to contest the seat and re-enter parliament.
Commenting on the move, Chan said: “You (Danyal) won the seat with a 17,000 majority... Regardless of the reason behind that huge majority ... the mandate was given to you for five years. Why people go to vote is an expression of your value system, the vision for this country and all those things.
"And four months down the road, you give it up ... For what? Because your friend wants to be the PM? You’re betraying the trust of the local people,” said Chan.
But Anwar told reporters that becoming prime minister was not the point of this by-election.
“In these elections, we want a mandate to support the Pakatan Harapan government under Tun Mahathir as prime minister and for me to function effectively as a Member of Parliament for Port Dickson,” said Anwar.
Besides Anwar, Saiful and Chan, PAS candidate Mohd Nazari Mokhtar, independent candidates Isa Abdul Samad, Lau Seck Yan and Kan Chee Yuen were also confirmed as challenges for the parliamentary seat.
The seven candidates will campaign for two weeks from Saturday until polling day on Oct 13.